TTAC News Round-up: Volkswagen Sees a Savior, Goodyear Dreams of Spheres, and Toyota Shakes It Up

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

An American man will soon enjoy the task of making people love his controversial company again.

That, Goodyear’s been watching I, Robot, Toyota shatters its corporate structure, sentiment grows for better braking, and the feds say the airbag recall has gone far enough … after the break!

Volkswagen hires (they hope) Mr. Fix-It

It’s a promotion, but the job description is a tall order.

Volkswagen of America has selected a new U.S. sales chief, Automotive News reports, and his task will be to reverse both a sales decline and negotiate the company’s ongoing diesel emissions scandal.

Ronald Stach was plucked from Volkswagen’s South Central Region, where he served as director, and has been with the company for a decade.

It’s safe to say Stach will be attending some very long strategy meetings in the near future. Volkswagen sales in the U.S. fell a further 13 percent in February.

Goodyear gazes into the future

Your future car tire might be a round ball that isn’t attached to your car, Goodyear envisions.

The tire maker unveiled its spherical Eagle-360 concept tire this week, designed to cushion future autonomous vehicles while suspending the body of the car via magnetic levitation technology.

Each tire would propel itself via an electric motor, while the 3D printed rubber would contain all the needed tread variations to get your future ride through snow, rain, or apocalyptic battle between man and machines. Sensors would analyze the road surface ahead of the vehicle and pivot the wheel until the right tread design meets the road.

Judging by the attached video, parking might become so blissfully easy that we’ll all forget there still aren’t flying cars.

Toyota plays musical chairs

Toyota is busting up its corporate structure in a bid to stay on top, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Starting this April, the global sales leader will reorganize around different product classes to ensure an efficient, speedy development process.

Toyota sales have topped 10 million for the past two years. Given the size of its operation, a change was needed to keep things humming along.

The move comes just three years after Toyota’s last big shakeup, when it adopted a regional-based structure in 2013.

Putting the brakes on

Automakers are being cagey with promises to install automatic braking systems in their new vehicles, Newsday opines, and it might mean the time has come for the feds to intervene.

The call for government intervention comes after an Associated Press story detailed the many concessions being sought by automakers in talks with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The concessions include exempting five percent of the vehicle fleet from having to install the technology, and allowing the technology to reduce the vehicle’s forward speed by just five miles per hour in the event of an incident that triggers it.

Most automakers already have the technology, and studies show that it works well in reducing injuries and deaths. Should automatic braking become the new seat belts?

Bigger airbag recall won’t help

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pouring cold water on a U.S. senator’s call for a wider Takata airbag recall, says Automotive News.

Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida wants every suspect airbag recalled, even if they haven’t yet been deemed unsafe. The NHTSA said that doing so would only complicate the recall of airbags already known to be unsafe, and wouldn’t help public safety.

A total of 29 million Takata airbags have already been recalled due to the risk of explosion, with a further 70 to 90 million units suspected of being unsafe.

[Image: 2016 Volkswagen Passat, © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Myheadhertz Myheadhertz on Mar 03, 2016

    "Goodyear Dreams of Spheres" Darn! I thought this was going to be an article about Citroens.

  • VoGo VoGo on Mar 03, 2016

    Requiring automatic braking systems on new cars makes me nervous. My 2013 Accord has the warning that buzzes if the car thinks you are about to hit something. Many false positives, especially when you are going into a shaded valley, which it interprets as another vehicle. My concern is that if the car braked based on this data, I would get rear-ended by the car behind me, driven by someone who would be wondering why I braked for no reason.

    • See 2 previous
    • Orenwolf Orenwolf on Mar 04, 2016

      @Chicago Dude Very likely correct. Curmudgeons on this like like to point out how risk-adverse car manufacturers are. The fact that they are now offering these technologies across a wide array of brands suggests it has now reached an acceptable level of maturity for them.

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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
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