Episode 489 – Daimler, Nissan Come Together; Wireless Charging Tech; Hasta La Vista, Privacy

September 30th, 2010 at 12:03pm

Runtime 6:06

It looks like talks between Nissan and Daimler about sharing engines and platforms is progressing nicely.  Delphi announced it’s teaming up with WiTricity Corporation to develop wireless charging systems for EVs.  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill yesterday allowing windshield-mounted cameras to record video and audio inside vehicles!  All that and more, plus some of guest-host Murray Feldman’s thoughts on the problems facing the automotive supplier industry.

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Hello again and welcome to Autoline Daily for Thursday, the last day of September, 2010.  I’m Murray Feldman from FOX 2 News here in Detroit.  You guessed it; it’s my turn to fill-in for John this week who’s still in Europe covering the Paris Motor Show.  Lucky guy.  Anyway, here are the top headlines from the global automotive industry.

It looks like talks between Nissan and Daimler about sharing engines and platforms is progressing nicely.  Bloomberg reports the two automakers are hammering out a deal which is expected to be completed on Saturday.  According to the article, future Infinitis will be built… off an existing Daimler architecture.  The unnamed models will also offer Daimler diesel engines.  They will be sold in Europe, the U.S. and China.

HAPPIER DAYS ON THE HORIZON (subscription required)
Even though it still feels like the economy is stuck in neutral, the auto industry is seeing some glimmers of hope.  If a forecast published by PriceWaterhouseCoopers turns out to be true, things are on track to get a lot better.  According to Ward’s, the accounting firm projects that capacity utilization in North America will hit 95 percent in 2015.  The rule of thumb is that a plant breaks-even when it’s running at 75 to 85 percent capacity . . . anything beyond that is money in the bank.  That means OEMs could be poised to rake-in record profits.  Automakers are on-track to hit 80 percent this year and exceed 90 percent in 2011, largely because the Detroit Three closed so many factories and streamlined their operations.  But their European competitors haven’t made these difficult decisions yet.  Their rebound is not expected to be as strong.

Yesterday Delphi announced it is teaming up with WiTricity Corporation, which makes wireless energy-transfer technology. They’ll develop wireless chargers for vehicles. The system would not need plugs or cords, the driver simply has to drive over a wireless energy-source that sits on the ground and it automatically transfers power to the battery. Let’s hope it doesn’t sterilize men and zap your cell phone.  The system can transfer over 3,300 watts to charge a car, which is the same rate as a residential plug-in charger. Delphi says the technology can be integrated into the design of a vehicle, but there’s no word on when it could become available. Your first born and your phone are safe for now!

Peugeot and Mitsubishi are extending their electric vehicle relationship. The two companies already have an agreement that will supply Peugeot with EVs based on Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, and now the AFP reports that the two will develop light-commercial vehicles together. The carmakers said they will develop electric-versions of the Peugeot Partner combi-van and the Citroen Berlingo.  Look for production to start by 2012.

In other Peugeot news, its parent company PSA and Ford announced they will continue their diesel collaboration. According to Ward’s, the two will develop and produce a range of Euro 6-compliant diesel engines for light vehicle and commercial use. The new line-up is scheduled to begin production in 2013. The two companies have partnered on diesel engines for the last decade.

Big brother is watching . . . LITERALLY.  According to the Associated Press, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law yesterday allowing windshield-mounted cameras to record video and audio inside vehicles.  The measure is designed to promote safe driving – particularly for vehicle fleets – and to record data if there is a crash.  Only 30 seconds of information may be stored.  There are obvious privacy concerns around this law, let’s hope it doesn’t spread any further than California.

After the break I’ll share a few of my thoughts on a critically important, though often-overlooked part of the auto industry.

Finally – the domestic automakers have things where they want them. Consumer demand is up – product is rolling off showroom floors. Some Chevy dealers are saying they could sell two or three times as many vehicles as they have.

So companies like GM are boosting production.  Sounds like good news, however that is now creating another problem.  Suppliers!  Many have been barely hanging on during the automotive downturn and are under-capitalized. They reduced costs . . . cut workers . . . shut down some lines.  Now they’re being asked to fund increased production. And they can’t afford to.

Sheldon Stone Is a partner at the turnaround firm Amherst Partners. He has many clients in this jam.  He tells me their collateral base simply won’t support an increase on the production line.  He’s already seen one supplier go out of business – because they couldn’t meet the increased production.

So let’s hope people keep buying new cars – and automakers continue to do more business . . . but that production increases come slowly – slow enough to keep suppliers in the loop and in business.  If not, automakers may find their supplier base is shrinking . . . companies going bust, at a time when they can’t afford to have that happen.  It could impact nearly all automakers here in North America. It could become the next automotive crisis.

