Lightweighting Avant-Garde – GM, BMW, Asahi Kasei, Mazda, Sika Automotive

Pickup trucks are still heavy despite intensive engineering.

Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) have announced the winners of the 6th annual Altair Enlighten Award just before lunch today  at the 2018 CAR Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Michigan.

The award “honors the greatest achievements in vehicle weight savings each year.”  The award purports to “ incentivizes automotive light-weighting advancements and provides a global platform to recognize and share technological achievements. Continue reading

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2019 Silverado 1500 has Largest Pickup Bed

Click to Enlarge.

Thank goodness the truck isn’t really a bigger behemoth, but the bed is larger so that Chevrolet can claim that the 2019 Silverado pickup has best-in-class cargo volume, box depth, box length at floor. There’s also a claimed  segment-leading 12 fixed tie-downs and exclusive power up/down tailgate.

“The bed is the heart and soul of any pickup,” said Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer, Full-Size Trucks, General Motors. “We’ve added so many features and benefits that it deserves its own name – Durabed.”

Silverado now has 12 fixed tie-downs, and the strength of each of these has doubled from 113 kilograms (250 lbs.) to 227 kilograms (500 lbs.) of force before bending. An additional nine moveable tie-down points are optional as well for even more cargo flexibility. Together, these 21-total tie-downs are the most of any full-size pickup. Continue reading

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Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes Wins Hungarian GP over Ferrari. on Hungarian GP 2018.

Vettel in the Ferrari was extremely strong. The Mercedes / Hamilton victory was largely luck of the draw via tire choices, pit stop strategies and traffic.

Lewis Hamilton won in Budapest yesterday 1:37:16.427 with teammate Valtteri Bottas fifth. It was a hard-fought race run in the sunshine, unlike the rain-soaked qualifying that preceded it. It was Hamilton’s  67th career victory – his fifth in 2018 and sixth at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Bottas finished P5 (1:38:16.427) after running P2 much of the race and defending the position strongly. Finishing P2 and P3 for Scuderia Ferrari were Sebastian Vettel (1:37:33.550)  and Kimi Raikkonen (1:37:36.528). Aston Martin Red Bull Racing with driver Daniel Ricciardi was fourth 1:38:02.846.

The upshot: Hamilton (213 points) leads the Drivers’ Championship in a Mercedes Silver Arrow by 24 points ahead of the hated Ferrari driven by Sebastian Vettel (189 points) with Bottas (132 points) in P4. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (345 points) leads Ferrari (335 points) by a mere 10 points in the Constructors’ Championship. Continue reading

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Sergio Marchionne Dead at 66

Marchionne was gracious but circumspect at the announcement of 2015 UAW contract talks in Detroit.

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne, 66, is dead. He resigned last Saturday because of complications following shoulder surgery for cancer. He was without doubt responsible for building strong teams that saved both Fiat, which he took over management of in 2004 and subsequently Chrysler during the Republican Great Recession that started in 2008 and still lingers in the job decreasing Trump reign. (Gravely Ill Sergio Marchionne out at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Trucker Mike Manley now CEO)

An intense, yet approachable CEO, smitten with black sweaters and Apple products, Marchionne was capable of referring to business theories – some of them wryly his own about, say, the collective madness of the industry over autonomous and electric cars during auto show executive braggadocio, with references to linguistic philosophy, current politics and history during a single press conference. This provided AutoInformed scribes with much needed amusement and relief given the standard corporate pablum that occurs with about the same amount of gallons spilled as Deepwater Horizon. (Transocean Pleads Guilty in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Criminal and Civil Fines Set at a Record $1.4 Billion by Department of Justice)

Last year at the North American International Auto show when asked about Trump’s NAFTA tantrum he said, “I’m screwed. I’m Canadian and manage global businesses.” My own personal favorite occurred when the Mazda Fiat development project was underway. Would the Fiat have a Japanese engine?” No, an Italian car should have a Wop engine,” a philosophy that continues today with Alfa’ nascent F1 racing using Ferrari powerplants. (Alfa Romeo Returns to Formula 1 in 2018 via Sauber) Last month as Chrysler’s guest I turned dozens of mediocre laps at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving grounds in a delightfully fast, and decidedly not another boring crossover, Fiat 124 developed in conjunction with the Japanese automaker. (Mazda and Fiat Sign Agreement for New Alfa Romeo Roadster)

Continue reading

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Daimler Signs €11 billion Credit Line

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. A lead in Formula One and more credit all in a couple of days. How do you say good Karma in German?

