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2-22-2017


Perhaps the pressure brought by Tesla has something to do with softening the maintenance experience.  After all, the Tesla requires very little periodic maintenance.
Joe,
 
Teslas may not need much maintenance, but they charge an arm and a leg for the maintenance you have to do. Check out this link.
2-22-2017


I really enjoyed your segment on the hands off road trip - especially nice to hear concern about infrastructure support. I am curious to learn more. 
 
Thanks - Kevin Gary
2-22-2017


Greetings,



Each year you put on an "After Hours" show at the Detroit Auto Show.  Next year, why not spend a portion of that hour long program showing the viewer selected vehicles at the show you consider most noteworthy.  You certainly could find plenty to talk about when describing either the styling design or technology features of the vehicles you select.



Faithful Viewer
2-22-2017


I have given thought to buying a Elio's vehicle, but their track
record has to many red flags to buy into. A deposit and wait
and see? It's Unfortunate for Elio because it seemed like
such a good idea.
 
Now, I think; where can they go from here? Sale of company? but
who would buy? If Tata wanted to get into USA, this would be
the product they could get their foot in the door and they are
good at making three wheel vehicles and a low price in India
 
I don't see any of the Major car makers getting involved.
 
Last note, I would love to see Ford split itself up and make
each division accountable for proving their product line and
producing a profit. Something along the lines of VW divisions
for each autonomous brands organization and profits. Last note,
I read an article today, Ford CEO wants Trump to lower MPG
requirements. Short term or Long term I think it's a bad Idea because
competitors already have cars that meet and will exceed present
and future Federal and California's MPG. I read Toyota 2018 Camery's
new Hybrid will get over 50mpg.
 
Way to lose the race and profits by thinking Old ways. EV's, Hybrids
they're only getting better and the price to run even cheaper.
I want a plug-in as soon as I can afford one. I can justify
spending the money if it pays off in over the life of the vehicle
purchase.
 
Thanks, Dave Arn.
Viva Las Vegas
 
An Autoline D. viewer for many years.
Dave,

I think Elio made a mistake by trying to go too big, too fast. Instead of buying a monstrous 3 million square foot ex-GM plant, it should have started out in a much smaller facility and see what it takes to grow. Many start-ups forget the cardinal rule: start small, think big, move fast.

Let’s see what happens with the CAFE rules. My guess is the deadline will be moved back, (from 2025 to 2030) not that the standards themselves will be lowered. But we will have to see what actually happens.

John McELroy
2-22-2017


Hi John,

long time since I have emailed you, so might send a few. As GM and Ford are stopping the manufacture of big, powerful, affordable rear wheel drive cars in Australia,
(Commodore and Falcon are both more than ten years old) there is a market opening of 30 to 35000 units for cars of this type.
A Kia Stinger would have the opportunity to claim at least 5 - 10,000 of these.

Ford is going to serve up the Mondeo/Fusion and GM an Opel replacement, both front wheel drive, honestly John, why bother, I would buy a Camry, bullet proof reputation, dealers all through Australia.

A Kia Stinger with a brand new design with all the latest tech, fixed price servicing, 7 year unlimited KMs coverage
and a reputation for quality AND high performance rear wheel drive is a serious alternative where there will soon be little choice! (even at AU$40 to 50,000) Hatch backs are accepted well in this market.

So I reckon the Stinger will be a winner in Australia John.
Did I mention it looks awesome too!

Keep up the great work at Autoline!

Regards Tom C, Melbourne Australia

PS: Hyundai/Kia put the indicators on the right hand side of the steering column where they should be on a right hand drive car!!!
Tom,

Thanks so much for the feedback. Very astute observation.

John McElroy
2-22-2017


Hi John, I was just catching up on AAH & when you were talking about VW and their diesel scandal on the presents/coal episode and I remembered an idea that crossed my mind when the whole things first came to light. Why can't VW just force the cars to run in 'e-test mode' all the time? From everything that I've heard, it would involve either re-flashing or replacing the ECU. Neither of which should be that difficult.

Sure, it would likely result in reduced power & fuel economy (otherwise, what was the point of cheating in the first place). But so what? I haven't heard of any regulation that stipulates that a car must make XYZ hp, or get at least such and such mpg. But emissions regulations are like that: thou shalt not pollute more than ___!

In fact, that should be the only allowable fix in my opinion. Thats the engine control map that VW presented to regulators, so thats what the owners should be driving.

Obviously, resale value of those cars would plummet, and VW would be facing a 'diminished value' class action lawsuit .... but hasn't that happened anyway? 



Look forward to more Autoline in 2017.

-DG
Davin,

You’re right, they could do that. But you’re also right that no one would want those pokey cars. So, if VW has to buy them back anyway, and no one would want them after reflashing them, why even make the effort? Even if you did reflash them, you’d end up with a lot of people dissatisfied with the cars, telling their tales of woe to all their friends and neighbors.
2-22-2017


Hi John, 
 
I'm sitting here waiting in my car at the bank teller window. It's taking much longer than normal, so I stop just sitting on my brake pedal and put the car in park. 
 
So the question came to mind, which is best for the engine?  Being idled in park, or being left braked? 
 
I know idling at cold start is bad for an engine overt the long term, but just not sure if warm engine idle causes any harm. 
 
Your thoughts? 
 
 
Thanks, 
Michael J. Brown 
The best thing to do is turn the engine off if you have to wait longer than normal. If you’re idling you’re just wasting fuel. Of course, if it’s freezing outside you may want to keep the engine idling and the heat on.

But to your question: it’s better to put it in Park and let it idle. With it in Drive and your foot on the brake you are putting a load on the engine and it will burn slightly more fuel.

There’s an old wives tale that starting an engine uses more fuel than keeping it running. Even if that was ever true, it is not the case with fuel injection. Remember, stop/start systems in today’s cars will even turn off an engine at a Stop sign. That uses less fuel and puts our fewer emissions.
2-22-2017


John and Sean,
 
To start with, I think the Jetta is the best looking car on the road in spite of the 'writers' calling for more 'cutting edge'.
 
With that aesthetic in mind, I agree with the best picks for design for the Detroit show:  The Traverse is best and the Kia and Nissan are ok.
 
What's with that Equinox (I think) with the faux fin before the D pillar?  It's incoherent with the rest of the lines, an obstruction and not necessary.  Speaking of incoherent lines: How about the Camry and Odyssey??  Absolutely awful!!  The best Camry design was the '14, in keeping with my aesthetic.  And, the best Ody was the first gen of the large version, '99 to '04?
 
If the Traverse can swallow a 4x8, I'm going to check it out.
 
rwork
The Camry and Odyssey look hideous to a lot of people. They also sell very well!
2-22-2017


Are the eVOLVE wheels for ford focus available for purchase? thanks from lyman hoyt
To our knowledge the eVolve wheels, which improve aerodynamics of a car, are only available through OEMs at this point.
2-22-2017


Maybe in person the Lexus LS is great.  In pictures, it seems to fall apart after the B pillar.  That window treatment at the C pillar makes me say, What the ___?  Then there is that '05 7 series rear deck.
 
The Genesis flagship is, again, coherent and looks the part.  Maybe there is an attempt at redefining elegance with the LS which is laudable, but they don't seem to pull it off.  Was it rushed?
 
There was a similar complaint regarding the CT6 with the rear not living up to the front.  The LS rear is busy enough, but something is definitely wrong.  My favorite Cadillac design is the '67 Eldorado for a bench mark.
 
r-work
2-9-2017


Thanks John. I appreciate your response and your humor. 
 
Have you ever seen this exchange between the economist Milton Friedman and a young Michael Moore on the "economic calculus" of Ford's Pinto design? This has to do with the same cost, benefit, and risk analysis made in the manufacturing of automobiles, as well as everything else in our society. Society cannot afford to save every life at ANY cost. We must strike a balance and I assume reasonable risk. That's life. 