On a lighter note, join us for Autoline After Hours TONIGHT.  Mr. Peter De Lorenzo himself is hosting the party, which starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Our special guests include David Welch from Bloomberg/Business Week, and Jean Halliday of Advertising Age.  Should be a good show.  You can watch it LIVE on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv or download it as a podcast from iTunes or the Zune Marketplace.  And don’t forget to leave us your questions and comments on our Google Voice number.  Just dial 1-620-AUTOLIN, that “Autoline” without the “E.”  Again, that’s 1-620-288-6546.  We’d love to hear from you.  And with that we can wrap things up for today.  Again, I’m Murray Feldman from FOX 2 News, Detroit.  Thank you for watching.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

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21 Comments to “Episode 489 – Daimler, Nissan Come Together; Wireless Charging Tech; Hasta La Vista, Privacy”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seems like Detroit can’t win regardless what, based upon this last report, if the domestics cannot come up with inventory buyers will go to the imports, just like they did with the ill-conceived C4C last year,when the domestics had no inventory of small, fuel efficient models and buyers flocked to the imports instead.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Even with all these privacy data collection devices, shouldn’t the 5th Amendment protect individuals from ‘self incrimination’; often wondered about that. At least with the camera, a smartly placed sock (or should I say, oops splashed mud, covering the lens) could rectify that kind of intrusion.

  3. LEX Says:

    Way to Go Arnold! The next measure should be drug testing urinals at highway rest-stops where you have to swip your drivers license to take a leak. Ha. Ha.!

    Who thinks up this stuff? Maybe we should have vehicles which require you to swip your drivers license in order to start the vehicle, like Bruce Willis in the Movie “The Fifth Element”.
    This way Big Brother can see who is really texting while driving.

  4. HtG Says:

    Chuck, I doubt I’d have any 5th amendment rights driving my boss’ car on business. Of course, I would still have the right to tell my boss ‘to take this job an….’

    It’s over, we’d better enjoy as much of driving as possible, before the computers and volume make the road fit only for fourteen year olds fiddling with their Ataris.

  5. MJB Says:

    As long as people realize that wireless (inductive) charging typically takes a good 40% to 60% longer to charge a cell than direct-connect charging then I think the ‘charging pads’ are a brilliant idea.

    I’ve got a Palm Pre smartphone with a Touchstone inductive charging dock that you simply set the phone down on to charge. But if I’m in a rush, you best believe I’m going to just plug that baby directly into the charger.

    Now, my Pre sits directly in contact with the charging base (Touchstone). But if the diagram shown for the auto ‘charging pad’ is at all accurate in it’s depiction of interaction between the car’s charging interface and the inductive charging unit on the floor, then expect an even wider gap between plug-in vs. inductive charge times. Because the farther the greater the distance between the interface and the charger, the less charge gets passed on to the car.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That wireless charging would be convenient, but I can’t imagine that it would be very efficient. Even if the power loss is only 5 per cent, it is too much, and I bet it would be a lot more than that.

  7. LEX Says:

    Did anyone read the Newsweek article entitled “UAW Dispute Tarnishes Launch of Chevy Cruze” this week? It seems that GM – Lordship Plant and UAW are at it again over some quality / repair issues with the New Chevy Cruze. I must say that these guys better get their act together and stop all this in-house family fighting. Consumer confidence in Detroit based OEM’s products is weak. If the Cruze with over 4 Million Real World Testing Miles is already having problems then it’s not the product, it must be the labor. The Solutions is “Find It, Fix It, and Move On!

    The American Taxpayer wants their money back from the US Automakers and UAW Labor Unions. No one is giving me a bailout! Be Happy you have a Job! Those stupid UAW worker caught drinking and smoking marijuana on their lunch break has come to symbolize for the rest of the US Public the amount of pride and inteligence the average UAW worker has.

    If Detroit and the UAW build crap the Transplanted OEM’s will crave you up like a Thanksgiving Turkey and the US Taxpayer outside the US Auto Industry will say why did we ever bail those guys out anyway!

  8. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Oh Ive sung that song billions of times LEX, but Iam the bad guy for stating the obvious- Modern Day North Americans lack the skill in Manual Labor we used to have.

    It’s not a bad thing, it’s called we are growing up into a modern economy where brain power as opposed to muscle power is king.

