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4-13-2018


Chevy uses the Nissan because at the time GM wasn't making compact vans unless you count the SGM Wuling vans, and they may not meet US standards. Opel at the time was selling a version of the Fiat Doblo (Ram Promaster City) made by Tofaş in Turkey, and they've only just (within the last few weeks) switched to a version of the equivalent PSA van. Fiat, VW and Ford have dedicated commercial vehicle platforms for their LCVs, PSA uses the same platform as their compact minivans. The old Opel designed Combo was based on the Corsa, but that model switched to a platform shared with Fiat (back in the old Fiat-GM partnership days) and then the common GM subcompact platform developed for the Sonic, and there was no flexibility for either to accommodate an LCV derivative. Chevy does sell a couple of rwd Wuling vans in some markets (Peru, Egypt etc.), but I doubt they'd meet crash standards and would need upgraded emission systems.

Technically GM has been selling medium (class 4) trucks all along, but based on the Express/Savana vans. The old Topkick/Kodiak medium trucks were good looking, but not profitable for GM — production was too low and sales volatile. That's why they shut down production of all the old Isuzu-chassis trucks and are now having Spartan Motors build the Isuzu-based LCF (with Isuzu diesels and GM small block V8) and Navistar build the new Silverado medium trucks with the GM Duramax V8 diesel from the HD Express. In some ways the new Silverado is a step backward from the 3rd-Gen Topkick in that the pickup-style cab (as in the 2nd-gen Topkick) makes entry more difficult and the last Topkick ranged from class 4 to 8, not just class 6. Of course the Express/Savana is way overdue for an upgrade. Apparently people are still searching for new (2017, 2018 MY) Topkick and Kodiak trucks, so people miss them.

Andrew
4-13-2018


John, Sean,
Didn't Tesla tap into the notion of "making a better car, that happens to be electric" instead of focusing on the "green car segment" or an alternative fuel vehicle?
When I think of the factors that affect a buyer's purchase decision, I think of the following framework:
 
Societal Benefits: Critical to maybe 3-5% of buyers (but of some consideration)
Lower Emissions
Energy Security
 
Direct Benefits to the car buyer: The most important driving factors in a purchase decision for most buyers
Styling & Brand Image
Performance, Smoothness, Quietness/great NVH, Fun to Drive
Poor weather handling: electric AWD systems with better torque vectoring, AWD systems that don't have an efficiency or tow penalty
Home refueling convenience: charging/refueling at home is an advantage.. who really likes to go to the gas station every week?
Number of passengers/interior space, comfort, quietness
Purchase Price or Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Less maintenance, remote service
New Functions examples: Camper/tailgating ePTO, V2H (Vehicle-to-Home),
 
So, when Tesla focuses a lot more on the Direct benefits to the buyer and happens to also bring along the societal benefits, isn't it rational that their products 
would be so compelling with a 500,000 long waiting list?
When will the incumbent OEMs pivot and realize that instead of building PEV compliance cars that minimize R&D/tooling costs, they need to actually focus on how to leverage the inherent advantages of 
electric drive to create compelling products to create their vision of PEVs that are better cars, that happen to be electric?
Imagine an F150 4x4 SuperCrew PHEV with 40 mile AER/450 mile total range, increased towing capability with AWD/4WD, better torque vectoring and handling with a low CG/better F/R weight distribution, lower operating costs, better acceleration, ePTO, home charging.. wouldn't this be compelling?    Musk has alluded to a Tesla pickup having a fully independent air suspension that has great ride and handling loaded or unloaded. 
An OEM could start at the top of the range with a Platinum version and then drive the costs down with volumes over time.  
It just looks to me that the Jag iPace and Porsche Mission E are the first real non-Tesla PEVs by incumbent OEMs that are truly focused on making a better car that happens to be electric.
Maybe you could get Sharif Marakby from Ford for ATW or AAH.  He is heading up their Edison project.  I drove a Focus EV prototype with him around Austin 7 years ago when he was a Director of electrification (before his lap to Uber and then back to Ford as a VP).
Dave,

You’re right in every regard except cost.

Tesla is offering an amazing lineup on which it loses horrific amounts of money and who’s sales would fall precipitously if federal and state subsidies disappeared.

Everyone is losing money on their BEVs and probably won’t make a profit on them for nearly a decade. How can company execs go in front of the board of directors and ask for more shareholder money to invest in yet another BEV on which they will never get a return? Very hard to get boards to agree unless it’s for compliance.

BTW, Ford is coming out with a PHEV F-150 in a couple of years. One of the selling points will be on-the-job electrical outlets.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


Hi John,
it was great to see Peter DeLorenzo back on After Hours last week.
I enjoy his dry wit and take on the auto industry and cars in general.
I see the Honda Ridgeline on US websites a fair bit, think you said it only sold about 35000 units last year!
Is the Ridgeline sold anywhere outside North America?
I know it is only engineered for left hand drive but this sized pick up/vehicle sells in big numbers in right hand drive markets
such as South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and Japan. Reckon Australia could sell 10,000 units.
It could be built in Thailand where Honda builds many models. Maybe the Pilot as well. Maybe the next model cycle?
Anyhow just a thought form down under.
Keep up the great work John.
Regards Tom C Melbourne Australia.
Tom,

Thanks for the great feedback, it was a blast to have Peter DeLorenzo on the show.

I’m not aware of the Ridgeline being exported outside of North America. It’s based on the Honda Pilot and built in the same assembly plant in Alabama in the US. you may be right that it would sell well elsewhere, but I doubt Honda would tool it up for a second location.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


Hi John,

Just as the European Union essentially fines American technology companies
for being successful and dominating Europe; Trump use this against European
luxury car companies
that dominate US sales and access $Billions in fines.

Mike @ San Francisco
4-6-2018


Hi John,
 
OK, got a few thoughts on today's show ( which I have to watch on delay because - work)
 
Lincoln's quiet luxury is really going to wax Cadillac when autonomous cars start to grab market share.  Take me to work doesn't care about Nurburgring times.  Performance & autonomy are mutually exclusive.
 
Honda Ridgeline....what a dog's breakfast.  This is a vehicle that markets to people who aren't looking for conventional pick-up trucks.
So what are my colour choices?  White, gray, & black.  Wow, radical!  Can you make this more boring please...
 
Buick; serious mistake.  Keep the name, keep the shields; this is your heritage, not a bag of rice.
BTW, PSA is looking to re-enter the NA market.  How does that work?  Continue to build cars for Buick and cash the cheques!
 
cheers
 
rick
4-6-2018


My son is a Motorsports Journalist in Canada. What you are saying is true regards a story happening any time. That being said I kind of think my son gets questions answered that can only come from his perspective. I'll post the link here and hope you guys could watch and help as he's the next generation of journalists. He's 12 yrs old and this is him with the President of Ford Canada. :)

James
4-6-2018


Hi Folks,
 
A topic for AAH or even the daily. 
 
I am wondering what you think of the GM’s announcement that it will stop reporting monthly sales figures and go to quarterly reporting.
 
I have to believe internally they will keep gathering and reporting data the same way, this is just the sharing of right? 
 
If that is the case, what’s to gain from not sharing it?
 
Do any other OEMs do this?
 
Love the show, thanks for the time.
 
Harsha 
Harsha,

We don’t like losing these monthly sales updates. We expect that before the year is out, all automakers will follow GM’s lead and stop reporting monthly sales.

Internally, all these companies study sales reports every two weeks. They need to react to competitors who have brought out new incentives and launched new models. And there’s always some region that requires more attention than another.