Ignoring the disabled and DUI convicts? Are you suggesting they can't use public transportation, seeing eye dogs, or personal companions/escorts?
 
As to the suggestion for lowering the speed limit to "25 mph" - that was my example of something that would "save so many lives" but the costs would are so prohibitive to be unreasonable. As preposterous a suggestion as I believe forcing autonomous cars and the infrastructure expense on the taxpayer. 



Kevin Gary
Kevin,
 
Thanks for the link! What a hoot to see a young Michael Moore, who looked very different than he does today.
 
But this clip bolsters my argument. Using Friedman’s logic, it’s obvious that autonomy will more than pay for itself. I believe that by 2025 autonomy will be a $2,500 retail option (retail, not the lower manufacturing cost). If the industry sells 17 million cars with this technology, it will cost consumers $42.5 billion.
 
Today, most courts place the value of a life at $2.5 million. There are about 35,000 fatalities in the U.S. every year. That means the cost to society is $87.5 billion, or more than twice the cost of trying to prevent these fatalities. And that doesn’t even count the people who are badly injured. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic, closed-head injuries. Those people can be disabled for life, costing society anywhere from $20 to $25 million apiece. So the cost-benefit analysis argues even more strongly for AVs. We lose by waiting.
 
Check out this link.
 
As far as DUI and disabled people are concerned, no they can’t use public transportation for their everyday transportation. What public transportation? With a few exceptions in the US, there isn’t any. And even where there is public transportation, what about “the last mile?” Who gets them to and from the train station or bus stop?
 
Seeing eye dogs can only help when blind people are walking. The dogs can’t get you across town, to the next town, or clear across the state. And besides, none of these people want to rely on others to get where they need to go. They want to be independent and take care of themselves. AVs will give them their independence.
 
John McElroy
2-9-2017


John,
Don't take any of this personal, because I love your shows and enjoy watching and listening to you and Sean report on automotive industry subjects. Keep up the good work.
 
In response to your answers to Marshall's question on AD#2013:
 
Your statement that "autonomous cars may be able to get rid of 90% of all traffic accidents" sounds like pure speculation. Please answer these questions. 
Do you have any peer reviewed studies to validate these assertions? 
Do you know how much it will cost to upgrade our infrastructure to accommodate autonomous vehicles? (Regardless of how impressive GPS/GIS/radar/infrared/sonar technology are there will be many direct and indirect costs)
 
You would like to believe you are "safely" proclaiming the benefits of self driving cars with just enough ambiguity to avoid being accused of misrepresentation. It is not inappropriate to suggest like you repeatedly do that self driving cars will eliminate as much as 90% of all accidents. You don't know that. It sure sounds like pie in the sky from a Silicon Valley promoter. I often wonder if you are applying enough skepticism when you report these assertions on this subject.



I believe the benefactors of autonomy are trying to gloss over the cost/benefit analysis with promises of saved lives in hopes that taxpayers will not realize the costs outweigh the benefits - much the same as they do in other life saving measures like "lowering the national speed limit to 25 mph because if nobody moves nobody gets hurt." We can't support our families driving at that speed. 
 
When I see these kind of exaggerated promotional statements it makes me think the automotive community is laying the groundwork and developing a preconceived notion that there will be so many lives saved that it will be worth any cost our politicians levy against our wages. One thing is certain there will be hundreds of politicians using these false preconceived notion's to the benefit of their political careers. It appears to me that technologists from Silicon Valley are trying to create the "next disruptive technology" for the sake of their personal profit.
 
In my opinion autonomous transportation may be worthwhile in a limited, closed, and highly controlled system like Disney or central London, but not worth the costs in an open and mixed one. My 2016 Acura RDX Advance AWD has collision mitigation and avoidance, and stability enhancing features that substantially broaden the margins of safety. The automatic cruise control is a perfect example how following distances and response times can be enhanced and managed with an automated system. I believe much can be done with focused technologies like these that will provide substantial improvements to accident injury rates. These are areas that will provide enough benefits to warrant the cost. And no I'm not suggesting that some government regulatory agency force these technologies on us, but rather that automobile manufacturers use these as marketing tools.
 
And finally... I do recognize we may not be using the same language. That "autonomous systems" is a class of technologies that are independent of the human, and that phrases like "self driving" or "autonomous car" are either narrow or broadly applied depending on the context of a given discussion. We all could do better if we were to tighten up our language.
 
THANKS - Kevin
 
PS - I can't wait to see kids in the neighborhood rendering autonomous passengers helpless and annoyed with an abrupt and neck wrenching halt - using nothing more than a soccer ball tossed across the road.
 
Kevin Gary
Kevin,

1. I’m not the one who came up with the number that 90% of all traffic fatalities would be eliminated by autonomous cars. The automotive R&D and safety community did. It’s a measured, scientific fact that roughly 94% of all accidents are caused by human error. Autonomous technology can eliminate almost all of that error. The articles about this are all over the web, you can easily look them up yourself.

2. Who has ever proposed lowering the national speed limit to 25 mph? No one serious, that’s for sure. It sounds like you made this up.

3. Of course the technologists in Silicon Valley are developing the next disruptive technology so they can become fabulously rich. You thought they were doing this to help the widows and orphans?

4. ADAS systems are a good step, but they only help those who can already drive a car. Another benefit of autonomy is that it opens up mobility to all segments of society: the blind, the physically disabled, the old, the young, and those with DUI problems. Ignoring them is selfish.

5. We already tightened up our language. We always use the SAE Levels 1-5 to describe what facet of autonomy we’re reporting on. In fact we’ve published the SAE chart a couple of times on Autoline Daily. You can always use the search bar to find it.

John McElroy
2-9-2017


My most hated car ever owned is hands down a 1965 Chevy Corvair. It was unsatisfying at any speed!
2-9-2017


Hi John,
   I have noticed that most of the new products from GM that are coming out are going to have a diesel engine option. Have you noticed this trend? The Chevrolet Colorado sales have been doing pretty well whats the take rate on the diesel engine?  I enjoy the show keep it up.

Thank you,
Glenn Firme
Glenn,

You’re right that GM is putting diesels in a few more vehicles, not most of them. The take rate for the diesel in the Colorado was about 10% in December, 2016, the most recent sales data available.
2-9-2017


Sean,



A 4-door is not a "sports car".



Steve
2-9-2017


John,
 
Was watching your opening segment from autoline daily yesterday on FCA violating the law yet again and then recently saw this headline in the Freep.

Doug
Doug,

Yes we saw this too! But thanks for sending this along. We don’t always see everything that’s going on and we really appreciate our viewers helping to keep us up on what’s happening.

John McElroy
2-9-2017


Oh deer Where do I begin....Well The 2018 Lexus LS doesn't have a V8 and wants to use a v6 with twin turbocharging. There goes the reliability...But don't throw that bay out with the bathwater. It has an over styled front end designed by a Tamagotchi video game designer. 5000 "elements" yippy!!! Just want I need to drop 100 grand on! 
Performance and v6 flagship for efficiency is a bit of cognitive dissonance...Why not make a true bespoke v8 with real technology like a 42V electrical system and an electric turbocharger. When Ford has a 10 speed gearbox in the F-150 it s not exactly ground breaking teechnology. LExus has no idea what this car should be...They are confused and made a S!@#-er instead of an LS!!!! 
The last gen car when it first came out before the spindle grill was a beautiful car..This thing is just too Anime less Lexus. 
Do they have no soul? Imagine if Porsche did something this stupid to the 911...(oh wait they did with the 996 fried egg headlights) 
I am so confused I am 35 I would rather buy a Toyota or a Porsche 911 or something of a hopped up VW instead. 
 
Don from New Jersey 
2-9-2017


Hello my name is Brook Valliant.   Im looking for an article about a Buick Grand National that had an Eaton supercharger installed.
 