    We’re growing up from a bunch of Dumb Oath Immigrant and Slave Descendants with:

    backwards “Old School” Traditions (Racism, Sexism, Bigotry, etc), superstitions, an IQ of -80, a climate where intellectualism was something to be made fun of as opposed to being a skill that can get food on the table (Dork, Nerd, Geek),

    Old School America is crude like a Hemi, while the new School America that’s coming is like an Audi E-Tron.

    Hyundais built in Korea= Just fine

    Sonata built in America= a higher rate of recalls and TSBs than Korean built Hyundais

    Did you hear this VW is looking into join NASCAR Crap?

    Yeah NASCAR-exactly what I mean about the old confederate flag flying, crude car powertrain driving, backwards America that is in the process of going extinct. Why is VW trying to follow Toyota to ruin? If they wanted to be like Toyota so bad then they need to try to get some reliability in those cars.

    America is like a Phoenix. One era Dies in flames, the next era it rises from the Ashes better than it ever was in the first place.

    The Cycle repeats itself and will continue to do so until the day God decides to shut this Republic down for good, which wont be until the day God shuts down Human existence on Planet Earth. (Well that’s if you still believe in God, as the Athiest Movenment in this country is gaining steam and starting to become unstopable.) It’s wild that the Chinese are being killed and imprisoned for reading a Bible, while we just wantonly give it all up.

    Anyway, us in Gen Y will have our fall at the end of the Next American Socal Year=2048, and for some reason I have a feeling that our fall will be quite the Biblical experience. It will make the fall of the Baby Boomers pale in comparison.

    An American Social Year is a 40 year long era, with 4 seaons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.

    We are in Winter of the new year right now (Starting in 2008), and this lean Cold time will last until about 2018. Then the Gen Y spring will come and make the 1990s Clinton Era booming economy look poor. Deficits going to the Next Generation, yeah right. Stop the scare mongering, it never happens.

    20 Million of out 80 Million New taxpayers (Gen Y) arent even employed for whatever reason-including going to school. There’s Lots of future Deficit killing tax payments on the way.


    Greatest Generation= 1928-1968
    Baby Boomer Era=1968-2008
    Change Generation (Gen Y)=2008-2048

  9. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Im sorry that’s closer to 30 Million, but in any case that’s a bunch of extra tax payers that arent even being tapped yet.

    We’ll be fine Economically and Socially over the long term. It’s the Military readiness and Morals that Im worried about.

    But to get there, the old ways of doing things have to be purged from the system= 10 bad to Horrible to bad to ok years-like Winter.

  10. cwolf Says:

    LEX, your rubish comments about the UAW makes one believe you’re kin of HS! The 13 pot smoking idiots you mensiond were fired and hardly depicts the average worker, union or non-union. Yet, considering your unfounded comments, you might get along superbly with those 13 and HS.
    By the way; the UAW recieved no money from the taxpayer. In fact, made considerable concessions that deem fair and suitable for the economic conditions. And ,true, I was hired into the UAW and don’t agree with its every move. But given the enormous size of the auto industry and its workforce, I think the union is necessary. GM and the UAW realize they have no choice but to work together toward common goals and I’m sure they can work any CRUZE differences out as well. That is, as long as neither side reacts as foolish as you have done.
    I don’t do drugs, nor drink very often at any time. I’m always busy doing or preparing for projects. Can’t say I bust butt because when one loves their trade, work seems more fun than hard and more of a challenge than a tedious task. But I sense I do more by accident than you on your most energized day! Get a grip LEXY.

  11. alloverx Says:

    The UAW got a very nice deal in the bail-outs. To deny this is not realistic. Talk to the bond-holders to see what other parties got.

    If the UAW were focused on quality then no one would care. But they do not appear to be. Like a lot of unions, its about job protection/benefits at any cost.

    Look at the recent vote when they could have accepted a cut in pay and kept a factory open. But since they could retire or transfer else-where they voted no. So jobs are gone.

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    cwolf who cares about the pot smoking workers. The point is the quality of the cars. Pot or no Pot, the North American worker makes an inferior product.

    Mexico=Ford/GM/Chrysler technical nightmares
    US=GM Technical nightmares
    Canada=Ford/Chrysler Technical Nightmares

    If this wasnt the case then:

    Why are the Korean made Sonatas sold in other countries have ZERO evidence of power steering problems?

    The Europeans are even worse at building a car. I bet if the MINI was produced in South Carolina it would have better long term durability scores. VWs are an exception with Wolfsburg models still considered as superior to Chatanooga Models.

    It’s not a bad thing I dont think. The North American Worker today is not cut out for factory work for the most past, plus the much lower wages companies are paying their workers now doesnt foster an enviroment for quality.

    The problem before= wages were too high. The problem in the future will be wages being too low.

