Profanity-Filled Road Rage Continues for a Third of Drivers

What road rage in city traffic? AutoInformed is shocked that “commuting by cursing”  is going on.

A survey of auto commuters with the average commuting time totaling 21-23 minutes nationwide – much longer in the five cities analyzed –  commuters aim to make the most of their time in the car with 79% designating their commute for me-time and relaxation.

However, more than a third (38% percent) of commuters admit to being likely to swear at other drivers when experiencing road rage. Close to half of Washington D.C.’s commuters (49%) admitted to “commuting by cussing,” 46% in Chicago and 45% in Los Angeles. Continue reading

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Vehicle Average Loan, Monthly Payment at Record Highs

Predicting the trend of U.S. light vehicle sales is based on many factors and unknowns. What is known, however, is that the rise in loan amounts, monthly payments and interest rates for new vehicles are at record highs.  According to Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market Report released today, the average new vehicle loan was $31,455 in Q1 2018, an increase of $921 from the previous year. The monthly payment for a new vehicle climbed to $523, a $15 increase over the same period. The average interest rate for a new vehicle was 5.17% during the quarter.

Forecasts for U.S.  vehicle sales predict flat May numbers year-over-year when they are released tomorrow. New light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.56 million units, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate – SAAR – of 16.6 million, down a tad from last year. If accurate the SAAR will be its lowest level since August 2017 and down from the 17.1 million trend the market has been averaging in 2018.  (Read on U.S. Vehicle Sales Forecast Flat for May 2018) Continue reading

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Smart Head Annette Winkler Abruptly Departs Daimler on Smart and Daimler

Smart was arguably the first serious foray into urban vehicles in 1998 when it appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Annette Winkler, 58, is leaving her position as head of Smart at Daimler AG. The exit for the 23-year veteran comes after eight years of her management of Smart on September 30, 2018. Daimler did not have an immediate replacement to head the tiny car brand.

Winkler and – struggling Smart – were (are?) part of Daimler’s confusing small car strategy and current rush to electric vehicle production. Smart lost billions of Euros for Daimler. Its only fit appeared to be as a foil against mileage and emissions regulations, allowing the owner of Mercedes Benz to continue to thrive selling gas guzzlers.

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Aussie Will Power Wins the 102nd Indianapolis 500 for Penske on Indy 500

Will Power (center), Elizabeth Cannon Power (right) at the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

Australian Will Power took his seventh win in Indy Car racing at the Brickyard on Sunday. Power led a 1-2 Chevrolet sweep of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 with a 3.1589-second victory over pole-sitter Ed Carpenter. It was Power’s first 500 victory. The high-speed drive around the four-turn oval was worth more than $5000 a lap in purse. Power is the 72nd different driver to win the 500-Mile Race and tied Al Unser Jr. for eighth on the all-time Indy car list with 34 victories. Chevrolet has powered six of Penske’s wins in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Penske has done far better than Chevrolet with 17 victories in the run for the Hoosier milk, which Power spilled all over himself, the parade Queen and others in the winner’s circle. Alongside him his wife, Elizabeth Cannon Power, was lovingly hysterical and elated when she started breathing again and could speak. Elizabeth was as entertaining as the race, and an award should be created in her honor for future effusions of such joy.

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CARB OKs Plan to Mitigate Harm from Volkswagen Diesel Defeat Devices. Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Get Clean Technology

Ex-CEO Winterkorn could still face prosecution in the VW fraud.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a plan to mitigate statewide harm from more than 10,000 tons of smog-causing pollutants released in California alone because of Volkswagen’s deliberate use of illegal “defeat devices” in diesel passenger cars. The National VW Environmental Trust provides California with $423 million for this purpose.

“This is a landmark moment in the saga of Volkswagen’s environmental violations,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Over the next 10 years this plan will put in place not only tools to clean up VW’s excess emissions, but also to help achieve further reductions of smog-forming pollution for decades to come.” Continue reading

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U.S. Vehicle Sales Forecast Flat for May 2018 on May 2018 US Sales Forecast

Click to Enlarge.

Forecasts for U.S.  vehicle sales predict flat May numbers year-over-year. New light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.56 million units, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate – SAAR – of 16.6 million, down a tad from last year.

If accurate the SAAR will be its lowest level since August 2017 and down from the 17.1 million trend the market has been averaging in 2018.    Continue reading

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

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.

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Daimler, Deutsche Telekom End German Government Clash 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 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 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 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.

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