At this point in time, we’re not really sure of the real reasons behind what GM is doing.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


John et al:
As autonomy and the automobile grow there will be incidents. One would think letting the general public be the “crash test dummies” is “OK” on software but at almost any speed is questionable. But that is not why I write you today. Pictures of the Tesla X that was involved in the Autopilot fatal accident show a horrifying failure of the drivers compartment. I would like to know more about why everything forward of the “A” pillar is gone.  Can you add any detail?  I read this morning the Elon is balking with the NTSB about “black-box” data on the crash. This all seem far less that a transparent investigation by Tesla on such a incident.
 
Rick
Rick,

Only the NTSB has all the data on what occurred in this crash, and we’ll have to wait for their report.

But we can say this. Crash tests are conducted at 40 mph into an unmovable barrier. That’s the equivalent of a car traveling at 80 mph crashing into a parked car.

But it’s likely this Tesla Model X crashed into an unmovable barrier at 70 mph. No car can withstand that kind of impact.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


John,
 
As a consumer and car fan I have been attending the NAIAS for the better part of 25 years.  I and a group of people attend. Over the last 5 years we have found 2 things for us that travel to this event to be unsatisfactory.  1st the cobo area restaurants are becoming increasingly difficult to dine in unless you are part of some NAIAS event. Often they are “closed to the public”. Great… we ended up in Royal Oak this year just to dine. 2nd I doubt that I will miss the some of the premium brands falling out of the show. One of the reasons that we come is to sit, see, feel and touch the cars. Go to the Bentley stand( when they were there) and try to get up close to the car. Not going to happen unless you got an invite ir were a current owner.  Same for Porsche – locked out.  MB locked you out of most of their floor models as well. If I can’t see the thing – why would I want to buy one? New or used.  The weather didn’t bother me, put the parking is risky – one year my tank was siphoned and entertainment in the downtown area was sparse.

Just  my personal experience. Next year we are giving good consideration to Chicago. Too bad given that Detroit is THE MOTOR CITY.

David
David,

Thanks for your honest feedback. We’ll publish this letter in the View Mail section so that others can read it, especially the NAIAS show organizers.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


While watching Autoline I heard your guest Chris Benjamin state how to create a want for an $80,000 dodge truck. This caught my attention. My friend Jeff purchased one if these. Jeff is in his late 50's and this purchase is his first and probably only want vehicle ever.  He was elated with the big dodge, well at least for a week or so. 
   Problems sprang up like a can of trick worms.  I cannot exactly recite all the issues that befell Jeff with his new dodge and his search for help from the manufacturer and dealer. 
     First the computer took fault and resetting it dropped the fuel mileage. Then the def unit level sensor failed. Next the 3rd member was howling. The beautiful leather seats unfastened in some way from the frames. These are just some of the things I remember, but there are more.  
     Jeff has not been happy with what should have been a happy time in life. Could you pass this onto Mr. Benjamin? Maybe just maybe he could shed some help Jeff's way. Jeff really wanted their product and paid the price in more ways than one. It affects me when I consider a purchase to not go down this road also. 
   Sincerely, Dan Nelson
4-6-2018


Hello John.
You have talked about how the Auto Exec's are licking their chops about mining data from their customers as we use their cars. I assume the car companies want to monetize this data by selling it to third parties. I also wonder if the latest news about Facebook throws a monkey wrench into having our cars spy on us more than they already do.
 
Your thoughts?
 
Tom
Great question. Automakers have been studying this for several years, and while nothing definitive has come out, there’s a recognition that they will have to make it very obvious for a customer to “opt in” before they can start collecting and monetizing data. Right now most services, as with OnStar, have an “opt out” choice, but it’s generally buried in all the paperwork needed when you buy a new car.

John McElroy
4-6-2018


Hi.  As always I appreciate your shows and timely comments.  If you will be speaking to Tom Doll or other key Subaru folks in near future, I hope you will ask them why the heck they cancelled the Turbo version of the 2019 Forester?  Supposedly the XT made up 8 - 10% of all Forester sales, and there's nothing in Subaru's lineup to substitute, as the turbo engine made the Forester very capable in mountain driving or passing on freeways: the base engine, much less so.  That Forester "sport" model with the same base engine's a very poor consolation prize. IMHO the upcoming RAV4 Hybrid may be a much better choice for those situations, or am I missing something?  Thanks!  Kurt Wiley
4-6-2018


Hi John,
 
    Just had to write about how much I enjoyed the coverage of the NADA Convention. Being a retired auto dealership employee (23 Year's as a Body Shop Manager) it is amazing to see how much has change in the business since 2000 when I was forced to go out on disability due to having Degenerative Disc Disease and if that was not bad enough the cancer hit.
   
    You and your crew do a wonderful job,inside the studio and out,which makes for a totally enjoyable viewing experience and has kept me watching since your first year. Keep up the outstanding work.
 
 
    Dale
3-27-2018


Hi John and Gary,
 
I am a frequent viewer of all the great content that you produce.  It is informative and very well done.  I will also continue to be a fan going forward.  That being said, the last After Hours show did not sit well with me regarding the discussion about the accident involving the Uber autonomous vehicle in Arizona.  It appeared that you could not move fast enough to dismiss this person's death as nothing to be concerned with because we are on the march to autonomy and these things will happen.  Your statement that so many others die each day from other accidents completely misses the point of what occurred in Arizona.  You typically are very pragmatic in your opinions and your reasoning, which is why your response not only shocked me but came across as completely dismissive.  The events in Arizona show a complete failure of a system that we are all being told is getting so close to implementation and forced acceptance.  The weather was not an issue, the traffic was non-existent, there was clear line of sight for the Lidar system even though it was dark and hard to see the pedestrian.  We are being told over and over that technology will do what humans cannot and be able to do it better.  This system should have seen this person from a great distance away and tracked her movements and where she was going.  It did none of that.  The conditions present during this event can be considered ideal for an autonomous system to perform and it completely failed.  I would have liked some acknowledgement of that fact from the panel.  The next time one of these vehicles is testing in an area where people or children may suddenly run out into the road hopefully the results will be different.  A non-distracted driver can make those adjustments in an instant.  Perhaps a topic of conversation for the show one day could be the largest danger now and perhaps the easiest way to reduce accidents now--distracted driving.  Not only by cell phone usage but also by the auto companies insistence on taking once simple controls and functions inside a car and completely making them unnecessarily complex to the point of distracting a great many drivers.  People ultimately have the responsibility to drive safely, but the auto companies push to be viewed as "technology companies" are forcing them to produce products that are needlessly complicated that average drivers cannot safely operate.  The advanced safety features are wonderful and an example of good implementation of technology inside a car, however it is almost a necessary addition to combat the driver looking at menus on their touchscreen inside the car while trying to drive.
 
Again, great show guys but please don't buy in to the fact that autonomous vehicles are so close to road ready because clearly they are not.
 
Thank you,
Chris
Chris,

If I gave the impression that I’m dismissive of this fatality, then I need to clarify my position.

It was a tragedy in no uncertain terms.

But I am dismissive of those who are trying to use this tragedy to dismiss the genuine safety benefits that autonomous cars can bring to society.

AVs will not be perfect. They are a product of human beings and we are imperfect. People will be killed in AVs for a long time to come.

But they also represent the opportunity to reduce tens of thousands of fatalities a year. And over a million injuries. Every year.

We lose by waiting.

John McElroy
3-27-2018


John;



First, thank you for #2135 “Working the Retail Side”. It was like a trip down memory lane of every car purchase I’ve made, with a little star trek thrown in for good measure.

