By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- November 12, 2015 -- This week's update includes a deer who visited a collision centre, unusually high rodent damage claims in Manitoba and Ford's Executive Chairman saying "We put can't our heads in the sand" regarding the series of revolutions he sees in the auto industry's near future.
- A collision repair facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan was paid a visit by a 13-point buck. The CARSTAR location posted pictures of the animal, which walked up the main street and then hung around in the collision centre. An Associated Press report of the visit noted the buck ran around the shop until it could be 'corralled' by employees. It was odd the shop was visited by an animal that is the cause of much of the work that goes on there around this time of the year. Collisions with deer are especially common in rural Michigan in the fall. Animal control officers eventually arrived and tranquilized the animal and took it away.
- Manitoba Public Insurance has issued a curious warning. According to statistics collected by the organization, the number of cars reporting damage from rodents is rising in the province. As recently as 2012 there were just 1,546 rodent claims in the province. Of those claims, 679 vehicles were written off at a cost of $6.5 million. But last year the number of claims related to rodent damage spiked to 2,600. A total of 973 vehicles were written off at a cost of $10.6 million. Why the increase now? A press report from the province suggested the spike had something to do with more people eating in their car, which seems an odd explanation. People have been eating in cars since they were invented. MPI suggested the increase in rodent claims may be because of heightened customer awareness of the coverage provided by MPI in these cases.
- Scotiabank’s latest Global Auto Report confirms that times are good times in the auto industry: “Purchases in the US jumped 14 percent year-over-year last month to a higher-than-expected annual rate of 18.1 million units—the second consecutive month above 18 million units,” the report said. “The September/October results represent the best back-to-back monthly performance since early 2000, when the global economy was still in the midst of the ‘tech boom.’” Crossover utility vehicles led the way, surging 32 percent above a year earlier and garnering a record 31 percent of the US passenger vehicle market.
- Tesla Motors recently introduced a new feature on certain models with an over-the-air software update that installed an “Autopilot” mode. That new mode uses the cameras, sensors and GPS on the cars to enable drivers to changes lanes on command and without steering. The bad news? Some drivers are said to be abusing the feature. Two Americans recently admitted they drove a Tesla on "Autopilot" across the US in two days. They said the Autopilot function worked fairly well, but not always perfectly, and that led to some dangerous moments on the road. In response Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quoted as saying that, “We tell drivers to keep their hands on the wheel just in case, to exercise caution in the beginning.”
- Toyota announced the establishment of a new company, Toyota Research Institute, as an R&D enterprise focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics. The new company will be located in Silicon Valley. There will be a second facility near MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts.
- Speaking in Dublin, Ireland this week Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said he believes the industry is at the "threshold of a series of revolutions." He said the company needed to become a provider of “mobility solutions.” He was quoted as saying that the car industry of the future will be a very different place than it has been. “It’ll be a very different world. We can’t put our heads in the sand and say, 'Gee, we wish this was 1965 again,; when we just had to have a good sound system and a convertible and everyone was happy ... We need to completely rethink our business model, really redefine ourselves from a car and truck company to a mobility company.”