AD #2592 – Ford Creates Self-Driving Robot, Sales Slump Continues in China, Tesla Durability Remarkably Good

May 10th, 2019 at 11:50am

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Listen to “AD #2592 – Ford Creates Self-Driving Robot, Sales Slump Continues in China, Tesla Durability Remarkably Good” on Spreaker.

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Runtime: 7:40

0:07 Which Carmakers Will Do Best Between Now & 2023?
1:23 Sales Slump Continues in China
1:48 Ford Creates Self-Driving Robot for The Factory Floor
2:52 Ferrari Reveals Hybrid and Engine Plans
3:33 Mazda Developing Inline 6-Cylinder Engines
4:03 Road Trip in A Buick Regal
5:01 Tesla Durability Remarkably Good

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54 Comments to “AD #2592 – Ford Creates Self-Driving Robot, Sales Slump Continues in China, Tesla Durability Remarkably Good”

  1. MJB Says:

    Sean, any word on who Maserati will go through for their engines after Ferrari stops supplying them in 2021?

    I wonder how that will affect Maserati’s sales. I suspect that a good percentage of Maserati buyers are aware that they’re getting a Ferrari engine under the hood.

  2. Larry D. Says:

    I am going thru the links of my weekly “energy in the news” email, and here is ample confirmation of how hostile is my state of MI towards BEVs. Even the new Dem governor proposes to slap fees on BEVs in MI that are the highest in the nation!

    “Electric car fees in Michigan would soar under Whitmer’s roads plan
    Bridge Magazine, featuring Ellen Hughes-Cromwick
    Drivers of gas guzzlers aren’t the only ones who would pay more under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to increase the state fuel tax by 45 cents per gallon to fund fixes to Michigan’s roads. Registration fees for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles also would skyrocket and become the costliest in the nation.

    “We really need to move in that direction of reducing [carbon dioxide] emissions, if we all agree on the science of climate change,” said Hughes-Cromwick. “Therefore, I would be really discouraging any sort of tax that would disincentivize the purchase of EVs.””

  3. Lambo2015 Says:

    Although the self driving robot that Ford is touting looks like something new, most manufacturing facilities have been using unmanned delivery carts for something like 20 years. Yea they started with requiring a metal strip or tape on the floor but have evolved and were being used for a while now.

  4. Lambo2015 Says:

    Sean Your trip looks awesome and I look forward to more details next week. I did something similar a couple years back and also stopped at the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. I found it weird that something so obscure would draw so many people. I went as far as Cali and made a stop at the Peterson Museum in L.A. The building itself is a work or art. For those that are not aware google it the building is as amazing as the cars inside.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3 The parts delivering robots I’ve seen, years ago, followed painted lines on the floor. I think they had an IR sensor or something to make them stop if they would hit something or someone. These Ford robots are higher tech, but the “follow the line” things were useful.

  6. Jon M. Says:

    I think Mazda is perhaps better off sticking to premium trim levels for its lineup rather trying to become a premium brand overall. In addition, if they want to try to change their image, then their dealership network would be a good place to start. Good luck trying to sell premium vehicles out of the current showrooms. If you want to be premium, your dealerships better look and feel the part. I really don’t get those ridiculous lifts that take up space and do nothing for the feel and flow of the showrooms and serve no real purpose at all! I like Mazda, but I might suggest that their dealerships are at least part of their problem. If they want to move upmarket, the wrapper better look and feel as good as what’s inside.

  7. Larry D. Says:


    Mazda a premium brand? Don’t make me laugh. Mazda has been in a COMA in the US market, with a pitiful 1.4-1.7% market share, for a decade now. Auto journalists always praise its cars, YET the almighty CONSUMER keeps ignoring them. Mazda should learn a lesson from 0.5% market share VOLVO and drop ANY thoughts, let alone actions, to enter the crowded and Demanding Luxury market. Even the best players there, Merc and BMW and Audi, are having a very hard time with TESLA eating their lunch and hitting their sales AND profits hard!!

