Hello, I’m John McElroy, welcome to Autoline China, the show that covers some of the most important new technologies in the automotive industry.
SCHAEFFLER’S INTELLIGENT CORNER MODULE
The German supplier Schaeffler has come up with an intriguing combination of steering, suspension, braking and motor in one corner module. They call it the Intelligent Corner Module and the idea is to use it in autonomous pods for personal transportation in cities. It incorporates an electric hub motor with integrated brakes, steering and suspension. And the steering can turn the wheel up to 90 degrees. By mounting the modules at each corner of a car, it provides tremendous maneuverability, even allowing the vehicle to move sideways. One of the problems with hub motors is that they add a lot of unsprung weight, which adversely affects the handling of a vehicle. But by using this in a low-speed urban pod, that’s really not an issue. So far this is just part of a feasibility study by Schaeffler, but it is continuing to develop the concept.
VALEO’S CLEVER CAMERA LENS CLEANER
Backup cameras are a very useful tool to have, but they often get gummed up with dirt and grime. So, the supplier Valeo has come up with a neat solution, called everView Centricam. The lens covering the camera spins so fast that it whips water right off it, clearing up the view. Valeo says this would be good for automated vehicles to ensure the sensors function properly. And will also work with mud and dust.
Still to come…Ford is working on making vehicle parts out of graphene.
FORD TO START USING PARTS MADE OUT OF GRAPHENE
Graphene is a recently discovered “miracle material” that has a nearly endless list of uses and Ford just announced it’s using graphene in some very unique applications. Small amounts of the material will be used in fuel rail covers, pump covers and front engine covers. The material helps in the areas of durability, sound resistance and weight reduction. Normally, to get the same results, an automaker would need to use more material, which would add weight. But that’s not the case with graphene. Ford says by the end of the year, there will be about 10 under hood components on the F-150 and Mustang that use the material. And it will eventually be featured in other models as well.
CONTINENTAL DEVELOPS NEW WHEEL CONCEPT
Continental developed what it calls the New Wheel Concept which is a wheel-tire-brake system designed for electric vehicles and ride sharing. Regular steel brake discs used in EVs have an issue with corrosion thanks to regenerative braking, since the pads don’t wipe the rotors as often. So Continental uses an aluminum brake disc which reduces corrosion. And since the discs don’t wear down as fast, particulate emissions from the pads are reduced. The New Wheel Concept uses smaller brake calipers, which helps lower cost and frees up more space. And it doesn’t weigh as much, which lowers the cost of ownership since it doesn’t need to be serviced as frequently.
Coming up next…GM and Ford let us peek at their financials for mobility.
GENERAL MOTORS & FORD DISCLOSE MOBILITY FINANCES
GM lost half a billion dollars on its autonomous car and mobility efforts so far this year. Ford lost $364 million. And it’s a gutsy move for them to break out the finances on these operations.
Look, they could have easily buried these numbers in other operations so that no one would be the wiser. And their mobility businesses are in their infancy, so it’s no surprise they’re losing money.
But autonomy and mobility could turn out to be gold mines for GM and Ford. Over the next few years we’ll have to watch where these numbers go. Because if they start posting big growth in revenue, Wall Street is going to sit up and take notice. And that could drive their stock price higher than it’s been in decades.
And with that we wrap up this edition of Autoline China, thanks for watching and please join us again next time.
John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.