I came across part of a 4 page article appearing to be from a 1986 magazine.   At the top of the clip I was able to see the authors name as John McElroy.
 
Im hoping that you would be able to email me a copy somehow or give me some more information so I can look further. 
 
Thank you, 
 
Brook
You need to search for an old copy of Automotive Industries magazine. It is not available online. The only place I can think of to look for a copy is at the National Historical Automotive History Collection in Detroit.

John McElroy
2-9-2017


John,
Yahoo “news” says this is the real reason for Ford’s decision.
 
What do you think of the news that Ford will not be building a new or investing in an existing - whatever the recent news was about?
 
Is there any evidence Ford is responding to pressure from POTUS Elect Trump?
If not isn’t this unusual that Ford would have changed course on such a major and strategic decision as “investing” $1.6 billion in new manufacturing?
It seems likely they changed their minds for political reasons, and not because of “strategic planning incompetence.”
 
Thanks -  Kevin Gary
We’ve NEVER seen a car company cancel plans for a new assembly plant after it publicly announced it would build it, after it informed government authorities it would build it, after it bought the land and got all the necessary building permits and infrastructure commitments, and after it forced many suppliers to start building plants nearby to supply it. Yes, it makes sense for Ford to adjust to changes in the marketplace. But small car sales were in the tank well before Ford publicly announced it was going to build that plant in April, 2016. That sure suggests that Trump’s threats were a major factor in getting those plans changed.
2-9-2017


I don't know if  this is news, but i just got an email today letting me know that Hitachi is hiring a bunch of engineers in the automotive sector.  They put out an open call for applications.  Apparently according to the press release below, they've teamed up with clarion to develop some kind of self parking technology.
 
Here's the link with more info, and where to submit applications.
 
Long time fan of the show, i almost never miss an autoline after hours. 
 
Best Regards,
 
Guillermo (Aka RoyaleWithCheese in the chat)
RoyaleWithCheese,

Thanks for the links! We always appreciate our viewers pointing us to new developments. We do a pretty good job of covering the industry, but having our viewers help really makes a difference!

John McElroy
2-9-2017


I have a 2013 Chevy Equinox and I really like the voice recognition system in the car. I read the MANUAL AND CAN USE THE VOICE RECOGNITION SYSTEM.



Perhaps the reason people have trouble with their systems is they DON'T READ THE INSTRUCTION BOOKS !  I talk to people all the time who have new cars AND THEY DON'T READ THE MANUALS FOR ANYTHING!



Don Bronn
2-9-2017


Hello,
 
As the big three inch ever closer to the 1000 + ft lbs HD diesel truck I started thinking about what is next. If torque is king in the truck world when will we see pure electric or diesel electric drive trains in consumer pickup trucks?  It seems to me that diesel electric and pure electric drive trains offer some distinct advantages over straight gas or diesel trucks.  
 
A diesel electric could be driven by a much smaller diesel engine (fuel economy).
 
The Large dimensions of pickups offer significantly more battery space (Increased range over smaller platforms).
 
A battery mounted beneath the truck box could improve weight distribution (traction) and lower the vehicle center of gravity (handling / rollovers).  
 
Both electrified drive trains could deliver 100% torque at all times.   
 
Granted battery weight will impact payload and towing numbers in the trucks respective classes but I still believe these drive-trains are coming. 
 
What is holding this development back and when do you think he will see these kinds of drive trains in consumer pickups?
 
Joe
Joe,

All the points you make are valid and this will happen over time. What’s holding it back is the cost of the batteries (and the weight, as you note). We’ll probably see the first electrified pickups around 2020.
2-3-2017


John,
When we met at the 2007 DARPA urban challenge in Victorville CA, our car had the LIDAR on the roof....and it seems that so many of the research efforts still try to deploy it watching your CES interviews.
 
But.. it's so interesting to see how Tesla's HW2 only has radar/sonar/cameras....and they already have figured out how to integrate the hardware in a production vehicle.  Elon Musk says this is the optimal sensor pack.
 
As you interview folks involved in AV development, it would be interesting to ask them why they think LIDAR is an important sensor... what data does it provide that radar, sonar, plus cameras cannot provide?
 
It would seem that Tesla is far ahead of the other OEMs in their AV development.... 

Dave
Dave,

Ken Washington, head of R&D at Ford, says they want multiple layers of redundancy: radar, sonar, lidar, video, V2V and GPS. The traditional OEMs have far more experience with liability and litigation than Tesla does.

Tesla seems to be far more willing to take risks and push the envelope. I think their approach works fine for Level 3, but wonder if it’s an astute strategy for Level 4 and 5?

Five years ago Lidar cost $70,000 per unit. Today it’s more like $250 (admittedly for less capable units) but that price will continue to fall. Tesla may be ahead of other automakers, but I don’t think it’s ahead of Google, which relies on lidar.

But your question is a good one and I’ll start asking more OEMs why they think lidar is so important.
2-3-2017


Hi John,

Most drivers under 30 like my nephews do not know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission; do you think children born over the next 10 years might be the first generation to not know how to drive because by the time they're legal to drive autonomous driving systems will be around for more than 20 years.

Mike Ma @ San Francisco CA
It will happen sooner than that. I don't think very many 5-year olds today will get a driver's license.

John McElroy
1-23-2017


John, I finished watching your Local Motor show, WOW, what a show, leave it to a Marine to think out of the BIG BOX. Must have back again- fascinated with the entire show/concept! Thank you.
George,
 
In case you didn’t’ see it, check out the Autoline After Hours we did with Justin Fishkin, the Chief Strategy Officer for Local Motors.
 
Also, here’s an analysis article that I wrote for Autoblog about the company.
 
This is a fascinating company!
 
John McElroy
1-23-2017


With used small trucks in high demand and bringing high prices (used) here in the south, can we ever expect the return of sub-18,000 small trucks with stripper equipment?  Did small, affordable truck chances die with Trans Pac Trade Agreement???
 
Thanks Jason
Jason, you’re probably right. Any chances for a sub-$18,000 pickup probably died along with the TPP free-trade deal.
1-23-2017


Last week I believe I saw one of your topics on small new transit vans and the huge drop in sales as compared to the large vans that appeared to take off. There really wasn't any reason mentioned in the article but I am surprised that your research didn't come up with an answer.
 
There are several recalls out for Nissan and Chevrolet small vans for seat belt issue and that may effect other manufacturers too since they all seem to share so many suppliers. The dealerships are no longer allowed to delivery any vehicle with open recalls so the companies that require replacement vans will naturally choice the larger version or wait til all of the vans are ready for sale.
 
I believe you should look deeper into this and make any needed correction. Your comments, I believe did not tell the story as it should.
 
Scooter 728
OK, let’s look deeper into the details. The Nissan NV200 and Chevrolet City Express recall was issued in April, over 7 months ago. A fix was developed and the vans went back on sale quickly. For the full year to date, NV200 sales are actually up slightly. As we reported, the drop off in sales in the segment occurred in the September-November period, and that was an across-the-board drop, including the Ford Transit Connect and Ram ProMaster City which did not have any recalls affecting them. It’s pretty obvious that the seat belt recall you cite was not the cause of this drop in small van sales.
1-23-2017


hi John, yes some good points. I completely agree  with some of them, like for the elderly and the handicapped, and some others.
I still dont think its better than an alert human, but we will see.
 
Yes the pace of technology is going fast...maybe too fast.
I work for Ford as Designer in Transmission and. i see it everyday.
if they will always offer a choice when you buy a new vehicle, that will be one thing.
 
However, Ford and others have stated  that they are moving straight to level 4 and 5.
we all know they arent going to make two versions ofevery vehicle..one level 4 and one more like lvel 2 or 3.
i fear that my next vehicle or maybe the one after that, will only be available in level 4.
 
