Boy, when it rains, it pours for the auto industry. Lots of bad news came out this week.
In Alphabetical Order, here is what we know so far:
Aston Martin—even the likes of 007 James Bond might not be able to salvage this ailing British automaker.
Ford—Second quarter profit dropped 86 percent worldwide as restructuring in Europe and South America took a toll. Right before this devastating announcement, Ford announced that it plans to invest $50 million more into a Chicago Assembly Plant and will hire an additional 450 workers. This is the same plant that built the Model T way back when.
Nissan—after a 99 percent nose dive in the second quarter, the company announced it would be laying off 12,500 workers worldwide. Before this news came out though, Nissan announced that its new revised ProPilot 2.0 has advanced to the level of hands off driving (for at least some of the time). ProPilot is an Advanced Driver Assist System or ADAS and had already featured Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering. 2.0. Now ProPilot 2.0 will feature facial recognition software and a significant upgrade of camera and sensors with a new 3D mapping navigation feature only available in Japan. This fall, the Nissan Skyline (Infiniti Q50) will feature a Driver Monitoring System or DMS that tracks driver eye movement for alertness.
Tesla—Struggling to prove that an all-electric car is viable in the marketplace, Tesla lost $408 million in the second quarter, and its stock plummeted again…down already 20 percent this year.
The only winner in the second quarter race seemed to be Volkswagen which posted a 30 percent rise in operating profit. Its stock recently rose two percent. VW began selling higher-margin sports utility vehicles, which is the cause for the increase apparently.
Even though General Motors did not post a quarterly report, the automaker did have other news. Officials from its autonomous car subsidiary Cruise announced that it would not be rolling out any self-driving cars this year because they need further testing. Cruise chief executive Dan Ammann wrote in a blog post, “Delivering self-driving cars at scale isn’t about winning the tech race; it’s about winning the tech race and the trust race.” Better indeed to be safe than sorry!
In other Auto Tech News from last Week
Ward’s Auto had a current overview for 2019 called Whole Lotta Shaking Going on in the Auto Industry which is worth a read.
Microsoft founder/billionaire/philanthropist asked a most excellent question last week: Why bet AI’s future on self-driving cars? Even better question—why are we rushing headlong into driverless cars when we can’t even build safely the ones we have right now. Automakers announced mega auto recalls this week with yet another request for motorists to check their vehicles for the granddaddy recall of all time that traverses across models over Takata airbags.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA indicated this past week that department officials are now reviewing complaints of faulty Ford transmissions. Earlier in the week, the automaker told US dealers that they must repair these small-car transmissions for free. According to a Detroit Free Press investigation, Ford knew all along that it was selling Fiesta and Focus models with faulty transmissions.
- Nissan recalled over 91,000 Titan pickups over an electrical short that could cause engines to stall. The trucks were built from 2017-2019.
- Volvo recalled just over half a billion (507,000) vehicles worldwide due to a faulty engine component that, in extreme cases, could cause a fire. This recall is for models built between 2014 and 2019 and has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine.
German automaker Daimler and its partner Bosch have been working on parking assist technology since 1995. They recently announced that very soon, visitors to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart will be able to utilize driverless parking. Wired.com has the details.
Hard to believe somehow, but Facebook plans to work in the open source community by opening its Map with AI service to the OpenStreetMap project. It intends to release RapiD, an AI version of the OpenStreet Map editing tool iD. The goal is to map millions of miles in countries that have not yet been mapped digitally.
The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative or MOBI has recently created the first standards for using blockchain tech in a digital vehicle identification system or VID. VID standards will assist with decentralizing and advancing the use of Mobility as a Service or MaaS concepts. The first blockchain VID standard focuses on the ‘birth’ of the vehicle as a representation of its creation. Next phase will incorporate additional product information, ownership, and repair history, which will be encapsulated into a master record of key-events and data history in the vehicle’s lifecycle. MOBI is a nonprofit global foundation formed to accelerate the adoption and promotion of blockchain standards for the benefit of future smart cities and MaaS industries.
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