Must See! Virtual Viral Tour of Mercedes Museum

Ken Zino of on the new drone video of the Mercedes-Benz Museum, May 2020.


With the reopening in mid-May 2020, the Mercedes-Benz Museum debuted a new drone video. Alongside the “magical installations, the highly dynamic clip casts a spell of enchantment on the viewer with flight sequences that top anything seen to date,” in the hyperbolic view of the communications department.

Well, they were not alone. It was a success right from the start: the video has already been viewed a total of around six million times in the first few days. Do not miss this wild ride unless you are prone to motion sickness or abhor flying roller coasters.
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Milestones: Volkswagen Completes Promised Argo AI Funding

Ken Zino of on Self Driving - Argo, Ford and Volkswagen CooperationVolkswagen AG and Ford Motor Company created news back in January of 2019 when they announced the first formal agreements in a broad alliance that had far reaching implications in Europe, South America and Africa – ultimately globally. (Volkswagen and Ford Alliance Under Study, Volkswagen and Ford Announce Alliance Without Cross Equity)

As an unseen – or at least unannounced – development then, Volkswagen’s investment in Argo AI was finalized yesterday on June 1. As an outgrowth of the intended cost sharing Ford and Volkswagen last July announced a collaboration with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe. In theory, this spreads costs. However, one of the many major challenges presented is how the technology is integrated at the brand level? Stay tuned for the answers that have yet to appear in showrooms. (Ford Wants Fully Autonomous Ride-Sharing Car in 2021, Volkswagen Group Debuts Investment Plan for 2020-2024, Volkswagen Joins Ford by Investing in Argo AI
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Rolls-Royce on CS Rolls’ Record Run in a Wright Flyer

Ken Zino of on CS Rolls - founder's pioneering flight

In a flight lasting 95 minutes, Rolls achieved two milestones.

Rolls-Royce says that at 6.30 pm on 2 June 1910, Charles Stewart Rolls took off solo in a Wright brothers biplane from Swingate aerodrome, near Dover, to achieve the world’s first non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by airplane. His departure was repeatedly frustrated by high winds, fog, or mechanical problems. Finally, conditions were calm and clear. Among the spectators on the cliffs were Rolls’ parents, Lord and Lady Llangattock, and his sister and brother-in-law, Sir John and Lady Shelley. He was in a Wright Flier.

Louis Blériot had stunned the world with the first powered flight from France to England in July 1909. “It is the only time I have succeeded in taking ten gallons of fuel in and out of France without paying duty,” CS Rolls later quipped. Continue reading

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Auto Assembly Plant Restarts  – Yes, Maybe and Unknown

FCA, GM, and Volkswagen announced planned to restart production at four plants during the week of 31 May 2020.

Ken Zino of on Auto Assembly Plant Restarts

Click to Enlarge.Courtesy of the Center for Automotive Research.

FCA’s Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois is scheduled to begin production on 1 June at an estimated weekly production capacity of 6,430.

GM announced plans to restart production at its plants in Arlington, Texas and Fairfax, Kansas. They will begin production with one shift.

Volkswagen said its plants located in Puebla, Mexico, is scheduled to begin production during this week at a weekly production capacity of 15,309 units.

The following table depicts automakers who previously announced restart dates before the week of 20 May 2020 that have not publicly confirmed the restart of their operations.
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Hershey Swap Meet Cancelled!

Kenneth Zino of on Cancellation of the Hersey Swap Meet

Covid is just as deadly as lead or leaded gasoline.

The American Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Fall Meet – aka Hersey Swap Meet – in the Pennsylvania town of Hershey is for the moment cancelled. With ongoing COVID-19 concerns and Pennsylvania’s legal constraints on more than 25 people gathering, the Hershey Region Chapter, has just said (30 May) on their Facebook page that the enduring event of 65 years taking place at the beginning of October is cancelled.
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Chevrolet Launches Bolt EV Academy Video Series

Ken Zino of on Chevrolet Bolt EV Academy Video Series

Bolt EV Academy will help educate current and future Bolt EV owners about some of the “advantages” of living electric.

Chevrolet has launched a Bolt EV Academy, a series of 15 videos to help educate current and future Bolt EV owners on the advantages of living electric and how to get the most out of their electric vehicle. Bolt EV has a MSRP $37,495 with optional DC Fast Charging system and before any federal or state tax incentives.