As long as...the consumer has the choice! that will be the key.
I love the shows, and you guys have the best auto news website out there.
love the AD videos.
wish you could video all your seat time ones as well.
Keep up the great work.
 
Rob
Rob,

Ford is going straight to Level 4 and 5 and that’s the right decision. But that doesn’t mean Ford will only build autonomous cars when they hit the market. We’re going to go deep into this century, sometime after 2050, before all cars are autonomous. When Bob Lutz was on AAH a couple of months ago he predicted that politicians would ban humans from driving because they cause too many accidents. I think he’s right, but that’s decades down the road.
1-23-2017


John, in the "you said it" portion of the show, you seem very eager for this autonomous car craze to happen.
i have a real problem with all of it.
• tech evolves faster than the general populous can absorb and handle it
• i personally know of little to no one that's willing to give up the freedom, and control of driving themselves, or cab/uber use would be the norm, and that's not happening around here any time soon
• its not just the autonomous cars themselves that's the issue, its the INTERACTIION between them AND normal drivers that's a bigger issue
• they will follow the rules of the road to a "T" and almost NO ONE else does, that will make for a lot of angry drivers behind those cars
• they MAY work in DENSE urban areas and in fair weather cities..but highly unlikely in the true suburban areas and in states with lots of snow and inclement weather. 
• i dont want to get stuck behind one going 55 mph on the highway, on most SE Michigan freeways like I-94, I-96, 275, M-14 and especially 696...if you're NOT going 75 or higher or matching the speed of traffic, most often you will get run over, and/or be the cause of an accident going much slower than surrounding traffic. which means breaking the speed limit most often, autonomous cars wont do that.
• not to mention the hundred if not thousands of rules and regs that MUST be in writing BEFORE they are sold or in mass out on the roads.
• yes, i think there is a niche for them, but IMO, i think ALL autonomous cars should have a driver control option, so the person can take the wheel if wanted or needed.
• ok, my final statement, for the record, i love new car technology, but only to a point, and i think the "tech sector" and auto companies can come up with tech WAY faster then the GENERAL public can grasp. 
 
Rob
Rob,

Some points to consider:

You may not know anyone personally that’s willing to give up driving, but there are plenty who will. I know a lot of people who absolutely hate their daily stop-and-go commute and who tell me they would love to have their car drive automatically. I know elderly people who don’t want to give up their cars but who should not be driving. I’ve met disabled people who would love to have their own personal car and not rely on others to shuttle them around. And there are lots of people with DUI problems who would not have to lose their mobility.

Autonomous cars can already interact with regular cars on real roads with no problems. Google has racked up +2 million test miles on public roads. Many automakers, automotive suppliers and several tech start-ups are testing autonomous cars on public roads, too. The myth out there is that autonomy will only work when all cars are autonomous. That simply is not true.

Autonomous cars can easily be programmed to go with the flow of traffic, and we all know that’s safer than strictly adhering to the speed limit, and that’s probably what will happen. Besides, there are plenty of drivers who are already angry at the slow poke in front of them, so what’s the difference?

Why do you think that autonomous cars can’t drive in suburban or rural areas, or in snow, sleet, fog, rain or ice? Autonomous cars can see much better than any human driver. They use radar, sonar, lidar, video and will get V2V connectivity. They are far more aware of their surroundings than any human. They can see the deer running through the woods well before it jumps in front of your car. They can see cars that are about to run a red light, even if they’re around a blind corner.

The rules and regulations are already being written. By the time these cars are sold on a commercial basis (2020-ish) or retail basis (2025-ish) these issues will be ironed out.

The rate of progress with this technology is breathtaking. The “situational awareness” these cars already have is amazing. And so far they’re still in the R&D stage. By the end of the decade the technology will be mature and shortly after that they’ll be ready for mass production.

It’s human nature to be wary of a new technology if you’ve never seen it, never experienced it, and are not familiar with how it works. The people who are working on this technology are some of the best in the business. They’re smart, dedicated and would never put customers, themselves or family members in any danger. It’s their confidence in this technology that convinces me this is going to happen far faster than most people realize.

John McElroy
1-23-2017


Hi John,
 
Just wanted to say Merry Christmas to you and the crew at AutoLine, and say thanks for the great shows.
 
Oh, and after being huge supporter of "EV's" for so long, a couple months ago I actually bought one. A brand new 2017 Chevy Volt Premiere (loaded with every option). Thought I'd send a couple pics. Loving the car. ....and that is from someone who owned an '84 Chevy Blazer (perhaps one of the lowest quality vehicles ever built) and who swore they would never buy another GM. But kudos to the people at GM, many of whom you've had on your show. They have done an amazing job turning the company around, and into one that makes high quality and desirable products again.
 
When I got to 2,000 miles I had burned only 4 gallons of gas. I am at 2,511 miles now and 7 gallons, this really cold weather not helping, but still pretty good I think!! If more Prius drivers would just jump over to a Volt that'd be great too! :) [...I am starting to see more anecdotal evidence of that happening BTW, but we'll see]
 
I am also in the process right now of putting in a 100 AMP sub-panel in my current garage, that will power both a planned expansion of the garage next year and a 240V charger for the Volt.....PLUS have plenty of room left to power future/larger car charger(s) ;) I am hoping my second EV that I buy in 4 or 5 years will have autonomous driving capability and a range or 500 miles (...or 1000?? haha).
 
BTW GM still gets grief from some people out there for "killing the electric car" because of the EV1, a car that was out when every other auto maker was doing about ZERO to build and promote EV's. Anyway, something I want to look into is to see if what happened to the EV1 helped inspire the creation of Tesla and THEM building EV's. Bob Lutz was inspired to build the Volt because of Tesla.....but I wonder how much of Tesla was inspired by GM's EV1? Would there have been a "Tesla" if there was never an "EV1"? Something to ponder. LOL
 
Maybe you know the history better than I, but it is something I want to look in to. And that is not to take anything away from Tesla. What they have done is truly incredible, by any standard. But I think GM has done as much to contribute to (mainstream) EV development and to promoting them as anyone, maybe more, yet gets far less credit (and in some cases still some scorn). Going back over the years GM can be blamed for a lot, but people still blaming them for "killing the electric car" just bugs me. Anyway...
 
** Merry Christmas & Happy New Year **
 
Jeff
Jeff,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with the new Chevrolet Volt. We too are impressed at how good the car is.

BTW, you’ll love having a Level II 240v charger in your garage!
1-23-2017


Mr. McElroy,
 
   I truly enjoy your insights of the Automotive Industry. All this talk about emission standards and gas mileage has me a bit confused. Here is my point of reference.
 
   My dad had a 1948 Plymouth Convertible that achieved 20 MPG with the Flat-Head six. I had a 1977 Chrysler New Yorker, with the 440 CID, with 22 MPG, on a trip and it passed Current Emissions Standards.These were supposedly built with archaic technology by today's standards. Here is what I need to be explained to me.
 
   Now i have a Ford Focus and the New Yorker is gone. The Focus gets close to 30 MPG on a trip. I am a true believer in figures don't lie but liars figure. There is something here that does not make sense. Cars are now lighter and more efficient. Yet their efficiency is now less that what was achieved previously.Why?
 
Thank you for your time,
 
Andrew
Andrew,

Your 1977 New Yorker may have met the emission standards of the day, but would not come anywhere near meeting today’s standards. The emissions coming out the tailpipe of your Focus are about 98% cleaner than the New Yorker’s.

Also, I suspect you’re citing the highway number for the New Yorker under ideal conditions and comparing it to the combined number for the Focus. I’ll bet the combined number for a 440 New Yorker was more like 15 mpg.

One thing though. That New Yorker was a stunning car!

John McElroy
1-23-2017


With car companies attempting to make their Minivans look more and more like the ever popular SUV/Crossovers, the only discerning difference is the location of the rear sliding door handles.
 