    Let’s get real, people!

  8. Larry D. Says:

    “Car sales in China continue to crater.”

    To ‘crater’? Really? aren’t we too dramatic here? A 16% drop from DIZZYING HEIGHTS the year before is now called “cratering”?

    For decades, many decades, the US car market was by far the biggest in the world. Then China, in a few short years, managed to sell almost TWICE, close to 30 million, new cars a year, compared to the 16-17 mill tops sold in the USA. Now they naturally take a breath from this STELLAR Achievement and we say they ‘crater”?

    Don’t worry about China. Worry about Old Europe! (and of course that “hell on earth” India!)

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That would be cool if Mazda made a rear drive sedan, or better yet, a wagon with an in-line six, but there is no way they should try to create a “premium brand.” It’s not working for Hyundai, and it isn’t working that well, even for Honda.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sean, I look forward to your road trip report. You mention “true works of art from Indiana.” Did you go to Auburn, perhaps?

  11. Lambo2015 Says:

    7 Some exec at Mazda looked at their small market share and thought “If we could just turn our 1.5% share into a premium brand than the profits of such small sales will be worth it”.
    Then all the yes-men agreed and another dumb idea was born.
    As kit said last week the difference between most cars and premium cars has shrunk, and Mazda can try and evolve into a premium brand but its all become kind of a gray area. Most vehicles fall into cheap entry level, premium brands and then Luxury. Not saying Mazda can not do it but I think it would require a new brand. You cant just throw lots of wood and leather and creature comforts on a Mazda and expect to raise the price 25K.

  12. Sean McElroy Says:

    @MJB – Maserati has a few options. I think the most likely scenario is that they’ll take something from within FCA and tweak it to make it their own. I seem to remember claims from FCA that the engine in the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is not a Ferrari engine. It kind of is, but with two cylinders cut off. So Maserati could do the same thing. Another path would be to develop its own engine, since it has several years before it’s cut off from Ferrari. Then there’s always the possibility of sourcing an engine from someone else.

  13. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Lambo – I too was amazed at how many people were there. I wonder if the fact that you can graffiti something up without getting in trouble draws people in? Your trip sounds really cool and I have always wanted to go to the Petersen Museum. That place looks awesome inside and out.


    I saw the Auburn Cord Museum in the background of the photo so I look forward to seeing the results of your trip!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14 I missed that, by just reading the transcript, and not watching the video.

  16. Larry D. Says:

    13 I visited Petersen in summer 2003, 16 years ago! I saw the BMW-RR Phantom VII there for the first time. If you are in the area, don’t miss the Nethercutt Collection, a huge and very high-quality one.

  17. John McElroy Says:

    #8. Cratering is a good word for Chinese car sales. February -18.5%. March -12%. April -16.6%.

    New car sales in NAFTA in April: 1.60 M
    ” ” ” ” CHINA ” ” : 1.54 M

  18. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Larry D. #7 – Journalist always praise Mazda because its vehicles drive so well. But here’s why I think consumers stay away. First, Mazda does less advertising than other automakers and has even fewer dealers. So, it’s not on people’s radar. Also, Mazda is usually at the bottom of the list in a few key categories with its crossovers that consumers are likely to cross shop. And we all know how important CUVs are to automakers right now. It has gone for this sporty look with its CUVs that have sharp slopping roofs, which cuts down on rear headroom and cargo volume. So, unless sporty styling and dynamic driving are the two main needs on someone’s purchase list, Mazda ends up falling off to the side.

  19. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Kit – Yes, I was in Auburn. What an amazing place!

  20. JWH Says:

    #2 – Don’t want to penalize BEV’s, however, since they put the same or greater wear & tear (generally heavier than ICE vehicles due to battery weight), they do need to pay their fair share for use of the roads. Most of us are paying for road maintenance via fuel tax.

    In addition, BEV’s may be emission free when in use, however, power generated by fossil fuel plants does create emissions.

