The Detroit Bureau
The auto industry is expecting a strong sales year in 2018, but analysts warn a trade war could derail that.
Fleet sales, including sales to rental customers and commercial customers who purchase more than a single vehicle, have been growing steadily since 2014 and in the first two months accounted for more than 24% of total industry sales, according to figures compiled by J.D. Power & Associates, said Thomas King, senior vice president of data and analytics.
“Part of the reason is that more individual customers have drifted into the used-car markets, looking for deals among the growing number of lightly-used vehicles coming off lease, but it also a sign that what is traditionally cyclical industry has reached another point of the industry’s sales cycle that indicates sales are likely to slow.”
Read the article at The Detroit Bureau.
The Detroit Bureau
Distracted driving is a recognized problem – with nine deaths each day – and it is not limited to texting teens, but includes where are those drivers most likely to be traveling the roads, which appears mostly likely to be somewhere on the East Coast.
A new study shows that East Coast drivers are more likely to engage in some form of distracted driving than those on the West Coast. When broken down by city and state, Miami drivers top the list and New Jersey drivers hold the “state” title.
The findings come from the “Heads Up, Phones Down: Distracted Driving Intervention” report. It looked at a total of 45 billion miles driven by Life360 users and claims to be the largest distracted driving survey to date.
Read the article in The Detroit Bureau
As companies like General Motors, Ford, Aptiv, Zoox, and Waymo continue to test their self-driving vehicles on public roads, there will be more dust-ups, fender-benders, and crashes that maim and kill.
Autonomous vehicles run off hundreds of thousands of lines of code, sensors and lidar – robots don’t understand eye contact or waves or nods. Their mistakes will seem mysterious to the human eye, and alarming.
“The argument is that the rate of accidents is supposed to go down, when autonomy is matured to a certain level,” says Mike Wagner, co-founder and CEO of Edge Case Research, which helps robotics companies build more robust software. “But how we get from here to there is not always entirely clear, especially if it needs a lot of on-road testing.”
Read the article at Wired.
The New York Times
At the New York International Auto Show this week, simulations can put showgoers in the driver’s seat of a device that acts and feels like a real vehicle, virtual reality executions can pack a three-dimensional, 360-degree video environment.
The most impressive way that companies have deployed fresh technology remains those hard-to-replicate experiences, like the Chevrolet’s virtual reality experience, which puts users on a digital version of the General Motors test track.
“We used the automobile’s technology to create a marketing campaign, a campaign that creates a halo for the brand,” said Mark Malmstead, head of marketing for Dodge SRT, the brand’s high-performance arm. “The computers that control the simulation are right out of the Demon.”
Read the article at The New York Times.
The Washington Post
A major political and legal battle lies ahead in the wake of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to roll back emissions standards requiring cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.
Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board said, “This decision takes the U.S. auto industry backward, and we will vigorously defend the existing clean vehicle standards and fight to preserve one national clean vehicle program,” adding that the EPA’s decision “changes nothing in California and the 12 other states with clean-car rules that reduce emissions and improve gas mileage — those rules remain in place.”
California and the 12 other states demanding stricter standards represent more than a third of the U.S. auto market.
Read the article in The Washington Post
After one of the largest scandals in automotive history, Volkswagen has embarked on the largest program of electrification in the global car industry, pledging to spend $25 billion to develop battery-powered or hybrid variants of every one of its models by 2030.
CEO Matthias Müller’s goal is to make EVs, currently concentrated at the high end of the market, cheap and commonplace, inspired by Volkswagen’s own 1960s Beetle which was instrumental in bringing mass-market driving to postwar Europe.
“Volkswagen is “absolutely more ambitious on EVs than the other global giants,” says Max Warburton, an automotive analyst at Bernstein Research in London. “You would have wondered a year ago to what extent Volkswagen was going to follow through on their headlines, but it’s really happening, and they’re serious.”
Read the article at Bloomberg Businessweek.
Safety is now one of the top priorities for buyers, and manufacturers are racing to find ways to add new safety systems that the digital revolution is making both easier and more affordable.
Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a sharp decline in crashes and injuries on vehicles using technologies such as blind-spot detection and forward collision warning.
“Safety systems such as Hyundai’s Safe Exit Assist and Rear Occupant Alert are just two of the new breakthroughs Such protection might once have commanded a steep premium, but automakers are now bundling arrays of safety technologies together at a relatively low price — and, increasingly, as standard gear.”
Read the article at NBC News.