Bulk Buying and Other Resourceful Consumer Trends

(NewsUSA) – When the economy nosedived, and companies had reason to be scared, a few businesses got resourceful.Low incomes and record job losses pushed consumers toward trends like buying in bulk and using group discount websites. And where there was demand, supply soon followed.In came the success of wholesalers like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s. But warehouse clubs weren’t the only stores seeing growth in bulk sales. Farmers markets, co-ops and natural food stores observed more supersized shopping. Whole Foods said bulk food purchases were growing by approximately 25 percent every year.That wasn’t the only buying trend to emerge, however."The Groupon following led to an explosion of similar sites, like LivingSocial and Dealfind, not to mention all of the city-specific ones," says Joe Kalfa, the leader of a new movement of group buying called All Our Power."You can buy virtually any commodity in bulk and get all kinds of group discounts on spas, restaurants and vacations galore, but what about monthly expenses like car insurance, gas and health care? It seems to me like there’s room for some improvement," adds Kalfa.Well, maybe there is.According to Time magazine’s Moneyland, warehouse club members can save 25 to 35 percent on their food budget. Shoppers who forego packaging altogether and buy food from bins or dispensers save anywhere from 30 to 90 percent over prepackaged products.Imagine those types of savings applied to insurance policies, gas prices, medical bills, cell phone plans and more.All Our Power, which seeks to rally 10 million members and secure membership discounts from all kinds of service providers and retailers, could be the next group-buying trend to take flight.A buzz has already formed around the young movement as consumers worldwide realize the potential benefits of a free membership with access to serious negotiating power.Are you tired of paying too much for car insurance or gas? You’re not the only one. Sign up and learn more about your buying power at www.allourpower.com. Or, see what others are saying on Twitter @ AllOurPower.

Insider Secrets to an Affordable Road Trip

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Whether traveling for business or pleasure, most people will take at least one road trip this year, and when they do, they’ll be looking for value.
To help get the most out of your next trip, here are five insider secrets from travel expert and life-long hotelier, Rajiv Bhatia, head of roadside hotel chain Knights Inn.
1. Book Your Hotel Direct. Shopping around is always a good idea, and it seems like new websites pop up every day to help travelers do just that. That’s great for comparing offerings, but when you’ve made your choice, book directly with the hotel or brand. More often than not, you’ll be offered a lower price as well as a best-rate guarantee.
2. Pass on Car Rental Insurance. Rather than paying the insurance that car rental companies provide for a fee, check your personal policy. Often, your plan will include a travel clause that you may not be aware of, saving you as much as $30 a day. To save even more, don’t worry about the size of the rental car you are reserving and go with the smallest size offered. The most compact cars usually get overbooked and sell out fast, often leading to a free upgrade.
3. Don’t Pay for What’s Free. Spend your money on fun, not on hotel Internet fees and expensive breakfasts. Stick with hotels that offer these amenities at no cost.
4. Slow Down on the Highway. Savor the journey to your destination; it doesn’t pay to rush. Driving in excess of 60 miles per hour will waste gas and money. For every five miles over, you car can lose as much as 23 percent fuel efficiency.
5. Brand Loyalty Pays. Hotel loyalty programs let travelers earn points for their stays, points that can be redeemed for gift cards, free nights and more. When you stay with competing brands, it’s likely you won’t earn enough points for rewards. Stay with only one brand or its affiliates and watch your point balance grow. Like having choices when you travel? Try Wyndham Rewards, it’s the largest hotel loyalty program in the world, with 14 brands and over 6,500 hotels.

New Technology Can Conserve Fuel for Better Gas Mileage

Gas prices are getting as dangerously high as unemployment rates, and both mean a whole new level of penny pinching for the nation’s 99 percent.

As drivers spend about $4 per gallon, finding ways to get better gas mileage is more important than ever. Fortunately, affordable technology is finally catching up to the escalating problem.

Some auto companies are trying to ease the burden of astronomical gas prices by improving technology and making it accessible.