    In essence, system should be fair to all.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    19 I’ve been to the Auburn museum twice, and may go again this summer. I love it, both the building, and what’s inside.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20 BEVs are much more efficient than ICE cars, probably 60%+. The very best efficiency for a gas engine is around 40%, at one, ideal load situation, so overall efficiency of a gas vehicle in normal use is probably 25-30% at best. Of course, the actual emissions of a BEV depend entirely on the source of electricity.

    If you want to ignore the actual environmental impact, and consider only the wear and tear on roads, taxing in cents per ton-mile would probably be the most “fair” way, but would require a GPS transducer or data logging odometer on every vehicle to measure it, and tech geeks would quickly figure out how to cheat the system.

  23. w l simpson Says:

    Not too many years ago “Made in Japan” was a dirty word , now it’s Made en Chine . every single article from auto electric terminals to bed frames have been strength deficient. Tested the little Buick CUV reportedly Made EN Chine,
    tinniest excuse for a car I ever drove

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 What “little Buick” did you drive? The little one, Encore, is made in South Korea, not China. The mid-size Envision is made in China. No, I’m not a fan of either.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Spanish GP qualifying tomorrow at about 9:00 am EDT on ESPN2. Race Sunday at about 9:00 on ESPN2.

  26. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix; go Ferarri and Haas.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 I get the impression that w l posts here occasionally, but never reads anything posted here. At least he never responds. I am genially curious about which Buick he hated so much. He has posted the same thing twice, but never said which one he was talking about.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27 That’s “genuinely curious”

  29. joe Says:

    Of coarse he’ll say Tesla durability is good, because he has a deal with them.

    Read the truth below.

  30. Larry D. Says:

    17 strongly disagree with the term ‘cratered’ still. When a market grows with leaps and bounds for years, 50% and 100% growth year after year, and then it has a few insignificant corrections for a few months, it has not ‘cratered’. BTW it is rather pathetic to have to enlist the help of miserable Mexico and little bitty Canada (a market smaller than CA alone), to surpass China’s ‘cratered’ auto sales!!!

  31. Larry D. Says:

    18 Sean, Mazda did have a ton of advertising, which I truly detested, it had this stupid kid say “zoom zoom”! Subaru has the best ads, and Mazda arguably the worst! I hated the ‘zoom zoom’ nonsense with a passion, much more than I disliked ads from Toyota, which had some idiots jumping up and down and the caption “what a feeling?” What feeling???, or Chevy “Like a Rock” as if we are still in the… stone age, and all the rest of them. Zoom zoom was the worst.

    I also have little hope that the new Mazda head in the US has a CLUE. I saw him on one of your shows, he can barely speak english, and he introduced this STUPID Diesel nobody asked for.

    The only reason

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The “Like a Rock” ads must have been the most polarizing vehicle ads ever. My dad hated them, because they were silly, but I knew people who loved them, because they were Bob Seeger fans, and in some cases, really liked that particular Bob Seeger song. Of course, Seeger no doubt lost some fans, because he allowed his song to be used for Chevy truck ads. With advertising, as with other things, you can’t please everyone.

  33. Larry D. Says:

    29 You still believe the moon is made of blue cheese?

  34. Larry D. Says:

    32 Not always. Who hates the Subaru ads? I may think their cars are ugly, but the ads are great.


    Merc, “Engineered like no other car in the world”, excellent and truthful,

    BMW, “the ultimate driving machine”, great slogan, quite true (esp in handling)

    I like ads that are INFORMATIVE. I hate ads that are just silly, and contribute nothing.

    But I am sure there are millions of consumers who make very irrational decisions. They do not have the brains to think that, if a cereal has some celebrity on its box, usually some athlete or ball player, you pay thru the nose, and you would be far better off buying the (identical in contents) generic version at half the price.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34 Probably dog haters might not like some of the Subaru ads. As far as the BMW slogan, it doesn’t apply any more, for many of their vehicles.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34 Most company slogans are mostly BS, like Merc’s current one, “The best or nothing.” In what way is the CLA the best in its class? It isn’t even as good as many, or most similar size sedans from mainstream brands, that cost many thousands less.

