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0:07 Daimler Does A Management Shuffle
0:55 France Sic’s Top Prosecutors on Ghosn
1:29 Peugeot Jumps Into 1-Ton Pickup Segment
3:04 Nissan Explores Subscriptions
3:58 Mercedes Adds AMG To Subscriptions
4:33 AMG Unveils New GLE 63 S Coupe
5:13 Ford Experimenting with Dealer Kiosks
6:10 Hyundai Develops Intelligent Shifting
7:30 Adasky Offers Low Cost Thermal Camera
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
DAIMLER DOES A MANAGEMENT SHUFFLE
Daimler just reported a big drop in earnings and now it’s restructuring its management roles and getting rid of some executives. CEO Ola Kallenius will take over responsibility for Mercedes Vans. Daimler’s CFO will take over the same position at Mercedes-Benz, while the current Mercedes’ CFO will leave the company. Mercedes’ head of R&D becomes Chief Operating Officer at Daimler and it’s also consolidating Mercedes Product Strategy and Steering into one position. Daimler says these changes will speed up its decision-making process and help it react faster to a changing market. Daimler better hope it works because as we reported earlier this month its net profit plunged 64%.
FRANCE SICS TOP PROSECUTORS ON GHOSN
Carlos Ghosn may have escaped from Japan but it looks like he has not escaped from the long arm of the law. Bloomberg reports that France put a team of elite investigators on the case. They’re examining the possible misuse of corporate funds, breach of trust, document forgery and money laundering. At one point, there was talk that Ghosn might seek to stand trial in France, but if French prosecutors charge him with these crimes, he’ll probably prefer to stay holed up in Lebanon.
PEUGEOT JUMPS INTO 1T PICKUP SEGMENT
Move over Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, and make way for the Peugeot Landtrek. The French automaker is jumping into the one-ton pickup segment which accounts for about 2.4 million vehicles a year globally. The Landtrek is offered with a 1.9-liter turbodiesel that generates 150 horsepower and 250-pound feet of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed manual. And there is a 2.4-liter turbo gasoline engine that produces 210 horsepower and 236-foot pounds. It’s offered with either a 6-speed automatic or manual. Inside it’s laid out quite nicely for a work truck, and features a 10-inch display screen. Peugeot is going to build single cab, dual cab and chassis cab versions and it will go into production later this year.
DESIGNING THE CADILLAC ESCALADE
We’ve got a great Autoline After Hours coming up this afternoon. Our special guest is Phil Kucera, the Interior Design Manager for Cadillac, and we’ll be talking about how they designed the interior of the all-new Cadillac Escalade. Joe Dematio from Hagerty will also be on the show, so join me and Gary Vasilash for some of the best insights on what’s going on in the automotive industry.
NISSAN EXPLORES SUBSCRIPTIONS
Nissan is dipping its toes into subscription services with the launch of a pilot program in Houston. Called Nissan Switch, it covers delivery, cleaning, insurance, roadside assistance and regular maintenance. Subscribers can swap vehicles for an unlimited number of times, even every day. There’s a $500 activation fee on top of the monthly payment. For $700 a month you can choose from an Altima, Rogue, Pathfinder or Frontier. And for $900 a month, you get those vehicles plus, your choice of the Leaf, Maxima, Murano, Armada, Titan and 370Z. That tier also includes the GT-R but you’ll have to pay an extra $100 a day and you’re limited to just seven consecutive days with it.
MERCEDES ADDS AMG TO SUBSCRIPTIONS
Mercedes is also expanding its subscription service to include AMG models. It’s currently only available in Atlanta and costs about $3,600 a month plus a $500 activation fee. Prices for the other tiers in its subscription service range from $1,100 to $3,000 a month. A number of automakers have also tested subscription services over the last several years and have had mixed results. But obviously, Mercedes and Nissan feel it’s something customers will be interested in.
AMG UNVEILS NEW GLE 63 S COUPE
And speaking of Mercedes-AMG, it launched the new GLE 63 S Coupe. It’s powered by a 4.0L V8 twin-turbo engine that’s mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, along with the company’s 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system. It cranks out 603 horsepower and 627 lb.-ft. of torque and moves from 0 to 60 MPH in 3.7 seconds. Seven selectable drive modes are available which modify the response of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering. And the leather wrapped interior comes with AMG specific badging and switches.
FORD EXPERIMENTING WITH DEALER KIOSKS
To help streamline the dealership experience, Ford is testing digital kiosks at several locations across the U.S. They allow customers to check-in and select the type of service their vehicle needs without having to speak with service staff. The average customer check-in time is just over two minutes and one dealer says 85% of its customers found the process easier and 90% said it was able to answer all their questions. The company is also testing the kiosks outside of dealerships, so a customer can schedule service even if it’s closed. Eventually these outdoor kiosks will be able to accept and deliver keys.
HYUNDAI DEVELOPS INTELLIGENT SHIFTING
One way to improve the efficiency of cars with internal combustion engines is to shift the transmission at the optimum time. Now Hyundai claims it developed the world’s first predictive shift system, which uses traffic and road conditions to automatically shift to the optimal gear. They call it ICT, for Information and Communication Technology Connected Shift System. It uses software in the transmission to collect and interpret real-time input from the navigation system as well as cameras and radar from the smart cruise control. The nav input includes elevation, gradient, curvature as well as current traffic conditions. Radar detects the speed and distance between the vehicle and others, and a forward-looking camera provides lane information. It will even slip the transmission into neutral to coast when it senses the car will have to slow down or stop ahead. Hyundai says it reduces the frequency of shifting in corners by 43% and reduces brake use by 11% which makes the brake pads last longer. Hyundai is working on the next generation of the system which will use 5G to communicate with traffic signals for even greater efficiency.
ADASKY OFFERS LOW COST THERMAL CAMERA
An Israeli startup called Adasky developed a thermal sensing camera that looks like it’s perfect for L2 through L4 cars at night or in bad weather. It’s a solid-state camera which means it has no moving parts, no shutters. So it offers high performance at low cost. Adasky says it’s cheap enough to use for backup cameras. Compared to today’s cameras, the thermal camera is much better at seeing pedestrians at greater distances. It says automakers are interested in using it for blind spot detection, especially for buses and trucks that may not see a pedestrian or bicyclist when they’re turning. The camera is sensitive enough that it can even see a road that is covered with a thin blanket of snow.
And that’s it for today’s report, thanks for watching.
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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.