TTAC News Round-up: Ford's Ominous 'Cult of Disruption' Has Produced Some E-Abominations

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Are you an absolutely shameless individual who is sick to death of walking and loves gimmicks? Ford has you covered with an entry from what it has dubbed a “Cult of Disruption Innovation.”

That, there’s a certain popular Japanese vehicle built in Canada that won’t be going to Europe (thanks to the United States), Tesla is now inexplicably in the glass making business, and minivans are in danger of going seatless in the event of a supplier strike… after the break!

Ford employees introduce goofy e-vehicles and one good idea

Ford’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge resulted in 633 mostly terrible ideas being submitted by company employees. The best of the bunch was the “eChair,” an automated wheelchair that would stow itself once the driver was behind the wheel. And the absolute worst of the bunch was the Carr-E, a small Segway-like disc with a tiny face and taillights that Ford seems strangely proud of.

The competition is intended to help develop electric personal assistant devices to improve transit in places where vehicles are not permitted or practical. Carr-E’s inventor, Kilian Vas, is a Ford systems engineer based in Germany. “We really need to reinvent the wheel, to find new approaches to mobility,” said Vas. “When developing Carr-E, I was inspired by Ford’s expansion into both an auto and a mobility company, but I’m also aware of how rapidly cities are growing and how getting around urban areas will become more complicated. I really wanted to create a device that makes commuting easier and more fun.”

How much easier it is to cruise around a crowded sidewalk atop a white puck is up for debate. But, if you can get over the prodigious embarrassment, Carr-E could be a lot of fun. You can see it in action, not doing too much, in a YouTube video where Ford has disabled comments and feedback.

A more useful device may be the previously mentioned eChair. Developed by Gunther Cuypers, Robin Celis and David Longin from Ford’s Lommel proving grounds in Belgium, the eChair is a lightweight electric wheelchair with a self-loading solution designed to enable independence for people with limited physical mobility.

If Ford decides to run with anything from the Mobility Challenge — they likely won’t — let’s hope it’s that wheelchair and not another e-shtick designed for brazenly bored people.

Japanese vehicle built in Canada won’t go to Europe. Thanks, U.S.

Honda has decided against taking advantage of the newly signed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union to boost the number of vehicles it exports from Alliston, Ontario. Automotive News Canada reports that the company will instead focus on supplying the North American market through its Canadian operations.

“Due to greater-than-anticipated demand for the current generation CR-V and the 2016 Honda Civic within the North American region, Honda of Canada Mfg. is no longer planning to produce and export next generation European-spec CR-V units to that [European] market,” Honda Canada spokeswoman Laura Heasman said in statement.

The Ontario plant will also increase daily production to 850 units to fulfill the rising domestic demand.

The CR-V set a U.S. sales record in 2015 of 345,647 units and kept its crown as the best-selling SUV in the United States that year. Honda looks to surpass that this year, already selling 263,493 units through the end of September.

The Model 3 is going to feature “new” glass

Tesla has created its own glass technology group for preparation for its new solar roof, introduced to the public just few days ago. Electrek reports that the roof is slated to make its initial appearance on the much anticipated Model 3.

In a clarification call to analysts about what the company meant by new, CEO Elon Musk stated, “It is using a lot of techniques used in automotive glass business. In case it wasn’t obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group — with some really phenomenal people.”

One of those people will be Mike Pilliod, the new director of the Tesla Glass group. Pilliod was one of Apple’s top materials engineers and has been highly involved with the innovations surrounding devices that use glass screens — including the iPhone.

Minivans in danger if FCA supplier goes on strike

Unionized employees at Magna’s Windsor Integram Seating facility could go on strike Friday. Automotive News reports the strike deadline for workers, represented by Unifor Local 444, comes at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

Magna is the key supplier for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor Assembly Plant, and a strike could halt production of the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Caravan. Also going seatless in the event of a strike would be General Motors’ CAMI assembly plant in Ingersol, Ontario. The CAMI plant produces the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain.

James Stewart, Local 444’s first vice president, told Automotive News that FCA’s minivan plant could grind to a halt “within a couple hours” if seats stopped coming. “It could be relatively quick,” Stewart said. “Potentially, they could get through a shift. But these aren’t small parts. They’re seats and they’re sequenced.”

Of the Unifor members who voted two weeks ago, 99.2 percent were in favor of the strike action. Stewart says their concerns are primarily monetary. Integram Seating employees start at $17.33 an hour and use a 10-year salary grid that tops out at $24.76.

[Images: Ford, Honda, Tesla, FCA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 9 comments
  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Nov 03, 2016

    My niece told me she got a hoverboard for Christmas last year. Sounded pretty amazing to me. The future envisioned by Back to the Future 2 is finally here! Then she brought it out and it doesn't hover at all; it's on wheels. It's also slow and has limited range. It will be rendered obsolete when that generation discovers skateboards. The Carr-E looks to be another predecessor to the skateboard.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 05, 2016

    People in America already do not walk and spend whole day sitting behind wheel, then behind desk and finally in front of TV or laptop. Carr-E is a stupid idea to completely eliminate any chance of walking. I intentionally walk for about hour every day with only purpose to feel good in keep in shape. In Russia I used to walk a lot, certainly walking to and from work, but also to grocery store or riding bike for longer distances.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Defender looks way better than the Bronco in both 2-door and 4-door.
  • ToolGuy I found this particular episode to be incredibly offensive.I am shocked that eBay Motors is supporting this kind of language and attitudes in 2024.I will certainly keep this in mind next time I am choosing where to buy auto parts (I buy a LOT of auto parts).
  • SaulTigh When I was young in the late 80's one of my friends had the "cool dad." You know the guy, first to buy a Betamax and a C-band satellite dish. Couple of stand up arcade games in the den. Bought my friend an Atari 2600 as soon as they came out. He had two of these crap heaps. One that only ran half the time and one for parts in the yard. My middle school brain though he was the most awesome dad ever, buying us pizza and letting us watch R rated movies recorded on free HBO weekend. At the time I though he was much better than my boring father.Now with adult hindsight, I now know he was "dad who should have taken better care of his family" and not had so many toys.
  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.