Mercedies car with Woman in Vampire Costume

News of the Weird

Bits and pieces of the bizarre, horrific and the downright puzzling, scooped up from various parts of the Web so you don’t have to!

Renting a car from Hertz may get you busted

Hertz Corp., which is facing lawsuits from hundreds of car renters who say they were falsely arrested for auto theft, files thousands of related criminal complaints each year against customers, according to claims in newly released court documents.

In one four-year period, the company filed nearly 8,000 theft reports annually, advocates for the falsely arrested customers said late last week in a federal court filing in Wilmington, Delaware. The advocates cited internal data from Hertz that a judge ordered the company to release. 

A breakdown of the theft reports isn’t public, so it’s not yet possible to know how many complaints were against customers and how many were for other types of theft. Under certain circumstances, Hertz will tell police that a customer may have stolen a car. Many of those people turn out to have valid contracts and allegedly have been falsely arrested, according to the lawsuits.

Messages left for Hertz representatives weren’t immediately returned. CBS, which hired lawyers to help get the documents unsealed, previously reported Hertz said the “vast majority” of cases involve renters who were weeks or months overdue on returns and authorities are brought in only after “exhaustive attempts” to reach a customer.

In a recent court hearing U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath ordered the annual theft numbers to be made public, siding with advocates for 220 people suing Hertz who argued that more details about Hertz’s internal anti-theft program should be public.

Court documents show that some of the customers who rented cars were jailed, sometimes years after they had rented and returned the cars. At least one allegedly was held at gunpoint just hours after paying for a rental.

“Hertz now admits that it reports thousands of its own customers for auto theft each year,” lawyers for the people suing said in court papers. The problem can be traced to company-wide, systemic problems, they allege.

The false arrest claims often involve long-term rentals, some set up directly by the customer, others through an auto insurance company, according to court documents. 

Source: Hertz accuses thousands of car renters of theft, court papers show (autoblog.com)

An eight-legged driving companion

If you found a big hairy spider crawling on the dashboard of your car, how would you react? Many people would probably be terrified, let out a loud scream, and run far away. 

However, Chris Taylor, a 42-year-old Australian safety manager, did the opposite. In February 2021, he discovered a six-inch spider on the dashboard of his car, as reported by Mirror. Instead of viewing the spider as something to be feared, he looked at her as a driving buddy — and kept her as his pet. The spider has now lived freely in Taylor’s car for a full year. He feels attached to the eight-legged creature and doesn’t plan to kick her out “anytime soon.”

Despite the spider being a female, Taylor gave the spider a traditionally male name: Steve. Taylor said, “I named him Steve, because why not? I have been told, however, that he is she. When I have passengers in my car they are often startled or scream. Steve is great at keeping me more alert when I drive.”

Taylor and Steve the Spider endured many interesting adventures during their one year together. While Taylor enjoys the companionship of his eight-legged driving buddy, he doesn’t appreciate it when the spider falls into his lap. As detailed by Taylor, “I had her fall on my lap one time and almost hit the Sydney Harbor tunnel wall.” Also, Taylor doesn’t like it when his arachnid driving companion “appears 10 cm above his head” when driving at high speeds

As can be expected from someone that keeps a pet spider in their car, Taylor is not afraid of spiders. However, many other people are — and Taylor sees this as another benefit of his pet spider. He said, “I’ll let her stay. I’m saving money as no one wants a lift anymore. I like her but wouldn’t say we’re close friends. Yet! I would be a bit sad if she decided to leave. Driving is far more exciting with her in there.”

Would you ever have a pet spider and let it roam freely in your car? As Taylor shows, if you’re not arachnophobic, a spider driving buddy offers multiple benefits.

Source: Man Finds Huge Spider in Car: Now It’s His Pet Companion for All His Drives (motorbiscuit.com)

Would you consider buying a car that doesn’t exist yet? 

Back in June and July of 2021, Cox Automotive polled nearly 5,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 72 who either owned, considered buying or rejected buying an electric vehicle. Within that data, it showed that Tesla quite clearly has the most brand recognition for its EVs, while other brands have a whole lot of work to do on the marketing front. Specifically, a whopping 69% of those EV buyers (or rejecters) didn’t even know the Chevrolet Bolt existed despite being on sale since 2016.

Then we noticed something really surprising. A stunning 40% of those 5,000 consumers — about 2,000 people — said they were aware of Toyota‘s electric vehicle. Some said they were considering it, some said they were not. Either way, there’s a pretty big problem with that: Toyota did not sell an electric vehicle in June and July of 2021. Nor did it sell one at any time after the 2014 RAV4 EV. And just in case you’re wondering, the Toyota bZ4X EV wouldn’t be revealed for another four months. 

Basically, significantly more people were somehow “aware” that Toyota makes an EV that does not exist than those who knew about the Chevrolet Bolt, a vehicle that has existed for more than five years. Or the Nissan Leaf, for that matter, which has been on sale since 2010.

Perhaps people just assumed that Toyota, which pioneered hybridsmust make an EV. Not a bad assumption, but in reality, Toyota hasn’t been too keen on them. Almost hostile, even. Only recently has it announced plans for a variety of future EV models, and again, the bZ4X was only revealed back in November. Then again, perhaps people just don’t fully understand what an electric vehicle is, lumping hybrids and plug-in hybrids in with them (things Toyota does sell). In other words “electrification” equals “fully electric.” It doesn’t. 

Now, before you get too down on the car knowledge of general automotive consumers, don’t worry, it gets even worse. That same Cox Automotive study said that 17% were not aware that Tesla made an EV. Let that sink in. 

Source: 21% of consumers were considering Toyota’s EV … which doesn’t exist (autoblog.com)

That old vampire marketing trick!

Mercedes-Benz’s latest marketing ploy for the G-Class SUV is a bit peculiar. The German marque has made an eight-minute vampire movie just in time for Valentine’s Day, calling it “Immortal Love” for obvious reasons.

If the automaker’s target customers are our fanged, immortal friends, we’re not entirely sure – but at least the short film embedded atop is entertaining.

To be fair, the Mercedes G-Class is in line with the lifestyle of vampires. It has a timeless design, so innocent bystanders won’t know from which year the vampire owner’s really from – unless it’s an AMG G65. The G-Class also does carry the monicker “stronger than time,” which resound with how vampires withstand death and aging.

The eight-minute vampire movie features international rising star Rimon. The singer/songwriter, who was born in Eritrea and raised in the Netherlands, plays a globally celebrated star rapper who leads a double life.

In line with the short vampire movie, Mercedes-Benz has also opened an exclusive meeting place and experience space for the growing G-Class community worldwide: the G-Class Private Lounge. Meeting a new vampire friend isn’t guaranteed, though.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t a stranger to making weird marketing materials for its cars. Remember the Concept EQG that made its debut at the Munich Auto Show last year? The electric G-Class was featured with alien-like, Star Trek-ish characters to highlight the SUV’s foray into an electrified future.

Whether this marketing works or not, numbers certainly don’t lie. There were 41,174 new G-Class owners in 2021, a new record for the boxy SUV. The G-Class, along with Maybach and AMG, posted record-breaking sales in the same year.

Source: Mercedes Makes An 8-Minute Vampire Movie To Sell More G-Class SUVs (motor1.com)

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