Fiat Chrysler Recalls 4.8 Million Vehicles for Runaway Acceleration Caused by Cruise Control Software

AutoInformed.com on ongoing safety problems at FCA

Don’t touch that Cruise Control switch – the software has a mind of its own.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is telling drivers not to use cruise control on 4.8 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles because the software of the cruise may direct it to stay engaged against the driver’s intent.

When this serious electronic safety defect happens, drivers may be able to stop the vehicle by depressing the brake pedal. The vehicle can then be placed into park once stopped. Drivers may also: 1) shift the transmission to neutral, 2) forcefully apply the manual brake, and 3) place the vehicle in park once stopped.

This appears to be a re-run or sequel of Chrysler’s long-running horror movie on safety. (See AutoInformed/com on: NHTSA Whacks Chrysler with Record $105m Safety Penalty, Hack Attack! FCA Recalls 1.4m Vehicles Because Outsiders Can Take Control Remotely by Exploiting the Software, US DOT Fines Fiat Chrysler $70 Million more, NHTSA Blasts FCA Recalls – Big Fines, Maybe Criminal Charges Coming for Italian Automaker? Litigation Ongoing.) Continue reading

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Transformation to Mobility Company? Ford Returns to Detroit.

AutoInformed.com on Mobility Companies

The original mass-market mobility company is trying at great risk to become a 21st century one.

It’s been an on again, off again geographic affair, but Ford now officially says it has returned to Detroit with its global electric vehicle organization, Ford Team Edison. The autonomous vehicle business team is also housed in a refurbished former factory located in Detroit’s historic Corktown district.

Planned to begin production in 2021, Ford’s first autonomous vehicles will be designed to move people or goods.

Back to the Future.

As part of an $11.1 billion investment in global electric vehicles announced earlier this year, Ford says it will sell electrified vehicles that “offer exciting experiences and enhanced capabilities based on what people need and want – including the all-new Mustang-inspired battery-electric SUV in 2020.” Continue reading

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Active Damping Controls Ride on 2019 Ford Raptor

AutoInformed.com on 2019 Ford RaptorA new stock Ford Raptor could go off-road racing at Baja with the addition of a roll cage and some other tweaks. Late this year when the 2019 version debuts, Raptor will have electronically-controlled Fox racing dampers, and Recaro bucket seats that should hold you in place from take-off to touch-down while leaving dust clouds behind.

While Raptor has always had plenty of motor – 450 horsepower and 510 lb. ft. of torque, it now has better suspension control, although travel is carryover at 13 inches front and 13.9 inches at the rear.  On compression the new electronically-controlled shocks now can be varied real time so that when the front wheels encounter high amplitude movement, the rear dampers can be programmed for the impending thump/bump/jolt… Continue reading

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Driving Dangerously – an American Way of Life. And Death

AutoInformed.com on Dangerous Driving

Rushed or aggressive drivers can improve their driving. Click to Enlarge.

As we approach the Memorial Day mayhem and carnage on U.S roads, a recent survey from Envista Forensics (1) concludes that so-called Millennials* lead the Dangerous Driving race. (See U.S. Memorial Day Travel Primed to be a Near Record)

“By far, millennials are the greatest menaces to mobile society: 1 in 4 millennials have tried and failed to change their dangerous driving behavior,” said Envista after querying 2000 drivers who admitted that they are part of the dangerous driving problem comprised of rushed, distracted, aggressive, intoxicated. There is also a double standard in play: Drunk driving is illegal, but distracted driving – largely from ubiquitous cellphone, connected-car web use and eating while driving, is tacitly condoned. Continue reading

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Drinking the Electrolyte? Audi Plans to Sell 800K EVs in 2025

Audi General Meeting May 2018 - AutoInformed.com

This overall plan is also called roadmap E. Following this route will considerably increase investment, making the expense side of the spreadsheet the corporate equivalent of gas guzzlers.

