Automotive Weekly: June 24

Automotive Brand's 2019 Power Quality Scorecards

Automotive Weekly: June 24


The Trump administration is expanding efforts to block the use of Chinese technology in advanced vehicles, denying additional requests by Tesla Inc for tariff relief on key components of its electric vehicles, and rejecting ride-hailing company Uber’s petition to waive tariffs on electric scooters and at least 50 separate requests by General Motors Co.

Source: Reuters


If you buy one of many new makes and models of car today, you might be surprised to find that, as a standard feature, it can do something your previous car couldn’t: It will take over when it thinks you’re making a mistake. In the coming years, many cars will do more than that, even driving mostly by themselves, at least on highways. And not just luxury models such as the latest Audi A8 or Cadillac CT6, but something as mainstream as a Nissan Rogue. Some of this technology has been in development for years, but the newest versions of it—with advanced object recognition, radar-and-laser detection, and lightning-fast artificial intelligence—were created for autonomous cars.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


If there are two things you learn about police cars from watching cop shows on TV, it's that they should be both fast and stealthy to sneak quickly into sketchy situations. What better option than a Tesla Model X?

That's what the police in the Australian state of Victoria are thinking at the moment, anyway.

The Victoria police department just added a new right-hand drive Model X Long Range to its Highway Patrol fleet to see if it makes the grade. It's the first electric police car in Australia, though not the first Tesla police car worldwide. Tesla has been focusing on the police-cruiser business with the Model S and now the Model X.

Tesla Mode X Police Vehicle

Tesla rates the Long Range Model X at 325 miles of range (on the U.S. EPA driving cycle) and pegs acceleration from 0-60 mph at 2.7 seconds. That's faster than a Dodge Challenger Hellcat or Chevrolet Corvette Z06—and plenty for a cop car.

Like most standard production cars converted for police duty, the Victoria Police Model X gets a few extra features, including lights on the roof, the front end, and the edges of the Falcon Wing doors. A mobile reader board sits inside the rear window to warn other drivers of lane closures or other hazards, and a shocking electric-blue and yellow paint job.

Tesla and Victoria Police engineers worked together to integrate police computers and electronic systems into the 17-inch center display screen of the Model X, so there's no separate police console taking up space up front. The screen can also mirror images from offers' body cams, and display license-plate recognition data, as well as operate the reader board and police lights, siren, and other equipment. Victoria Police Inspector Stuart Bailey says the department expects electricity for the Model X to cost a quarter what gasoline does for other patrols cars.
The only thing missing? When arresting bad guys, officers may no longer have to put their hands on the perps' heads to help them duck through the rear falcon-wing doors in handcuffs.

Source: Green Car Reports


GM CEO Mary Barra says the company will need to relocate workers to keep them in the family as part of its long-term vision for an electric, self-driving future. "I want to make sure this company is not around for the next five years but the next 50 and beyond," Barra tells "Axios on HBO."

Source: Axios


The United Auto Workers suffered another crushing defeat at Volkswagen AG’s factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., as workers rebuffed for a second time the union’s efforts to organize the plant’s blue-collar workforce.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


General Motors Co. wants to hire more temporary workers at U.S. plants and trim its health care costs, said people familiar with the automaker’s thinking. Its union -- still steaming over the carmaker’s plans to close four U.S. factories—has little interest in obliging. That sets up a hot summer of negotiations for the United Auto Workers and GM as the two try to hash out a new four-year labor deal in the coming months. The last contract was bargained over in better times, when auto sales were growing from financial crisis lows to all-time highs and GM was marching toward record profits.

Source: Bloomberg


Korean brands repeated their 2018 medal sweep as Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai topped J.D. Power's annual U.S. report card on 2019 new-vehicle quality. Across the industry, initial vehicle quality was flat compared with the 2018 model year scores, as more brands slipped than improved in the closely watched Initial Quality Study released Wednesday at the Automotive Press Association. Genesis, Hyundai's 3-year-old luxury brand, again topped the survey with 63 problems reported per 100 vehicles, an improvement from 68 problems in 2018. Kia, as it did last year, finished second with 70 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by Hyundai at 71, both slightly better than their 2018 scores. This year marks Kia's fifth consecutive as the top-ranked mass-market brand. The three Korean brands were followed in the top 10 by Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Nissan, Dodge, Lexus and Toyota. Jaguar finished last with 130 problems per 100 vehicles. Land Rover, which placed last in 2018, Mitsubishi, Alfa Romeo, and Volvo also finished near the bottom of the latest rankings. The industry average was 103 problems per 100 vehicles.

