AD #2065 – VW Shows Signs of Life, New Simulation Tracks Dirt Build Up, Lexus to Produce Wild UX Concept
March 14th, 2017 at 11:44am
To watch this episode on YouTube click here.
- VW’s 2016 Earnings Rise
- Heavy Trucks Continue to Slide
- Renault-Nissan Create New Commercial Unit
- New Simulation Tracks Dirt Build Up
- EV Charging Stations on the Rise
- Volvo Hints at First EV
- Ford Installs Smart Kiosk at Dealership
- Lexus to Make Wild UX Concept
On today’s show… big truck sales continue to slide in the U.S., Volkswagen 2016 earnings show it’s starting to turn things around and Ford experiments with automating the vehicle service process. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the show for enthusiasts of the automotive industry.
VW SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE
Volkswagen has been going through a lot of turmoil the past year and a half, most of that was self-inflicted, but the company’s financial results show it’s starting to turn things around. Last year the VW Group sold nearly 10.4 million vehicles, which is a gain of 4%. That helped push the company’s total revenue to a record 217 billion euros, despite the ongoing diesel crisis. Its operating profit hit 7.1 billion euros and its net profit reached 5.4 billion euros. Both are huge gains since each of those were in the red last year. And the improvements should continue this year. CEO Mattias Mueller said he expects the VW Group will exceed 2016’s record revenue by as much as 4%.
HEAVY TRUCKS CONTINUE TO SLIDE
Passenger car sales dipped slightly last month in the U.S. but as we reported, the market is stronger than at first glance. The commercial side of the business is another story however. Wards Auto reports that sales of medium and heavy-duty trucks fell more than 15% in February compared to a year ago. It’s now the 11th month in a row big truck sales declined. But it’s Class 8 trucks that are really dragging down commercial sales, that segment plunged 30% in February. Sales of Class 4 through 7 vehicles did decline but were down less than 5% in each segment. And it’s not just the U.S., big truck sales in Canada are down 7% so far this year too. Economists use heavy trucks as a leading indicator of where the economy is headed, and this is a not a good trend because it means a lot of companies are postponing their capital expenditures.
RENAULT-NISSAN CREATE NEW COMMERCIAL UNIT
And in related news, Renault-Nissan announced it’s creating a new light commercial vehicle business unit in an effort to boost sales. The two companies, along with new Alliance partner, Mitsubishi will share development, platforms and manufacturing to deliver synergies in cost and technology. The new unit will be led by the current VP of Renault’s light commercial vehicle division. Even though the companies are combining their efforts, they will still sell vehicles under their own brands.
And we’ll be back with more right after this.
DIRT BUILD UP SIMULATION
Simulation software can really help cut down on the cost and time spent developing a car. We’ve shown you examples of the technology from a company called Exa in past Autoline Daily’s. And now it’s just introduced the next-gen version of its PowerFlow system. It offers the option to add dust, dirt and water to the simulation, which allows OEMs the opportunity to enhance visibility by better controlling how water and mud build up on the vehicle. This is especially important with today’s cars that are equipped with multiple cameras and sensors. I know I’ve had to clean off more than one backup camera in my day. And it’s why we love showing you technology like this that helps improve how vehicles perform in the real-world.
PLUG IT IN, PLUG IT IN
The number of public charging stations for EVs is on the rise. Last year they totaled 326,000 globally, which was up nearly 40% from 2015. China and the U.S. added the most stations, but we still need a whole lot more. For China to hit its targets for EVs it would need 288,000 more charging points.
VOLVO HINTS AT FIRST EV
And speaking of EVs, Volvo says it will have its first all-electric vehicle out sometime around 2019. There are not many details at the moment, but the brand’s U.S. chief says that it will have at least 250-miles of range and will cost somewhere between $35,000 – $40,000. Engadget speculates at that range and price the vehicle would likely be a sedan.
Coming up next, Ford automates the vehicle maintenance process.
DOES IT HAVE COFFEE AND DOUGHNUTS TOO?
Ford is working to take the headache out of dropping your car off at the dealership for service. It teamed with a division of Panasonic to install a smart service kiosk at one of its dealerships in Michigan. Rather than wait in line or for a service member, customers can drop their keys in the kiosk and choose from a number of services, like oil change, vehicle inspection and even recall work. Once the job is done, customers receive a confirmation e-mail with a QR Code to scan at the kiosk to get their keys back. Final payment can even be made with a credit or debit card. The smart kiosk is in a 90-day trial run right now and Ford will monitor the results to see if it wants to install more. But what do you think? Is this a service you’d want to use? I just think it’s another way we’re cutting human interaction out of our everyday lives.
LEXUS COMING OUT WITH WILD SUV
Last year, Lexus revealed a wild looking SUV concept at the Paris auto show called the UX. But it won’t be a concept for much longer. Motoring reports that Vice President Yoshihiro Sawa confirmed that the company will build a production version of the UX soon. The company believes the SUV can help attract younger buyers to the brand. Don’t expect the design to be as wild, it should be toned down a bit, but it’s still cool to see Lexus moving forward with this product.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.
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