  37. Larry D. Says:

    36 of the 100s of M-B models, you found the lousy FWD CLA? Even that one looks great, even if it does not perform as well as the REAL M-Bs.

  38. Larry D. Says:

    35 I have not driven recent BMWs, but it sure applied like hell to all the many various 1990-2003 BMW’s I have driven.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    37 If you actually think company slogans mean much, MB’s, or those of anyone else, you are more reality challenged than I realized. Of the various products M-B sells, some are probably best-in-class, maybe the S-Class, but many more are not, or there is no clear “best” in a segment.

    38 An automatic only, fairly softly sprung 3 series is far from an “ultimate driving machine,” and then, most of what BMW now sells in the US are trucks, which are certainly not “ultimate driving machines.” Slogans are slogans, little more.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Product slogans certainly have entertainment value, though, like this one.

  41. Larry D. Says:

    Who needs these expensive, heavy batteries?

    Who cares about range now?

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    41 Interesting. From the article, I guess the trucks are hybrids, not just battery/overhead wire powered. The idea of the overhead wires, along with batteries and an engine truly covers everything, while saving a lot of fossil fuel, especially as Germany increases their use of renewables.

  43. Larry D. Says:

    42 I’ve seen “Trolley” yellow buses in Europe as early as in the 60s, they were electric noiseless buses that got power from wires overhead, they were better than dirty buses but the things that connected to the wires would go out of aligmnent all the time and the bus would stop so the conductor go to the back of the bus and fix them. Apparently they did not keep them long, they were inconvenient. These were not like Trams, which go on rails like trains, they had rubber tires drove like regular buses except for the wires.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    43 There were buses like that in Indianapolis at one time. I barely remember them, so they were probably gone by the late ’50s or early ’60s. I remember the drivers having to get out, and reposition the pickups. I don’t know how long they used them.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I found that the Indianapolis trolley coaches ran from 1932-1957.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s increasingly looking like the only unknown of the 2019 F1 season, is if Bottas might squeak out a driver’s championship over Hamilton. Then, if he did, would he quit like Rosberg, or defend his championship? I’d certainly bet on Hamilton at this point.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s more interesting mid-pack, though.

  48. Larry D. Says:

    These might be the same buses, and the Euros got them as part of the Marshall Plan. I am trying to remember the company name but I was only 5 when I first saw them. “Saviem” maybe? Or maybe this was the name of the other bus types we called they called the ‘green’ bus although they were 100% dirty

  49. Larry D. Says:

    These look very similar, if older designs, to the ones I saw overseas, which were always painted yellow-orange. The stuff on the roof looks identical.

  50. Larry D. Says:

    “Unsold vehicles hit ten year high in May

    Automakers and dealers had an estimated 4,120,900 unsold vehicles on hand to open May, a 78-day supply, according to the Automotive News Data Center.”

    it takes a very simple one-line simple calculation (inventory cost) to figure out somebody is losing billions by keeping inventory for almost 4 months on average (and for some poor sellers, a whole year’s supply), as the above numbers imply (compared to 16-17 mill sales for 12 months)

  51. Larry D. Says:

    I meant three, not four, months. 78 days, Compared to an alleged “optimal” inventory of 60 days (an old wives tale) and the 20 or so days the most efficient and popular models need.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    49 I read that Marmon-Harrington made some of them, along with Brill. The Marmon of Marmon-Harrington made the car that won the first Indy 500 in 1911.

  53. ChuckGrenci Says:

    50,51 I’m guessing that since the recovery (in auto sales), say 2010 and moving forward, quite a few manufacturers jumped on the band wagon, over produced (so they wouldn’t get left behind) and we’re finally at saturation; make that oversaturation.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    53 When I was at GM, the company had to pay the hourly employees for an extended time if they laid them off because of too-big inventories. Does anyone here know if the contract is still that way? At some point, the companies need to quit building more cars, with the inventory that high.