Yesterday Daimler AG (ticker  DAI) concluded a syndicated credit line with a group of international banks for of €11 billion. The credit line has a term of five years with two extension options. It is said to give the company financial flexibility until the year 2025. Because of “ the favorable market environment, the existing credit line was extended prematurely.” (translation Daimler paid too much.) The transaction was concluded on improved terms and was significantly oversubscribed, thereby proving once again that banks prefer to lend to people and institutions that don’t really need to borrow. Because of the favorable credit environment and Daimler’s good credit rating, the commitment fee to be paid for the new credit line is lower despite its higher volume. Continue reading

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Auto Workers Oppose Trump Tariffs that Would Destroy Jobs

Trump’s proposed tariffs are opposed by virtually every trade group associated with manufacturing and any group with export business.

Dozens of employees from Toyota’s 10 U.S. assembly plants were in Washington, D.C., opposing the government’s threat to impose a 25% tariff on imported vehicles and parts. They were part of a growing movement of opposition to Trump’s job destroying trade plans. They were joined by U.S. production workers from other international automakers across the country. To draw attention to the automakers’ U.S.-built vehicles, a caravan of cars and trucks circled the Capitol during a Commerce Department hearing Friday examining whether auto imports are a “threat to national security.” According to an auto industry trade group they will cost consumers $83 billion. Continue reading

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Gravely Ill Sergio Marchionne out at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Trucker Mike Manley now CEO

When President Obama took office, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse. Many Republicans in 2004 wanted to let it and all the jobs go.

Sergio Marchionne, 66, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (“FCA”) (NYSE: FCAU / MTA: FCA) is gravely ill following an operation last week in Zurich, Switzerland for an unspecified problem. He is not expected to recover. “As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work,” FCA said in a terse statement over the weekend confirming his resignation.

The Board of Directors of FCA, “expressed its closeness to Sergio Marchionne and his family and underlined the extraordinary contribution, both human and professional, that he has made to the Company in these years.” Marchionne was key, of course in saving Chrysler and from bankruptcy by taking into a successful merger.

That’s amore! Ram Truck profits.

FCA and Ferrari stock were slightly affected by the sad news (FCA -0.34%@$18.98; Ferrari -2.5%@ $136.49). The down-tick at Ferrari is also possibly attributable to Sebastian Vettel’s crash-out at the Formula One race in Hockenheim on lap 52 of 67 when a short rain shower appeared, which moved Ferrari’s maker’s and driver’s titles to second place, and worse, ceding first place to the silver arrows of arch-rival Mercedes-Benz. Continue reading

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Lamborghini in GTD, Ford in LMGT Earn Firsts at Lime Rock on IMSA Racing. Photo by Richard Prince for Chevy Racing

The No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner took a 4th place finish in the GTLM class at Lime Rock Park. Note the close racing, fast moving traffic jam.

While the buildup was over-hyped as usual, the actual running of GT-only cars at Lime Rock on Saturday was a close and treacherous racing as you’ll ever see in American sports car.

After the debris had been cleared and the yellow flags disappeared a Lamborghini took first in GTD, with the following race cars – all of which are closely related to their production versions – Acura, Porsche, BMW – touched doors on the bucolic and windy course in North Western Connecticut.

In the marginally faster LMGT class (particularly at Lime Rock because there are no long straights where power rules, just seven challenging different radius turns) Ford Chip Ganassi Racing played the rare role of spoiler by finishing first  Saturday in the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Continue reading

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Recalls from Ford, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda and VW

Soon to be fired Raj Nair, Ford Chief Technical Officer, and the new 2017 Fusion at 2016 NAIAS.

Ford Motor is recalling more than 500,000  model year 2013-2014 Ford Escape, and 2013-2016 Ford Fusion vehicles, equipped with six-speed automatic transmissions because the bushing that attaches the transmission shifter cable to the transmission may degrade over time and cause the bushing to detach from the transmission.

The safety defect could allow the driver to move the shift lever to Park and remove the ignition key, while the transmission may not be in Park, with no warning message or audible chime. Continue reading

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First GT Only IMSA Race Saturday at Lime Rock on sports car racing

Legge up?

