The Truth About Cars » 2025 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » 2025 Wards Auto: Industry Analysts Unsure If Ford Gained Advantage With The Aluminum 2015 F150 Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:32:20 +0000 2015-Ford-F150-Front
Ford dropped a heavy light weight military-grade aluminum gauntlet with a metallic thud when they announced that the aluminum-intensive F-150. With up to 97% of the body being made of aluminum, and with Ford’s claims that it has dropped 700 pounds off the truck’s curb weight, the industry took notice. So much so, that GM announced their plans for an aluminum Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra shortly after the North American International Autoshow, where the F150 was debuted.

According to WardsAuto reported that some analysts are not quite as impressed, and are unsure whether or not it will make as large of an impact as expected.

Part of the concern comes from recent advances in steel, with high strength steel seeing widespread use in the industry, and more importantly, Ford’s competitors. Craig Parsons, automotive-president of Nanosteel, told Wards, 

“If you look at steels out there years ago, you couldn’t lightweight; they weren’t strong enough and you couldn’t (form) the shapes needed. Aluminum has come a long way, as well, but I think technologies like nanosteel are going to give automakers alternatives to aluminum so they can do lightweighting with better geometries and thinner materials.”

Parsons points at the current 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra as an example of high strength steel’s effectiveness. H claims the ’14 GM trucks are 350 lbs lighter than the current generation F150. With Ford claiming a 700 pound weight savings from their current truck, the difference between the ’15 F150 and ’14 GM trucks would only be around 350 pounds, according to Parsons; a fairly negligible number when the difference in options on a truck can swing the curb weight by over 500 pounds, according to GM’s specs on the ’14 Silverado 1500.

“Each generation of truck is lighter. It’s always the most recent introduction that is the lightest in its class.”

Another issue is cost. David Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest and chairman emeritus for the Center for Automotive Research, touches on the issue

 “It’s a big roll of the dice. Whether it’s an advantage or not is yet to be determined. The trade off from the consumer perspective is, ‘What is it going to save me vs. what’s it going to cost me? That’s an important part of the discussion.”

Along with the higher material costs and production costs with sheets of heat-treated aluminum, Ford is also pushing for more advanced engines. The direct-injected and turbocharged Ecoboost engines have been pushed hard by Ford in the current generation F150. At the time of this writing, the EcoBoost V6 is $1,000 more than the 5.0L V8; and $2,000 more than the base V6. Only the rowdy 6.2L V8 costs more.

Richard Schultz, a project consultant at Ducker Worldwide, mentions that

“It’s more expensive, but you have to add in the value of scrap, which is very valuable. And when you save so much weight you can make suspensions and other parts smaller and thinner.”

Cole touches on anther key point, the 2017 review for the 2025 CAFE regulations. Specifically chosen to take place after the next election, the next president could cancel that F150‘s chance if he or she chose to relax the standards. Ford would have spent millions to push out the technologically advanced F150 only to have the goalposts moved. Ford may enjoy having the most fuel-efficient pickup in the market, but the extra costs of the new aluminum body and engines could alienate buyers, sending them to cheaper, more traditional pickups.


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Automotive supplier prognosticator predicts demise of the steering wheel by 2025 Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:00:50 +0000 The end of the steering wheel

Be afraid. Be very afraid. If the aspirations of one automotive supplier come to pass, your child’s first car will not have a steering wheel come 2025, rendering her or him nothing more than a mere passenger inside a tiny commuter pod.

In this frightening article from The Detroit News, Han Hendricks (no relation to Christina Hendricks), vice president of advanced product development for the Milwaukee, Wis.-based supplier Johnson Controls in their automotive electronics and interiors wing suggests that as auto manufacturers race to develop, and then improve upon, autonomous cars, the driver will figure less and less into the overall scheme of things (something that has been evolving as of late, with parking and lane-keeping technologies as two examples), leading to the deletion of the steering wheel around 2025. To quote:

After 2025, the steering wheel will play a less dominant role in the interior. With fully autonomous vehicles, you don’t have to be forward looking as a driver, you don’t need to have an instrument panel. Then you can really just think of a car as a box that you enter.

All just as well, since by then everything your child will think, do or say will be in the pill they took that day anyway.

To hammer the point home, Hendricks goes on to mention that Johnson Controls is planning to speak with automakers in China, Europe and North America in November about this brave new world, as well as the usual industry experts and visionaries who deal in such things as the transition from driver autonomy to robot car autonomy, all in order to refine their dream of the automated superhighway of tomorrow.