The simple solution to further blur the lines between Minivan and Crossover would be to simply move the rear sliding door handles to the rear of the door.
 
This would make it almost impossible to tell the difference between a Minivan and SUV and since most are operated electronically with a button, there's no need to have it close to the door latch anymore.  Years ago the Mazda MPV tried this but kept the swinging doors instead of the sliders, but even Rappers were praising the MPV In its heyday.
 
If car companies made this simple switch I think that minivan sales would sky rocket.  There's millions of parents like me that would love the functionality of a minivan like the new Pacifica, but can't stand the thought of a minivan, or a vehicle that looks like a minivan.  the Pacifica Hybrid has me seriously thinking of the car but the door handles are the last thing that makes the car look like a minivan and not a crossover.
Kieron,

What a clever idea! We’ll publish this letter so others can read it too.

John McElroy
1-23-2017


Hello John,
Recently I heard about Pacifica Hybrid on autoline afterhours. I like the vehicle, but have one question.
When you live in apartment most of the time you don’t have the option of charging outlet, in such scenario if I do not charge the vehicle at all just use the gasoline engine and hybrid system (no electric mode) what kind of mileage do we get?
 
Thank you and love your afterhours keep up the good work. 
Pavan,

Based on our early drive of the Pacifica and with input from others who have driven it, you should get around 34 mpg if you don’t plug it in.
1-10-2017


I took my car in for service and a recall  and these unethical people put somebody else old used oil in my car , then lied and said my car was driving bad because of the RECALL program.
I want to share my story  in your publication and get some advice on how to settle  this problem.
They did this to a 2014 chevy spark. My question is did that dirty lifeless oil affect my engine?  PLEASE HAVE YOUR EXPERT ANSWER.  I watch your tv show here every Sunday in California. E-mail me the answer too.
 
Karen
Karen,

There is not enough information here for us to understand what the problem is. We suggest that you contact your zone manager to resolve any dispute with your dealership. You should be able to find the proper contact information for the zone manager in your owner’s manual. That info is typically at the back of the manual.

Good luck!
The Autoline team
1-10-2017


Hey John. I am a long time viewer and recently wondered if you know what it would take to get Autoline on the Velocity Channel. The longevity of Autoline is a testament to the quality of your programming.  I watch a good bit of programming on the Velocity Channel and the one thing that is missing is the kind of content you provide.  Have you considered trying to get Autoline on Velocity?
Carl,

Thanks for the suggestion. We’ll look into it!
1-10-2017


I caught John McElroys story about the new Continental as aired on WWJ.
 
Great report that needs one correction. Lincoln HAS been airing national TV Commercials about the Continental. They are winter themed. A little girl riding i think a train and the father is driving his Continental and there's snow falling.
 
Thanks.
Jonathon
Jon,

Are you sure you’re talking about the 2017 Continental? The reason I reported that Lincoln has not done any TV advertising yet is because that’s exactly what the people at Lincoln told me. They said we are just weeks away from their first TV ads airing. They have a big campaign with Mathew McConaughey coming.

John McElroy
1-10-2017


Hi John,
 
Congratulations from Newfoundland on show number 2000! I look forward to every episode.
In my opinion, GM or any other vehicle manufacturer should not be able to promote or sell EVs that loose significant range over time. The fact is, they are not cell phones or laptops.  People depend on their vehicles and if properly maintained, they should perform like new for their entire expected service life.  238 mile range reduced to 143 miles or even as low as 86 miles in colder climates? Now that’s ‘highway’ robbery!
Seriously! Would anyone buy a Honda Civic if the fine print stated that, in 8 years, it may only get 18.6 MPG or as low as 11.2 MPG in colder climates? I think not.
The regulators need to step in here. If the battery technology is not robust enough, then it’s not ready for those range claims.
 
Thanks,
Scott Furlong
1-10-2017


on your comments about the Lincoln MKS, MKZ, MKX vehicle names...i think they are actually acronyms for "Mark" or at least that's how it started out.
remember the "Mark 5,6,7,8" " the MK moniker on the car started out as an abbreviation for MARK, but everyone referred to it as MK and not MARK. 
what do you think?
 
Rob Michel
Mark,

You’re right. That’s what Lincoln said when came up with the “names” for its cars. The M harkens back to the “Mark” that it used on its coupes. Nonetheless, their names are a mishmash that even the people from Lincoln sometimes have a hard time keeping straight.

One of the reasons why the Lincoln Continental is now outselling the Cadillac CT6 is that everyone knows what a Continental is and no one knows what a CT6 is.
1-10-2017


Several years ago you had an engineering guest on the After Hours program telling how he was gaining the laid off engineers from military projects.  Fortunately, these last years have kept engineers busy, and it looks like they will again have more military and possibly medical opportunities competing for them again.
 
So, to protect the INVESTMENT and 'tooling' that has been made to meet the current regulations, stretching out the timeline makes sense.
The suppliers and OEMs will be able to perfect and optimize solutions rather than rush the first but not best solution to market.
 
rwork
 
ps:  In architecture, I am more and more finding automotive finishes and products finding their way into building materials.  I've also had to go to the NAPA and Eastwood catalogues for heat shields.  It pays to be an auto enthusiast.
 
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas and thanks for the feedback. Good to hear that being an automotive enthusiast pays off in other fields.
1-10-2017


Hi John,
 
Your viewers comment about "crippling" the auto industry is not referring to total sales, he is referring to the unemployed American auto worker.
 
Alan in Oregon
There’s no question that a lot of American auto workers lost their jobs. But those jobs are never coming back because the Detroit automakers are far more efficient today than they were a decade ago. During the Great Recession in 2009 GM, Ford and Chrysler permanently closed 19 assembly plants, representing roughly 4 million units of capacity. And yet today they are building more vehicles than they ever did in the past. That shows just how much slop there was in the system and explains why GM and Chrysler went bankrupt, and why Ford nearly did. The real culprit for that mess was uncompetitive UAW labor contracts, not policies of the U.S. government.
1-10-2017


Whats up guys! I have a quick question for you. Why would jeep cancel the Jeep Grand Wagoneer? It seems to me that would be a big mistake on jeeps part. It's obvious they could and should go up market. If I was them I would go right after range rover! If the architect is the problem would it not be worth the money to develop an all new architect specifically for the wagoneer? I believe they could make their money back easily because the profit margins on that car would be phenomenal.

P.S. I love the show and I watch it everyday!

Thanks JR
JR,

We completely agree that Jeep can move more upscale and should go after the Range Rover Sport and Range Rover.

You’re absolutely right that Jeep would easily recoup this investment and go on to make big profits. Why it got so far down the line before discovering that the Grand Cherokee platform was not big enough is a real puzzle. Maybe the real reason is that the money was invested in Alfa Romeo instead. But whatever the reason, the Grand Wagoneer was delayed and will eventually make it to production.
1-10-2017


I have applied and have a patent pending on a new crankcase evacuation device which works much better than any PCV system specially when motors are supercharged or turbocharged, since you seem to be a honourable man would you be interested in getting involved in getting this item to market and of coarse we would agree on how to share the cookies? I think the turbo and super manufacturers would really like this device which has no moving parts and increases vacuum with engine speed I made it to solve serious oil smoking in my modified turbo motor under high boost and it immediately stopped  blowing oil past the rings under pressure. So I have the piece and you know the parties lets make lots of money let me know..
Thanks for the offer, I have dollar signs in my eyes!

But regrettably I have to turn this offer down. It would put me in a position of having a direct financial interest with companies that I cover as a journalist. My credibility is worth more to me than any remuneration I’d make selling this to them.

