By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- November 19, 2015 -- Interesting and unusual highlights from the past week:
- From the realm of science fiction: Some speculate the roads of the future could provide the electricity to keep the electric motor in your car running. As a media report this week puts it, “we have inductive charging for our phones,” so why not for electric vehicles and the road network? There are already experiments with buses charged through “induction loops” at bus stops. Rolls Royce has proposed inductive charging systems in the owner's garage. Maybe the entire highway system could be set up this way? Whatever the case, the future is arriving right on time. The only question: Would control of this technology be located in the device, that is, in the car, or in the infrastructure? The concern for some is that if the control of the mechanism is through the infrastructure the control of movement goes to the state, not the driver.
- It is apparently one of the rarer minerals on the face of the earth, Fordite, or Detroit Agate. It is a hardened multi-coloured mineral made up of many layers of paint slag that has hardened and been “baked” time and again in a paint shop. It is found on tracks and skids on machines used to roll auto bodies into paint rooms in auto factories. It can be cut and polished just like a mineral, and can have up to 100 distinct layers. It's worth noting that current OE paint processes don't work the same way, so Fordite isn't formed. However, we have to wonder if an enterprising painter couldn't create some on purpose.
- Who's the stranger? A California man ended up in jail after breaking into an auto body shop and falling asleep in a vehicle. Police were called and arrested the convicted felon, who had a rifle with him.
- Apparently the Canadian Engineering Centre run by General Motors has a new “connected car mandate.” The facility was built in the 1980s to adapt products to meet Canadian regulations. Since then it has formed partnerships with sophisticated institutions like the University of Waterloo and researches lightweight materials including carbon fibre exterior trim parts. The centre also had a hand in adapting Android Auto and Apple Car Play for GM products. Now, apparently, it'll be a seat of automated vehicle development in Canada.
- GM is getting set to launch a new "super cruise" control that will allow hands off driving on highways. That's coming in 2016/17. Collision repair managers be aware: GM indicates the company expects the number of sensors in cars to double from some 200 that are common today.
- The so-called emissions “gap” will drive the adoption of hybrids according to experts. Collision Repair magazine has reported on the widening gap between what automakers claim cars achieve in mileage and what the vehicles actually achieve. Some argue mileage increases that can be squeezed from current engines have hit a technological limit. This is the reason for the widening gap between reported mileage and actual mileage—it's becoming hard to increase mileage with current technology. As a result, in the years to come car manufacturers will increasingly have to adopt hybrid engine solutions, making “electromobility” unavoidable according to experts.
- Automated cars will be adopted much earlier in relatively “wide open” places like Scandinavia. More densely packed regions of the world like India and Indonesia will pose more of a challengers for AV adoption say some.
- The co-founder of ride sharing app Lyft (a competitor to Uber) says it's time to begin to reshape cities around people, not cars. John Zimmer is the co-founder of the company. He was speaking at the Connected Car Expo (part of the Los Angeles car show opening this week). He said possibilities for urban design that “didn't seem possible ten years ago” are emerging. Younger generations don't feel the same need to own a car as older generations. This is going to allow a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to redesign cities. Zimmer also said recent record monthly US auto sales are a “short-term blip” on an otherwise downward trend. Millennials don't want to own an asset they use “only 4 percent of the time.” The Ford family is an investor in Lyft, so perhaps he's on to something. Ford, of course, is increasingly calling itself a “mobility company” and has 25 different mobility projects on the go. The Los Angeles Auto Show opened November 20 and ends November 29.
- Some exotic cars scheduled to be unveiled in Los Angeles this week include the Audi RS 7 Performance model, Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque convertible and Mercedes-Benz’ SL Roadster and GLS full-size SUV.
- Is California becoming the new home of the auto industry? Tesla Motors' Palo Alto headquarters is within walking distance of Ford Motor Co's new Silicon Valley facility. That new office is across the street from Hewlett-Packard, the quintessential Silicon Valley firm. A team of 100 Ford techs now report to a former Apple engineer at the valley office. Motown Records famously relocated from Detroit to California in the 1970s. Is the auto industry finally doing the same? Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and parts makers Continental, Delphi and Denso have also set up operations in Silicon Valley.
-Have you seen these two? A video shows how easy it is to lose $200,000 in gear by not maintaining a secure auto-body shop: http://mynewsla.com/crime/2015/11/17/have-you-seen-these-men-theyre-suspected-of-stealing-200k-worth-from-auto-body-shop/
-Car sales may be at record levels in Canada, but in Alberta sales have fallen off a cliff. Sales in every other province in Canada increases in September. In Alberta numbers plunged. Sales in the Wild Rose province were off 13.5%. Nationwide sales were up seven per cent.
-What will your self-driving car look like? Volvo has an idea. The company unveiled what it calls the Concept 26. The phrase is derived from the fact that the average daily commute to work is 26 minutes. According to Volvo this is time that could be spent “doing something more meaningful than sitting in stop-go traffic.” According to a company spokesperson, “Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music.” The quote is from Robin Page, vice president of Interior Design at Volvo Cars. According to the press release, Concept 26 is based around an “all-new patented seat design that actively cradles the driver during the transformation phase into one of the three modes: Drive, Create or Relax. With these three modes the concept creates a new autonomous drive innovation platform that can adapt to new needs and technologies over time.” When the driver wishes to delegate driving to the car the steering wheel retracts, the seat reclines and a large display emerges from the dashboard allowing the driver to enjoy the time spent in the car as they like. There is a video in this multimedia news release that demonstrates the concept. For the video click here:http://www.multivu.com/players/uk/7694951-volvo-cars-unveils-concept-26/