TRAIN DERAILS, CRUSHING NEWLY BUILT FORD F-150 PICKUPS
New Ford vehicles including F-150 pickup trucks were being carried by a train that derailed in northeastern Missouri on Monday, the Free Press has learned. Upon close examination of aerial photos, it's clear that pickups were being transported. The dramatic images also show that new vehicles have slipped out of the train cars and appear smashed.
Source: Detroit Free Press
GM AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY RACE TO EXTINGUISH COSTLY BATTERY FIRES
With General Motors earnings this week came another early stumble in the race to electrification. The automaker said it took an $800 million hit for battery warranty and replacement costs for the Chevrolet Bolt. GM has been working on solutions while telling owners of the car not to park it inside and charge it overnight or put a full charge on the battery. The company thinks the defect is rare, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said on the earnings call, but recalled about 69,000 vehicles to ensure customer safety. Let’s not pick on GM. Burning EV batteries has become an industrywide issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has looked at fires in Tesla models, Hyundai’s Kona and Ioniq EVs, and Audi’s e-tron. Not only is NHTSA paying attention, but the public is watching closely as more EVs hit the market.
CHIP IMPACT UPDATE
New Cuts Abate
New cuts in vehicle production schedules due to the global shortage of microchips appeared to abate around the industry last week, although the number of lost units continued to rise, according to the latest report by AutoForecast Solutions, which has been tracking the crisis all year. AFS raised its estimate for the toll of vehicles that have been cut from worldwide production plans to date to 5.8 million. It now forecasts that as many as 7.1 million vehicles eventually could be eliminated because of the supply problem.
Source: Automotive News
Chip Shortage Could Hurt Autoworkers' Profit Sharing, Pay Raises
Detroit's automakers recorded major profits for the first half of the year, but the benefits of those earnings won't land evenly among their employees and could delay wage raises and shrink profit-sharing bonuses for some autoworkers. The global semiconductor shortage has forced auto plants to idle around the world, in some cases for months at a time. Automakers are prioritizing their highest-margin vehicles and those that help them meet fuel efficiency and emissions standards. That leaves employees at plants that often already have felt the pains of layoffs feeling further left behind.
Source: The Detroit News
COVID Outbreak at Malaysian Chip Plant Crashes Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., Plant
A new COVID-19 outbreak at a microchip supplier plant in Malaysia has caused Nissan to shut down production lines at its large assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., until the end of the month. Nissan North America did not disclose the name of the supplier, but said that the plant will halt for the weeks of Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. Nissan said it now plans to restart the lines on Aug. 30.
Chip Shortage Prompts Production Halt at Volvo Cars in Gothenburg
Volvo Cars, owned by China's Geely Holding, will temporarily stop production at its Swedish plant in Gothenburg due to the shortage of semiconductor chips, it said on Wednesday. "Production will restart as soon as possible, at the latest before next week," the Swedish carmaker, which in June halted production at its Belgian plant in Ghent for a week, said.
PORSCHE SE FACES U.S. LAWSUIT OVER DIESELGATE SCANDAL
Porsche SE, Volkswagen's largest shareholder, is facing a lawsuit in the United States over claims related to the carmaker's diesel emissions scandal. The suit, filed with the Supreme Court of the state of New York in April, targets Porsche SE as well as former members of the management and supervisory boards of Volkswagen, Porsche SE said in its half-year report. Porsche SE, which holds 31.4% of Volkswagen, did not identify the plaintiffs and did not detail or quantify possible claims, saying the action had not yet been served.
AMERICA STILL LOVES ITS GAS-GUZZLING V-8S. BUT FOR HOW LONG?