My latest was a lovely silver 4 door sedan, on lease bought totally on the phone & fax with the best (for me) sales person to date. He actually delivered the car from 4 hours away which I really appreciated.

Full disclosure every step of the way. Easiest automotive retail experience to date.

One caveat: I will miss human beings & a steering wheel.
As for being more productive while riding in an automobile, I call that driving 8 hours somewhere I want to go.



Sincerely;




Eric
3-27-2018


Hello John! Great reporting on the sales slump that the Honda Accord is dealing with. A lot of people are saying it's because Honda is offering a turbo 2.0 vs Toyota offering a V6. Is this true? Somehow I don't think so.. where I live in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, I hardly see any V6 Camrys on the road.

However when the new accord came out... I remember saying how much of a disaster it's going to be... It looks dreadful. It adopted the styling of the new civic, whereas on the civic it works.. but on a larger package it doesn't look right from several angles! And looking at the Camry looks more mainstream and has more broad appeal.




My thanks,



Bo
3-27-2018


I have only purchased two cars from a dealer with the first one being used, a Mercury from a Buick dealer, which wasn't a bad experience except for the title problem.
 
Yes, I got 'ripped off' from the new purchase (and, around the corner the salesman was laughing about it to an associate), and I've been ripped off by dealer service afterward up to last year. But, there are things dealer service does better.
 
 
The Uber accident photo on TV showed the right side smashed with a crumpled bicycle and body laying over the curb FROM A BIKE LANE!
I nearly got hit by someone driving a hybrid in a parking lot coming up from behind.  The biker could have swerved to miss something in the lane into the lane of the Uber.  
A driver would normally give a biker a wide berth!  I don't want to see a CYA routine to cover investments on this.  It doesn't look right.
3-27-2018


RE: Buick Regal TourX AAH

Only us oldies would call it a wagon.  FINAL RIDE!  Oh my, that's good!  I might get one for that reason.
Also, wagons of old had a similar 4x8 cargo footprint of a minivan.
 
I like the Euro rail interior loading fittings as well as the exterior roof rails.
 
This is in the category of AllRoad, V60, Outback, etc, etc.  Howabout Stinger?  I would go for a new Magnum with the rwd.
 
The bump up is 'repeated' with the reflector and not so much with the nameplate.  It's a disciplined design.
 
My big question is:  Is this an orphaned Opel?  Or, is it 'the beginning of a beautiful relationship' with PSA?
 
 
r-work
3-27-2018


I just did some research on the regal tour x that you covered on todays after hours show and found out it won’t be available in the Canadian market.  It seems to me that it would probably do very well up here, maybe better than in the USA.
 
JD Cluff
Great point JD. I’ll bet it would do well in Canada, too.

John McElroy
3-16-2018


...is the active safety suite standard over the full line.
 
Not so with the Accord.

Fadi
Excellent point!

John McElroy
3-9-2018


The new 2018 Honda Accord sales numbers have not been too hot and way behind the camry, they’ve dropped 15% compared to last year. What’s your guys take on this? What’s the main reason it dropped so much and the Camry is still doing so well. Would you guys get Honda respond to why the Accord is doing so bad?
Fadi,

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Honda says the reason the Camry is doing so well is that Toyota has 3x the sales incentives that Honda is spending on the Accord. Toyota has also greatly increased its sales to fleets.

However, that does not explain why Accord sales are down so much. And the day’s supply at dealerships is telling. The Camry only has 44 day’s supply, the Accord has 105.

John McElroy
3-9-2018


Your discussion on how to grow Autonomous Vehicles in Michigan has me wondering why our government and dealer organization is hostile to Tesla setting up sales and service centers in our state. Long term, the Tesla way may be a better business model for our digital future. Multiple times I have been up sold at a traditional dealership to an ICE vehicle when I asked about EV's. Eventually did a test drive in California where we will fly to and drive it back East within a month.
 
In the meantime, when it needs service, I will have to drive out of Michigan and that means one less Michigan technician has the opportunity to learn this new technology. 
 
We should want all companies developing EV's to succeed when they are really are trying to help our environment. When it is back here in Michigan, I have more than a dozen friends that want a ride where they will learn what it is like and share with others.
 
Best Regards, Frank
Frank,

The state of Michigan blundered badly when it barred Tesla from selling cars direct to consumers instead of through franchised dealers. Legislators came under heavy lobbying from automakers and dealers to keep Tesla out.

Tesla has since filed a federal lawsuit against the state and we may get a ruling this year. My guess is that the state is going to lose, since this is clearly restraint of interstate trade.

Michigan should have allowed Tesla to open a couple of stores, like many other states did. That probably would have prevented the company from filing a lawsuit. Instead, Michigan temporarily won a battle but will probably lose the war.

John McElroy
3-9-2018


Hi John/Sean.
 
It just occurred to me that when full (or even partial) autonomy finally sticks, the car dealers will quite likely be among the biggest winners. 
 
Traditionally, a dealer’s biggest margins (and income) are realized through its service department.  The more bays, the more bucks.  But there have always been a pretty consistent percentage of customers willing to forego the stealership in lieu of a trusted mechanic for repairs (such as myself) – cutting deep into the potential business dealers could be getting.  But once cars move beyond the complexity they’ve already reached today, and take the leap into being just 2000lb microchips on wheels with lounge seats, I don’t think there will be an independent mechanic out there who can service anything beyond a break job – if that.
 
At that point, customers will be forced to return to the dealer for just about all service.  Not to mention, I’m sure the OEMs will program their autos to report known maintenance, repair and safety issues back a central hub, which then will be distributed to the appropriate dealer in order to be addressed.  Furthermore, the automobiles could likely be programmed to return to said dealer for said service in a semi-automated fashion  - eliminating any options for 3rd-party intervention, and ensuring that all maintenance and repair dollars for the life of the vehicle go back to the dealer.  Thus finally achieving every dealers utopian dream – “all roads lead to my services bays”
 
What are your thoughts (if you’ve even got time to reply – I know you guys are extremely busy there at Autoline, so I won’t be the least bit offended if I don’t hear anything back.)
 
Best regards & keep up the fantastic work!
Great observation, independent techs will face a more challenging future with autonomous cars.

But it’s going to take over 20 years for AVs to make up most the fleet. And the clock doesn’t start until they go on sale. The first ones will be fleet operated and will go into service starting this year in very small numbers. Level 4 & 5 AVs will probably not be available for retail sale in large numbers for nearly another decade. So that gives independent techs another 30 years of business, or so. But it will be a shrinking business.

John McElroy
3-9-2018


I just enjoyed the After Hours show discussing M Planet and its encouragement for technology. I felt motivated to comment on the discussion about monetizing data from mobility services based on big data. I recognize that all these companies are justifying their investment based on the expectation they can derive new revenue sources from all this information. They hope to sell us services or sell our usage data to other companies and your panel was enthusiastic about the $2T opportunity this presents. You mentioned rider objections to autonomous vehicles and surmised they’d be overcome once people tried them.
 
That may be true but I think there’s a legitimate concern over the personal privacy implications of this new data-based revenue source.
 
As a computer security professional working with companies like you mentioned, I’ve seen people willingly give away information about themselves to companies that do not have their best interests at heart. We already carry cell phones that track our every movement, which the government can access without a warrant. The mobility companies have built upon this invasion of privacy and are planning to expand it, making this situation worse.
 
Personally, I refuse to use ridesharing on these grounds. I will not consider using autonomous vehicles if my movements will be tracked and that data is being sold. I suspect I’m not the only person who feels this way, and I suspect more people would feel the same if they knew how their privacy were being used.
 
