AD #1199 – Continental’s New Friends, Ford Joins Space Race, Personalize Your BMW

August 22nd, 2013 at 11:41am

Runtime: 6:32

Supplier company Continental teams with Google and IBM to develop technology for autonomous cars. Ford partners up with St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia to develop robots for use in space. BMW offers an individual consulting program for clients to personalize their vehicle. All that and more, plus Jim Hall explains design spazz attacks in the newest edition of Design Handbook.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday, the 22nd of August and I’m Sean McElroy filling in for John today. Stay tuned because we have another design lesson coming up from Jim Hall but first today’s top stories.

Earlier in the week, we reported that German supplier company Continental, is teaming up with Cisco, the IT company, to collaborate on technology needed for connected cars. And now Reuters reports that Continental will team up with Google and IBM to develop technology for autonomous cars. No other details are known at this time but an announcement is expected next month at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

And speaking of Frankfurt, last month Opel announced it will have a new concept at the show that revives the Monza nameplate. Back then all we got was a teaser of the front end but now we have more details. The company says the concept is meant to show off the future design direction of its cars. This long, sleek concept features suicide doors and a spacious interior. It’s a range-extended EV, that uses a compressed natural gas engine instead of a gasoline one.

A few months back we showed you a new process Ford is using to paint its cars that not only reduces CO2 emissions, it also cuts costs. But that’s not the only innovative paint process the company is using. Ford is creating 3D car models with high resolution cameras to detect dirt particles smaller than a grain of salt on a painted vehicle. The system creates over 3,000 images in just 15 seconds to make the 3D image, then it’s compared to a perfect computer model. If dirt is found on the car it’s sent back to the painter to be fixed. This new process is currently being used at three plants and will be added to five more by next year.

And in other Ford news, the company announced it’s teamed up with St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia to develop robots for use in space. The company wants to study how the robots communicate in space, in order to improve the reliability of connected vehicle communications. Ford also hopes this will help improve emergency response time as well.

Are you a performance-driven engineer looking for a new job?… if so, Infiniti wants you. The company is looking for two candidates to complete a year-long assignment with Infiniti Red Bull’s Formula 1 racing team. The winners will work at the company’s technical center in the UK and work with company engineers. The process starts later this year and Infiniti will name the two finalists in May of 2014. Click the link in the show notes for the full story.

People have interior designers for their homes and tailors for their clothes… so why not personal designers for their cars? That is how German automaker BMW felt and it will now offer an individual consulting program for clients in the U.S. to commission their very own BMW. Customers will be able to express their personal identity through their vehicle by choosing from a wide variety of leather options, interior trim and paintwork. The program is already underway and is available for the 5 Series Sedan, 6 Series, 7 Series, the X6 as well as the M versions of all those models.

Coming up next, Mr. Design, Jim Hall, “spazzes” out.

Elegant curves, perfect proportions, and a cohesive theme. All hallmarks of good design. So what do you get when you combine lines that go nowhere, a greenhouse that looks like a tumor, and plastic cladding up the wazoo? Well, you get a vehicle that looks purpose-built to steal the crown from the Pontiac Aztek for Ugliest Car of All Time. Jim Hall has a fresh new chapter for us in the Design Handbook.

(Design Handbook – 08 – SsangYong Rodius Spazz Attack can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

You know the real takeaway lesson here? Good design isn’t easy. The Rodius was designed by Ken Greenley, the former head of transportation design at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. That’s the school that turned out such stars as Peter Horbury, Simon Cox and Ian Callum… I guess they can’t all be winners.

And speaking of design, make sure watch Autoline After Hours tonight. Our guest will be Bob Boniface, the exterior design director at Cadillac. So tune in for some of the best insider discussion in the industry, tonight, starting at 6 pm eastern time, right here at

And that wraps up today’s show. I’m Sean McElroy, thanks for watching and have a great day.

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24 Comments to “AD #1199 – Continental’s New Friends, Ford Joins Space Race, Personalize Your BMW”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    Design – Hmmmn .. nope … the Aztec still wins ( loses ) of the current lot . But for the truly ugliest car of all times .. well …. there”s a plethora of contenders from the past that may deserve the crown a whole lot more … like the Reliant Robin etc ….. eeeesh !

