August 22nd, 2011 at 12:24pm
Ricardo announces a breakthrough in flywheel technology for hybrid cars that don’t need a battery. We bid farewell to the Dodge Dakota, which ceases production tomorrow. Ford and Toyota team up to develop hybrid trucks. All that and more, plus we look at the latest refresh of the Cadillac SRX.
This is Autoline Daily for August 22, 2011. And here is what’s going on in the world of the automobile.
FORD AND TOYOTA TEAM UP
Ford and Toyota announced this morning they plan to join forces. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on codeveloping hybrid systems for rear-drive pickup trucks and SUVs. The idea is to share the costs in developing these hybrids. The two companies are also going to collaborate on telematic platforms, to potentially standardize their Bluetooth, Wi-fi and security protocols and work on issues of driver distraction. Toyota and Ford still have to complete the details of how they’ll work together, so we’ll see how far it goes. Several years ago Toyota and GM made a big announcement on collaborating on future technology, especially fuel cells and nothing ever came of it.
Ricardo, the well-known powertrain development consultancy, announced this morning that it has come up with a breakthrough in flywheel technology to make hybrid cars. Flywheels store energy as kinetic power, in this case a flywheel that spins at 60,000 rpm sealed in a vacuum. Ricardo has come up with a way of sealing the vacuum unit permanently and magnetically coupling the flywheel to a transmission, resulting in a smaller, lighter unit that doesn’t need maintenance. Flywheels potentially offer a way of making hybrid vehicles that do not use batteries.
ANOTHER MARKET DOWNGRADE (subscription required)
Ward’s says it expects sales to slow in the U.S. market in August, and has lowered its forecast for the year. However, its forecast is still higher than many other forecasting firms. Ward’s says sales for the year should come in at 12.8 or 12.9 million units, down from the 13 million it had predicted earlier. It also expects GM, Ford and Chrysler to post stronger sales compared to August of last year.
The Dodge Dakota pickup is getting the axe. Production is scheduled to end tomorrow. The Dakota was never a big hit and last year only 13,000 were sold. Earlier this year Sergio Marchionne hinted the company plans to replace it with a unit body “lifestyle” vehicle instead of a body-on-frame one. Think of something that hauls motorcycles and snowmobiles, not heavy loads. This idea is nothing new. Honda does it with the Ridgeline; Volkswagen used to offer a Rabbit-based truck; and even Chrysler sold models built off the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon, known as the Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp.
SEDONA REPLACEMENT DELAYED
Kia’s updated Sedona minivan has been delayed to 2013 or maybe a little sooner. Ward’s reports designers are still evaluating the styling of the KV7 concept that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show this January. They think it might be too polarizing for buyers, that and the current Sedona, which dates back to 2006, is still selling well. In other Kia news, the latest version of the company’s large sedan, the Cadenza/K7/Amanti depending on where you live, is NOT scheduled to come to America, at least not yet. This probably has something to do with the rear-wheel-drive concept it’s showing next month in Frankfurt.
Cadillac unveiled the stunning Ciel at the Pebble Beach Concours last week. But before a stunner like that shows up in the showrooms, Cadillac still has important work to do on its existing products, as Andrew Justus is about to report.
GM’s resurrection of Cadillac is movin’ right along. The brand is firing on all cylinders right now, and dreams of bigger opportunities. With the latest on one of its most popular products, here’s Autoline Daily Correspondent Andrew Justus.
Cadillac launched the SRX in the midst of GM’s financial woes a few years ago, but today with sales steadily climbing, GM’s top luxury brand is ready to take on the segment leaders, this year, armed with a new engine package.
And that’s why Cadillac turned its engineers loose on upgrading the chassis, rear shocks as well as refining the calibration o f their top-level computer-controlled suspension. But the new engine is the big story with its direct injection technology, great fuel efficiency and muscle.
Confident in its top-flight vehicles, Cadillac is ready to once again establish itself as the leader in the luxury car market.
And to take that challenge challenge to the big boys in the luxury market the 2012 SRX is just another step in that process. WIth the XTS — its new large sedan — coming next year and the smaller ATS not far behind, that’s when Cadillac will be better prepared to make its overall sales move.
From Santa Barbara, California for Autoline Daily, I’m Andrew Justus.
Thanks for that, Andrew.
And that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.