My 2 cents…

Ace
Ace,

The points you raise are very legitimate. But have you given up your smartphone? As you point out, those phones track all our movements and that data is being monetized already. What difference does it make if your car tracks your moves if you phone is doing that already?

John McElroy
3-9-2018


The Bloomington \ Normal (Illinois) newspaper reports that “Rivian Automotive, the Michigan-based electric car startup that bought the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Normal, plans to publicly reveal its first vehicles this year.”
 
Neil G
Thanks for sending, can’t wait to see this vehicle!

John McElroy
3-9-2018


John/Sean
 
Saw an interesting post the other day about things most people do not know about Tesla. I thought your viewers may enjoy just a few.
1)      The Model S has a few Easter eggs in the software that tie back to Mario cart and James Bond.

2)      The Model 3 also has a few Easter eggs one that brings up a team photo apparently.

3)      Elon could not obtain the trademark E-series so he chose 3. Because if you take all the models it spells S3XY. (kind of childish I know)
 
Sorry I couldn’t find the article to reference it for you,  but you can actually google most of these and there are even more. 
 
Robert
3-9-2018


John,
 
Elon wants to do product development - he should follow the SpaceX example and get a CEO after his recent poor explanations to the market - see below.
 
Criticism of Tesla valid, but market values industry change Tesla is leading, and discounts little for short term mistakes.
 
What the update below tells us about Model 3 production is that Tesla Grohmann must produce enough of the module making machines to double production from end of Q1 to end of Q2. It then has to produce another batch of machines to replace the current machines for sustainable 5,000 M3 vehicles per week. For valuation purposes, we should expect Tesla to exit 2018 sustainably producing 5,000 Model 3s per week. Doubling M3 production to 10,000 per week in 2019 sounds like folly. 
 
Probably better to produce Model Y to compete with the smaller electric SUVs hitting the market - Model Y will hit Model 3 demand very hard. Delivery will need to start in late 2019 to fend off growing competition. This would be the first vehicle Tesla could produce around the world and sell in large numbers with confidence - as long as it looks like an SUV and not a Model 3 style sedan. 
 
Company valuation will be based on capacity to produce Model Y around the world, demand for Model Y, and Tesla success at automation and services supported by automation.
 
New Roadster will be semi-manual production that won't require much capital - buy-in bodies from specialist carbon-fibre shop. Will need own battery module machines which could be shared with Tesla Semi. Launch in 2020 - adds little to valuation.
 
Tesla Semi should not require much capital investment - all component, apart from batteries, motors (same as Model 3), and software could be bought in as large assemblies. Launch in 2019. Some impact on valuation.
 
Model S major upgrade would need to come in 2020. Demand likely to remain at current levels due to competition. Not a great contributor to valuation.
 
Model X major upgrade in 2020. Demand likely to remain at current levels due to competition. Not a great contributor to valuation. 
 
Valuation is not supported by a solid base. By 2025 Chinese manufacturers should be the leaders in EV production even if US companies are the worldwide suppliers of vehicle automation systems.
 
Regards
Peter

Tesla, Inc. is clarifying the following statement made by Elon Musk, Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer, during Tesla’s fourth quarter and full year 2017 financial results conference call held on February 7, 2018:
“[We] expect the new automated lines to arrive next month in March. And then it's already working in Germany so that’s going to be disassembled, brought out to the Gigafactory and reassembled and then go into operation at the Gigafactory. It's not a question whether it works or not. It's just a question of disassembly, transport and reassembly. So we expect to alleviate that constraint. With alleviating that constraint, that's what gets us to the roughly 2,000 to 2,500 unit per week production rate.”
The “2,000 to 2,500” units per week cited in this comment refers solely to the capacity of the additional automated battery module manufacturing equipment that is currently located in Germany, and not to Tesla’s total Model 3 production run rate or to the capacity of the automated battery module equipment that is already present at Gigafactory 1. Tesla’s ability to meet its target of 2,500 per week by end of Q1 2018 is not dependent on the additional equipment that is currently located in Germany, as that equipment is expected to start ramping production during Q2 2018. With respect to battery module production, Tesla’s ability to meet its target of 2,500 per week by end of Q1 2018 is dependent only on the equipment that is already present at Gigafactory 1, as well as the incremental capacity that is currently being added through the semi-automated lines that were also discussed during the conference call.
As stated in Tesla’s Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Update Letter:
“We continue to target weekly Model 3 production rates of 2,500 by the end of Q1 and 5,000 by the end of Q2. It is important to note that while these are the levels we are focused on hitting and we have plans in place to achieve them, our prior experience on the Model 3 ramp has demonstrated the difficulty of accurately forecasting specific production rates at specific points in time. What we can say with confidence is that we are taking many actions to systematically address bottlenecks and add capacity in places like the battery module line where we have experienced constraints, and these actions should result in our production rate significantly increasing during the rest of Q1 and through Q2.”
3-9-2018


In your Detroit Auto Show review of the 2019 Chevy Silverado (Jan 15) it was said that over 10,000 engineers worked on the truck. SpaceX has something like 4,000 (very hard working) employees, and they just sent a car to Mars. I take from that that building a successful truck isn’t “rocket science”. It’s harder.
 
Neil G
3-2-2018


Please pass along to Mr. Galhotra



Mr. Galhotra,

I enjoyed your discussion of Lincoln’s reemergence as an American iconic brand.



The Nautilus is sure to be a winner.  I have one important suggestion:  class up the wheels.  The ones on the model look like they belong on a cheap Asian brand.  Plus, they would be a chore to clean.



FYI, I am a 75 year old owner of a Q5, a Porsche Macan, and a 1987 L6 BMW.  Previously I was a loyal FLM buyer with the last two cars being a Merkur and a Lincoln LS, both great cars.  I will be buying a midsize crossover SUV in 2018.



David
3-2-2018


Hi John,
 I always get a kick out of the designers that say they design interior switches for the working man (or woman) who wears gloves. I’ve lived in Northern Wisconsin my whole life and been a trucker for 25 years. Everyone I know takes their gloves off as soon as they enter a vehicle. Who wants to have a wet, dirty, greasy steering wheel? Keep up the good work! - Alimonytony
3-2-2018


John,
 
If memory serves, a decade ago, GM, DaimlerChrysler, and BMW developed a hybrid system integrated with the transmission of a rear wheel drive architecture. Both GM and DaimlerChrysler actually sold SUVs with that system. I also recall that BMW denied that its subsequent hybrid system was from that project.
 
The new Ram truck hybrid system instead appears to resemble GM’s belt-alternator-starter (BAS) used on cars. What is the story?
 
Are GM’s and Ford’s new pickup truck hybrid systems integrated with the transmission or more BAS-like?
 
Will
Will,

Good memory. GM, Chrysler and BMW collaborated on what they called the two-mode hybrid. It was a clever design that pretty much incorporated all the hybrid technology (not including the battery) into the transmission. GM and Chrysler put them into production, but BMW never did. It didn’t matter, they were sales flops.

The Ram system is a 48 v BAS, as you note, and is much cheaper to produce than the two-mode hybrid. GM and Ford will probably go this route for the same cost reason, but so far none of them have released much information.