    If wages are too high the worker gets too lazy.

    If wages are too low the worked is stressed because they have making ends meet on their minds- NOT BUILDING QUALITY CARS!!!

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    If the Detroit 3 start making money and don’t renegotiate with the UAW, then you will see lapses in quality in these new cars that the 3 are depending on to get them out of their financial woes, it’s almost blackmail if you ask me.

  14. cwolf Says:

    Lot of good follow-up comments.
    I guess some could say the union got a pretty good deal; Retirees and old timers faired best, but new hires not so much. For example: my sister hands out food samples at a SAM’S CLUB for $13/hr and no benifits to add to her retirement income. A production worker makes about $2 more an hour, maybe average benies after a yr. or so. It’s a entry level factory job that sure beats the bread line, but challenging for a family.
    I must confess,more Tradesmen(who mentored me and now retired)than I would have liked to experience were rather lazy and pros at manipulating the system. They made the BIG bucks; just like GM did in that era. It should be safe to say,then, that they and the Stockholders made out quite handsomely,heh?
    And these tradesmen were also shareholders who felt the same losses as all others.
    I ,too, agree about union job protctionism. Some workers are so bad, their boss lets them do nothing;NO JOKE! Yet management nor union will fire them. So fault should be pointed in both directions. But note that most workers do their jobs well and take pride in their tasks.
    Since the people are the Union,if they do their jobs well and meet or exceed established standard and parameters, can one deny they are in reality focused on Quality? Who sets quality standards and enforces them – Union or management?
    Benifits and wages are/should be based upon how good the company performed over a set period. Don’t most of you look forward to your anual progress review and maybe a raise. Union members do,too! We all know you can’t give if ya ain’t got it or are undeserving.

  15. cwolf Says:

    Accept a wage cut or close the plant. Don’t know the facts that lead to the closing. As suggested, transfering could have been an option to some; but where to? There are no places to transfer! So if you made,say,$30/hr. Would you work for $15/hr to save your co-workers and your jobs if the job was deserving of the prior? Everyone has a limit, I guess.
    Smoke, Did you ever consider the variance in quality between the US and foreign product is a result of start-up issues? There are a lot of “BUGS” to iron out in a new start-up, at a new plant, with new people. Give those folks down south a fair chance. Koreans are not better workers, but they and the chinese do a good job taking our technology! Really good at taking pictures in our factories,Too!

  16. Julius Lambert Says:

    It appears that big brother just cann’t get enough data.Hell they have the BLACK BOX except on Ts.The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that the interior of an auto is the owners domaine .OH “I’ll Be BACK”is digging a hole now.Just because a lot of our weather comes off the West coast ,doesn’t mean this crap is going to BLOW East.GOODDAY————-

  17. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    cwolf, Well the beltline on that that Aveo looks pretty Accentuated, if you know what I mean.

    Well Last Gen Sonata had more techincal probleams than most other Hyundai products too. Im not here to hate the North American Worker per-se, but look at the evidence. I wish it wasnt so, as Hyundai/KIA plans on eventually making all of their cars here with new plants giving jobs to more Americans. They believe in localized production.

    I hope the Accents made in Mississippi, Ohio, Alberta, Veracruz or whatever are just as good as the ones made in Ulsan. If not, Im pretty well… fu-ked.

  18. LEX Says:


    I owned several UAW built American Vehicles and all gave me trouble. The Transplants have a better product and their workers simply do a better job – SORRY!

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve had several UAW-built vehicles which did NOT give me trouble and only one that gave me much trouble, a 1982 J2000.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My most recent UAW car was a Chevy Malibu Maxx which did not give any trouble during the 5 years I had it. The reason I traded in on a Prius was so I’d use less than half as much oil, to use the cliche, from “places where people hate us.”

    If a car like the Prius was built by a domestic company I would have bought it. There is no indication that anyone plans to compete with Prius in a serious way, though.

  21. LEX Says:

    My experience with American Automakers has been very checkered. Those vehicles were plagued with problems. I have since switched over to Honda with no troubles.

    My Daughter wants to buy American for her first new car. She has her eyes set on the The Chevy Cruze. If GM and the UAW can not work together to built the best car possible, then the Bailout was for nothing. GM received the government bailout and it was used to save UAW jobs. So the UAW did receive a government bailout. John McElroy himself has stated that the Tennesse Ford Plant workers who elected not to build the Kug for export to europe were bone heads. They missed a great opportunity to help not only themselves but also the parts suppliers outside the union to increase the number of jobs and local eceonomy around the plant. These guys need to look at the BIG PICTURE.