Pull up a chair, get some popcorn. The fireworks have been flying fast and furious. New York Times reporter John Broder wrote a piece about his press loaner Tesla running out of juice. Tesla, already smarting from the perceived slight given them by BBC’s Top Gear, decided they needed an ace up their sleeve: data logging. Chairman Elon Musk penned a response that included detailed data logs from the press car. Broder responded in general terms and then with a point-by-point response to Musk’s charges. The NYT’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has also chimed in with the opening of her own investigation. Notably, Musk hasn’t returned her calls. Her tentative conclusion? “I reject Mr. Musk’s central contention that Mr. Broder’s Sunday piece was faked in order to sabotage the Model S or the electric-car industry.” She also called for Tesla to release all the data they’ve got in proper machine-readable form, not just their pretty annotated graphs with the circles and the arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one. Read More >
Ford will be giving away its SYNC AppLink to any automaker or Tier 1 supplier, as it looks to make SYNC the standard for in-car connectivity systems.
One of the reasons for Volkswagen’s current strength dates back four years. During the carmageddon of 2008 ff, multinational carmakers such as GM and Toyota drastically cut back investments into new cars and technologies. Volkswagen did not change R&D spending. Four years later, this translates into a host of new models, and revolutionary platform architectures (MQB, MLB, MSB) that promise even more new models at lower cost. Read More >
The GE Wattstation killed my Leaf! That’s the story being reported by the New York Times as well as PlugInCars.com. As the tale goes, 11 Leaf owners have had their chargers “damaged” while charging with GE’s Wattstation home charging station. The relative significance of only 11 failures aside, the Nissan Dealer in San Pablo, CA confirmed to PlugInCars.com that Nissan North America has notified dealers of a potential problem with the Leaf and the GE home charging station. TTAC contacted Hilltop Nissan and they have yet to return our calls. Rather than just parroting back the usual news reports we dug deep. We contacted GE and Nissan, consulted some professional electrical engineers and read though hundred of pages of boring SAE documents. Click past the jump to learn more about EV charging than you ever wanted to know. Read More >
For a long time, carbon fiber was a high tech, high cost product. Slowly, carbon fiber is going mainstream. From Volkswagen to Toyota and GM, large automakers have carbon fiber projects in the works. Now, Ford is joining the bandwagon made from lightweight fiber.
Ford joined up with fiber specialist Dow Chemical “to develop cost-effective ways of using carbon fiber in high-volume cars and trucks as the No.2 U.S. automaker moves to cut vehicle weight to improve overall fuel economy,” Reuters writes. Read More >
“With a languid stroke, her lascivious fingers caressed the seat. Out of nowhere, Chopin’s Nocturnes engulfed Rudolfo’s vintage Testatrossa in a sea of glissandi. Soon, Rudolfo’s testosterone was on full volume. He opened the first button of her blouse, there was a pop, then – silence.”
If Maksim Skorobogatiy of the Polytechnic School in Montreal, Canada, gets his way, then this is how future novels will be written. Or car catalogs. Skorobogatiy suggests: Read More >
Obama! Socialism! Taxes! Jesus! Faith! Guns! Now that you’re paying attention, it’s time for our regularly scheduled programming. A Detroit News article claims that NHTSA is denying any interference on the part of the White House with respect to the Chevrolet Volt fires that resulted from government crash test procedures.
The last attempt at saving Saab failed when GM said it would not supply or license technology to Saab if it were 100% owned by PangDa and Youngman, scuttling the Chinese firms’ bid for outright control of the company. Now the two firms have sent a revised proposal to The General in hopes that they can provide safeguards for intellectual property, allowing them to purchase Saab without losing the link to GM. After all, both the 9-3 and 9-5 rely on GM technology and parts, while the 9-4X is wholly supplied by GM. Rachel Pang of PangDa tells TTELA.se
We have not discussed any changes with regard to ownership structure. We are concentrated on the GM issue… It’s about more commercial terms. We want to meet them and have asked for a meeting. First we must give them time to review our proposal. We are waiting for GM’s response and then we will of course respect it.
Of course, our understanding is that “the GM issue” is the same as the ownership structure issue… and keep in mind, PangDa and Youngman are looking for a meeting, not an agreement from GM. Which means this could drag on a while… and wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for Saab to pay salaries again.