    But yup …. bad design is easy …. pastiche design even easier ( witness the C7 etc ) … this current Cosmic Jellybean school of design being the easiest yet …. with truly good and lasting design being as rare as Hens Teeth in the automotive world


    Design – Revisited …. I was able to witness a fantastic interview with designer Freeman Thomas over my break . The best comment he made was when he stated flat out that all current designs on the road look the same ( coming from him a rather profound statement ) and despite better performance and handling are about as exciting as watching paint dry to drive . He then showing his Speedster saying ” This should be the future of the automobile .. light … fast enough … 30 mpg and a blast to drive ”

    Maybe its about time we simply accept the fact that driving can be dangerous and start building/designing cars again rather than Aero Track Wanna Be Pretentious – Infotainment Cluttered – Survival Pods .


    OPEL Monza concept – Too little …. much too late …. so sorry … too bad … OPEL’s on a downward slippery slope to extinction I’m afraid .

  2. ColoradoKid Says:

    TESLA/Musk lies again ;

    ….. but like Lance Armstrong during his glory days … the faithful delusional fool followers keep believing despite all the evidence being shoved in their face

  3. Lex Says:

    I hope between Jim Hall’s comments on vehicle design and Sean McElroy’s comments on automotive repair those designers and engineers at the OEM’s collaborate better together in producing a quality, purpose built and reliable vehicle and is fun to drive and easy to maintain. As Sean said in a previous segment of Autoline Garage, I paraphase, If you have a bad or very costly repair experience you may not continue to buy that brands vehicles.

  4. Brett Says:

    They need to explain to whoever wrote Sean’s copy today what the difference is between “suicide doors” and “gull wing doors”, ’cause that Opel concept definitely is displaying the latter, not the former.

  5. Lex Says:

    The Monza could be re-introducted in North America as a coupe version of the Chevy Cruze with either a 2.0 Turbo or 2.4 Eco-Tech with 6 speed manual or automatic. The Beretta nameplate is also an option. However the Monza nameplate sounds better, like you are getting something “MORE” than a two door Chevy Cruze. The Tuners would love them especially since there are so few Acura RSX’s left to modify.

  6. HtG Says:

    Design, 1

    With all the govt regulations constraining design and a mainstream population that wants to go to McDonalds designwise or colorwise, is it any wonder that it’s the march of the appliances out there in asphalt nation? I just cannot stand the high hoods and beltlines, well used soapbar front corners etc. that we have to look at, all in grey road camouflage. Don’t even let me bore anyone about nannies(you can watch the MotorTrend best drivers car videos for that).

    You’ve got to have some pity for the designers.

  7. Earl Says:

    Every Company at one time or other has made an ugly. GM’s Aztec was preceded by the Lumina Dust Buster.
    Ford had a ’58 Edsel and Chrysler as had it’s share too…I recall the ’62 Plymouth. And then there’s Company’s because of their large presence in the market place that can put out an ugly and the consumer thinks its a leading edge design.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Chrysler had some weird ones in ’61 and ’62, but I thought the ’57-’60 Chrysler products looked pretty good, compared to most of the competition. A ’58 Buick Limited must have had at least 300 pounds of die cast ticky-tack.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A ’61 Plymouth had the tail lights mounted in magnetic flashlight cases:

  10. HtG Says:

    9 oooo, cool. I never saw one before.

  11. Lex Says:

    I understand that NEVS is planning to restart Saab 9-3 production some time later this year and possibly introduct an electric version of the 9-3. If they are successful this will most likely affect Subaru Sales next year and going forward.
    Fuji Heavy Industries who owns Subaru may want to rethink going upsales with Subaru. The Luxury and Near Luxury playing field is really become very over crowded.

  12. T. Bejma Says:


    You totally get it HtG! If the designers could just make what looked good, there is no way it would ever pass a crash test. Even the big full frame vehicles from the 60′s and 70′s fail miserably to today’s standards.

  13. Phoenix Mark Says:

    #4 yep gullwings doesn’t equal suicide.

    Hey, Ford how about using 3D images before you put on the paint? Then again after.

    The Rodius design is awful, but not many vehicles that can carry 11 people look good.

    It is funny that when the auto companies got permission to do away with the old round and square sealed beam headlights, that the designs coming out of all the companies looked the same anyway. Hopfully now we can see more design that don’t have overly done (cartoon) headlights.

