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Archive for June, 2019

VW Workers Voting on UAW Representation in Chattanooga Plant

Union hoping third time is the charm.

by on Jun.14, 2019

The UAW's third election in five years at VW's Chattanooga plant is going on now.

It’s going to come down to the wire.

For the third time in the last half decade, hourly workers are Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are voting to decide if they want the United Auto Workers union to represent them. It was a contentious vote the first time around and only slightly less so this time.

The Last Word!

The UAW hasn’t fared well in its organizing efforts in the South, losing by significant margins in recent attempts in Mississippi and Alabama. A variety of factors played into those defeats: a strong anti-union group of workers named Southern Momentum, Republican politicians claiming doom and gloom and the UAW itself as stories of union leaders stealing money to do home repairs, pay off mortgages and other things for themselves have splashed across newspapers and television screens. (more…)

FCA Adds to Electric Vehicle Arsenal with New Agreement

Deal gives future EV, hybrid owners easy charger access.

by on Jun.14, 2019

Jeep will produce a battery-electric version of the Renegade that will be available in Europe.

For an automaker with seemingly no battery-electric car program to speak of, Fiat Chrysler suddenly has collected a bunch of assets needed to jump into the EV market with both feet. The automaker signed an agreement with European utilities Enel and Engie to offer charging points for its coming battery-electric products.

FCA would have been much farther along in the EV race if a proposed merger with Renault had gone through; however, the company isn’t letting that be much more than a hiccup on its sudden progress in the segment.

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Last June the company announced plans to invest 9 billion euros, or about $10 billion, during the next five years to introduce hybrid and electric cars in all of its markets. Currently, it offers a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Chrysler Pacifica minivan in North America. (more…)

Toyota Announces New Features for 2020 Model-Year Line-Up

Safety is focus of new upgrades.

by on Jun.14, 2019

For the 2020 model year, the Toyota plans to offer some upgrades across most of its vehicle line-up.

When Toyota Motor North America rolls out its vehicle line-up for the 2020 model year, they’ll sport two new features: Automatic Engine Shut Off and Automatic Park, as well as have options for a few others.

Starting with 2020 model year vehicles, Toyota will phase in an automatic park system, which is designed to help reduce the risk of roll-away vehicles. The feature will be available in vehicles with an electronic means of shifting and/or applying the parking brake.

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It will automatically shift the vehicle into the “park” position and/or apply the electronic parking brake, in the event the driver exits the vehicle without placing the vehicle in “park,” Toyota officials said. (more…)

Nissan Recruits New Design Chief from Lincoln

Woodhouse helped to lead luxury brand's renaissance.

by on Jun.14, 2019

Dave Woodhouse played a key roll in Lincoln's renaissance and is now heading up Nissan North America's design team.

Nissan has hired away the top designer at the Lincoln brand from the Ford Motor Co. to serve as its new design chief in North America.

David Woodhouse, who has overseen Lincoln design during Ford’s recent efforts to revive the brand, will serve as vice president, Nissan Design America, Nissan announced.

Business News!

In this role, Woodhouse will lead all Nissan and Infiniti design activities in North America. He will also serve on the company’s Global Nissan Design Management Committee. (more…)

Looking for a Vehicle? The Used Car Lot May be Best Bet

Low-mileage off-lease vehicles hitting used car lots.

by on Jun.14, 2019

Used car lots may be the way to go for buyers looking for a good deal, Edmunds says.

For those in the market for a replacement vehicle, marching past the new car showroom over to the used car lot is looking more and more like the smarter play, claim some industry experts.

According to Edmunds analysts, a deluge of lightly used, lower-mileage vehicles are coming off lease and filling used car lots. Edmunds experts also note that these used vehicles are not that old, they comprise the styles, i.e. sport-utilities, crossovers and trucks, that new vehicle buyers are after.

Sales News!

They also have many of the technology features that buyers want in their vehicles these days, the group noted. (more…)

Ford, Volkswagen Nearing Second Agreement

Two automakers working on EVs and autonomous vehicles.

by on Jun.13, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal. The two companies are on the verge of their second deal.

