The Truth About Cars » Klayman The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +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 » Klayman Self-Driving Cars: Don’t Hold Your Breath Wed, 15 Aug 2012 14:16:23 +0000

Ben Klayman, Reuters’ Detroit-based crack car correspondent, wrote a very good feature on self-driving cars.  After interviewing many sources, he comes to the conclusion that “it’s been more than half a century since some of the first concept cars boasting self-driving features were presented to the world”  and that this probably will not change anytime soon. Even Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and the staunchest supporter of the technology cautiously says that “self-driving cars should in our lifetime become the predominant way.”

1956 Firebird II – had autopilot

The answers Klayman received from experts range from  “My mental model of trust in technology is a Windows blue screen of death. That’s how much faith I have in PCs and computer systems,” said by Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, to a despondent Bob Casey, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, who seems to have accepted that the driverless car is coming and who is already bemoaning the past when real cars were still driven by real people:

“Part of the fundamental attraction of automobiles has been the actual driving of them. If you do away with that, then it really becomes an appliance … a toaster, a washing machine.”


1959 Cadillac Cyclone – had autopilot

BMW (“We will always be the ultimate driving machine”) does not buy the story, GM is all for it: “Once we have a car that will never crash, why don’t we let it drive?”

For me, the best part is Ben Klayman’s  factbox.  He actually went through the painful exercise of actually reading the study KPMG and CAR had prepared last week. He summarized the study’s findings, which read like the driverless cars will be the answer to society’s ills, stopping short of curing cancer and the common cold:

Possible consequences expected from driverless car

The good:

  • Automakers cut weight from cars and trucks as crashless cars do not need to be made with as much reinforced steel or as many safety devices like airbags. That would lower vehicle costs, speed up vehicle development time and boost fuel efficiency.
  • Automated cars would drive in tighter packs because computers would control their speed and spacing. That would mean smaller roads were necessary and result in the elimination of shoulders and guardrails, leading to a significant reduction in the $75 billion spent annually on roads, highways and other infrastructure.
  • With computers controlling the cars, driving would be more efficient and thus faster, leading to less congestion on the roads. Fuel consumption would decline and companies that rely on just-in-time delivery could reduce inventories even further.
  • Automated cars also would allow for the elimination of traffic and road lights in many cases. That would slash energy use drastically.
  • Driverless cars would mean a change in the way drivers are insured, and could even end the need for car insurance.
  • Crashless cars would mean auto repair shops see fewer damaged cars, meaning they would need to shift their business model to serving the aftermarket needs of existing cars that lack autonomous driving systems.
  • Steelmakers would have to adjust to a world where cars use less of their product.
  • Less expensive, driverless cars would open ownership to new audiences like younger generations or even the blind, but they also could lead to wider vehicle sharing that would slash global sales.
  • If vehicle sharing expanded, cars could be summoned as needed and people could pay for mobility services as needed instead of owning a vehicle.
  • Autonomous transportation could eliminate the need for and cost of high-speed trains.
  • Vehicle sharing could keep vehicles in more constant use, reducing the need for parking lots that take up a lot of land in cities.

The depends  on which side you are on:

  • Hospitals would lose more than two million crash victims sent annually to U.S. emergency rooms.
  • State and local governments would have to adjust to the loss of traffic fines, possibly reducing their police forces. Governments might seek to replace some of that lost revenue; perhaps with infrastructure usage fees.

The bad:

  • Lighter, easier-to-build cars could open the auto industry to new rivals using a model like Apple’s, where a company designs and markets a product but outsources its construction.
  • A connected, driverless car network would require security from hackers and would raise privacy concerns with many consumers.

P.S.: In a TTAC reader poll, 69 percent of the respondents thought driverless cars will revolutionize the industry,  31 percent thought they won’t.

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GM CFO Makes Reuters Correspondent Want To Throw Up Thu, 19 Jul 2012 15:29:22 +0000 Former Wall Street banker turned GM CFO Dan Ammann put the fear of a higher being into Reuters’ Detroit correspondent Ben Klayman. To drive home the point that bean counters can be car guys too, Ammann raced his gray-metallic Corvette Z06 around GM’s Michigan test track – with a nauseated Klayman in the passenger’s seat.

“I almost threw up afterwards,” recounts Klayman. Klayman’s feature story about the CFO who wants it understood that he’s not one of the gray-suited “bean counters” who once dominated, and nearly destroyed, General Motors, is required reading.

And as long as he won’t throw up in the car, no harm done.

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Ms. Truck: Petite Woman Brings In Big Bucks At GM Mon, 25 Jun 2012 13:47:06 +0000

Some people say Obama saved GM from the abyss. Some people say GM sold its soul to the Chinese devil to cheat death. In truth, the future of General Motors rests on the shoulders of a 5-foot-2 woman by the name of Diana Tremblay. Writes Ben Klayman at Reuters:

“Global manufacturing chief Diana Tremblay is one of the highest-ranking women in the automotive industry. Throughout her 35-year career at GM, she has made her mark in what were regarded as male domains, from directing foundry workers to staring down union labor negotiators.

Now she faces an even more critical task for the world’s largest automaker – ensuring the smooth 2013 introduction of the remodeled full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, GM’s high-profile equivalent of a new Apple iPhone.

While executives at GM touted its strength in overseas markets like China after the Detroit company’s bankruptcy and $50 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout, it turns out the profit engine has instead been North America. And nothing is more important to that success than the second-quarter introduction next year of the big Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and related SUVs, which analysts say generate profits of $12,000 to $14,000 per vehicle. ”

GM’s new full-size trucks will debut in Q2 2013, and with a successful launch, Trucks could boost operating profit by over $1 billion in ’13 and ’14, analysts say.  60 percent of GM’s profits come from trucks. GM depends on the success of the new truck line, and on the petite Diana Tremblay. Read the rest of the story here.

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