Audi claims it aims to sell ~800,000 fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the year 2025. Last week at the Annual General Meeting of AUDI AG, the Board of Management updated “Audi.Vorsprung.2025.Vorsprung – roughly translated – means lead or advantage. We’ll see what the exact meaning is ultimately…

This regulation-prompted strategy – searching for an advantage and customers – means every third buyer or leasee would take an e-model by the middle of the next decade – customers who have thus far shunned driving “green vehicles” at this level of participation. During 2017 Audi sold 1.9 million vehicles globally. Do the math and that means a huge shift in the market. In the U.S. during 2017 Audi sold 227,000 vehicles.  During the last Japanese fiscal year ending in March of 2018, the Nissan Leaf, arguably the most affordable long-range EV with 150 miles on a full charge, sold ~55,000 units – globally.

Continue reading

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Daimler, Deutsche Telekom End German Government Clash

Autoinformed.com on legal issues with autonomous automotive systems

One thing’s certain – this is an easy way to tax and automatically raise taxes.

Daimler reached an agreement with Deutsche Telekom and the German Federal Government concluding arbitration proceedings over the flawed launch of Toll Collect for heavy trucks. The dispute dragged on for 14 years. However, it’s a new beginning for Fresh Start, which is an automated toll collecting system for trucks, which is easily accomplished in other countries by other companies.

Whether this bodes ill for Daimler’s other car-to-car or car-to-infrastructure/web communications programs remains to be see. It also points to an unknown legal environment facing autonomous car makers with products already on the market – automatic driver-assist systems such as automatic braking, automatic parking, or vehicle-following speed control. Continue reading

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Fire Sale – Ford Restarting F-150, Super Duty Production

AutoInformed.com on Ford Truck  Supplier Fire

Ford recovered, repaired and validated most dies at the Eaton Rapids facility.

Ford Motor Company is restarting production of its most profitable vehicle – the F-150 pickup truck – at Dearborn Truck Plant Friday after about one week of downtime.

The company declined to say how many vehicles weren’t built because the lost production is still unknown until everything is back up and running. Inventories of the best-selling F-Series pickups and other vehicles are adequate. Customers shouldn’t have a problem “finding the model they want,” said Ford. (F-Series Supplier Fire – a Threat to Ford Motor Profitability) Continue reading

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Toyota, KDDI, OYO to Collect Data for Disaster Relief

AutoInformed.com of Toyota Big Data for Distaster Relief

How’s your Kanji? No matter, the connected car and big data are moving forward at Grand Prix speeds.

KDDI, OYO and Toyota will gather data to build an “information support system” for the government and local administrations. The project uses technologies in the IoT (internet of things) and big data analysis that will be crucial to the survival of “wanna be” mobility companies in the auto industry that lack much experience in these areas.

The Japanese companies will carry out experiments with the aim of commercializing this system by 2019. The system will bring together KDDI’s demographic movement data, OYO’s various data from disaster monitoring sensors, probe data obtained through Toyota’s connected cars, and publicized data, such as weather information, with the goal of creating “all kinds of disaster prevention information.” Continue reading

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Software Lightens Hardware

AutoInformed.com on GM and AutoData Lightweighting

The new technology provides significantly more mass reduction and parts consolidation opportunities that – it’s said – cannot be achieved through traditional design optimization methods.

General Motors is using advanced software design for the next generation of vehicle light-weighting. The technology is claimed to be key to developing efficient and lighter alternative propulsion and zero emission vehicles. GM is the first automaker in North America to use tools from Bay Area-based software company Autodesk.

It uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to explore multiple permutations of a part design, generating hundreds of high-performance, often organic-looking geometric design options based on goals and parameters set by the user, such as weight, strength, material choice, fabrication method, and more. The user then determines the best part design option.

Continue reading

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U.S. Memorial Day Travel Primed to be a Near Record

AutoInformed.com

Several major U.S. metro areas could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip. New Yorkers could see three times the delay.

Not everyone will be in front of you in heavy traffic, but Memorial Day will see Americans traveling in near-record numbers. More than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, ~5% more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years. Close to 2 million additional people will board planes, trains, automobiles and other transportation types, according to AAA.