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are finalizing a deal to work together on autonomous and electric vehicles, according the German automaker’s top executive.

Herbert Diess, VW’s CEO, told a group of employees that the two sides were negotiating the final parts of the deal, which would be the second since the two automakers agreed to start working together earlier this year.

Business News!

The first deal called for Ford to provide VW with assistance on developing a new pickup truck that it would sell in global markets, but not the United States. This new deal centers on Ford getting use of Volkswagen’s MEB EV platform. (more…)

Hyundai, Kia Invest in Autonomous Software Startup Aurora

Investment expands Korean automakers autonomous program.

by on Jun.13, 2019

Hyundai and Kia are investing in self-driving startup Aurora to accelerate its autonomous program.

Hyundai Motor Co. said it plans to invest in self-driving car software startup Aurora along with Kia Motors Corp. to speed up development of autonomous vehicle technologies.

“With the new investment, the companies have agreed to expand research to a wide range of models and to build an optimal platform for Hyundai and Kia’s autonomous vehicles,” Hyundai said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Technology News!

Aurora said in a blog post that Hyundai and Kia’s investment is part of a series B financing round, which has now raised more than $600 million. (more…)

Ford Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in Detroit

Automaker working with Argo AI on self-driving program.

by on Jun.13, 2019

The new Ford Fusion Hybrid is a third-generation test vehicle that Argo AI is now testing in Detroit.

Ford Motor Co. has begun testing autonomous vehicles around its new engineering campus in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood with its AV partner Pittsburgh-based Argo AI even as it launches a new research center in Israel with an eye on developing new technology.

Peter Rander, president of Argo AI, said the new vehicles being tested in Detroit are equipped with a significantly upgraded sensor suite, including new sets of radar and cameras with higher resolution and higher dynamic range.

News You Can Trust!

When trying to see an object that’s very far away, a lower resolution camera may only be able to represent it as a pixel or two. But with higher resolution, you may be able to get a dozen pixels out of the same far away object. In concert with upgraded software, this means our vehicles are getting better at seeing what’s farther ahead and classifying what it is, Rander said in a blog post on the Argo website. (more…)

Exterior Airbags Could Save Lives of Passengers and Pedestrians

ZF bag automatically triggers ahead of an collision.

by on Jun.13, 2019

Auto supplier ZF has developed exterior airbags to help mitigate injuries to both vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians.

Today’s cars are loaded with smart safety systems, including technology like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, designed to prevent crashes. But when a crash does occur, airbags can substantially reduce the risk for vehicle occupants.

Today’s airbags can pop out of all sorts of nooks and crannies, including the steering wheel, the instrument panel and a vehicle’s headliner. But ZF has unveiled a new airbag concept that is mounted outside the vehicle where it can be triggered in the milliseconds before a crash occurs, rather than after an impact already has taken place.

Safety News!

“Occupant safety is paramount when developing new vehicles for automated and autonomous driving,” said Michael Büchsner, head of ZF’s Passive Safety Systems Division. “Our concept of the pre-crash external side airbag is a great example of how ZF wants to achieve its Vision Zero, a world without accidents and emissions.” (more…)

Ford Recalling 1.2 Million Explorer SUVs

Steering control on utes may be affected.

by on Jun.12, 2019

Ford is recalling 1.2 million Explorers for a problem that could reduce steering control.

Ford Motor Co. is recalling 1.2 million of its popular Explorer sport-utility vehicles due to a defect that could reduce the driver’s ability to steer the vehicle.

The problem stems from an issue with the rear suspension toe link. The automaker noted that the affected vehicles are exposed to frequent full rear suspension articulation (jounce and rebound) may experience a fractured rear suspension toe link.

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A fracture of a rear toe link significantly diminishes steering control, increasing the risk of a crash. The second-largest U.S. automaker said the recall covers 2011-2017 model year Explorers.  (more…)