We hear from the folks in charge at Dodge, Land Rover, and Lexus on the state of the high-horsepower V-8 on a fully electric frontier.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says more than 37,400 species are threatened with extinction. Big V-8s in small cars and un¬expected off-roaders are not on the ledger, but if they were, we'd expect to see them listed as "near threatened," defined by the conservation union as "¬species close to the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened without ongoing conservation measures." Since high-horse V-8s can still be spotted in Land Rovers (Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Defender), Jeeps (Grand Cherokee, Wrangler Rubicon 392), Cadillacs (CT5-V Blackwing), Lexuses (IS500 F Sport), and Dodges (Hellcat everything), to name just a few, they're clearly not yet extinct. Possibly, they're not even endangered. On the automotive watchlist, V-8s are still healthier than the manual transmission, but they're roaming the land in fewer numbers than they once were. Will they dwindle to memories like the Yangtze River dolphin and the Tasmanian tiger, or can they rebound like the American bald eagle? What's cutting into their habitat, and what's keeping them going for now?
That last question is easy to answer: Consumers still like them. The 2022 Defender's 518-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 option "was very much a customer-led move," says Robert Filipovic, product planning director for Jaguar Land Rover North America. "We knew there was strong market potential, both from our existing fans and new shoppers who were interested in the Defender. I'm optimistic that you'll continue to see activity in the V-8 space for some time, not in place of but alongside all the other innovative powertrain tech."
Lexus marketing senior analyst Richard Hollingsworth says his brand went with a 472-hp 5.0-liter V-8 in the 2022 IS500 F Sport because people missed the V-8-powered IS F, last offered in 2014. "There's always been enthusiasm for a V-8 in our lineup, and now some of it is that nostalgia factor," he says. "It's just a different sound that comes with a V-8. We love our turbocharging, but V-8s have been a part of our history, and they'll hopefully continue to be."
If everyone loves a V-8 so much, why do we expect to see them go away? We asked Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, who spent the better part of the past decade shoving supercharged Hemis into every engine bay possible. "I've said that we're getting pretty close to where we can go with the innovation on ICE [internal-combustion engine] technology," says Kuniskis. That's not necessarily true, because there are very sophisticated combustion chambers, like in F1 and things like that. But when you get to that point, you're going to get into this super-high-tech, expensive technology, and at the same time, the cost per kilowatt-hour [of EV batteries] and the cost of [electric drive modules] is coming down because everyone else in the mainstream is going there. That's technology that's not being taxed and is now going to be cost competitive and can give me massive performance advantages that I don't have with ICE technology." Kuniskis thinks customers faced with the choice between a slower, more expensive big-engine car and a faster, affordable electrified (but not necessarily electric) car will choose better performance more often than not.
But Kuniskis is looking on the bright side. The big gas engine is "not going to end tomorrow," he says. "It's not going to end faster because of government fines. It's not going to go away because it's been mandated to go away. It's going to go away because we're going to be able to sell you something better, faster, stronger than anything you've seen. We're going to evolve into better stuff."
Source: Car and Driver
FORD DRIVER ASSIST SYSTEM OUTSMARTED BY Car and Driver
In recent years, Tesla has caught a lot of flak for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving beta systems, which can be operated without a person being present in the driver’s seat. This has led to a handful of high-profile crashes after drivers chose to circumvent these systems, even though Tesla is adamant that the driver must keep their eyes on the road while using them. But as it turns out, the Ford driver assist system present in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E – along with the systems of almost every other automaker currently available – have the same problem, Car and Driver discovered in a recent test.
Car and Driver subjected 17 vehicles to four different tests to see how each driver assist system performed. The first involved setting the adaptive cruise control to 60 mph with lane centering active, then unbuckling the seat belt. Next, under the same conditions, the driver took their hands off the steering wheel to see how much time would pass before the vehicle displayed a warning message or the driver assist system shut down.
The third test repeated the second test, though C&D added a 2.5-pound ankle weight to the steering wheel to try and fool the system. Finally, the driver got out of the seat altogether, the seat belt still attached, with weight on the seat. In a separate test, fooling GM’s SuperCruise was also completed using a set of gag glasses with eyeballs on them.
THESE THREE EVs ARE THE FASTEST SELLING USED VEHICLES IN USA
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