John McElroy
3-2-2018


Why rent an RV when you can buy? First, because renting RVs is crazy expensive. Renting a small one for a week is over $1000, which is about what our year’s payments add up to. And we use ours about 3 weeks a year so it makes sense financially.
Second, because it’s OURS. Our bathroom, our bed, our stuff. No one has slept in our bed except us. That’s a very nice thing. (also why I wouldn’t be enthusiastic about the AirBnB concept)
Third, it’s always packed. We don’t have to spend hours loading a vehicle with supplies, and then unloading at the end of the trip; other than some clothes and perishables, we are ready to go in minutes.
Storage isn’t that challenging; there are several lots on Dequindre, for example, where you can store vehicles for about $300/yr.
3-2-2018


Hey John I was just wondering many people do love the jeep wrangler but do not like the rough ride wouldn’t it be a great idea if you could get in touch with someone at jeep preferable Mike Manley and ask him why they don’t build an on road addition of the wrangler. Soften up the shocks because many people do not take there jeeps off road and I bet they could gain huge sales with this feature. I personally love the wrangler but unfortunately my wife doesn’t like the bumpy ride.
Louis,

Though the all-new 2018 Wrangler certainly rides better than previous models, Jeep will never make an on-road-only version with softer shocks. What makes the Wrangler such an icon is it’s off-road, go-anywhere capabilities. To make it anything less than that would ruin its reputation. Besides, Jeep makes other models that have nice on-road rides, including the Grand Cherokee, Cherokee and Compass.

John McElroy
3-2-2018


Hi John,
 
You've probably seen this, however I'm sending a link in case you haven't.  Pretty interesting.
 
Larry
Larry,

No, we had not seen this, thanks for sending.

We always appreciate when our viewers help keep us up to date!

John McElroy
3-2-2018


Hi John,
 
Car companies may need to adopt what notebook computer builders do which is offer a standard battery and an extended range battery; General Motors could save some money by offering their Chevrolet Bolt with a 75-90 mile range and offer the 238 mile battery as an upgrade.
 
Mike @ San Francisco 
I think GM took the right approach with the Bolt and its 60 kwh battery. Yes it could offer the car at a lower price with a smaller battery, but battery tech is improving so fast right now that in a few years that +300 mile range will be the norm. Why put out a car now with low range that will only earn you negative reviews and terrible re-sale value? A lower price is not going to improve sales very much since EV sales are so low to being with.

John McElroy
3-2-2018


John McElroy,
 
How about if you are driving at night and the bridge ahead is out: will the autonomous car stop or drive you into the abyss.
OR if there is a flood of water across the road 6" or 6' will the car stop or drive you thru it?
 
Sincerely,
John
Yes, all these contingencies can be programmed into autonomous cars.

Now, if a bridge collapsed just minutes before your autonomous car arrived that could be tricky. But as long as the sensors could see that there is no road ahead, the car could come to a stop.

Areas that are prone to flooding could be entered into the 3D mapping so that AVs would avoid those roads in heavy rains. But if there was a flood in an area that never floods, that could be a problem if you were the first car on the scene. With V2V communication, other cars would be warned to stay out of there.

John McElroy
3-2-2018


John McElroy,
 
Will these autonomous cars dodge pot holes on Mound Rd., 10 mile etc OR just hit them head on?????
 
Sincerely,
John
Great question! It’s probably impossible to dodge the potholes on Mound because they’re everywhere. An autonomous car would probably just slow down and take them at a speed that wouldn’t blow out a tire.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


John and team,
 
Appreciate your fact-based opinions on Tesla and have come to agree with many of them.  While most Tesla discussions end at an all or nothing loggerhead, I'd like to suggest a more balanced approach.  For back ground, I'm a long time Tesla investor and owner (2013 Model S and 2018 Model 3 with 1,500 miles on it).  
 
Tesla will be another mid-sized auto manufacturer with a specific target segment.  Tesla has taken 25% market share in the large premium sedan and SUV segments from top tier European automakers and should continue the push into BMW 3 series, MB C Class, and Audi A3 territory.  Competitors must balance losing market share in their high volume sales categories AND invest in their own BEV offerings AND develop a high speed charging network.  Will be tough for them to do all three without significantly impacting their earnings.
 
Glad you highlighted the Model 3 interior pluses in today's segment and look forward to the rest of the series, warts and all.
 
Alan
Alan,

Great feedback, thanks for sending.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


Hi John.  I found this video on YouTube. The guy points out a lot of interesting and scary things.  I try not to take YouTube videos seriously but what do you think?  Is he correct about a serious downturn?
Of course the economy is going to turn downwards at some point. It’s been growing since 2010 and we’ve never had an 8 year long expansion before. But it’s more likely to be a mild recession than a Great Recession.

Also, two years ago Merrill Lynch was making the same prediction that all those cars coming off lease would cause prices of used cars to crash, which in turn make it harder for car buyers to get a good value on their trade-in, which in turn would cause sales of new cars to crash. But Merrill Lynch has since backed off on that prediction and now sees a more gradual downturn.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


John, 
I caught your remark to Mr. Runkle regarding a new sheriff in town may not be there much longer.
I never knew you were a Liberal till I caught that. We and millions of other Americans are sure glad he is our new sheriff. He is trying to make America great again, Pres. Trump wants closed borders, shut down sanctuary cities,
deportation and more jobs just to name a very few pro USA changes for the conservative citizens. He has removed hundreds of Obama rules and regulations since taking office, like restarting oil flowing and opening six million acres in Utah that Obama locked down with the stroke of his pen...... Thank God for President Trump!
 Hill-liary ..Hill-Rotten Clinton would have destroyed the country in one year,she would have followed in Obama’s socialist rules for radicals footsteps. Her idols are George “Schwartz”Soros and Saul Alinsky !
 
Jay in Ar.
2-16-2018


Does this new Kona only have a front grill and l-f fender?!  Is there an interior?  Does it have an IP? IP a screen or dials?  Are there any seats?  Does anything flip, slide, or fold?  Is There a rear end?  How does any hatch operate?  Any door handles?  Does it have sides, and do they have any lines?  Any integral or pop-up screen?  Any cup holders?  Any UBS ports?  How bout A-pillars from the inside?  Any media/temp backseat controls?  Does it have doors, and do the doors have any interior rests, switches, speakers, pulls, etc.?  4-seater?  5-seater?  12" wheels?  Or 30" wheels.
 
Normally when introducing a new model, your second unit photographer does a pretty good job of SHOWING the vehicle while speakers talk.  But shur as hell not today!
 
I did ENJOY the competency, candor, and wide-ranging knowledgeable perspectives of your guest -- who still cudda used a bit more prep from the marketing/PR folk.
 
PSN
2-16-2018


Hi John,
    First off I was totally elated to see the enthusiasm shown by You and the whole panel when it came to my question regarding standard shift. As you already know I am an army of one supporting standard shift,so much so,that I recently spent well over $1000.00 to replace the clutch in my 1994 Ford Ranger 4 cyl. with a Stage 3 racing clutch just to get more driving feel.
    Yes,as everyone said,you are more engaged with the vehicle and it keeps you focused. I own a Chevy Venture van also and I went crazy driving it during my clutch repair as it bored me to death having to drive it.
    I also read Molly McQueen's statements regarding at 30 how much fun she was missing out on never learning to drive a standard shift and now how much she looks forward to driving now. I feel Ford should use her in a commercial to promote standard shift and wonder how we in the United States could channel the enthusiasm towards more people learning how to drive a standard and up production.
    I am totally impressed with the photo's I have seen of the new Ford Ranger and can't wait for the Cleveland Auto Show to see it in person,but,I am sad to hear that it will not be offered with a standard shift even though it is offered world wide with a standard shift.
    I just had to write to say how everyone on the panel made my day with all the positive comments regarding driving standard shift. I am 66,learned at 14 how to drive a stick,and will continue as long as I can drive.
    Take Care,Dale
Dale,

All I can say is: You’re awesome, man!