This is an IMSA GT weekend, the first of two where only GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes are run this Saturday at Lime Rock Park. The fast and constricted track should have the IMSA GTD cars turning sub 60-second lap times around the 1.4-mile, 7-turn circuit comprised of one left hand turn and six right handers. (Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute Northeast Grand Prix begins at 3 pm ET and will be televised on a delayed basis that afternoon starting at 4 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be carried live by IMSA Radio on, and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 138/XM 202/App 972).

The Connecticut track rewards good handling race cars because of the  fast-downhill starting at West Bend (Turn 6) through the Downhill turn (Turn 7) that leads onto the main straight. Pit stop execution is vital at such speeds. Any team needs any advantage it can get in a tough GTD class, which AutoInformed thinks is among the  best racing in the world. It’s full of experienced cars and drivers with pace. This will likely characterize the racing to the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on 13 October as stressed as it is uncertain. Continue reading

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Ford Issues Two Safety Recalls on ~550,000 Vehicles on Fird Safety Defects

The Fusion is aimed at the heart of the family car market long dominated by the Japanese Three – Toyota, Nissan and Honda – all of whom historically provide a lower overall cost of ownership, much higher quality and customer loyalty.

Ford is issuing two safety recalls in North America. The first covers 2013-2016 Fusion cars and Escape crossovers for serious defects that appear to be a routine supplier matter. On 2013-16 model year Ford Fusion and 2013-14 Ford Escape vehicles the  shifter cable bushings are bad. It’s the bushing that attaches the shifter cable to the transmission, but it can detach from the transmission. This safety defect can allow the transmission to be in a gear different than the gear shift position selected by the driver. Continue reading

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Baseball All Stars – Alex Bregnan and Chevrolet

The 2018 Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Alex Bregman, third baseman for the Houston Astros, and (left to right) his mother Jackie, father Sam and sister Jessica, with a new Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe, awarded during the All-Star Game MVP award ceremony presented by Chevrolet last night at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Bregman is giving the Camaro SS to Jackie – his mother.  Continue reading

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Oshkosh Silliness? First Flying Car Slated for 2019 on Flying Cars

Terrafugia – AutoInformed’s barnstorming translation – Fleeing the Ground.

Terrafugia, Inc. announced new features in the long-promised Transition production vehicle, a two-seat auto and aircraft. The latest updates are interior, safety systems, motor, and flight instrumentation. The systems will be incorporated and verified in the next test vehicles. The first production vehicles will come to market in 2019, it’s said. Terrafugia’s next generation concept is the TF-2, a VTOL aircraft (vertical takeoff and landing) for cargo and passengers.

The roads and airways are littered with aviation startups that didn’t fly. Terrafugia (AutoInformed’s barnstorming translation – Fleeing the Ground) might be different. Founded in 2006 by five award-winning MIT graduates, there is certainly brain power in the DNA of the fledgling. Since 2017 this ground fleer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of  the Chinese Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which among other things now wholly owns Volvo. Continue reading

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AutoInformed Special Report: More Press Releases than Automated Vehicles as Makers Describe Intentions on ACE and autonomous vehicles.

Click to enlarge.

It seems a week doesn’t pass without the announcement of the latest technology or partnership or production vehicle that points the way to the Holy Grail of the automaker universe – the super connected and autonomous vehicle. Still, limited appearances start this fall with the Google autonomous car roving  Arizona However, it will likely be more than a decade before the vehicles are proven, and acceptable to enough buyers that a mass market, and therefore mass production will begin. This, of course skips a discussion of formidable legal and insurance issues. Continue reading

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Rising Income Inequality Differs in Racial, Ethnic Groups on Rising Income Inequality

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The income gap between the rich and poor – has increased steadily in the United States since the 1970s. By one measure, the gap between Americans at the top and the bottom of the income ladder increased 27% from 1970 to 2016. However, the rise in inequality within America’s racial and ethnic communities varies strikingly from one group to another, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

This analysis, which draws on data from the American Community Survey and U.S. decennial censuses, income inequality is measured using a 90/10 ratio – the income of those at the high end (90th percentile) of the income distribution relative to the income of those at the low end (10th percentile). Continue reading

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