Best of luck with your endeavor,
John McElroy
1-10-2017


John,

  Recently a viewer asked about how MPG was calculated on cars with multiple drive modes. My question is a little more general. There are numbers listed for city and highway as well as combined. How is the highway mileage calculated? Different states have different highway speed limits. Is the highway mileage calculated at 55MPH, 65MPH, or 70MPH? Fuel consumption can vary greatly at different speeds and with how much and what type of highway traffic your in.

Second question. With so many buyers under water on trade ins what type of financing was used to purchase trade ins? Were the leased? If so then banks were way off on residual values. Or is the market that far off on those that can only purchase used cars? Banks are reluctant to issue loans on anything over 100K and more so when the car is over 5 years of age. Are they that far off on what people can afford? With the average age creeping towards 12 years of age, that would put many trade ins at over 100K.
 
Regards,

David Sprowl
First question: The EPA mainly uses a driving test called Federal Test Procedure 75 to determine fuel economy. The test simulates different driving conditions in city and highway driving. The cars are tested on chassis dynamometers for apples-to-apples comparisons. The EPA also uses different adjustment factors to make its label as accurate as possible for most drivers. The city MPG number counts for 55% of the combined number; highway driving accounts for 45%. Most drivers will get within 1 to 2 mpgs of the combined number.

Second question: Many people take out 6- or 7-year loans to buy a new car, but do not want to keep the car that long. When they go to trade it in, many find that they still owe more than the car is worth. In many cases, they simply roll what they owe on the old car into a new loan to buy a new car. They go deeper into debt, but that’s their choice.

With leasing, residual values are already calculated into the monthly payments. A lessee cannot be underwater. He or she can break the terms of their lease, but that’s not being underwater.

When it comes to used cars most banks and large lending institutions are reluctant to offer loans. But there are plenty of independent loan operations that will lend money, usually at fairly high interest rates.
1-10-2017


Dear Autoline:

I'm noticing more and more that people are driving around with their headlights on at night. These seem to be newer vehicles. I'm wondering if these are newer vehicles that have the instrument clusters that are lit up all of the time. Rather than just coming on with the parking lights and headlights. Consequently when people are driving around in the daytime and then it turns to dusk, they do not turn their headlights on.

I ask you, if auto manufacturers are going to have instrument clusters that are lit all of the time, shouldn't this require automatic headlights?

Ernie K
Is there a typo here? Don’t you mean that you see people driving with their headlights off?

This is not a new problem and has existed well before we had computer screens on the instrument panel. But you may have a point that more people fail to notice their headlamps are not on because the IP is lit up.

Some people also drive around only using their Daytime Running Lamps, not realizing they’re not getting the full amount light they need.

GM offered headlights that turn on automatically and got some kickback from deer hunters who complained they couldn’t drive up to their blinds with the lamps off and were scaring the deer away.
12-9-2016


John , on Friday 11/18 on news radio 950 you stated that the big three did not have the plants to produce more units in this country because the sold, closed ,or in the case of Wixom bulldoze the domestic capacity and would have to build new plants at a cost of billion plus. Why then is it fine for Ford to build a new plant in Mexico to produce the Focus. This is why you and the rest do not understand why Trump won. Take a trip up north and look a the closed down towns and villages. They need to go up 75 3 hours ,turn left or right for 30 minutes find a small town and put a plant there. We have had it with our jobs being shipped out of the country.If thing cost more they need to reduce the labor at the upper management level. Thanks Scott.
Scott,

Ford is moving the Focus and C-Max to Mexico because it can’t make a profit on those cars with UAW labor costs. Besides those small cars are selling poorly since the market is moving to crossovers and pickups, the very products (Bronco and Ranger) Ford will put in the Michigan Assembly plant to replace the Focus and C-Max. Not one job will be lost at that plant and it’ll finally make the kinds of products that people are buying.

By the way, you could eliminate the cost of upper management and it still would be uneconomical for Ford to make small cars in the US under the UAW agreement. GM can continue to build small cars at one plant in Michigan (Orion) because it can use more entry level employees at a lower wage rate. Ford hit its cap and cannot hire more entry level workers like GM can.

Mexico has 10 free trade agreements with 47 countries, making it an ideal place to export from. It makes sense for Ford to export small cars from Mexico to countries around the world, which would be uneconomical to do from the US.

John McElroy
12-9-2016


I found this article very interesting.  Feel it runs counter to many of the talking points Autoline has stated regarding the subject.
  
It’s possible you have already seen it, but just throwing it out there just in case.
 
Regards.
 
Jason Hulbert
Jason,

The premise of this article is that autonomous cars will not be ready in five years because of legal and legislative issues that have to be resolved. The author raises a legitimate point about the “moral dilemma.” If an autonomous car has to choose between mowing down a group of school kids or killing the occupants in the car, which will it do? Who will write the code to determine what it does? What are the legal ramifications for the automakers and its suppliers that created that autonomous system?

Here’s the problem with that moral dilemma. It can never be resolved. You’re always going to end up killing someone. I guess the only solution is to never get out of bed in the morning.

Here’s the problem with this argument. We don’t have to wait for autonomous cars, they’re already here. The public is already using them in pilot tests currently running in Singapore and Pittsburg. Ford has them running on its engineering campus and GM soon will. Google has already racked up 2 million test miles.

Even more importantly, there’s another moral dilemma that is even more imperative. All the studies show that autonomous cars have the potential of eliminating 90% of all traffic fatalities at some point in the future. In the US alone that would translate into 30,000 lives saved every year. To delay autonomous technology because of a “moral dilemma” that can never be resolved, in my opinion, is in itself morally unacceptable.

John McElroy
12-9-2016


I've listened to your show for a while now and really enjoy your interviews with Toyota like Mr Swears (or however he spells it)
 

Hey, I'm wondering if one of you could get him to promise a date by which we will NOT see a diesel tundra by? I'm really getting tired of their false promises that they will finally deliver one. If VW really screwed it up for everyone, we'd really like to know that it will never come so we can stop googling it.
 

Also, tell them the new Prius looks stupid. Why does it look so sad from behind? Great show guys and keep up the good work!



Sincerely,

Tom Brouillette
12-9-2016


John, I wonder what type of attention will be placed on electric vehicles after the Tesla wreck in Indianapolis. The battery exploding the way it did could  be a greater danger to driver and passenger than the accident. What happens if this happens in a dry drought area. 
 
Love your shows DB, GM, Ret
DB,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention because I wasn’t aware of the accident. But from what I found online, it looks like these people would have been killed no matter what they were driving. Though the battery did catch fire and exploded, it’s very likely that the gas tank of a conventional car would have done the same. The impact of the car into a tree was terrific.

The number of car fires, by the way, is enough to set your hair on fire. Last year there were an average of 476 car fires every day just in the United States! And as bad as that sounds, that’s much less than before. In 1980 there was an average of 1,249 car fires a day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

So when you put it into that kind of perspective, I don’t think that Teslas or electric cars pose a greater danger than conventional cars.

John McElroy
12-9-2016


 John,



I am a long time viewer of your shows and know that you are a great resource. I have a nephew that wants to pursue an education in the autonomous vehicle field. He is considering IUPUI motor sports engineering in Indianapolis. Just wondering if you have any other ideas?



Thanks

Dan Kobussen
Dan,
 
It’s great to hear you have a nephew interested in getting in the automotive industry. This industry needs young, new talent! I think that pursuing a path through motorsports is actually a great way to go. Motor racing teaches discipline, quick decision making, and fast turnaround.
 
But you asked for other ideas so here goes. Stanford University is offering an online class in autonomous engineering. It also gets into artificial intelligence, which is all the rage in autonomy right now. Here’s a link for more info.

Also, Carnegie Mellon is recognized as one of the pre-eminent schools when it comes to autonomy, so I would recommend looking into that as well.
 
Hope this helps,
John McElroy
12-9-2016


Hey John and Sean-
 
Just watched your Autoline Daily with the LaCrosse. Thanks for taking the time with the car to review.
 