INRIX, an analytics company, expects travel delays on major roads could be up to three times longer than normal, with the busiest days being Thursday and Friday (May 24-25) as commuters mix with holiday travelers. Continue reading

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F-Series Supplier Fire – a Threat to Ford Motor Profitability

AutoInformed.com on 2016 U.S. Auto SalesFord Motor Company finally said today that it is working to mitigate U.S. production losses after a May 2 fire at a parts supplier. Parts shortages from Meridian Magnesium Products of America’s disabled plant is  is shutting down F-150 and Super Duty production at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly, Dearborn Truck and Kentucky Truck plants. However, Ford has a whopping 84 days of supply of trucks as gasoline prices are rising once again.

Ford says it takes less than a third of the volume of from the Meridian plant in what is a meaningless distinction because the F-Series is the foundation of the profitability of Ford in North America – a foundation that was already showing signs of cracks. (see AutoInformed.com on Failing Grade for Ford Motor Q1 Earnings, Failing Grade for Ford Motor Q1 Earnings)  Ford claims that while the shortage will hurt near-term Q2 results, the company’s guidance of  an adjusted EPS in the range of $1.45 to $1.701 for the full year is unchanged thus far. Continue reading

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FCA US April Sales Sees Trucks and Namesake Brands Decline

AutoInformed.com on FCA April 2018 US SalesFCA US had sales of 184,149 vehicles, a 5 percent increase compared with sales in April 2017 of 176,176 vehicles. Overall sales were helped by the Jeep brand which reported record sales in April of 82,641 vehicles, beating 82,537 vehicles in April 2016. Overall FCA retail sales were 143,995 vehicles, down 1 percent. Fleet accounted for a large 22 percent of total sales.

The brands* the company is named after – Fiat and Chrysler – both posted huge declines. Sales of Fiat vehicles declined 45 percent to 1,404 vehicles. Chrysler brand total sales fell 18 percent in April to 14,189 vehicles compared with the same month a year ago. The Chrysler Pacifica minivan posted a 5 percent retail sales increase to 7,864 vehicles.  Continue reading

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Ecstasy and SUVs – Rolls-Royce to Launch Cullinan Tomorrow

AutInformed.com on Rolls-Royce CullinanRolls Royce Motor cars will technically be no more when it launches the Cullinan SUV. That right Rolls is joining the ecstasy of other automakers by joining the stampede to truck-like SUVs that customers are increasingly entranced with.

Perhaps Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, should consider a brand name change to RR Vehicles – hardly engrossing but accurate.  RRMC currently sells super-expensive automobiles, including the Phantom, Ghost, Wraith and Dawn range of models. Continue reading

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TMC Posts Revenues of $265 Billion for Fiscal Year

AutoInformed.com on Toyota FY 2017 FinancialResults

Technology companies, who are our new rivals, with speed many times greater than our own and backed by abundant funding, are continuing to aggressively invest in new technologies,” said Toyoda.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) today announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018 with consolidated vehicle sales of 8,964,394 units, a decrease of 6,466 units year-over-year.  Region by region Toyota is experiencing the effects of a slowdown in the global automotive economy along with an ongoing increase in competition. As a result, volume is down slightly, but operating income is up.

Akio Toyoda called his management team “the seven samurai,” after the Akira Kurosawa film. Toyota said he hopes to turn the major changes happening in the auto industry into big opportunities. “Being a “mobility company” means more than pushing ahead with more of the same, but pursuing “a future that we forge ourselves,” he added. Continue reading

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Ford Smart Mobility, Zotye Ink MOU on Chinese Ride Hailing

AutoInformed.com on Zoyte and Chinese EV Market

FMC previously said 70% of Ford-branded vehicles sold in the country will offer electrified powertrain options by 2025. Ford has not been successful with selling EVs in North America.

Ford Smart Mobility LLC and Zotye Auto have signed an MOU to establish a new 50:50 JV in Zhejiang province that will focus on providing pure EVs to fleet operators and drivers in China’s ride-hailing market. Each company will provide 50 % of the JV’s registered capital of $20 million. The Zotye-Ford mobility JV will provide ride-hailing fleet operators and drivers with all-electric vehicle leasing services, data-driven fleet management solutions, in-vehicle digital services, connectivity and vehicle customization. Ford Smart Mobility is a Ford Motor Company subsidiary formed to design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. Continue reading

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