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0:41 Automakers Now Shut Down U.S. Plants
1:18 Tesla Reduces Workforce, But Keeps Running
1:50 GM & Ford Could Make Ventilators
2:23 Volkswagen Will Not Buy Navistar
3:04 Chevy Stops Taking New ‘Vette Orders
3:32 NASCAR Drivers Switch to eSports
4:41 Touchscreens Cause too Much Distraction
5:45 BMW Reports Mixed Financial Results
6:42 You Said It!
9:20 Continental Supports Extreme E with Tires
10:18 Driver Aids Not Getting Recalibrated Enough
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
The coronavirus is of course going to be our lead story, but don’t worry, we have a lot of other things to report on. And later on today we invite you to join us for Autoline After Hours, which we will be doing remotely for the first time. Our guest is Jeff Trumble, who’s come up with a very innovative way to improve just about any manufacturing operation. He really has something of a breakthrough. Also joining us is Bob Gritzinger from Wards Intelligence, so join me and Gary for some great insights into the automotive industry.
AUTOMAKERS NOW SHUT DOWN U.S. PLANTS
OK, now to the news. Automakers all across the U.S. are shutting down their manufacturing operations. GM, Ford, FCA, Honda, Toyota and Nissan closed their plants. Autoline reached out to Mercedes-Benz which says its supply chain is secured and that it will keep running, but it’s monitoring the situation on a day-by-day basis to protect the health of its workers. We also reached out to BMW and Subaru to see what the status of their plants is, but we haven’t heard back from them yet.
TESLA REDUCES WORKFORCE, BUT STAYS RUNNING
Meanwhile, Tesla is the only automaker that will keep its assembly lines running. Elon Musk recently tweeted out that “The coronavirus panic is dumb.” And the company resisted orders from a local sheriff to shut down. Instead, Tesla is going to reduce its workforce by 75%, but will keep its operations running. Seems to us that Elon’s tweets and the company’s inaction is going to come back to haunt it.
GM & FORD COULD MAKE VENTILATORS
Reuters reports that General Motors and Ford are in contact with the White House to potentially start making ventilators for virus patients. They would use manufacturing facilities that were closed before the outbreak, or in plants where they have open space. Elon Musk also tweeted out that Tesla might make respirators “if there is a shortage.” Well, someone ought to tell Elon that every health expert in the country says there’s a shortage.
VOLKSWAGEN WILL NOT BUY NAVISTAR
Here’s another unexpected casualty of the coronavirus crisis. Volkswagen just announced it will not proceed with the deal to buy Navistar for $2.7 billion. VW was going to buy the U.S. heavy truck maker to expand its presence in the North American market. And while it says that is still a strategically good idea, VW wants to preserve cash for any emergencies and to protect its credit rating. Navistar’s stock, which was already dropping due to the market meltdown, took another hit on the news.
CHEVY STOPS TAKING NEW ‘VETTE ORDERS
As we said on Tuesday, it’s a bad time for the new Corvette to be coming out. Now comes word that Chevrolet will not be taking any new orders for the sports car. Due to high demand and low inventory levels caused by the UAW strike Chevy will not be taking any new orders until late May. The good news is it looks like there will be people ready to buy a new ‘Vette when more start rolling off the assembly line.
NASCAR DRIVERS SWITCH TO E-SPORTS
Motor racing fans are singing the blues. Formula 1, Indy Car and even the 24 Hours of LeMans have been postponed. But at least the NASCAR boys have figured out a way to keep racing. NASCAR joined up with iRacing to create an e-sports series with real NASCAR drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson are some of the drivers expected to participate. The multi-week series kicks off this Sunday at 1:30PM eastern time on the virtual Homestead Speedway, which is where NASCAR would have been racing this weekend. The remaining race and broadcast details will be announced later.
ANDROID AUTO & APPLE CARPLAY CAUSING TOO MUCH DISTRACTION
When it comes to safety NHTSA has guidelines as to how long a driver should be looking away from the road when using the radio, HVAC or other controls. NHTSA says anything that takes longer than 2 seconds is not safe. NHTSA also says that if drivers start a task, then looks back at the road, then gets back to the task, and look at the road again, they’re safe as long as the total time they’re not looking at the road does not exceed 12 seconds. But a study from an organization called IAM Road Smart in the UK, says that drivers using Android Auto or Apple car play are distracted for longer than 2 seconds to perform any task. The researchers found that using voice command was better than using touch screens and fell within NHTSA’s 12 second guidelines, but they say that using the touch screens was as distracting as texting while driving.
BMW REPORTS MIXED FINANCIAL RESULTS
BMW reported its 2019 financial earnings and the results are mixed. The company sold more than 2.5 million vehicles, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, which is a record for the company. Its revenue hit 104 billion euros, the first time it passed the 100 billion mark. However due to ongoing antitrust proceedings in Europe and heavy R&D spending, its EBIT dropped 17% and its net profit plunged nearly 30%. But despite that the company won’t let up on its R&D investment. It plans to spend more than 30 billion euros by 2025 to develop new technologies. And it also revealed that the next-generation 7 Series will include an all-electric version.
|BMW 2019 Earnings|
|Net Profit||€5.0 Billion||-28.9%|
YOU SAID IT!
