0:30 FCA Presents Five-Year Plan
1:48 FCA and Waymo Expand Partnership
2:19 Uber Wants to Use Waymo’s Technology
3:19 GM Cruise Gets Huge Investment
3:45 1st Autonomous Vehicle with Solid-State Lidar
4:21 Kenya Grows Its Automotive Industry
5:21 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Pros and Cons
On today’s show…Sergio Marchionne presents his final five-year plan for FCA…GM receives a big investment for its autonomous vehicle unit…and the Mitsubishi Outlander has some clever features for rear seat passengers. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the show for enthusiasts of the automotive industry.
FCA PRESENTS FIVE-YEAR PLAN
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne presented his final five-year plan for the company in Italy before he retires next year. And not surprisingly, Reuters reports, the focus will be on SUVs, pick-up trucks, and electrified vehicles. By 2022, Jeep will introduce 9 new vehicles to its line-up, offer 4 battery electric models, and stop selling diesels in Europe. RAM is targeting a 30% increase in its global sales and aiming to become the second largest commercial vehicle brand in North America. Maserati will introduce new hybrid and electric models to its line-up and use engines from Ferrari. Alfa Romeo will also introduce electrified vehicles to its line-up and has set a goal to more than double its sales to 400,000 units by 2022, up from the 170,000 its expecting to sell this year. It’s not known what FCA has in-store for the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and Lancia brands. That’s because the all-day long presentation is being presented in two halves’. And as of this taping, we’ve only learned about what was in the first part of the presentation. We’ll have more about FCA’s five-year plan next week.
FCA AND WAYMO EXPAND PARTNERSHIP
And in other FCA news, the company announced it’s expanding its autonomous partnership with Waymo. FCA is currently supplying Chrysler Pacifica’s to Waymo, which is equipping the minivans with its self-driving technology for its own ride-hailing service. Now that order has been increased by another 62,000 Pacifica’s. But more interestingly, the two companies are in talks about using Waymo’s technology in an FCA vehicle that would be sold by the automaker.
UBER WANTS TO USE WAYMO’S TECHNOLOGY
And speaking of Waymo, it’s easy to understand why it would want nothing to do with Uber. In February, Uber had to pay Waymo $245 million in shares to settle a legal dispute over the stealing of trade secrets. But apparently, the relationship between the two companies is “getting better” and now Uber’s CEO says it’s in talks with Waymo about using some of its technology. The technology Uber wants would be used in its ride-hailing app. Uber’s CEO also went on to say that its self-driving vehicles will be back on the road this summer.
And we’ll be back with more news about autonomous vehicles right after this.
GM CRUISE GETS HUGE INVESTMENT
In a big boost to GM’s autonomous efforts, SoftBank will invest $2.25 billion in GM’s self-driving unit, GM Cruise, giving it a nearly 20% stake in the division. Once the transaction is complete, GM will invest $1.1 billion into GM Cruise. The automaker plans to launch a ride-hailing service with its autonomous Chevy Bolt’s next year.
1ST AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE WITH SOLID-STATE LIDAR
Chinese LiDAR company RoboSense and a division within the Alibaba Group, just introduced the world’s first self-driving delivery vehicle with a solid-state LiDAR. It’s equipped with three LiDAR devices, two in the front and one in the rear. While it didn’t provide specifics, RoboSense says its LiDAR costs as low as a few hundred dollars compared to a mechanical one which has the spinning do-hickey’s. Solid-state LiDAR is also more compact, making it easier to package in the car, which allows for the mass production of self-driving cars.
KENYA GROWS ITS AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
On a recent Autoline This Week, we wondered if Africa could become the next automotive powerhouse? It took another step in that direction as Simba Corp, a Kenyan company, said it’s in talks with four automakers about assembling their vehicles in the East African country. Renault and Mahindra are two of the automakers, but Simba would not identify the other two. They’ll eventually join Volkswagen, Peugeot and Nissan, who have all recently announced plans to open assembly lines in Kenya, which is expected to grow its market by 15% this year.
Coming up next, the Mitsubishi Outlander has some back-seat tricks you won’t find in other CUVs.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV PROS AND CONS
As a father of two young kids, who has to often switch and strap down car seats, I probably get more acquainted with the back-seat area than the average journalist. Usually, there’s really nothing special going on back there. I mean, it’s a back seat, right? Unless maybe if it has an entertainment package. But a few things got my attention in a plug-in Mitsubishi Outlander I drove recently. This can be a minor thing, the buckle for the center seat belt tucks nicely into the seat back. But if you’ve ever had one of those things poking into your side or butt, you know this is a happy little addition. Another thing you won’t find on a number of other CUVs is a reclining rear seat back. In this case, the same handle that allows the seat back to fold forward, also lets it recline into three different positions. Something I was not very impressed with though, is the support braces that help hold up the rear seat bottom when it’s flipped up for a flat load floor. As you see in this short video, the seat really shakes around loosely after you release it. If you didn’t use that feature very much it probably wouldn’t matter, but if you did, I’d be concerned about long-term durability. I have to admit, for a long time I’ve thought of Mitsubishi as a cheap brand. And while, yes, there were a few points that indicated this, like the rear seat braces, poor paint quality on the wheels and a goofy place to put the park button because you have to reach around the shift to push it, there are other points it really nailed. The soft-touch materials are all in the right places, the doors make a good thudding noise when they close and the turning radius seemed impressive. I’ve got to say, this vehicle changed my view of the brand. I now think of it a little more highly and I think you should put Mitsubishi back on your radar as well.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching, have a great weekend and we’ll see you again on Monday.
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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.