John McElroy
2-16-2018


Hi John
Just to let you know that I really enjoyed your discussion with Sandy on the Tesla 
His comments on the gaps were very funny and spot on
Maybe the lawyers will have a field day and welcome to the big leagues of the automotive business.
 
All the best 
Kind Regards 
Ted
2-16-2018


John
Saw this article yesterday and thought it might be something to discuss on after hours.
Regards
Chuck
Chuck,

Thanks for sending. We’ve talked about this before on Autoline After Hours, not this suicide, but the fact that NYC and other cities cheated taxi and livery drivers by forcing them to buy expensive medallions, then allowing Uber and Lyft to operate without them. The value of those medallions, which cost $1 million as recently as 6 years ago, then plummeted. At the very least the city should be forced to refund the cost of those medallions.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


AAH 406 was a great show. The best part of AAH is generally the discussion segment and the shows like this one are the best of the breed. Thanks so much!

I have missed ZERO AAH shows all the way back to the beginning with Peter and Jason. It's my weekly ritual!
2-16-2018


Thanks for taking my questions on today's show, and last week's.
 
Question, do you have any contacts or suggestions for an industry wonk to get a job with Mercedes or PSA in Atlanta?  I'm ready to put my automotive obsession to good use after 20 years of sales and marketing in telecommunications.
 
I'd list Porsche as well but there doesn't seem to be much turnover there.
 
Thanks and if you ever come down to Atlanta again, please let me know.  BBQ on me.
 
Joe
Joe,

I don’t have any specific contacts at Mercedes or PSA in Atlanta. In fact, I’m not sure that PSA has even opened its office there yet. My only suggestion is to write up a great resume that is fun to read that expresses your interest and passion in working at the company and to spell out specifically the areas where you think you could help them.

Good luck!

John McElroy
2-16-2018


Dear John,
I discovered your program when it was on our public TV (KPTS) for one season.  I've been watching on my tablet every since.  Thank you for your program.
I envision my self driving car as my current car.  I will be able to drive wherever I want to with the safety of FCW and forward collision stop.  But when I'm tired I will want to be able to enter an address into my GPS and expect the car to take me there. 
I carry personal items in my car which I need and find it to be a huge hassle to switch those items to a different vehicle, which to me dispels the idea of using Lyft all the time.
I'm a poor Kansas boy so I don't expect to buy two cars - one for my driving pleasure and on for self driving. 
Thank you again for your program.  And thank you for hearing me out.
Sincerely,
Robert
Bob,

We’re glad you like the shows! And you make a good observation: people who keep gear, tools, etc. in their cars will not want to use ride-sharing services.

Sounds like a Level 4 car will be perfect for you once they’re available: drive it when you want to, or let it drive you when you want to relax.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


Ever since my experience of making a clay model for the Fisher Body/ Motor Trend student competition in high school, I have wondered:  What is the composition of the clay that the professional modelers use???
 
I made a wood armature, and applied plasticine to it.  That oil based plasticine was not that easy to work with especially during the winter in my parent's basement.  Also, water base clay dries quickly and can't be worked.  So, neither look or work like what the pros use.
 
r work
2-16-2018


John,
It will be great to learn more about Sandy Munro’s teardown of the Model 3 on your show.  The fit and finish of the car show they are having teething pains.
It would be relevant to know how well the Model S fit and finish is now days.  Is this a problem that Tesla never seems to fix or just early mfg glitches?

As far as the frunk release... from the picture of the first salvaged Model 3, it looks like the frunk lid crumples up so that access to the emergency cut wire might be easy to access.  It would still may prove to be better to have a mechanical cable though but maybe this will not prove to be a huge problem.  How much cost did they save from eliminating the cable release?
I suspect the single center screen control is going to save them a lot of BOM and mfg costs.   Will all of these design decisions lead to a BMW quality handling, performance, NVH, and styling but at a much lower cost than an ICE equivalent?

The sticker under the right rear trunk arm would seem to be better than other cars.  What cars have stickers to show emergency responders where to cut?  Typically, the OEM publishes online a first responders’ guide (as Tesla has).  We had emergency responder training in 2011 when the first PEVs came to market and they have electronic copies in their trucks.

The door handle design reminds me of Jag or some other premium brand handles.   I’d prefer a more simple one like from a BMW but it would have impacted styling and maybe a little aero.  

I hope that Sandy provides some performance data before he tears it apart.  I have heard the acceleration and range are better than the Tesla published numbers.  Some measures of NVH would be useful.  Estimating powertrain life and yearly maintenance costs also useful.  Elon had mentioned a 1M mile target life  (but with some battery degradation).  This makes sense given the common use with the Semi.
What Sandy's teardown shows is that the Model 3 is probably a great car that was rushed to market before it was fully developed. Some of the manufacturing issues will take a long time to resolve. In my career I've never seen such a botched launch of a car. It is a disaster, and I don't think the company will hit a consistent 5,000/week build rate this year.

Tesla is very fortunate to have owners who are very forgiving and willing to overlook numerous problems, but the mass market will not be so tolerant.

As Sandy gets deeper into his teardown we'll report on what he uncovers, and undoubtedly some of that will be quite positive.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


n 2-3-2018 aired a Ford supply chain rep.O Stated that Ford will be manufacturing  vehicles for the American market in China. Switching to electric with a range of 300 miles. How can consumers drive and tolerate having to stop for charging. What do you do to recycle batteries? What happens when there is an accident with battery powered cars? Who has the infrastructure  to support dozens of cars to be charged simultainiously? Do they take into consideration that power plants use fossil fuels and the transmission of electricity has a low efficiency over power lines.
Wow, lots of questions!

Charging: people who want electric cars will not be put out by having to stop at fast charging stations. But the general public will not want a car that takes half an hour or so to charge before they can be on their way again. The charging infrastructure is still in its infancy and will improve over time. Most electricity will be generated by fossil fuels—coal and natural gas—for a long time to come.

Recycling: no one knows how to do this in volume and for a profit. Only small scale, subsidized recycling of EV batteries is taking place right now

Accidents: BEVs should be no more dangerous than ICE vehicles. In fact, the Tesla Model S has exemplary crash protection. If the crash is severe enough there is a danger of batteries catching fire, but that’s no more dangerous than gasoline tanks catching fire in severe accidents.

John McElroy
2-16-2018


John,
 
While the quality issues with that particular Model 3 surprise, Tesla is trying to sell to Tesla fans - of which there are many millions - maybe as many as Ford 150 fans. I want an EV that has the body shape, performance of a Dacia Duster and a price close to it. I would not buy a Tesla or Bolt EV because the body shapes is wrong. The future vehicle market will have variety as a mode of transport is the most expensive thing most of the world can afford to own. If you can't easily afford a car, you cannot afford to buy a house - high home-ownership is a key element of developed country economies. There could be real trouble here.. 
 
I think the young leaving traditional autos behind are doing so because they can't tell one from another, and they don't see the vehicles giving a positive message about them. The young want simple, cheap, light weight, park anywhere vehicles that don't pollute - you might call them local travel vehicles. China is making millions of them - if with poor quality at the moment. China will turn the car into a consumer product like a washing machine and it will  be sold in similar stores.
 
We need to remember that there has been a convergence in the design and quality of motor vehicles. As an engineer, I often find it hard to tell make and model of a car - but can still give a description of the shape.  Tesla vehicles look a bit different. I think we see more radical design in the future to entice the young with vehicles that don't look like their parents.
 
First responder education is an issue, as is charging out of town for every EV other than a Tesla. 
 
