Listen to “AD #2835 – Elon Musk Defies Health Authorities; Toyota Prius Turning 20; Next-Gen Kicks and Frontier Headed to Production” on Spreaker.
Follow us on social media:
0:07 Elon Musk Defies Local Health Authorities
0:53 Toyota N.A. Production Cut Nearly 30%
1:26 Toyota and Honda Report Profit Drops
2:06 FCA U.S. Adopts Safety Practices from China and Italy
2:59 Ford Highlights New OTA Capabilities
4:08 Toyota Prius Gets Limited Edition Model
5:11 Next-Gen Kicks and Frontier Headed to Production
5:54 Audi’s Infotainment Updates
6:48 BHTC Develops a 3D Display
9:22 Mystery Car Revealed
Visit our sponsor to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone.
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
ELON MUSK DEFIES LOCAL HEALTH AUTHORITIES
Well, Elon Musk defied local health authorities and started bringing line workers into Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, California. He said that he would be in the plant and that if anyone was going to get arrested, he wanted it to be him and only him. So far those health authorities have taken no action. And here’s our Autoline Insight. They’re not going to take any action. With just about every other car company and their suppliers starting to reopen plants this week or next, Tesla was not going to get left behind. Besides, the auto industry, including Tesla, started reopening their plants in China almost two months ago, so they know the safety procedures they need to take. And so far those procedures seem to be working.
TOYOTA PRODUCTION CUT BY NEARLY A THIRD
Here’s another example of how hard automakers have been hit by the coronavirus. Reuters reports Toyota expects to build about 800,000 vehicles in North America between April and the end of October. That’s down 29% compared to the same time last year. Toyota actually didn’t build any vehicles in April and it’s only now starting to ramp up production lines. The good news is, production is expected to be back to normal by July and September output should outpace last year.
TOYOTA & HONDA REPORT PROFIT DROPS
And Toyota also said it expects its profit to drop 80% this year, the lowest it’s been in nine years. The automaker is forecasting sales of 8.9 million vehicles compared to about 10.5 million a year ago. Because of that drop in global sales, Toyota expects to take a nearly $14 billion hit. As bleak as that sounds, it still expects to manage a 500-billion-yen operating profit for the year. And Honda reported that its operating profit fell 13%, the lowest it’s been in four years, due to a 28% drop in sales.
FCA ADOPTS SAFETY PRACTICES FROM CHINA & ITALY
FCA is getting ready to resume production in North America and will use practices learned at its plants in China and Italy to keep people safe. More than 57 million square feet had to be cleaned and disinfected, 4,700 workstations were redesigned and thermal imaging cameras were added. Workers will also have to wear masks and safety glasses at all times and FCA is implementing staggered start times as well as longer lunch and break time to help increase social distancing.
FORD HIGHLIGHTS OTA CAPABILITIES
Ford says the Mustang Mach-E can do over the air updates in ways that many smartphones can’t do. Thanks to a new cloud platform Ford says the Mach-E can keep running on its current software until the update is completed. So your car doesn’t have to be parked until the update is done. Ford says the updates are downloaded very quick, in many cases it just takes a couple of minutes. But for larger downloads owners will be able to schedule when they want the update to take place. Like Tesla, the updates will be able to provide performance improvements or add features that were not there when the Mach-E was made. Drivers will be sent alerts in their vehicles to let them know what was installed. Starting this year, Ford is adding over the air capabilities to all its new and redesigned vehicles. All of GM’s new vehicles have it too. It’s amazing how long it’s taken traditional automakers to add OTA capabilities to their cars, considering Tesla had it a decade ago. But in a couple of years they’re all going to have it.