The online series explains several of the Bolt EV’s unique features, driving tips and how-tos. For future Bolt EV drivers, the series will allegedly illustrate “just how fun, easy and convenient it is to live with an electric vehicle “ as  explained by the engineers and experts who brought the Bolt EV to life.
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COVID-19 Automotive Related Closings, Openings, Closings on COVID-19 - Stringency of U.S. Response Lags-

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Few U.S. Adults Say They’ve Been Diagnosed with Coronavirus. More Than A Quarter Know Someone Who Has. Only 2% of U.S. adults say they have been officially diagnosed with COVID-19, and a mere 2% say they have taken a blood test that showed they have COVID-19 antibodies, an indication that they previously had the virus. But far more say they are “pretty sure” they had the virus despite not getting an official diagnosis or say they personally know someone who was diagnosed with it, according to the latest Pew Research survey. The Coronavirus death toll is heavily concentrated in Democratic congressional districts. For actual modeling date See “Susceptible, Infectious, Recovered,”London Review of Books, May 7, 2020. Also see  Simanaitis Says.

Ford Pauses Production at Kansas City Assembly for COVID-19 Case. Ford employees are deep cleaning and disinfecting an employees’ work area, equipment, team area and the path that the employee take while at the plant. “We are temporarily pausing production at Kansas City Assembly Plant – on the Transit side – until the deep cleaning is completed. “We are notifying people known to have been in close contact with the infected individual and asking them to self-quarantine for 14 days,” Ford said. Continue reading

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Unions Protest Nissan Closure of Catalan Factories

Ken Zino of on workers protesting Nissan closure of Catalan factories - May 2020 Alliance Restructuring

The Nissan global restructuring plan affects 20% of its production capacity.

When Nissan yesterday announced the closure of three factories in Barcelona, with the loss of 3,000 jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in the supply chain, workers protested say IndustriAll. The closure of the Barcelona factories was the direct result of a previously announced restructuring plan that would affect more than 12,000 jobs globally at loss-making Nissan, which has been hit twice – once from the Renault Alliance and Carlos Ghosn criminal matter and then COVID-19. (Nissan Posts -¥671.2 Billion Loss for Fiscal Year 2019)

So far, 4,000 workers have been laid off, 600 in Spain. The unions in Spain, as well as at European level, have been in dialogue with the company and have presented alternative plans. Continue reading

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Honda Sets Records for Auto Production in China

Ken Zino of on Honda Sets Records for Auto Production in China

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Honda Motor Company today announced a summary of automobile production for the month of April 2020. As expected, U.S. production was zero because of the COVID-19 Crisis. However, note China. It enforced strict social behaviors in Hunan province, where the disease /plague apparently started.

The Trump Administration denied there was problem. In fact, President said that Covid would go away by April. And even now is falsely maintaining that its response could not have been better as unemployment is approaching Great Depression levels –  41,000,000 Americans have filled for unemployment since mid-March  – and more than 100,000 people have died…

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5-Liters of Fun – Mustang Mach 1 a Go for 2021

Ken Zino on 2021 Mustang Mach 1

Mustang Mach 1 is due back next spring.

The fastback that debuted during the muscle car era in 1960s – as a cut-rate version of the Boss or Shelby – returns for global buyers. It will have a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine with performance to match but is no longer the cheap fast Mustang that made it a legend. Well, fast it will be. Price is another matter to be announced.

In 1971 Mach 1 with its competition suspension appeared – longer and larger than the original, with an assortment of powerful engine options. In 1974 Mach 1 changed again to a hatchback. This Mach 1 generation had a five-year run and beefed up its handling capabilities more with an optional Rallye Suspension Package. Continue reading

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Nissan Posts -¥671.2 Billion Loss for Fiscal Year 2019

Ken Zino of on Nissan Financial Results for Fiscal Year 2019.

On a management pro forma basis, which includes the proportionate consolidation of results from Nissan’s joint venture Dong Feng operation in China, operating profit was ¥116.7 billion, which equates to a +1.0% operating margin, and net loss was -¥671.2 billion.

