Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Ford Plants the Blue Oval in Detroit

Bill Ford says move isn't a gesture, company expects a return on its investment.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford share a laugh after the announcing the company's plans for the Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

In a ceremony that was equal parts pep rally, political rally and outdoor concert, Ford Motor Co. officially told the world it would be putting its new most precious resource – its mobility campus – in the city of Detroit in a yet-to-be-renovated train station.

The automaker purchased the Michigan Central Station, once the hub of train travel in and out of Detroit, for an undisclosed sum. Bill Ford Jr., founder Henry Ford’s great grandson and current company chairman, also declined to say how much the company would spend renovating the structure.

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Ford also was quick to note that even through the company was in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that was initially set at $14 billion and has since gone up to $25 billion, the acquisition of the building and some of the surrounding ones and property parcels fits within the company’s belt-tightening measures. (more…)

Tesla Slashing Up to 9% of Workforce

Up to 3,000 likely to lose jobs, but assembly, battery-plant workers expected to be spared.

by on Jun.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees that the company would lay off 9% of the workforce in a letter.

Tesla will lay off as many as 3,000 workers, or nearly 9% of its workforce, in a bid to reorganize and address endemic problems, according to a letter sent by CEO Elon Musk to company employees.

The first layoffs reportedly were set to take effect this week, according to website Electrek, which obtained a copy of the letter. The automaker subsequently confirmed that the layoffs will take place, but emphasized that production workers will be spared, the cuts targeting the salaried side of a workforce that grew to around 30,000 after last year’s acquisition of Solar City.

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If anything, Tesla has been trying to expand the workforce at both its Fremont, California assembly plant and Reno, Nevada Gigafactory in an effort to finally put production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan on track. Musk recently said Tesla is on track to roll out about 5,000 of the vehicles a week by the end of this month, a roughly 250% increase from the end of the first quarter – though still well below its original target. (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

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But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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GM Expanding Super Cruise to All Cadillac Models

Move to cover entire brand happens by 2020.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Cadillac will expand the availability of Super Cruise across the entire line-up by 2020.

Cadillac plans to expand the rollout of Super Cruise from just the 2018 CT6 to the brand’s entire line-up by 2020.

Super Cruise is the brand’s hands-free driver assistance technology. Executive Vice President Mark Reuss made the announcement during Detroit-area event. He added that after 2020, the technology will be made available on other products within the General Motors family.

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Cadillac also plans to offer V2X communications in a high-volume crossover by 2023 and eventually expand the technology across Cadillac’s portfolio.  (more…)

More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told TheDetroitBureau.com that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.

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First Drive: 2019 Acura RDX

Design, performance and tech add up in an appealing new package.

by on May.31, 2018

Acura has delivered an almost entirely ground-up remaker of its compact RDX crossover for 2019.

Its been more than three decades since Acura helped redefine the luxury car market, the original Legend model proving a Japanese sedan could stand up against key European and American competitors. But what would Honda’s highline brand bring to market if it were to debut today? The answer is pretty much unambiguous: a ute. Or, more precisely, a crossover like the new 2019 Acura RDX.

It’s not just the names on the field that have changed since Acura’s 1985 debut. The luxury market has, like more mainstream segments, rapidly shifted from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs in a broad array of sizes and shapes. And the good news for Acura is that while its traditional passenger car models have lagged behind, it has done reasonably well with utility vehicle offerings like the big MDX. But it’s the compact CUV market where most of the growth is taking place, so it’s no surprise that Acura has put so much effort into developing the third-generation RDX model.

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The Japanese marque has focused on three key pillars: design, performance and technology. And the payoff is readily apparent. While there are limits to what you can pull off with a so-called “two-box” design, the RDX is one of the more handsome CUVs to reach market lately, while also delivering a fun-to-drive experience. Add to that an array of new comfort, convenience and safety systems – though not everyone is going to be enchanted by the RDX’s distinctive True Touch controller.

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Tesla Sedan on Autopilot Slams into Cop Car

Latest crash intensifies criticism of semi-autonomous system.

by on May.30, 2018

A Tesla Model S crashed into a police car in Laguna Beach, California. Photo credit: Sgt. Jim Cota

A Tesla Model S sedan operating in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked and unoccupied police car Tuesday in Laguna Beach, California, the latest in a series of incidents linked to the carmaker’s semi-autonomous technology.

While at least two deaths have now occurred in crashes involving Autopilot, the driver of the vehicle in the latest incident suffered only minor injuries. But it is raising further concerns about both Autopilot and the way drivers are using – and possibly misusing – the system.

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A day after the latest crash, California-based Consumer Watchdog called on the state’s regulator to investigate what it described as “dangerously misleading, deceptive marketing practices” which, the non-profit group contends, can lead Tesla owners to believe Autopilot is a fully self-driving technology. (more…)

Acura Launches NextGen 2019 RDX at $37,300

Add $6,200 for reborn A-Spec.

by on May.29, 2018

With the launch of the 2019 RDX, Acura brings back the A-Spec performance design package.

Acura was the first of the Japanese luxury brands but, in recent years, it has lagged behind rivals Lexus and Infiniti. Could the stars finally be coming together for Honda’s high-line marque, however?

While Acura’s passenger car models continue to struggle, the automaker has done far better with its SUV line-up, and it expects to gain even more ground with a complete makeover of the compact RDX. The timing likely couldn’t be better considering the U.S. luxury market’s accelerating shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. Add the fact that Acura is bringing back the A-Spec version of the RDX for 2019.

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The first new model to really deliver on the promises of Acura new Precision Concept design language, the 2019 model offers an array of new and updated features, from its new turbocharged 2.0-liter powerplant to a completely redesigned infotainment system dubbed AcuraLink with True Touch. But what may garner even more interest is the fact that the 2019 Acura RDX starts at the same price as the outgoing, 2018 model: $38,295, which includes $995 in delivery charges. (more…)

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