March 14th, 2013 at 11:03am
Henrik Fisker abruptly resigned from the car company he started after unspecified disagreements with the executive management team. International, the big truck maker, now offers the Transtar Class 8 semi that runs on CNG. Pollution continues to be a problem in China, and the country has a plan to get the highest polluting cars off the road. All that and more, plus we take a look at how fish behavior is helping Nissan develop its autonomous technology.
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Coming up later in the show we’ve got another cool barn find, but first let’s get to the news.
FISKER CALLS IT QUITS
Henrik Fisker abruptly resigned from the car company he started after unspecified disagreements with the executive management team. We suspect he resigned rather than get fired. Fisker Automotive is in deep financial trouble after a string of unlucky breaks and no doubt the financial backers of the company want drastic changes. It is very difficult to start a brand new car company unless you come to the market with some dramatically new and different technology or process. Fisker relied on styling to break into the market and that’s just not enough. Even so, we’re sad to see him fail because you have to admire him for how far he got.
CHINA LIKES CNG…FOR THE U.S.
One of China’s largest private companies plans to create a network of natural gas stations in the U.S. for heavy-duty trucks. According to Reuters, ENN plans to build 50 stations this year alone in the U.S. It teamed up with a small Utah company called CH4 Energy and the two created a joint-venture called Transfuels. They plan to build around 500 stations in the U.S.
TRUCK FLEETS EYE CNG, LPG
There is a lot of interest in the United States of running trucks on compressed natural gas or liquid propane autogas because truck fleets can save a boatload of money. We’re going to be doing a lot of reporting on this in the weeks to come. International, the big truck maker, now offers the Transtar Class 8 semi that runs on CNG. A cost calculator on International’s website shows that a fleet can save well over $150,000 in fuel costs over the life of the truck. For fleets that run their per-mile operating costs to the penny, this is a windfall. Check out the link in today’s show notes to see how much truckers in your area could save by converting to natural gas.
UNDER-RIDE GUARDS SCRUTINIZED
And speaking of semi-trucks, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the U.S. is calling for stricter requirements for under-ride guards on the back of trailers. The agency tested trailers from the 8 largest truck manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. A 2010 Chevy Malibu was crashed into the back of the trailers at 35 MPH at three different off-sets: full-on, 50 percent over-lap and 30 percent over-lap. At full-width every trailer passed and only one failed at 50%. However, with the 30 percent over-lap test only one trailer passed. In 2011, 260 people died in the U.S. in these types of accidents.
I MUST CRUSH YOU
Pollution continues to be a problem in China, so the country is trying to get the highest polluting cars off the road. There is a new standard coming May 1st that says if a car fails a mandatory inspection three times in a row it has to be scrapped. Cars are required to be inspected once every other year for the first six years from the date of purchase, then once every year for the following four years, and then they have to be inspected every six months. If someone does not get their scheduled inspection they risk getting a fine of about $32 and three points on their license.
IS THERE SOMETHING ON MY FACE?
You know, this Barn Finds segment, where you send us the cool cars you see, is really starting to grow on me. And this next pick is “treemendous.” Gordon Garside sent us this car-turned-terrarium, which he discovered on some “semi-rural private property” north of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Gordon knows what it is, but do you? He says it isn’t uncommon to see these vehicles running around at local antique car shows. But as he notes, based on the size of the tree, this car hasn’t moved in some time and won’t be going anywhere too soon. Tell us what you think this is in the comments section of today’s show and we’ll reveal its identity on tomorrow’s edition of Autoline Daily.
Coming up next, Nissan is playing around in Silicon Valley with what look like toy robots. Actually it’s all about autonomous cars.
NISSAN’S AUTONOMOUS TECHNOLOGY
Every time you turn around another automaker is announcing it’s getting into autonomous technology. Nissan is the latest and it put out this video to explain how it’s developing this technology.
(Nissan’s autonomous technology can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
Join us tonight for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Klaus Busse, the head of interior design at Chrysler. This will be a fun show so tune in to catch me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo for some of the best automotive discussions that you can listen in on.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.