Listen to “AD #2782 – Pedestrian Deaths Rise; Tesla Refuses to Release Autopilot Data; Details on New Volkswagen Golf GT Models” on Spreaker.
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0:23 Pedestrian Deaths Rise in the U.S.
1:30 Tesla Refuses to Release Autopilot Data
2:32 U.S. SAAR to Top 16.5 Million
4:02 More Passenger Cars Come with AWD
4:47 Details on the GT Versions of the VW Golf
6:31 DS Shows Wild Aero Concept
7:30 Ford Expands e-Scooter Startup
8:06 Last Chevy Impala Rolls Down the Assembly Line
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
PEDESTRIAN DEATHS ON THE RISE IN THE U.S.
The number of pedestrians killed in car crashes is on the rise in the U.S. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association says that 6,590 pedestrians died on or along roads in 2019, which is up about 5% compared to 2018. It’s the highest total since 1988. Pedestrian deaths now represent a higher percentage of all car crash deaths, from 12% In 2009, to 17% last year. Part of the reason they’re on the rise, is the consumer shift from sedans to trucks and SUVs. According to NHTSA, pedestrians are two to three times more likely to die from being struck by a pickup or SUV than a passenger car. Other factors include alcohol, distraction from smartphones and more pedestrians dying at night. This problem is why automakers must equip vehicles with pedestrian protection systems in order to earn a Top Safety Pick Plus from the IIHS.
TESLA REFUSES TO RELEASE AUTOPILOT DATA
There’s a fascinating court case involving Tesla that is going to end up setting a legal precedent. It involves a Tesla owner who had Autopilot engaged, when he says it suddenly veered left, crossed the oncoming lane and crashed into a ditch. The driver blames Tesla, while Tesla blames the driver. Here’s where it gets interesting. The LA Times reports that Tesla has all the data that can prove what happened, but it refuses to release the data. It told the driver and his lawyer to get data from the black box, or event data recorder. All car owners have legal rights to black box data. But on Tesla’s it does not record data from Autopilot. Only federal safety regulators have access to operation information from a corporation. But several people have been getting killed in Tesla’s with Autopilot engaged, and it’s likely the courts are going to step in at some point to make safety-related data more accessible.
U.S. SAAR TO TOP 16.5 MILLION
Ward’s Intelligence is forecasting that the SAAR in the U.S. market will come in at 16.6 million. A year ago the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate was slightly lower at 16.5 million. Ward’s says it expects Ford and Nissan to post lower sales, but that just about every other automaker will see an increase. Of course, this does not take into account any production delays or stoppages due to the spreading coronavirus.
The fastest way to develop new automotive technology is to develop it on the race track. Motor racing engineers are some of the best and brightest, and have to find solutions immediately. And on Autoline After Hours this afternoon we’re going to be talking about a new series that’s all about racing autonomous cars. John Waraniak from SEMA will be on the show to talk about what the cars will be like and where they’ll race. And we’ll also have the Autoextremist, Peter DeLorenzo, who proposed a hydrogen racing series some years ago and knows all about the struggles and issues with trying to start a new series. So join John and Gary for a great discussion on how competition can improve the breed.
MORE PASSENGER CARS COME WITH ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Wards points out that more automakers are adding all-wheel-drive as an option on their passenger cars. Five years ago there were 55 cars with all-wheel-drive in the U.S. market, today there are 75. A key reason why is that automakers with passenger sedans are trying to entice customers who otherwise want a crossover or SUV because they offer AWD. Nissan already offers all-wheel-drive on the Altima, Toyota is adding it to the Camry and Avalon and Hyundai is expected to add it to the Sonata next year. The expected take-rate isn’t that great, about 15-20%, but they’re hoping this will help slow the downward slide in sales of passenger cars.
VW DETAILS NEW GT VERSIONS OF THE GOLF
Volkswagen revealed the new GT versions of the Golf, including the GTI, GTE and GTD. The automaker has previously shown the new Golf, but the sporty models have their own unique touches. A colored line runs across the top of the headlamp assemblies and through the grille. It’s red on the GTI, blue on the GTE and silver on the GTD. This line is mirrored by an LED strip in the headlamps and grille. The lower air intakes are larger and feature a honeycomb pattern, the calipers are painted red, the fenders are wider, the rocker panels or lower sils are black, there’s a front splitter design element and they all have a spoiler that extends from the roof. As for the interior, the GT models have a sporty steering wheel, golf ball shifter knob and seats with plaid inserts. Under the hood of the GTI is 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque and can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch transmission. The GTE pairs a 1.4L turbo engine with an 85 kW electric motor, which combine for 245 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A 13 kWh battery provides up to 60 kilometers or 37 miles of electric range. And lastly the GTD features a 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel with 200 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque matched with a 7-speed dual clutch trans.
DS SHOWS WILD AERO CONCEPT
PSA’s luxury brand DS is showing off a pretty wild concept, called the Aero Sport Lounge. It features a powertrain setup based on the one it uses in the all-electric Formula E racing series, which results in some impressive figures. A 500 kW electric motor produces 680 horsepower and would rocket this concept from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds. And a floor mounted 110 kWh battery pack would return more than 650 kilometer or over 400 miles of range. While that does sound impressive, as its name suggests, this concept is more about improving aerodynamic efficiency while still providing a striking design. For example, the winglets on the hood are functional and the large side air curtains get highlighted by a thin LED strip.
FORD EXPANDS E-SCOOTER STARTUP
Ford is expanding its electric scooter startup, Spin, outside of the U.S. The company will launch the dockless e-scooters first in Cologne, Germany this spring, and roll it out to other cities in Germany after that. It’s also eyeing France and the UK to introduce the service as well. Spin currently operates in 60 cities and 25 universities across the U.S. And if you’d like to learn more about e-scooters and micro-mobility, check out our Autoline This Week that dives into the topic. Just look for the link in the transcript or in the description box below.
LAST IMPALA ROLLS DOWN ASSEMBLY LINE
The last Chevy Impala will roll down the assembly line today at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is being converted to build electric vehicles. The sedan was first introduced in 1958 but GM decided to axe the model, along with most of its passenger car lineup, back in 2018. Over the course of its run Chevy sold nearly 17 million globally but last year, sales dropped to just under 45,000. It’s sad to see an iconic nameplate go away but with the dramatic drop in sedan sales, it’s not surprising to see GM walk away from that segment.
But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching and please join us 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.