Friday Fun: Boyd’s heavy trades, Domino’s mobile ovens and bursting the hype bubble on AVs

Domino's Mobile Pizza Oven, ready to roll.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — October 29, 2015 — Collision repair industry news from the week that was: 

– Boyd Group had to issue an official press release in response to very heavy trading in its stock. Stock market rules require a company to issue such statements if there is large, unexplained volatility in a stock’s trading pattern. On Tuesday, October 27, Boyd opened at $66. But through the day someone began selling huge amounts of Boyd stock. Trading volume was way up. The price of Boyd units fell to just $57 by the afternoon of the following day. Who was selling a huge stake in the company? Who knows? Boyd released a press notice stating the company had no material information to share that might explain the heavy trading. 

– Domino’s is taking pizza delivery to insane new levels. The company announced this week it is introducing a fleet of delivery vehicles that come equipped with ovens. The company said this would ensure that pizza arrives fresh. Presumably these are not going to be wood burning pizza ovens. No word on what the repair procedures are for firebrick. 

– Tired of all the hype around automated vehicles? Yoichi Sugimoto, the AV expert at Honda, has your back. At the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show he worked to quell the hysteria around AVs when he said that driverless cars are “still more than a decade away” and that it will be “at least” 2030 before a car can completely drive itself. He should know. The company he works for has been said to be working on autonomous technology for almost 30 years. “Today we cannot say the actual timeline for fully automated driving,” Sugimoto was quoted as saying. “Personally I think it’s not before 2030.”

– On the other hand, Nissan announced that it has begun on-road tests of a prototype vehicle
that uses what the company is calling, “Vehicle Intelligence.” The company is developing an advanced form of vehicle intelligence called “Nissan Intelligent Driving.” Stage One of this project will see Nissan offer “Piloted Drive 1.0” by the end of 2016 in Japan. This will allow for autonomous driving under heavy highway traffic conditions. By 2018, the company hopes to release “multiple lane piloted drive.” This will not include lane changes on highways. But Nissan says that by 2020 a new technology will be introduced that allows vehicles to successfully manage city/urban roads-including intersections-autonomously.

The prototype vehicle debuted this week is a Nissan LEAF equipped with a “millimeter wave radar, laser scanners, cameras, high-speed computer chips, and a specialized HMI (Human Machine Interface).” This vehicle is a part of a corporate vision at Nissan that targets the creation of a sustainable mobile society. The two key guiding principals of this corporate policy is “Zero Emission” and “Zero Fatality.”

– The US Copyright Office issued guidelines this week concerning connected cars. To wit, owners have the right to hack their own vehicles. Car owners and security experts can manipulate and rewrite software in vehicles without breaking US copyright law. Copying the code and selling it would be illegal. But simply rewriting it is not a breach of copyright. The Environmental Protection Agency had come out against the rules. The EPA is concerned owners have been altering software to increase engine performance and boost engine power. The modifications can increase emissions resulting in vehicles that violate the Clean Air Act.

– Analysts suggest the diesel emissions scandal could drive the adoption of the electric car market, which is evolving rapidly. Volvo has announced plug-in hybrids will be introduced across its entire product line. The Swedish car company expects electrified vehicles to account for to 10 per cent of total car sales over the next five to seven years. The city of Montreal will install 106 electric-car charging stations at on-street parking spots by next spring. The plan is to install 1,000 charging stations by 2020. This would be the first Canadian city with an electric-car charging network. There will be two types of stations. The 240-volt station will cost $1 an hour to charge (plus the parking fee). Larger 400-volt stations will cost $10 an hour. Montreal already has two charging stations. Each has been used 60 to 75 times a month.

Since the scandal broke $200 billion (USD) has been wiped off the value of publicly-owned car companies. That is an amount equal to the market value of Toyota.

– At the Tokyo Motor Show this week: Honda is introducing a car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The car is considered a serious advance in this area for a couple reasons. It can go more than 400 miles between three-minute hydrogen fillings. The fuel cell (the engine) is one-tenth the cost of previous versions. It also fits into the space taken up by a typical V-6 engine. It goes on sale in the spring of 2016. There are a couple of companies in North American installing hydrogen stations, mainly in California and the Northeast. Hydrogen fuel cells are often considered green because the exhaust is H2O, but it’s worth noting that we don’t have hydrogen kicking around in massive amounts. It’s locked up in other things, like water or natural gas. Getting it out takes considerable power, which may end up causing more emissions. 

– The Dubai auto industry is working to keep cars real. The Persian Gulf city state will soon produce the Zarooq Sand Racer, a car specially designed for the desert terrain of the United Arab Emirates (of which Dubai is a part). “Just like the zarooq, the fastest snake in Arabia, our car’s home will be the desert,” said one of the company’s executives. The Zarooq will weigh only 950 kilograms, but its 3.5-litre V6 engine will produce 300 horsepower, and can be reliably tuned for 500hp.

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