One point of clarity – the LaCrosse does not have Magnetic Ride Control. The Dynamic Drive package includes 20-inch wheels, HiPer Strut front suspension on FWD models, which eliminates torque steer, and Continuous Damping Control. That CDC system adjusts the damping control electronically with valving changes, not with magnetic fluid. The Sport button adjusts the algorithm for that continuous control to bias toward more stiffness and also tights up the steering.
 
Also, an opinion and different viewpoint on “Buick making a big mistake with its sedans” . . . Just as Regal buyers who want a softer ride would not opt to upgrade to the GS model, LaCrosse owners who want a softer ride will not opt to pay extra for the Dynamic Drive package. It’s an option that’s there so we can appeal to a broader range of customers including those who want a more spirited drive and the more dramatic look of 20-inch wheels. We expect many buyers (and especially those who share our daily commute on Michigan roads) will opt for the smooth and refined ride of the LaCrosse with 18-inch wheels, and the 20-inch cars will help us grow in areas like LA, Atlanta, Dallas and Miami. Overall, our sedans will continue to deliver on the sense of well-being we offer our buyers and we’ve made sure that a stiffer ride is a choice, not a requirement.
 
Cheers,
Stuart Fowle
12-9-2016


Dear Mr. John McElroy,
I attended the “OESA and Harbour Results Inc. 2016 Automotive Tooling Update” last week. I was very impressed and intrigued by your presentation. Thank you for your time.
 
I came into contact with full on ride sharing for the first time in Indianapolis that next weekend as we were there for the High School Marching Band Grand Nationals competition. I have two high schoolers in marching band and as we walked the streets of Indy, I couldn’t help but notice all of the “Blue Indy” cars parked on the streets. I thought of your presentation and realized how this is impacting us much more than I realized, living in rural West Michigan. (Crazy).
 
In any case, shame on me… I did not take very good notes during your presentation as I was counting on receiving a copy of your slides. I understand that you did not make your slides available however I was wondering if I could appeal to you for a copy to share only with my colleagues here at the Die Cad Group.
 
I understand if it is not possible but I thought that it cannot hurt to ask.
 
Please let me know.
 
Either way, thank you again for a very interesting presentation.
Sincerely, Mike
Mike,

Thanks for your interest in my speech. I’m getting a lot of requests for copies of that presentation, but for now I’m not making copies of it available.

Sincerely,
John McElroy
12-9-2016


John,
I hear you and others on Autoline constantly say E-KO for Turbo charged engines. The correct pronunciation is E-CO a abbreviation for the word Eco’nomy. Listen to Eric Loeffler the Ford guy you and Gary spoke with at the LA auto show to hear the way he pronounces the word.

Luv your shows...

Jay in Mtn Home, Ar
Hold on, people pronounce “economy” both ways. E-conomy and Eh-conomy. Ford itself says E-coboost for its engines and the Eh-co Sport for its new crossover.
12-9-2016


Just wanted to drop you a brief note about the last 2 After Hours shows. Both have been fantastic! Keep up great work John!

Lutz talking about the lifespan of the auto industry as we know it being maybe 20 years followed by the Trump election possibly extending the life of the current industry was very entertaining and uplifting.

Warmly,

Eric
Eric,

Thanks so much for the feedback. We love getting industry insiders on the show so we give the audience great insights into the industry that they can't get anywhere else.

John McElroy
12-9-2016


Wake up NADA! You've been lining your pockets all these years. In the end dealers only selling points are warranted repairs and recalls. Market value BS.  
 
Mike R
12-9-2016


John / Thank-you for having Bob Lutz on AAH once again. Every time he is on your show it is like getting an education in the auto industry from an insider. An amazing man. 
 
Don Bronn
Don,

I was blown away by Lutz. I really like him sharing all the tooling costs, because executives never share that. And I was amazed at his outlook for car sharing and autonomous cars. He is still up to speed on everything that is going on.

John McELroy
12-9-2016


Hi John,
 
I saw a story about the possibility of Buick getting a version of Chevy's Volt; do you think if they build such a car, it would be an exclusive for China's market?
 
Mike Ma @ San Francisco
The Volt EV will be marketed in China as a Buick and in Europe as an Opel. But all are the same car.
12-9-2016


Hi guys,


Excellent show with Mark Fields from Ford. I enjoyed his candour about wanting and needing to make profit and not apologizing about margin. He spoke directly to investors.



Certainly in my opinion the best and most thoughtfully managed of the big three.



Thanks for the show.



Regards

Ian Hendrie
Ian,

Thanks for the feedback. I’m with you, Mark Fields is one of the most impressive auto executives in the auto industry today.

John McElroy
11-28-2016


Hi John,

I'm kicking myself for missing yesterday's broadcast of Autoline After Hours; but something Bob Lutz said made me wonder whether his Fisker derived super car was the right one based on his comments on how only autonomous cars will be allowed on the street as it might be easier to update an EV to autonomous than a gas powered car although I think Congress would never pass a law to eliminate non-autonomous cars from the road as I can imagine them saying you couldn't build or sell new non-autonomous cars.

Mike Ma @ San Francisco
11-28-2016


John:
  At a time where the entire country much less the world is unsettled and angry about day to day life I want to take a moment to bring up something that in the big scheme of things is pretty minor…but I must for my own needs to complain. You have recently reported that truck and sport “futility” vehicles (yes my personal problem…moving on) are shown to have poor performing headlights. I’ve wondered for years why here in Colorado a very high number of such vehicles run around with either their high beams on, or turning their high performance auxiliary driving lights on. I’ve quizzed some owners of why and they don’t understand that those lights are not DRLs (day-time running lights-yes I know you know what I mean…just making sure I’m being correct). I’m old enough to have read my R&Ts closely about the engineering of extra lighting systems in whoever’s added lighting systems, (Bosch/Lucas/etc.) fluting, reflector systems and so on. I may not be an engineer but a studied lover of our machines we drive. Ok I’m getting carried away (sorry) but as the daylight part of the day shrinks and I’m spend my day driving into misused lighting system blinding me I felt I had to reach out to someone who has the background to understand the real reason those lighting systems are applied to the automobile. How do we get people to understand they are being rude and at least in Colorado breaking the law.  
 
Thank you for listening…maybe autonomous systems will bring light control back to legal…say like the sensor Cadillac’s Autronic-Eye had in the mid to late 50’s and 60’s to “dip” the head lights…
 
Rick Glesner
People driving with their high beams on, or their fog lights, is an age old problem. Maybe it’s a bigger problem in Colorado, but in most places it’s just an occasional nuisance.
11-28-2016


John,
I think a lot of Bob Lutz.. but he would acknowledge that there is much room for debate.

Autonomous vehicles:  We met at the Darpa Urban Challenge in 2007... I think the burden will be on the hardware and software to come up with AVs that can co-mingle or operate with human driven cars... I just don't think it will be a knife switch with all cars being autonomous.

With the data logging/black boxes on AVs the bugs will be found and fixed... and deducing which vehicle/driver is at fault for an accident will be FAR more clear.

I do not believe that AVs will be similar boxes. Vehicles are fashion, passion, ..and transportation. As long as people can afford their own car they many times will still want to own one.  This doesn't mean that car sharing won't be significant.. it will.. but its base will be in locations that are under-taxi'ed (or with poor taxi quality of service) plus more easy specialty rentals (convertible for the weekend, big SUV for road trip...etc).

I can see BRT (bus rapid transit) using AV or some kind of more customized personalized mass transit with AVs in some cases but that may be as a substitute for building a new subway/rail system in cities like Austin. 

Tesla: I've led engineering teams in Silicon Valley, Austin and elsewhere.. the startup mode is to drive the team for an aggressive schedule goal but expect it to really slip to be later.  The mentality is that if you don't drive the effort hard, it will achieve a slower time to market.  So, given the track record is always a year or so late, why should anyone expect a different behavior for the Model 3?  It's not Tesla that has the problem in this regard.. it's the people who don't understand Silicon Valley or Tesla.