MyFordTouch was supposed to build on the SYNC system’s momentum, extending Ford’s edge in mass-market infotainment gizmology. Instead, MyFord nearly killed the golden egg-laying goose, by earning Ford a sharp downgrade from Consumer Reports and widespread criticism. Ford has decided that 40-minute training sessions weren’t going to cut it as a response to the complaints that the system was balky and confusing, and The Blue Oval is now trumpeting the all-new for 2013 version of MyFordTouch. Because, in the words of Ford’s spokes-interior-designer-person
As you can see, with a software platform like SYNC, it’s easy to continuously improve and upgrade your system.
You know, in comparison to the all-new Ford Escape she’s sitting in. It’s still not quite as easy as a computer software update: instead of downloading the reflash, you have to go into a dealer to get the upgrade. Meanwhile, this is just the latest hurdle in the hot-hot in-car gizmo side of the business. The big one comes in 2014, when the government issue rules on distraction-mitigation in voice-activated in-car systems. That could make this minor public beta testing fiasco look like nothing…
Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, the device is able to bypass password protection. Several states have been reluctant to curtail law enforcement access to this information.
Residents of Austin, Texas may soon have the power to issue parking tickets by taking a few photographs of someone else’s car with their smartphones. A unanimous council voted on October 20 to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app. Disabled advocates pushed the program at the council meeting in the hopes of guaranteeing easier parking. They were joined by others who were just interested in writing the $511 tickets.
Though the idea that there is a “war on cars” appeals to certain segments of society, there’s little evidence for any such effort. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that there’s a “war on drivers” on, and it’s being led by the automotive industry. On the one hand, cars are being ever-more laden with distracting gizmos and toys, while simultaneously, companies are testing systems that minimize the need for drivers at all. Though Google’s autonomous cars get a lot of media play in this country, another system is moving Europe towards a similar endgame. Known as “Car-To-X,” the system allows cars to swap information like speed and direction, not just with each other but with traffic lights and traffic data collectors. The idea is to avoid traffic and crashes, by warning drivers of oncoming traffic in a left-hand turn scenario, for example. Because who wants to use their eyes to make sure they’re safe when technology can do it for you?
According to Autobild, the first public German test of the system will begin next spring, with 120 vehicles taking part. GM is currently testing a similar system. If all goes according to plan, systems like this and Google’s autonomous technology will fulfill GM’s prediction that autonomous vehicles will be a reality by 2020, and the war on driving will be won. Or lost, depending on your perspective.
Crains Cleveland reports that NASA will be offering some 38 technologies developed for its space program to the auto industry at a trade show next week at the Glenn Research Center. With 100 OEMs and suppliers attending, the event will bring materials and technologies chosen for their usefulness in automotive applications to an industry that is anxious to develop solutions for upcoming fuel economy standards. And hopefully bring some licensing fees to an agency that is anxious to find private sources of income. In the words of NASA’s Paul Bartolotta
NASA is open for business. We’re opening our safe, so to speak
So, what’s on offer?
Though we haven’t even seen a production version yet, Cadillac’s forthcoming XTS has already lived a full, controversy-laden life. Initially suggested as a replacement for the DTS/STS, the Cadillac faithful quickly recoiled at the idea of a luxury “flagship” based on a stretched version of the Epsilon II midsized platform that underpins the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu. But with the Cadillac Ciel Concept showing the way forward for a “true” Caddy flagship which will eventually become the brand’s standard-bearer, the XTS’s role has been somewhat redefined. Expectations for the XTS were walked back by GM CEO Dan Akerson, who famously said that it was
not going to blow the doors off, but will be very competitive
And this week the enigma that is the XTS only deepened, as Cadillac announced two bits of seemingly contradictory information about it: first, that it would spearhead a new high-tech interface (see video above) and second, that it would mark GM’s return to the livery car business.
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Death with Dignity apparently does not exist in Victor Muller’s vocabulary, as Reuters reports that the CEO of Saab’s parent company will receive loans from prospective investor Youngman in order to ward off liquidation in Swedish bankruptcy court. Youngman has committed some $97m in bridge loan financing to the troubled Swedish automaker, of which Saab has received $15m so far and will receive more payments this week in order to pay salaries and other expenses. Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs explains
“We are putting bridge financing in place so we can fund business during the reorganisation — so we don’t incur new debt. We have running costs, such as electricity, that we need to take care of. There are a number of business-critical operations that need to be funded”
Saab’s salaries are currently guaranteed by the Swedish government as part of Saab’s bankruptcy protection, but that guarantee expires on October 21, just before October salaries are due. Missing that payment would likely have spelled the end of Saab, but with Youngman’s money arriving in dribs and drabs it seems that we may be documenting the firm’s undignified collapse for another month or so.