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – 6 – +1 on all counts …. and I’m looking forward to a really good Nannie Rant from you as well … seriously … don’t let me have all the fun on the matter ;-)


    What They Drive in Aspen

    Seeing as by the first three characters of license plates in CO you can tell what county they’re from ….. here’s what the majority of Aspen residents drive daily … remembering you need really deep pockets there even for the cost of entry

    So what are they driving ?

    Almost to a number ….

    USED !

    Used Jeeps ( from CJ’s on back ) Toyota Land Cruisers ( all models ) Porches ( at least a decade old ) the old classic Ford Bronco’s ( some resto moded … some just …. old ) Land Rovers , a couple of older G Class … and a few classic Range Rovers etc

    Oh a few may have that something special and maybe new ( like a Ferrari etc ) in the garage : and a very few do drive new on a daily basis mind you ….. but what they’re using as daily drivers are almost to a number ….. used ( I’d estimate 80% are used )

    So what should this be telling us/me … especially after the recent revelation that ol Bob ( Lutz ) drives used only ?

    Hmmmn …. I’m open for discussion … cause this’n surely has my attention/curiosity up


    Aspen BWTM !

    And the best use of an EV goes to ….. the town of Aspen .

    From taxi’s – to tours – to in town delivery – to personal vehicles the town of Aspen allows those basically enclosed Golf Carts to be driven on the road …. and in that capacity ….. EV’s are brilliant .

    Small …. silent … no fumes … and no range anxieties ( due to the small range covered ) but the town providing the occasional charging station …. just in case .

    THAT … gentlemen … is the viable and sensible use of EV’s in this current age . In town commuters …. only !


    Aspen – the finale

    Best bike rack ever on a vehicle . Seen in Aspen . Wish I could post the photo .. a Ducati Diavel ….. with a bike rack mounted on the back… with a $20k Cipollini bicycle mounted on the rack . If you know Super Mario …. you’ll know how apposite that is ;-)

  15. ColoradoKid Says:

    11 – Yes they are …. and no they won’t ( affect Subaru sales )

    SAAB as a viable brand is all but dead … and that Chinese ownership won’t serve the SAAB brand any better than it has SAAB’s compatriots Volvo ……. who’s sales have been on a steady and rapid decline ever since Ford sold Volvo to Geely

    Half the appeal of Volvo and SAAB was the Scandinavian connection which both Chinese owners have done everything possible to sever ( look at the content origin list on a Volvo …. nada from any Scandinavian country )

  16. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Design all the same? Not hardly; we have boxes, humps, bumps, angles, reverse-angles and everything in between. We still see body on frame, unibody, and modified unibody. There is so much diversification in the auto-industry, that in the not too distant future, “nowadays” may be considered the ‘Golden Age’ (or at least a second ‘golden age’.

    Anyone can have an opinion, so the above was mine; just trying to look optimistically at the auto-industry. Perhaps some of the boredom is coming from so much choice that our senses are overloaded and we think this as sameness; it’s not, at least not to me.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some Volvos are assembled in Sweden, and some of the engines are from Sweden, but yeah, I’m sure there will be less Scandanavian-ness every day.


    Click 2013 under alphabetical to download the list.

  18. HtG Says:

    Here’s Vic Elford on seduction.

  19. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit – 17 – Thanks . I was basing my statement on the XC we looked at and should of researched it further before making a blanket comment . Still though … according to the couple of Volvo dealers I’ve talked with that Chinese ownership has had a very negative effect on sales


    18 – Ahhhhhh … Vic …… ahhhhh … those early 911′s …. suffice it to say there’s a look of extreme contentment emitting from my very being …. Molto Grazie

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Rode in a new “spruced” up new Optima today, WOW!!!! I need to join the 21st century auto universe! This ain’t your daddy’s Kia any more!

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, I’d think the Chinese ownership would hurt, no matter where they are built. I doubt that I would have bought a MINI, even with the same assembly location, parts sourcing, etc., if the “brand” were owned by Geely rather than BMW.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think the last Kia I drove was a Ford Festiva. Yes, the new ones are quite different from that.

  23. C-Tech Says:

    For today’s design show, given the Chinese are still a bit behind on automobiles, why would you expect great design. I’m sure they have their regulations and local preferences designers have to deal with. I’ll grade them on a curve – today.

    Why would you need an 11-passenger vehicle? Wouldn’t a van be more practical?

  24. C-Tech Says:

    @ #20 Pedro from your own description of the Vibrolla, we would welcome you to Y2K :)