Survey Says

Traffic may be going up, but fuel fill ups are down according to the latest research

As coronavirus lockdowns are being lifted, traffic is increasing on streets nationwide.

Photo by Getty Images

A new study by Honk Technologies has found that motorists are fueling up far less frequently than they were before COVID-19 lockdowns happened. How drastic the drop is, however, may surprise you.

According to Agero, beginning March 17, when the country's first stay at home order went into effect, daily average traffic volume began to fall. Currently, traffic has rebounded and continues to climb with figures nearing the volume of early March, growing at a weekly rate over four times faster than the same period in 2019.

traffic NYC New York City 42nd street Traffic in New York City is down 18 percent compared to forecasted amounts, according to Agero. Photo by Getty Images

"The pandemic has certainly disrupted traditional traffic patterns," says Beth Davidson, Agero's chief marketing officer. "The typical rush hour commute has disappeared, errands are no longer relegated to Saturday morning, and road trips are becoming the new plane ride. But as states continue to ease stay at home orders, we're seeing breakdown event volumes rapidly return to near-normal levels as people begin to use their vehicles again. We believe this could be the start of far higher traffic volumes than we are used to seeing."

Easter seem to have been the turning point for most areas, according to Agero. Since then, average roadside assistance events have shown a greater than 30 percent increase through June 10th.

Because Americans are driving less, they're also fueling up less. An online survey of 719 motorists by Honk Technologies found that 56 percent of respondents were willing up less than once a week prior to the pandemic. Eleven percent filled up once a moth or less.

Currently, 25 percent of survey respondents say that they're filling up at least once per week. Forty-five percent hit the pumps once per month or less.

Additionally, the survey revealed that beyond commuting, few are making trips other than for what is absolutely necessary. This makes sense as many extracurricular actives have been cancelled and dining establishments have closed or are only open under limited conditions. School runs have also ceased.

When asked what destinations they had driven to in the prior seven days, 83 percent said they had driven to a grocery store, pharmacy or some other store for necessary supplies. Just 17 percent had gone shopping, 21 percent to outdoor recreation activities, 25 percent to a restaurant or cafe, 31 percent to visit family or friends and 32 percent to go to work. Just four percent did not go out at all.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Torsus Terrastorm will provide off-roadinng capability in a short bus format.

Photo courtesy of Torsus

Torsus made headlines earlier this year when it unveiled the world's first heavy-duty 4x4 bus. The Praetorian is a modern engineering marvel - made to go pretty much anywhere and take a group of people with it. Now, the company is expanding their roster with a new model.

The Torsus Terrastorm is a heavy-duty off-road capable 4x4 short bus.

2021 Torsus Terrastorm The Terrastorm takes the notion of a traditional short bus up a notch.Photo courtesy of Torsus

"At Torsus, we are breaking new ground by designing, developing and manufacturing the world's toughest off-road buses," said Vakhtang Dzhukashvili, founder and CEO of Torsus. "In the all-new Terrastorm we signal our ambition to set new standards in the heavy-duty 4x4 minibus market across some of the toughest industries known to man. We built Torsus to be a trailblazer and redefine the way people think about commercial vehicles, and the Torsus Terrastorm is the next step on our journey to make this reality."

It's built on a Volkswagen Crafter 4Motion chassis that has been upgraded to feature a more robust suspension.

Torsus says that new EURO VI (diesel) engines replace the van's traditional 2.0-liter TDI engine. Torsus has shoed the van with BF Goodrich tires. It also has a ladder and spare tire out back, and a brush guard up front.

The Crafter chassis is capable of supporting a three- to five-ton van. This makes it a model able to be used for conversion to an ambulance or off-road rescue vehicle, or, perhaps, an adventure-ready tour bus.

2021 Torsus Terrastorm The model rides on BF Goodrich tires.Photo courtesy of Torsus

Torsus will offer the model in a variety of configurations.

More information about the Torsus Terrastorm will be revealed later this month. Sales will start in Q3.

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The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross takes its name from the beloved cars.

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

I wasn't a big car guy growing up. Some kids can tell you the horsepower and engine and endless stats about every car on the road. Or they'll notice the difference in taillights between individual model years, or any of a million other nips and tucks that carmakers do to differentiate their cars.

These days, it's my job to know that stuff, but when I was in high school, I didn't know much — but I knew what a Mitsubishi Eclipse was. As I got ready to write this review, I went back and watched perhaps the most famous 90's-era Mitsubishi Eclipse you could find: Paul Walker's bright green ride in "Fast and the Furious".

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross The car is more traditional up front than it is in the back.Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

The second-generation Eclipse, built from 1995 to 1999, was the best-known (and best-looking) of all the cars, and became a vehicular icon for my generation in no small part to the role it played in "Fast and the Furious". Though I remember the car, I'd forgotten how terrible this movie is. The dialogue is cringeworthy, the cars are absurd (how many gears does that thing have?), and the story is outlandish. But it's still a hoot, and I may end up rewatching the whole series.

But then in 2011, Mitsubishi ended the Eclipse line for good. Or so we thought. Now we have a new one, only the sporty looks and movie-star glamour is long gone. It's called the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and it's... a compact crossover SUV of no particular importance.

That might be a little harsh. It's actually quite an interesting looking vehicle, which is more than can be said for most crossovers. Though the front isn't particularly exciting, the rear has more going for it. There's a dual-window design on the rear tailgate, with a light bar running across the middle. It's very much a love-it-or-hate-it design, but at least it's not boring.

There's a crease running up the doors to the back as well, which looks particularly sharp on the Red Diamond review unit that Mitsubishi sent me for a week. It stickered for $32,720 on the SEL trim, though you can likely negotiate a nice chunk of change off of that at your local Mitsubishi dealer.

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross The touch screen is okay but the trackpad that is used to navigate it is detrimental.Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Feature-wise, the Eclipse Cross is well-equipped, with a tiny 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower. That's not a ton of power, but for a family crossover it's plentiful and turns in a combined 25 miles per gallon.

Mine had the $2,100 Touring Package, which kicks in a lovely panoramic sunroof, the ever-important adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection and auto-braking, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, and some other minor additions.

If you look at the feature list, the Eclipse Cross is a solid vehicle. The interior design is a little rougher, with hard plastic everywhere and not-so-luxurious touch points. The trackpad to control the screen is terrible, as are the up/down buttons to control the dual-zone climate control (though the heated seats work excellently).

The infotainment screen could be bigger, and the dash screen needs some polish. The engine gets the job done, but it's not exactly quiet. It's a middle-of-the-road crossover. It does what it's supposed to do. You can get it for a good price and it's well-equipped.

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