Frank Markus brought up one of the important points on the Model 3 vs Bolt... the Supercharging network.. plus Tesla being a premium brand, and styling.. PLUS Autopilot, no dealers to deal with, Over the air updates..
 
GM deserves a lot of credit with the Bolt but it needs to have a performance AWD Focus-RS equivalent to halo and gotta-have-it factor.

Bob Lutz is also wrong on the Tesla Hardware2 announcement.. Elon said they were shipping all new production with the new hardware with software to come.. and for a while the Hardware1 autopilot cars will have more function until the new hardware2 software is developed and validated and delivers more function.  and dynamic inductive charging (embedded in roadway) isn't likely to get popular for a long time.. Just use a PHEV or BEV wSupercharger network.  I've talked to Texas DOT and they aren't hot on the idea of spending precious infrastructure $ on dynamic inductive charging (what is the billing system? what technology, price, efficiency?)

Also, keep abreast of the coast to coast roadtrip that Elon is planning in a hardware2-autopilot car (perhaps a Model 3 pre-production) combined with their "charging snake"
The idea is that the driver will not take control nor have to touch a charging/fueling hose throughout the trip.


--
Regards,

Dave Tuttle
How do people become involved in the Honda program?

ATW #2033 (Part 1)
ATW #2034 (Part 2)

D
I would contact Erica Miller, Columbus State Community College in Ohio.
11-28-2016


One of your shows reported China is getting serious about the quality and volume of small EVs. Electrification expands the variety of vehicles and their price points. 
 
We will see a huge variety of vehicles from 2 to many wheels for people and freight transport. Many for local travel only. 
 
Electrification allows them to be sold like washing machines. 
 
A house could end up with 6 electric vehicles in various types of storage, and the key occupants get driverless public transport to work and when visiting a large CBD. 
 
A vehicle is generally the second most expensive object we get to own. While various services will develop that do not require ownership, ownership will remain high. 
 
Vehicle costs have been falling in real terms - this will surely continue. 
 
Electrification and automation are the two keys to ongoing profit in the 21st century.
 
Regards
Peter Egan
11-28-2016


Hey love the show, 
 
I'm curious about something. Canada has just signed a free trade agreements with the EU. Does this eliminate the chicken tax for vehicles shipped to Canada? Also does this mean Canada will be able to get access to vehicles sold only in Europe? As a Canadian I look forward to that!
 
Bo
Bo,

The free trade agreement between Canada and the EU will not affect the “chicken tax” because that is a U.S. tax for non-NAFTA countries.

Canada will be able to get vehicles that are only sold in Europe provided: they meet Canadian emissions and safety regulations (which they can easily meet) and as long as European automakers are willing to ship cars to a market that is smaller than California (which they will be reluctant to do).

The big automotive advantage in this trade deal, if there is one, actually goes to Canada because it means any vehicles made in Canada that are shipped to the EU will not get hit with a 10% import tax.

John McElroy
11-28-2016


John and Gary,

I have been scratching my head over GM's China situation for quite some time.  I know each vehicle they sell there is sold through a company where a Chinese partner company is roughly a 50% owner, which means to me that the profits are also split roughly 50/50.  I have noted the strong sales of vehicles there, but also know that a good portion of them are the small Wuling vehicles that likely have very little margin.  Still, they are selling a large number of Buicks, and now increasing their sales of Chevrolet, Cadillac and Baujun vehicles, (again splitting the profits with their partner companies).

However, I have not been able to figure out how much money GM makes in China.  Making this more challenging is that GM lumps their China results in with some other Asian markets. 

But from the copy below from today's Automotive News update on GM quarterly profits, it appears that all of their profit is coming from the North American market.  They must not be making much at all in China if the relatively small losses in Europe and South America canceled it out.  And in the last line, it appears that international operations, including China, only made $271 million for the quarter, despite the fact that GM now sells more vehicles in China than in the U.S. 

So, do you have any idea how much money GM makes in China?

GM Veteran


"GM posted adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $3.54 billion, a fifth consecutive quarterly record post-bankruptcy. It earned an adjusted $3.5 billion in North America, up 5.9 percent, while modest losses in Europe and South America canceled out income from international operations and GM Financial.

China strong

Strong sales in China -- where deliveries rose 9 percent to a record 2.7 million vehicles -- sent earnings in international operations edging up 0.7 percent to $271 million for the quarter."
Neither GM nor Ford make much profit in China. I wonder if they're using their Chinese operations for design and engineering that would otherwise get charged to North America? Otherwise they sure are putting a lot of effort into a market that delivers extremely thin margins.

John McElroy
11-28-2016


John and Gary,

I think JD Power should change the name of their latest survey so that
it no longer includes the word Reliability.  Its misleading to
consumers.  Having an infotainment system that is challenging to use is
not going to result in your car breaking down and leaving you stranded
on the side of the road.  It also does not mean a trip to the dealership
service department, since it is merely complicated to use and not
actually broken.  When consumers hear the word Reliability, I think
these are the things that come to mind.

Another odd thing about this survey.  According to the press release,
they surveyed approximately 500,000 owners.  The eligible vehicle model
years spanned 2000 through 2017!  This makes very little sense when it
comes to things like infotainment, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity,
ease of smartphone pairing, and similar items that seem to make a big
difference to a vehicle's and brand's ranking in this survey.  With the
pace of innovation over the last 5 years, let alone 15 years, it does
not seem ethical or reasonable to include 10+ year old vehicles a survey
that gives so much weight to infotainment technology.

However, from a reliability standpoint, it does.   So, perhaps they need
to separate "reliability" from "ease-of-use" and have two surveys. 
Can't believe they haven't done it already, since that is how they make
money!

What do you think?

GM Veteran
GM Veteran,

I could not agree more. A frustrating connectivity issue related to design has nothing to do with reliability.

John McElroy
11-28-2016


John,

Enjoyed the Tesla discussion on Autoline After Hours and the parts discussion.  Interesting points about who will really drive automated systems: car manufacturers or parts suppliers.

As for Autopilot 2.0, the newly made vehicles with the new hardware will have Autopilot 1.0 enabled around December after the initial validation.  The big news is that Autopilot 2.0 will be running in the background as an "armchair driver" continuously learning how to drive AND it will provide alternate endings to any crashes.  So at some point in the future, Tesla can say we've shadow driven X million miles and would have avoided these XXX of crashes.  Assuming all that works out, a compelling case could be made to the regulators with real world data comparing Autopilot vs. Actual Pilot.

By running its ‘Tesla Vision’ software on all those cars in ‘shadow mode’, just to test the system and collect data, Tesla’s software will get more driving experience in one day than the average human driver in two lifetimes.  


As for Paint it Black as the demo sound track, Musk's ex-wife has a role in HBO's West World and the first episode's climactic scene featured a symphonic version of Paint it Black.  Perhaps a coincidence but my bet is they are related.

Keep up the great work!!

Alan
11-28-2016


John:
 
Is this continuing proof that Marchionne was right – very few automakers can afford to go it alone?   A few months ago, Ghosn grabs 34% of Mitsubishi; now Toyota snaps up the chance to team with Suzuki.  The two companies said that “spiraling costs to develop next-generation drivetrains, autonomous-driving systems and new information technology are spurring such erstwhile rivals to consolidate, cooperate and share the ever-increasing burden.”   Exactly what Sergio said was happening.
And wait til all the new players come into the market – like Geely, which is proposing a whole different business model. 
 
Ah, the times…they are a changin’
 
Mike
There's no question that we will see a lot more consolidation in the auto industry. And then, wait until we see the impact of the movement to mobility services. We're in for massive disruption.

John McElroy

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