Some Model 3 owners are saying 300 miles/500 km genuine summer range is the point where they think about range as they do with an ICE vehicle. That probably means 70 kWh battery mid-size EVs with standard ICE acceleration. At 300 miles, with an average daily drive under 30 miles, it doesn't matter if the car is not plugged in daily. People who need to park their EV on a street, will only need to take it somewhere to plug-in once a week.
 
I like that Model 3 door handles even though I have medical issues with my little fingers.
 
I don't think there is a physical effort issue with the Model 3 boot lid, my Hyundai Tuscon looks much heavier. Sandy is getting on a bit. I don't see younger people complaining about it.
 
You missed a significant technology share issue with your camera focus on where to cut the Model 3 HV cable under the hood. That shot is all over the internet. What we needed to see was how all the equipment between the tub of the frunk and the front firewall was assembled and what the components are. With the panel removed, you had an opportunity to show it - but likely, your camera person did not know what has not been shown on the internet to date. With Model S/X all the components are individually fixed to the firewall. Is model 3 the same, or are the components on a sub-assembly? Sub-assemblies are a key to cost reduction. 
 
Autoline reported Samsung bought Harmon for $8 bn and is now producing its Digital Cockpit - integrated hardware and software for infotainment and instrument cluster, but, unlike the Tesla Model 3, it can power four screens. They will add augmented reality navigation, mood music and autonomous driving. Digital Cockpit appears top have better features than what Tesla has. Delphi, Continental, Bosch, etc will compete with Samsung to supply digital cockpits. The Tier 1s will produce more complex systems which they will supply to OEMs. The OEMs can't afford to compete with Tier 1 in vehicle systems especially when Google and Apple are Tier 1s. Perhaps Ford has the right strategy - focus on vehicles and systems integration for a great user experience, and focus on mobility services. 
 
Sandy Munro did a great teardown of the BMW i3, I expect similar with the Model 3. I note all the electronic equipment Sandy had in the rear of the car when you opened the rear door. That said Sandy was not actually going to tear down that particular car. On a past show, Sandy said he gets 2 cars. One is used to test the performance given by the components discovered in the tear down - new components are important discoveries, and how they impact performance is equally important.
 
Autoline reported average (median?) car price is about $36,000 and rising $1,000 per year - in part due to cost of fuel economy, pollution and safety tech. Ford is putting 10-speed gearboxes into more vehicles. Electric drivetrains have far fewer moving parts. The more powerful drivetrain of the Model 3 surely costs less than the drive train of an F-150 if we leave the battery aside. With more cycles of EV design, costs should fall significantly.
 
In the electricity energy market, there is now a word to describe the electrical network of the future - 'E-Cloud'. It is like the data cloud in many ways. It favours EVs of other vehicle power sources. There will be tens of millions of home solar PV and home batteries. Commercial buildings and industrial plants will be similarly equipped. Electrical energy suppliers will invest in new generating and storage capacity and in systems to match supply and demand in micro seconds. Generators that require a fuel (nuclear, gas, oil, coal) will fail in the market due to fuel and maintenance costs and slow response times to demand changes. Maintaining voltage and frequency are just as important as quantity. Large generators make efficient management of the grid difficult. Better to have batteries spread across the grid to manage local demand changes. And better to have many small sources wind and solar farms are comprised of many small generators. As the 'E-Could' matures, they wholesale price differences across the day and the season will narrow considerably. EVs, due to their batteries, when plugged in at work and home on Tier 2 chargers, will be a significant stabilizing feature in the 'E-Cloud'.
 
EVs and E-Cloud enable each other just as the telegraph and the steam-powered trains did (the telegraph allowed signalers to know where train were on the single track lines across the countryside). The railways needed the telegraph, and businesses used the telegraph to buy and sell goods that traveled on the train.
 
Regards
Peter
2-16-2018


Hi John,

Michael Simcoe mentioned how battery chemistry continues to evolve and that future EV batteries will get smaller in size while higher in capacity; can you imagine a day where someone might 'steal' the battery of an EV?

Mike
Most EV batteries are integrated into the floor and would be hard to steal. But if it were easy, they'd get stolen. They're worth more than catalytic converters and those get stolen too.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


Hi John,
 
F1 might be making a mistake as the F1 Grid Girls are like cheerleaders and has been part of the pageantry of the sport for as long as I can remember.
 
Mike @ San Francisco, CA
Nah. Everyone will make a big deal about it for the first race or two and then everyone will forget there ever were “grid girls” in F1.

Besides, in the history of Gran Prix racing they’re a relatively new addition and were never used during the Golden Age of the sport.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


John, I travel quite a bit in the Southern states and can report the following. The car is all but dead down here. "The" vehicle of choice is a full size pickup truck followed by a mind numbing array of SUV's and crossovers. All you have to do is look at the floor plan of any big 3 automaker dealership and you will see acres of pickup trucks and a hand full of cars in the showroom.
Another observation. The largest advertising group on local TV are the personnel injury attorneys. I mean there are dozens of these guys all focused on vehicle accidents. Makes me wonder how on earth auto makers with autonomous vehicles are going to defend themselves. 

Tom
2-2-2018


Thank you for the ongoing quality and excellence of your shows presenting the state-of-the-art technologies being incorporated by the industry. 
 
Richard
Richard,

Thanks for taking the time to write, we will definitely share this with the Autoline team.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


Hi John,
 
I went to my local Jeep dealership this afternoon to look at the 2018 Jeep Cherokee Limited.  The current $199 per month lease program  had left them with not even one to show me.  I started to discuss with one of the salespeople about the 2019 refreshed Jeep Cherokee Limited.  I understood that the dealership had already placed orders with the factory.  The most disappointing thing I learned is that there is NO Dark BLUE ones ordered and the color is not being offered for 2019!  Please communicate to the FCA that customers want the Dark Blue exterior with Beige Interior color combination.  Black, White and Red also go with a Beige interior for the 2019 Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Compass.
 
FCA has all different names by model for the same color or nearly same colors.  The Cherokee had "Patriot Blue"  the Compass has "Jazz Blue Pearl" and the Grand Cherokee "True Blue Pearlcoat".
Why waste all this money on slightly different shades of "Dark Blue" for each model.  FCA should consolidate these "Dark Blues" into on generic "Dark Blue"!  This would save money on different shades of the same basic color shades of paints and spend it on offering different interior combinations like "Black, Grey and Beige" .  Premium and Luxury vehicle buyers gravitate to a rich Glossy Black and Dark Blues vehicles with either Black, Beige or light Grey interiors.   
 
I hope you can help me with this crusade to bring back "Dark Blue" as a exterior color for the 2019 Cherokee!  I will need to drive the new 2.0 Liter Turbo before I can decide which to get.  Either the 3.2 Liter V6 or the New Turbo!
 
Thanks for being the voice of the automotive enthusiast!
 
Lex  
Lex,

Thanks for pointing this out. We’ll publish your letter in the Viewer Mail section of our website so that Jeep designers and product planning people can read it too.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


Kia made a big splash with the stinger a few months ago and is still garner lots of positive  attention with award nominations.. but genesis is hiding the G70 the stinger classy cousin.  It waning at Detroit,  it wasn't at CES, but unveiled it at the Montreal auto show... that lets face it no one covers. It looks like a beautiful car, possible a 3 series fighter, but didn't genesis drop the ball in growing their brand?
 
My thanks, 
 
Bo
Bo,

The problem that Genesis faces in growing the brand is that it launched with two sedans into markets that are screaming for crossovers and SUVs. They will get this fixed, but not with the G70.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


John,

From their statements, Tesla employs long established statistical quality measures in their production processes.

