Archive for May, 2017

Toyota Adopts Automotive Grade Linux for 2018 Camry

Open-source software speeds development, promotes individuality.

by on May.31, 2017

Toyota is using Automotive Grade Linux for its new Entune 3.0 system in the 2018 Camry.

It appears that Toyota is taking control — of its infotainment systems. As part of an announcement that its new 2018 Camry will be getting a new infotainment system the company revealed it will use open-source software from Linux.

Automotive Grade Linux, or AGL, is a group of more than 100 companies collaborating to develop and improve a common platform, which Toyota is using as the basis for Entune 3.0. Once it’s complete and deemed “successful” it will likely cascade over to other Toyota vehicles.

Tech News!

“The flexibility of the AGL platform allows us to quickly roll-out Toyota’s infotainment system across our vehicle line-up, providing customers with greater connectivity and new functionalities at a pace that is more consistent with consumer technology,” said Keiji Yamamoto, executive vice president, Connected Company of Toyota Motor Corp. (more…)

Tesla’s Musk Says “No Choice” But to Quit Trump Panel if US Quits Paris Climate Accord

President promises decision “over the next few days.

by on May.31, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Pres. Donald Trump. Musk sits on three White House economic councils.

Faced with the growing likelihood Pres. Donald Trump will pull the United States out of the Paris climate chance agreement binding the country to cut production of CO2 and other global warming gases, Tesla CEO and environmental champion Elon Musk said he will have “no choice” but to quit three separate White House economic advisory councils.

Musk would be the latest transportation industry leader to leave the Trump panels, following the move by Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick earlier this year.

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The Tesla CEO had previously said he was “cautiously optimistic” he could influence Trump to remain committed to the Paris treaty, despite other actions critics said were anti-environmental. But on Wednesday, in response to a question posed by a Twitter follower, Musk replied that he would “have no choice but to depart [the] councils” if, as now expected, Trump pulled out on Paris.

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Does Rolls-Royce Sweptail Mark Revival of Custom Coachbuilding?

A $13 mil, 4-year project.

by on May.31, 2017

The Rolls-Royce Sweptail, one of the first completely customized bodies since the end of WWII.

It was a very different era, a time when a luxury car was defined not by the long list of features but by its uniqueness. In the decades leading up to the Second World War, upscale buyers would routinely opt for custom-built cars, taking platforms from brands as diverse as Bentley, Cadillac, Delahaye and Packard to custom coachbuilders like Chapron, Darren, Saoutchik and Figoni and Falaschi.

In an unusual move, a collector of rare cars commissioned Rolls-Royce to craft another one-off, the first custom body for production the British marque has created in something like seven decades. And it is more than just some fancy sheet metal on a Phantom platform.

Elegant Design!

The British maker isn’t saying much about who commissioned the Sweptail, though it appears to be someone especially fond of the brand who lives a life of extreme elegance, with yachts, aircraft and plenty of high-line automobiles. The Sweptail takes that up a notch.

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GM Board Remains Resolute in Fight With Greenlight

Company points to reports condemning stock split proposal.

by on May.31, 2017

David Einhorn, head of Greenlight Capital, wants GM to split its stock into two classes. He believes the move would nearly double the company's stock price.

General Motors is reminding shareholders this week that the incumbent board of directors has the support of two groups that advise institutional investors, such as pension funds, on how to vote on resolutions presented by shareholders.

Both Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, two organizations that advise on proxy issues, have recommended that GM shareholders vote for the GM Board’s director nominees and against a proposal from New York-based Greenlight Capital that would divide GM stock into two new classes.

Beyond the Headlines!

Greenlight maintains that its proposal will “unlock” the true value of GM’s shares, which have seen little appreciation since it was issued anew after the company’s 2009 bankruptcy despite substantial spending on share buybacks and hefty dividend payments. (more…)

Uber Fires Autonomous Vehicle Chief Levandowski

Latest twist in ongoing battle with Waymo.

by on May.31, 2017

Anthony Levandowski is seen here discussing autonomous vehicles while still with Google in 2011. Photo courtesy Shinygogo.

The ongoing battle between Uber and Waymo over allegedly stolen autonomous vehicle trade secrets took a new turn as the car-sharing giant fired the one-time head of its self-driving vehicle operations, Anthony Levandowski.

The 37-year-old engineer rose to prominence as head of autonomous operations at Waymo’s parent Google. He then went off to form his own company which, in turn, was purchased by Uber. Levandowski was subsequently accused of taking thousands of proprietary documents with him, material he has refused to turn over to the California court hearing the lawsuit filed by Waymo.

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Levandowski was sidetracked by Uber as a result of the ongoing lawsuit. The ride-sharing service told the court on Tuesday it has now fired the executive because he refused to comply with orders to turn over the documents. Levandowski’s attorney previously told the court he was refusing the order for fear it could lead to him facing criminal prosecution.