13 brands improve

Initial Quality Study scores reflect the number of problems reported over the first 90 days of ownership. The industry average for new-vehicle quality, after four consecutive years of gains, stayed at 2018's level of 93 problems per 100 vehicles, J.D. Power said. Thirteen brands improved while 18 fared worse. Fiat and Tesla were not included in the latest report because of inadequate sample size, J.D. Power said.

The 2019 Initial Quality Study is based on 76,256 buyers and lessees of new 2019 models. The survey, conducted from February through May, asks 233 questions across eight vehicle categories. While infotainment and connectivity continue to dog automakers, J.D. Power said longtime problems — notably paint imperfections, brake and suspension noise, engines that won't start, and check-engine light glitches — were noteworthy in the latest survey.

First time in top five

Some highlights of the 2019 study, according to J.D. Power:

  • The Korean domination of the study is no fluke; 16 of 18 models from Hyundai Motor Group ranked in the top three of their respective segments and were noted for excelling in infotainment and other electronic components — areas that remain problematic for other automakers.
  • Among domestic brands, Ford and Lincoln scored highest at 83 and 84 problems per 100 vehicles. They finished among the top five for the first time, J.D. Power said. They were followed closely by Chevrolet at 85. Dodge, at 90, and Buick, at 92, were the only other domestic brands above the industry average.
  • Nissan scored highest among Japanese brands at 86, followed by Lexus and Toyota, tied at 90. Other Japanese brands finished below the industry average.
  • Every European brand finished below average on this year's survey, with Mercedes-Benz highest at 94.
  • While infotainment systems remain the biggest source of problems for automakers, it is also the area with the most improvement, especially voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity, J.D. Power said. But more advanced driver assistance systems are an increasing source of problems and owner complaints, especially among premium brands.
  • While consumers report fewer problems with new or redesigned vehicles than in previous years, they still report more problems with them as a group than consumers report with existing models. Several vehicles deep into their product cycles — including the Nissan Frontier, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler 300, and Toyota Tundra, Sequoia, and Tacoma — placed among the top three nameplates in their respective segments.

Sargent said much of the movement among brands can be explained by new product launches, which historically tend to drive down brand scores as automakers work their way through problems.

"Anytime you see a brand that's fallen in a particular ranking, it's almost always because they launched a high-volume vehicle," Sargent said. "Sometimes it's just your turn; you have a big launch, you go down in the rankings. But the next year, you'll go back up in the rankings."

Source: Automotive News and J.D. Power


Signs are pointing to another best-ever year for the certified pre-owned market. There were 1.16 million CPO vehicle sales in the first five months of the year, according to Tuesday’s Data Point report from Cox Automotive, beating year-ago figures by 2%. May continued what has now been a three-month streak of certified sales increases, following a slow start to 2019. Cox Automotive said there were about 252,000 CPO sales in May, up from 249,000 a year ago.

The company said the certified pre-owned market is “growing at a comfortable pace,” with this likely to be the ninth straight record year. As the used-vehicle market continues to see strong consumer demand with ample supply of off-lease units coming to market, the CPO market is primed to continue to see favorable growth and is on pace to set another record,” Cox Automotive analysts said.

As for the overall used-car retail market, franchised dealers increased used-car sales by 1.4% year-over-year in May while independents saw their used sales dip 1.0%, KAR Auction Services chief economist Tom Kontos said in his monthly report, citing data from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Sharing data from the first quarter, Edmunds said in its latest Used Vehicle Report that there were 10.45 million used-vehicle sales in Q1, down from 10.62 million used sales a year earlier.
Franchised dealers, though, increased their used-car sales from 2.97 million to 3.11 million for the quarter, according to Edmunds.

Source: Auto Remarketing