The 'bandolier' approach to cell installation is brilliant - the 'bandolier' must look more like a belt of rapid fire machine gun bullets, than the over-the-shoulder belt of manually loaded bullets from which it is named. Think big belt with double-sided ammunition feeding an airborne machine-gun.

Ever cell is glued to a cooling tube to create the bandolier. As the bandolier is feed into the module frame (think ammunition box) and folded over, a strip of insulating material (for vibration and thermal expansions reasons) must be feed-in to stop the back-to-back cells from touching each other. The insulation between cells of different sub-modules must also provide electrical isolation. The metal case of cylindrical cells is important to transfer heat from the far side of the cell to the cooling tube.

Obviously, Tesla does not want to give away it technology info to competitors, but this news story has resulted in Tesla giving away key knowledge to fans, customers, and competitors.

To me, the Tesla module building approach is a superior way to make a battery of standard lithium-ion chemistry.

With less cells required during Model 3 “production hell”, Panasonic obviously had under-employed people who were press-ganged into the more manual battery production.

The "zone 1 & 2" assembly operations Tesla had problems with, were obviously A) bandolier creation, and B) packing the bandolier, insulating strips and current collector plates into a frame ready for ultrasonic welding. For the second operation, the module had gone up from the ~25 kg item with 516 cells in the 100 kWh modules, to about ~80 kg/~86 kg and 1058/1150 cells of the M3 module. I expect zone 3 and 4 were ultrasonic welding and flipping the module over to weld the other side. 

Solid-state cells may not take too kindly to the level of folding required for cylindrical cells. Perhaps, solid-state cells can only be made in prismatic format. In which case, cell thickness will correspond to the spacing of cooling tube.

Regards

Peter
Peter,

Again, thanks for your considerable information on this topic!

Other things to consider:

I don’t think that Tesla is letting valuable IP leak out, since it already offered all of its IP for free to anyone who wants to use it. Perhaps that offer did not extend to battery making.

My understanding is that Tesla is using a synchronous assembly process with no buffers, so that if there is any problem on the line, everything upstream comes to a screeching halt. If this is indeed the case they’re going to have to revamp their battery assembly process.

John McElroy
2-2-2018


I see that you are buying the Achates' KoolAid on you said it.At the very least, I would have appreciated some mention of my previously stated Achates history.In my mind this shows that Autoline has to be "politically correct " at the expense of leaving out pertinent info. Hmmmmm. I think I know why Peter D. left the show. Youngblood
You’re right to be skeptical of Achates, since we haven’t driven a vehicle with the engine, but I think it will prove to be legit. There is more and more interest on the part of major manufacturers, and we think there’s big announcement that could be coming this year. If I’m reading the tea leaves right, it could involve GM. I talked with the Aramco technical people, who have deep engine expertise, and they’re solidly behind this engine. BTW, Aramco just opened an R&D center in the Detroit area, and that alone ought to tell you that something is up. Achates has promised us a test drive of their F-150 with the engine and when they do, we’ll devote an entire Autoline After Hours to it, good, bad or ugly.

Bringing a new engine design into production is one of the most difficult things to do. In the +100 year history of the auto industry, only three types of engines have made it into production: gasoline, diesel and rotary. And the rotary failed to catch on. If Achates succeeds it will truly be a historic moment.
John McElroy
1-26-2018


Hi John,
 
    Just saw the show and, as always, great job! While I think the Stringer would be a fantastic "Car of the Year", I believe the Accord may have it. The funny thing to me is, while the Accord is very stylish, IMHO, the front end looks more truck-ish then Honda's Ridgeline! For "Utility of the Year", while this may be Alfa Romeo's first effort and an outstanding vehicle, the Volvo may have stolen the show. It makes no sence to me that, to have once been in the Ford family, why couldn't the Lincoln brand pull off interiors as well as this? That being said, for over all packaging, the Navigator is the hands down winner of "Truck of the Year".   
 
Wayne
1-26-2018


Self Driving Car problems? 
How are the test at UM going with Winter Driving conditions? How do they react on snow, ice and other hazardous conditions? I've been in Fla during just hard rain and have seen streets covered by water. I've been in Colorado on back roads during a light rain that turned the road into conditions like ice. How will they do on roads after a fresh snow with drifting. These are a challenge for all drivers.. I have a family member that has lost his sight, will he be able to get around in all climate with a level 5 vehicle?
These would make for great show topics . 
 
David
David,

We don’t have specific feedback on Autonomous Vehicles testing in snow, but the AV experts tell us they’ve got this problem solved. They say that with 3D mapping, GPS, lidar, video and radar they can pinpoint where a vehicle is even if the road is completely covered in deep snow.

John McElroy
1-26-2018


Hi John;



I love this show, watch every year.  I agree with the new mustang 5.0, but they haven’t heard of the Chevrolet Corvette & Camaro?



It seems to me that Dodge & Ram trucks seem to be missed most years also.



It may not be new & “innovative, but my Subaru Legacy 3.6 R & my wife’s Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring (WRX Engine) get us thru Traverse City winters just fine.



We do run snow tires too.



I’m at the age where I would rather “Unplug” than plug in.



All the best




Eric
1-26-2018


Just the facts please:The Achates OPOC format was  developed in 2004 with a $50  million venture cap-------2010 company states the engine is production ready in 3 years-----2015 $9million from ARP-E--------2015 $47.4 million GRANT  from Cummins US Army which brings us to the Detroit Auto Show news and the partnering of Achates and ARAMCO. Sure the engine was visible. It was by their own admission a  a non functional ,non runnable what?????? a model???? a piece of plastic???? A visible V-8???? Scratch that , I mean a visible OPOC engine? NOPE  it was a "prototype". I have been following the spiel from day one with hopes it could be the next best ICE. One question remains. Did the heads of Achates develope the business plan that Elon Musk has used to make Billions on his "visions:? That's my " you said it" Youngblood Cleveland OH
1-26-2018


Good Day,
 
PLEASE GET IT RIGHT! The automotive companies received a LOAN!!!! And paid it back with interest !! The banks had a “bail out” not paying a cent back.. The hard working people of the automotive companies should not be represented falsely!! A loan to the companies from the government, paid back with interest!!
 
Thank you,
 
Anita
1-26-2018


Hey John our conversations about Volvo missing the mark on safety in their ads must have been heard. Last evening I saw a new Volvo ad touting, what else, but Volvo’s safety commitment. I guess we told them!
 
Michael
1-26-2018


Tesla claims to be ramping up production but here on the ground in Fremont, CA the numbers don't seem to add up. Very few trucks are rolling and while Model 3's are stacking up in a side lot I'm not sure that's a good thing. I get the impression these cars are being held for some reason. Is production overtaking shipping or are these defects?

John
I wouldn't read too much into a bunch of cars sitting outside a car plant, unless they're parked there for more than a week. Even if Tesla is only making 1,000 cars a week you'd expect to see a bunch of them parked there. That's pretty much true of every car plant, though most of them make 1,000 cars a day.

John McElroy
1-26-2018


As someone who lives near the former Mitsubishi  Motors factory, and now home to EV startup Rivian Motors, I read with interest about the probable demise of Faraday Future. I wonder if Rivian will succeed where so many others have failed?  Rivian does appear to have a money making operation, but not by selling cars. They are renting storage space for the recalled VW diesels, 14,000 VW’s so far.  This reminds me of Tesla making money not from the cars, but from selling the EV credits.
 
Neil G
Neil,

Thanks for the info! If you get any other updates please let us know.

John McElroy

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