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Senate Bill Gives Carmakers More CAFE Credits

Deal allows companies to use past credits.

by on May.31, 2017

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow automakers to utilize unused CAFE credits in the future.

A proposal with bi-partisan support from Senators from auto states, such as Missouri and Michigan, would give automakers extra credits for the past performance, making it easier for them to meet future fuel-economy and emission standards through 2021.

At its heart, the legislation introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), which is also supported by Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) would change the way credits for “over performance” on reaching fuel-economy standards if various vehicle categories. The other sponsors include Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas.)

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The current law allows car makers to accumulate credits for up to five years but Blunt’s bill would allow manufacturers to use any and all credits accumulated going all the way back to 2009, which would make it easier for companies such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. to meet the fuel-economy goals during the coming four years. (more…)

Popularity of Leasing Catching Up With Automakers

Companies seeing profits falling on off-lease cars, newly leased crossovers and sport utes.

by on May.30, 2017

Leasing's popularity may cause automakers problems when it comes to profits in the next few years.

The rise in leasing during the last few years has been one of the drivers of the record sales automakers have enjoyed during that time. However, leasing has its downside and that part of the equation is about to hit automakers — hard.

Three years ago, automakers leased 3.3 million vehicles, accounting for about 23% of U.S. sales to individual buyers, according to Automotive Lease Guide. As long as the vehicles hold their value, this isn’t a problem. In fact, it’s a good thing because it gives automakers a steady stream of higher-profit used cars to sell.

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This is good for cars because they made up about half of vehicles leased at that time. However, now that the popularity of cars has fallen, this is likely to cause problems for the makers. (more…)

Tesla Model 3 Taking the Slow(er) Road

First specs, including performance, appear online.

by on May.30, 2017

A Tesla handout shows a pre-production Model 3.

For many owners, one of the most appealing features of the Tesla Model S is its neck-snapping acceleration – with the optional Ludicrous Mode the sedan capable of launching from 0 to 60 in around 2.8 seconds.

While the new Tesla Model 3 will nearly match the range of some versions of the bigger sedan, don’t expect to see it come close when it comes to performance. What appear to be official Tesla figures indicate the new battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, will need about 5.6 seconds to nudge 60. That’s faster than the rival Chevrolet Bolt EV, but just barely, and more in line with what some comparably-sized gas-powered vehicles can deliver.

EV News!

Early EVs were battery-powered stone ponies, barely able to get out of their own way, the little Mitsubishi MiEV, for example, needing a full 13 seconds to get to 60. That’s a key reason, industry analysts suggest, that demand for those first-generation electrics was so poor. By boosting range and performance, however, buyers finally to be sitting up and taking notice.

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First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Si

Solid performance, great handling, pleasing price.

by on May.30, 2017

Longer, lower, wider, the 2017 Honda Civic Si also is a bit lighter than the outgoing model.

The Winding Course at Honda’s Mojave Desert proving grounds is a challenging place to test out a new car. The nearly two-mile track boasts a series of steep hills, sharp and often blind corners, little run-off, and a menagerie of wildlife ranging from coyotes to several different types of rattlesnakes.

So, strapping on helmet and slipping inside the new Civic Si, we decided to take things slow the first time ‘round the course. The track lived up to its treacherous billing, but so did the new Honda which, by day’s end, we had the chance to drive in both coupe and sedan configurations.

Performance News!

There’s been a lot of buzz, in recent months, about the all-new Honda Civic Type-R. Set to arrive in U.S. showrooms for the first time ever later this year, there’s good reason for all the excitement. For serious performance coupe fans, it will become the most powerful Honda compact ever sold in the States. Too bad, however, that it’s drawing attention away from the 2017 Honda Civic Si. This eighth-generation model might not deliver all the muscle of the Type-R, but it is a solid performer, with good power and great handling yet the ride and comfort you’d want for an everyday driver.

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AMG Quite Literally Uncovers New Project One Hypercar

From track to street with F1-derived 1,020 hp gas-electric drivetrain.

by on May.30, 2017

AMG's F1-derived driveline pairs a 748-hp 1.6-liter turbo V-6 with four electric motors.

When AMG said it was going to uncover its new Project One hypercar at the 24-hour race at Nurburgring over the weekend, it wasn’t kidding.

The Mercedes-Benz performance arm rolled out the platform for the 1,020-horsepower monster, sans body. But it offered a good look at how AMG plans to take Formula One technology from track to street, a move that will not only deliver neck-snapping performance but also give Project One owners bragging rights for operating the cleanest hypercar on the road.

Fuel Up!

“We are the first to make pure bred F1 technology roadworthy,” said AMG Chairman Tobias Moers, during the Project One preview, adding that the hypercar “shifts up the boundaries of what is technically feasible.”

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