TOYOTA CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF PRIUS
Toyota is celebrating the Prius’ 20th birthday with a special edition model, but Toyota’s going a little heavy with the play on numbers. It’s called the Prius 2020 Edition but will be sold as a 2021 model year vehicle and only 2,020 examples will be made. Moving past that, the car is based on an XLE trim with front-wheel drive and it’s available in Supersonic Red or a new color, called Wind Chill Pearl. Unique touches include black wheel inserts, headlight components, trim, B-pillars, mirror housings. Even the interior is blacked-out on the shift knob, A-pillar and air vents. About the only accent that’s not black is the new rear spoiler, which is body color. There’s also floor mats stitched with “Prius 2020 Edition.” No word on pricing or availability but Toyota did announce that it will livestream the reveal of two all-new hybrids on Monday the 18th.
NEXT-GEN KICKS & FRONTIER HEADED TO PRODUCTION
We’ve got a quick future product update from Autoforecast Solutions. Nissan will start building the next generation Kicks at its assembly plant in Aguascaliente in Mexico starting in December of 2023. The next generation Nissan Frontier pickup truck goes into production at its plant in Canton, Mississippi in June of 2021. Even though the Frontier has got to be one of the oldest models in the U.S. market, Nissan still sells about 70,000 of them a year. Or at least it did in a normal year.
AUDI’S INFOTAINMENT UPDATES
Audi is improving its infotainment system. A new Linux-based operating system is up to ten times faster than previous hardware. It allows for HD voice communication, which is able to understand more natural speech as well as improved Wi-Fi and Function on Demand. That feature lets customers make in-vehicle purchases for things their vehicle wasn’t equipped with from the factory. Navigation is the first upgrade available, but Audi expects to add more features in the future. Wi-Fi, which is designed to be more powerful now comes in two levels, a basic package that allows up to 8 devices to connect and a high-speed option. Map updates are now made monthly instead of quarterly and Amazon Alexa is available in more models. The new infotainment system will be offered in the second half of this year.
BHTC DEVELOPS 3D DISPLAY
And more often these infotainment systems are becoming a main selling point of a vehicle, so we’re seeing more complex systems. I recently talked with Juergen Peters, the GM of a small German company that is making a 3D display that doesn’t require any special glasses and here he highlights the system.
Juergen Peters, GM, BHTC
“So, basically what it does, it provides a very brilliant, high-resolution 2D image and it has several technologies, such as a camera which tracks your eyes. And with the eye tracking and the logic attached to it, the software attached to it, we can switch from a 2D image to a very high resolution, brilliant 3D image. And that’s basically what this demonstrator is all about. And the other main enabling technology we have integrated is what we call a mid-air haptic. How it’s working, there’s an array of ultrasonic transducers integrated into the console and time-of-flight camera, which detects the motion of your hand towards the display. And then depending on which screen you are (on) you are basically have the ability to touch certain functions of the or trigger certain functions on the display without touching the display. And that’s pretty cool. And on top of that, it gives you a sensation in your fingers, based on the transmission of the ultrasounds towards your fingers, and in the moment you are actually touching a certain button or a slider or whatever it is, you will then feel in your fingers the sensation of actually touching something. And that’s sensational. And we believe that with this display that we have revolutionized, once again, the in-vehicle HMI (Human Machine Interface) technology.”
To learn more about BHTC and its 3D display, you can watch that entire interview right now on our YouTube channel.
Here’s a reminder to tune into Autoline After Hours this Thursday afternoon. We’ve got strategist Paul Eichenberg coming back on the show, along with Jamie Butters from Automotive News. So, join Gary Vasilash and me for some of the best insider discussions in the automotive industry.
MYSTERY CAR REVEALED
Yesterday we showed you this picture of an old car that our viewer Paul Digney asked to see if we could identify. We knew there would be a number of you who would quickly identify it and we have to give a shout out to Nick Thomas, Todd Crews, Barry T, Sam Fiorani, Chip Caruana, Frank Coffey and Greg Raley, who identified it as a Chandler 6. The badge on the radiator grille is the give away. It could be a 1927 or ‘28, but kudos to you guys for figuring it all out.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and we’ll see you again tomorrow.
Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website: WardsAuto.com
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.