How to Spend Less on Gas and More on Holiday Gift-Giving

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle when you’re constantly looking for the perfect gift. The holidays can get expensive, but there are ways to save , and your vehicle doesn’t have to add to that huge dent in your wallet.

Firestone Complete Auto Care offers the following tips to help you save money at the gas pump so you can focus on the season of giving.

Hybrid Cars: The Performance Cars of the Future

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – When most people think of hybrid cars, they imagine practical, mild-mannered vehicles. But could we someday see hybrid racecars burning up the tracks?
In March of 2010, Porsche (www.porsche.com/usa/) unveiled three hybrids at the Geneva Auto Show: one for the road; one for the race track; and one that is a genuine Porsche supercar. These innovative new Porsches — the Cayenne S Hybrid, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid and the 918 Spyder — show that hybrids can be sporty, fast and powerful.
The Cayenne S, Porsche’s first production hybrid car, features a sophisticated parallel full hybrid system with the combined power of a 380 horsepower V6 combustion engine and an electric motor. The car has the potential to significantly enhance fuel economy at high speeds — when the driver lifts off the accelerator at cruising or highway speeds, the gasoline engine can be switched off and disengaged from the drivetrain. This enables the vehicle to move without combustion or electric power.
The GT3 R’s innovative hybrid technology has been developed especially for racing. The front axle features two powerful electric motors that supplement the car’s 480 horsepower, naturally aspirated four-liter flat-six that drives the rear wheels. Instead of the heavy batteries found in hybrid road cars, an electrical flywheel power generator resides next to the driver to deliver energy to the electric motors. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid competed in the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring in May 2010, leading for eight hours before retiring after 22 hours and 15 minutes for mechanical reasons. In the 2010 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta it finished 18th out of a starting field of 41 cars.
With the 918 Spyder high-performance mid-engine concept hybrid sports car, Porsche is displaying its expertise in the field of highly efficient and low-emission drive technology. The 918 Spyder prototype with plug-in hybrid technology combines high-tech performance features with electric mobility to produce a fascinating range of qualities. It has an ultra-compact car’s emission levels of 70 grams of CO2 per kilometer, and it consumes just three liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, but can go from 0 to 62 mph in just under 3.2 seconds and reach a top track speed over 198 mph.

Planning for Comfort During Long Road Trips

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Road trips can provide a great source of tunes, good conversation and relaxation throughout any travel season. However, long hours on the road can often result in body aches, poor nutrition and other challenges for drivers stuck behind the wheel.
To avoid such pitfalls and make the experience a bit less taxing on the body, champion Porsche race car driver Patrick Long has developed a set of guidelines for drivers everywhere. Long, an American Le Mans Series race car driver who can be in his car for up to 12 hours at a time, recommends these tips for any kind of distance driving:
Fuel-Up: If you pack a small cooler with water bottles and healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, this can deter the temptation to reach for non-healthy items on the road.
Stability: Stability should be your number-one concern when taking a long road trip. Many people stick pillows behind their backs for lumbar support, but the main goal is to always have your spine straight. Sit with the seat fully contacting your back; allow the structure of the seat to do its job in supporting your spine.
Body Positioning: Maintain proper posture by not leaning one way or the other in the seat. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Authority, a driver’s hands should both be placed on the outside of the steering wheel on opposite sides. Long recommends the “9 and 3” hand position. Having proper position in the car is also relative to the pedals — if you’re too close you’re cramped. If you’re too far away, you’ll end up slouching down to reach them. Sit close enough to the wheel so there’s a slight bend at your elbows and keep your arms relaxed.
Take Frequent Pit Stops: For longer-distance road adventures, take frequent pit stops in order to stretch your legs and improve the blood flow in your body. To prevent a sore lower back experienced after driving, focus on core stability and strength exercises. Long suggests planks, leg lifts and crunches on an exercise ball to strengthen your core.
To find more information about Long, check out www.porsche.com/usa.

