0:29 Ford Teaches Saudi Women How to Drive
0:58 Tesla Semi’s on the Road
1:25 GM to Make More Bolts
2:25 Chevrolet Gets Back into Medium Duty Trucks
3:12 Navistar Redesigns Its Medium Duty Trucks
3:37 Goodyear Tires Grow Moss
5:16 You Said It!
On today’s show…Elon posted a picture of Tesla’s electric semis in operation…Goodyear develops tires with moss growing inside them, we’ll tell you why…and Ford teaches women in Saudi Arabia how to drive. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the show for enthusiasts of the automotive industry.
STUDENT DRIVER ON BOARD
Saudi Arabia recently made it legal for women to drive and Ford is rushing in to teach them the fundamentals. It’s called Ford Driving Skills For Life For Her, and it uses skilled experts who cover the basics like proper adjustment of the mirrors, emergency braking and avoiding distraction. Saudi Arabia already has a very high rate of motor vehicle accidents. On a population-adjusted basis it’s twice as high as in the U.S.
TESLA SEMI’S ON THE ROAD
Well here’s something that caught everyone by surprise. Elon Musk posted an Instagram picture of a couple of his electric semi-trucks about to take loads of batteries from the Gigafactory in Nevada to Tesla’s assembly plant in California. When Musk unveiled the truck back in November we thought it would take years to develop. These pictures show the development of the truck is well underway. Musk says it will go into production next year.
GM TO MAKE MORE BOLTS
Thanks to growing global demand, GM plans to boost production of the Chevy Bolt EV at its Orion Assembly Plant. But the company did not reveal how much capacity will increase. GM built 26,000 Bolts last year, with over 23,000 of them sold in the U.S. Starting this week, GM will start offering Bolts for commercial use, that have the rear seat removed. You get to pay $350 for them not to put a seat in the back.
Speaking of Chevrolet, it has been missing out on massive profits and coming up next, we’ll explain how they’re finally going to remedy that situation.
CHEVROLET GETS BACK INTO MEDIUM DUTY TRUCKS
Ford makes big profits selling medium duty trucks and so does Ram. One of the biggest puzzles in the auto industry is why Chevrolet wasn’t competing in such a profitable segment. Well, Chevy finally woke up to what it was missing out on. It’s coming out with a lineup of Class 4, 5 and 6 medium-duty chassis cabs. These are the kinds of brutes that end up as dump trucks, stake trucks and get upfitted for all kinds of applications. They go into production later this year. And Chevrolet will brand them as Silverado trucks. That’s a smart move. Ford calls all its trucks F-Series because by lumping them all together it makes it look like they really sell a lot. Ram does the same thing. So even though Chevy is late to the party, it’s making all the right moves.
NAVISTAR REDESIGNS ITS MEDIUM DUTY TRUCKS
Navistar also unveiled its redesigned medium duty trucks, what it calls its MV Series of Class 6 and 7 trucks. Some of the big selling points include the elimination of vent windows and bigger glass on the doors for better visibility. The cockpit gets customizable gauges placed well within the driver’s view that allow for better monitoring of the vehicle.
GOODYEAR TIRES GROW MOSS
It wasn’t all new vehicles at the Geneva auto show, Goodyear revealed several concept tires. One is designed specifically for electric vehicles. Tires wear out 30% faster on EVs because of their instant torque and the weight of the batteries. What Goodyear calls EfficientGrip Performance with Electric Drive Technology deals with those issues. Goodyear says the tire will be available in Europe next year. Another concept is the intelligent tire prototype, which features sensors and algorithms to communicate in real-time with fleet operators via an app. And the last concept the company revealed is the wildest of the bunch. Called the Oxygene, it’s designed to help improve air quality. It has living moss growing in the sidewalls, which absorbs and circulate moisture from the road, allowing photosynthesis to occur and that releases oxygen into the air.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It, where we get to hear from you.
And now it’s time to put a spotlight on some of your questions and comments.
Kevin Anderson says, “I like the looks of all of the new VW I.D. electrics. My only question is, why can’t the production gas VWs look as good?”
You’re right, the best thing to happen to VW design was to give the designers the freedom to come up with new styling with electric cars.
BobD sys, “I had to laugh on the segment on the Mercedes digital headlamps…. What has the world become when you need headlamps to display a snowflake on the pavement to tell you it is snowing out?”
Couldn’t agree more BobD. What are they going to do next? Display an icon of a tornado? Or a tsunami? How about a forest fire? Fire on the mountain, run boys run!
And Barry has a better idea. “Would the Mercedes headlamp system show where the potholes are?”
Lex saw our report that Mazda will use a rotary engine as a range extender on a plug-in. “My understanding was that the Mazda Rotary Engine is too dirty and that was why it was dropped. What changed?”
A range extender operates in a very narrow rpm range, so it’s much easier to control the emissions.
Chris Del Rossi says, “I knew that someone at some point would try to develop a steer by wire system. The real question is what will their solution be to handle failures in the system. What happens when the failure occurs mid-turn on a rural back road lined with trees?”
Well, you kiss your ass goodbye. Geez, do we have to explain everything here?
gary susie thinks he may know why new car sales were down in January and February. “Could it be the weather here in the northern states that caused the sales drop?”
That’s a hell of a good point Gary. Let’s see if the warmer weather thaws out those sales.
PeterGriffin4200 thinks he knows why sales of the Honda Accord are down so sharply. “Honda got rid of the V6 engine, that’s why sales are down.”
You could be right.
And finally, Albemarle heard our report that the EPA overestimated the Volatile Organic Compound emissions from car and wants to know, “Interesting about the VOCs. Are there VOC standards for new cars?”
Yes, there is. Even when your car is parked gasoline is evaporating from it. Even some oil. And the plastics are off-gassing. The EPA wants that controlled. In fact, you can get PZEV, or partial zero emissions vehicle rating, from the EPA if you control all those evaporative emissions. If I’m not mistaken every Subaru has a PZEV rating, meaning they produce the same emissions as an electric car.
Thanks for all your comments and questions, we truly like reading through them. But that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching and we’ll be right back here again tomorrow.
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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.