If you’re a driver, however, don’t expect Hendricks to ask you whether or not this is desirable:

It’ll help our vision become more robust. It’s not as if we’re going to go out and ask consumers, because people just don’t think about it.

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EPA Releases 2017-2025 CAFE Proposed Rule Wed, 16 Nov 2011 19:15:15 +0000

Over the last few days we’ve been discussing the implications of the growing gap between global oil demand and production, looking at the responses of a global automakera radical startup and the oil industry itself. And make no mistake, it’s an uncertain future out there… unless you’re selling cars in the US. In that case, your future just arrived, planned all the way through 2025. That is, if you think this proposed rule will survive four presidential elections and one industry-government “mid-term review.” Want to familiarize yourself with this pre-planned fuel economy future? All 893 pages await your perusal, in PDF format here. Or, hit the jump for a few broad strokes.



So, what does this mean for specific classes of cars? According to an EPA factsheet (PDF here), this is how cars in the year 2025 will have to perform:How about trucks?

 Now that may seems scary, but you have to remember that these numbers are not comparable to the EPA’s “window sticker” numbers. For inexplicable reasons, probably having to do with the political benefits to both industry and politicians of making the number seem higher than it is, NHTSA’s CAFE fuel economy uses a different test than the EPA. Edmunds Autoobservercovered this issue well a few years back, but the upshot is that a 2025 full-size pickup will be required to get a window sticker of around 25 MPG combined, not 33 MPG. Still tough, but considering that full-sizers are getting over 20 MPG on the freeway already, this does not seem like a hill that can’t be climbed in a decade or so. Especially when you can slap a hybrid drivetrain in there and get a 20 grams of CO2 per mile credit.

Of course these standards will cost consumers. The EPA estimates that the proposed rule will add some $2,000 to the price of each vehicle on average, but insists

Those consumers who drive their MY 2025 vehicle for its entire lifetime will save, on average, $5200 to $66003 (7 and 3 percent discount rates, respectively) in fuel savings, for a net lifetime savings of $3000 to 44004 — assuming gasoline prices remain at essentially current levels.  For those consumers who purchase their new MY 2025 vehicle with cash, the discounted fuel savings will offset the higher vehicle cost in less than 4 years, and fuel savings will continue for as long as the consumer owns the vehicle.

Of course if gas prices aren’t kind enough to “remain at essentially current levels,” those fuel savings could be wiped out… but then, if gas prices rise too precipitously, this entire rule could become moot. The future is notoriously resistant to our mortal plans…

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62 MPG: The War Of The Letters Fri, 13 May 2011 19:13:50 +0000

The war of words over a possible 62 MPG 2025 CAFE standard is accelerating this week, as letters in support of the standard [sub] are vying with industry responses against the proposal for media attention. And though environmentalists are quick to point out the often-misunderstood difference between EPA and CAFE mileage ratings (a fact that even the industry-friendly Automotive News [sub] concedes, if only in a blog post], the industry’s response is miles away from any kind of compromise, saying

The alliance believes it is inappropriate to be promoting any specific fuel economy/greenhouse gas at this point

How’s that for some old-school, don’t-tread-on-me corporate attitude? No room for compromise, no sense of nuance… and yet, that doesn’t actually represent the industry’s position at all.

Toyota, a member of the AAM, has already publicly stated that it has no problem with any future CAFE standards. VP Jim Colon explains:

The administration is engaged. That’s the direction Toyota is already going. Whatever goal they establish, Toyota will be prepared to meet. If it’s 62 miles a gallon, we’ll be able to achieve that.

And, if anything, Toyota’s compliant attitude is the product of pressure from Hyundai, which recently took the industry-leading step of publishing its sales-weighted fleet average fuel economy on a monthly basis. Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik has been outspoken about his brand’s plan to “overcomply” with CAFE, pointing out that Hyundai’s Elantra will reach 50 MPG CAFE combined by its 2015 redesign, a good 10 years before the 62 MPG standard might take effect.

But despite the industry’s tough position and internal dissent, the AAM does bring up one strong argument in this war of words: that, whaerever it ends up, the standard

should not be arbitrary numbers, chosen before the necessary analyses are completed.

This accusation does stick to California’s Air Resource Board, which has insisted on a 62 MPG 2025 standard since long before feasibility studies were complete. At the same time, the accusation is fairly irrelevant at this point. The AAM has little credibility given the dissent in its ranks, as the industry is split on whether 62 MPG is reasonable and achievable, or a coming apocalypse. And as long as the anti-62 MPG faction fails to convince the rest of their industry to hold the line at (say) a 50 MPG standard, though, it’s probably doomed to fail.

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