The New School Year Has Begun! Talk to Your Teens About Vehicle Maintenance

We all remember that amazing feeling of freedom our first car gave us. As our teens head back to school this fall, Firestone Complete Auto Care encourages parents to take a few deep breaths and be sure to go over, not only in-vehicle safety, but also vehicle maintenance procedures so their teens can have that “new car” freedom by keeping their vehicle running newer, longer.

•    Change the engine oil. Use the recommended grade of oil, and change it according to your owner’s manual, usually every three months or 3,000 miles. Prolonged driving without an oil change may cause severe engine damage.

Don’t Let Lack of Comfort Cramp Your Road Trip

Road trips can provide a great source of tunes, good conversation and relaxation throughout any travel season. However, long hours on the road can often result in body aches, poor nutrition and other challenges for drivers stuck behind the wheel.

To avoid such pitfalls and make the experience a bit less taxing on the body, champion Porsche race car driver Patrick Long has developed a set of guidelines for drivers everywhere. Long, an American Le Mans Series race car driver who can be in his car for up to 12 hours at a time, recommends these tips for any kind of distance driving:

Hybrid Cars Get New, Racier Image

When most people think of hybrid vehicles, they imagine practical, mild-mannered vehicles. But could we soon see hybrid race cars burning up the tracks?

In March of 2010, Porsche unveiled three hybrids at the Geneva Auto Show – one for the road, one for the race track and one that is a genuine Porsche supercar. These innovative new Porsches – the Cayenne S Hybrid, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid and the 918 Spyder – show that hybrids can be sporty, fast and powerful.

Vehicle Features That Make Mom’s Life Easier

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Parents have plenty to worry about when packing their kids in the car and heading out on the road. Luckily, car manufacturers have been designing vehicles with parents in mind to make these trips a little easier.
“Manufacturers are really embracing family-friendly features, and not just in minivans,” says Jennifer Newman, editor at Cars.com. “Besides things like DVD players and other entertainment options, parents need to consider step-in height, latch connectors and other features that most people might not have even known existed.
Newman’s 10 best features for families include:
10. Easy-to-Use Latch System. Few automakers offer Latch systems that are easy to use, but some do get it right. Latch systems in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon, 2010 Chevy Traverse and 2011 Toyota Avalon stand out.
9. Flip-Up Trash Bin Ring. The 2011 Honda Odyssey has a lot of family-friendly touches. One of Cars.com’s favorites is the second row’s trash bin ring that can hold a plastic grocery store bag.
8. Ford’s MyKey. This safety feature from Ford allows parents to keep a modicum of control over their teen drivers — even when they’re not in the passenger seat. Parents can limit the car’s top speed and radio volume. It also allows parents to block explicit satellite radio stations.
7. Integrated Sunshades. Retractable window shades mean no more fiddling with aftermarket shades that barely cover the rear windows and don’t keep the sun out of a napping child’s eyes.
6. Easy-Folding Third Row. With the 2011 Toyota Sienna, the third row can be quickly folded into the floor with minimal effort. If you go for a higher trim level, you can get a power-folding third row in the minivan.
5. Power Sliding Doors. Power sliding doors make it easy for kids to get in and out of the car on their own with just the push of a button. Another bonus is it removes the chance that your overzealous child will fling open a car door into another car in a parking lot.
4. Inflatable Seat Belt. This safety feature is found in the backseat of the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer. The optional seat belts look like traditional seat belts, but in a crash they inflate to help distribute crash forces across a greater area on the passenger’s chest
3. Seat Belt Icon. Some automakers — Cadillac and Jaguar — are helping out parents by providing a simple icon in a car’s instrument panel that indicates who’s buckled up in the backseat.
2. Backup Cameras. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently proposed that by 2014 all cars must have a 180-degree view around the car, which means requiring backup cameras on new cars.
1. Expanding Second Row. Leave it to Honda to score the top spot. In all but the base model, the 2011 Odyssey’s second-row seats can be moved together to form a bench seat that will easily hold three child-safety seats. If you have adults riding in that position, the seats can be moved apart to create three individual seats and some shoulder room.