Nissan Motor Co. today posted large financial losses for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2020, aka Japanese fiscal year. The global COVID-19 pandemic substantially affected Nissan’s production, sales, and other business activities in all regions. Overall market demand decreased amid the current global environment, which has resulted in a slowdown in global total industry volume (TIV). In fiscal year 2019, the global TIV fell by 6.9% to 85.73 million units. Nissan’s sales dropped 10.6% to 4.93 million vehicles; market share maintained 5.8% as previously forecast. However, Nissan’s business and brand problems go back several years. Nissan today announced the closure of three factories in Barcelona, with the loss of 3,000 jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in the supply chain. (Renault, Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Slice, Dice World by Brand)

During fiscal year 2019, consolidated net revenue declined to ¥9.8789 trillion yen, resulting in an operating loss of ¥40.5 billion yen and a net loss1 of -¥ 671.2 billion. This includes costs associated with restructuring and impairments of ¥603.0 billion as Nissan tried to improve operational and efficiency improvements. Free cash flow for the automotive business was, gulp, negative -¥641.0 billion.
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Rolls-Royce, Daimler Truck to Develop Stationary Fuel-Cells on Daimler Truck and Rolls-Royce to unite on stationary fuel-cell generators

A PEM fuel cell is structured like a sandwich. In the center is a thin plastic film, the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). This is coated on both sides with a catalyst layer and a gas permeable electrode of graphite paper. The membrane is surrounded by two bipolar plates with milled gas ducts. Through these ducts flows hydrogen one side, and oxygen on the other. Several individual fuel cells are stacked to produce CO2 free energy.

Daimler Truck and Rolls-Royce plan to unite on the development of stationary fuel-cell generators as CO2-neutral emergency power generators for safety-critical facilities such as data centers.

They will offer emission-free alternatives to diesel engines, which are currently used as emergency power generators , or to cover peak loads. They have signed an preliminary agreement, with a comprehensive agreement due and signed by the end of the year.

In April, Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group signed a preliminary, non-binding agreement to establish a new joint venture for the development, production, and sale of fuel-cell systems for heavy-duty commercial vehicles and other uses. The Rolls-Royce Power Systems business unit plans to rely on these fuel-cell systems from the planned joint venture – as well as Daimler’s experience in the emergency power generators it develops and distributes for data centers under the MTU product and solution brand.
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Draining the Swamp – California, 22 States Sue to Stop Trump Emissions Rollback Citing Economic, Health and Climate Goals on CO2 Increases in California from Trump EPA Rollback Decree - Source CARB

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Yesterday, California led a lawsuit with 22 more states and other jurisdictions challenging the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back vehicle emissions standards.

Since these emission rules were enacted eight years ago, they have reduced air pollution and protected the air we breathe. Now the Federal swamp along the banks of the Potomac is over-populated by big money special interests and giving off fetid emissions that need to be cleaned up through more regulation.

The California Air Resources Board helped develop the original 2012 rules and is represented in this case by the California Attorney General. Trump is among global warming deniers, a position – as usual – that has no basis in fact, but is funded by lobbying groups working for those who benefit from exploiting and increasing the use of carbon-based fossil fuels. The 2012 rules would have had automakers increase the average fuel economy of cars and trucks to ~54 miles per gallon by 2025. The new Trump mini-standards require automakers to only improve their average fleet-wide fuel economy to 40 miles per gallon.
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Renault, Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Slice, Dice World by Brand

Groupe Renault, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation today announced several initiatives as part of a new business model “to enhance the competitiveness and profitability” of the three sometimes at odds companies.** It’s a “survival by consolidation strategy,” which will have international political and product and employment implications for autoworkers, dealers and suppliers.

The member companies plan to build on existing Alliance “benefits” in areas such as joint purchasing by using their respective positions and geographic strengths to support their partners’ business development. The three companies of the Alliance will cover all vehicle segments and technologies globally, while increasing their respective competitiveness.
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Risks Versus Odds Versus “WE the People” on Can I Get COVID-19

You decide the odds because they are based on the nature of contacts, their duration, location and the behaviors of others. The risks are certain.

It appears that large sub-segments of the U.S. population are anti-science, anti-vaccine or is that dumb and proud of it? They are putting other people at risk.

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