Now let’s get to some of your comments. And we’ll start off by saying thank you for all the kind words on our new show format. It was our hope that by preparing we could still bring you the same quality of news. And the news from yesterday that got the most comments was by far and away about ZF’s electronic front parking brake. Ctech asks, “Why is there a need for an electronic parking brake on the front wheels? With front-wheel drive and most of the weight already up-front, isn’t this adding more un-sprung weight? What am I missing?” Yes, this would add unsprung weight, but what you’re missing Ctech is that moving to front wheels frees up interior space and gives designers more freedom. John Sahr had us laughing. “Parking brake on the front? How is anyone going to impress the Ladies or Gents if you can’t do handbrake turns? How am I going to get dates now? In the interest of fair reporting it never really worked but… It’s the best move I have in my repertoire.” Ha! Love it. But tiny b summed up the majority of the comments, “You can pry my handbrake from my cold, dead, hands. Powerslides forever.” And while we’re seeing more applications of 3D printing, like yesterday’s story on Porsche’s new seat foam, some of you still wonder how strong these parts and pieces are. Cwolf says, “I’m skeptical about how long it will last because, though it is durable under certain conditions, it is not very abrasive resistant. It also looks like a good dirt collector.” Jackson Brown mirrored that comment, “3D foam looks like a dirt and bacteria catcher and a pain to clean. It also looks like it’ll bottom out fast.” I guess time will tell how these seats hold up and at least it looks like the 3D printed section would be easier to swap out. Thanks for all your questions and comments.
CONTINENTAL SUPPORTS EXTREME E WITH TIRES
A new off-road series with electric SUVs kicks off next January. Called Extreme E, the vehicles are similar to commercial SUVs in size and weight but have three times the torque of a Formula E racecar. Continental is the exclusive tire supplier for the series and is currently developing the tires. It normally takes 3 to 4 years to develop a tire for a conventional vehicle, but Conti will need to make these tires in a little over a year’s time. The tires will be equipped with technology that displays data like tire pressure and temperature on a screen inside the cockpit. Organized in cooperation with Formula E, the first race will happen in Senegal, followed by races throughout 2021 in Saudi Arabia, the Himalayan Mountains, Greenland and Brazil.
DRIVER AIDS NOT GETTING RECALIBRATED ENOUGH
There are millions of vehicles roaming the roads with advanced driver assistance systems, which require cameras and sensors to operate properly. But what many people are failing to realize is that those components may need to be recalibrated even after a simple repair. That means there’s a lot of vehicles on the road with systems not functioning to their full potential. Here’s Mike Anderson, the CEO of Collision Advice with how we can improve those ADAS repair rates.
Mike Anderson, CEO, Collision Advice
“I think a lot of this training has to be opened up to the independent repair facilities. Independent repair facilities, as we know, are repairing a majority of vehicles on the road that are in an accident. And I also think that, from a collision repair standpoint, something as simple as replacing a mirror, if your mirror gets clipped and you hit something, even something like that might require a calibration or even something as minor as a bumper. What’s pretty interesting to me, when you review a lot of the owner’s manuals that are provided to the owners when they buy a new vehicle, there are a lot of these precautions or warnings in the owner’s manuals that will state to the owner that if your bumper is even in a slight accident that you need to have it inspected by a repair facility. So, I think for shops they can’t take anything for granted and as much, like Jake said, anything that we’d used to just replace, a mirror, in ten or fifteen minutes that could require a 4-wheel alignment to go calibrate a camera. So, it’s much more in depth. And I think it just starts with education and collaboration between the OEMs as well as the shops that are repairing consumer’s vehicles.”
John McElroy, Autoline.tv
“Mike, as you know, I-CAR started BodyShopology where consumers can get an app to make sure they go to the proper kind of I-CAR certified repair facility. Do we need something like that for ADAS? ”
“Absolutely I do. I think that for a consumer they’ve got to be able to find a shop that has the ability, meaning the training, but also the proper equipment in order to do these calibrations. So, I think anything we can do to educate the consumer so they’re making a smart selection for who repairs their vehicle is absolutely critical to our industry. And one of the things I love about BodyShopology is that when you go to BodyShopology it actually gives you the ability to select all the shops that are I-CAR Gold Class. But if you have a Honda vehicle and I go to I-CAR’s website BodyShopology it will actually allow me to select which shops are certified by Honda and Honda has a program called Pro First. So, I think other OEMs that can embrace that, I think it helps the consumer to make a wiser decision.”
There’s a lot of great information in that show, which you can watch right now on our website or YouTube channel.
HOW TO PASS THE TIME IN QUARANTINE
And before we sign off, we thought you might enjoy this video @gnuman1979 posted on twitter having some fun while under quarantine. And if you see any automotive related bits that will help brighten up the day, send it our way.
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.