Tag Archives: Industry

Driverless Vehicles and Urban Travel

That’s right you read it correctly. Within 10 to 20 years we will all see the advent of autonomous vehicles and urban travel while the driver does a number of things other than operate that car. It may not be quite as slick as the fictional film versions of the 50’s depicting miles and miles of bubble topped cars transporting thousands of smiling families but they will exist. The assisted parking cars are available now for purchase. With cameras and 4 directional wheels they easily parallel park themselves with just a little assistance from the driver. Computers and GPS systems will pop our current thoughts of motoring off the charts soon.

City congestion present problems because there is just too much interference for everything to work properly. Traveling to the city for work and play is where you’ll find autonomous vehicles and urban travel commanding less of your attention. You’ll be able to set your coordinates, choose the route you wish to take perhaps for scenic pleasure, set back and relax. Sensors will know the speed limits, surrounding vehicles and path obstructions. Of course unlike those fun 50’s families playing board games in swivel seats you’ll still be belted in to safely arrive. Your car may still have to slam on the brakes for the animal or vehicle that strays into your lane. Unlike a human however, it is hoped the cameras and computers will be able to make faster snap decisions as to which ditch to gently fly into with as little damage as possible.

Henry Ford wanted to be able to help people down the road as a group in a covered motored coach. While he accomplished that the next few generations brought us windows, heaters and air conditioning, cushioning suspension systems and optional diesel motors. It is hoped the electric vehicle will one day go beyond 30 to 50 miles on a charge relinquishing our need of petrol. While the combination gas and electric hybrid vehicles spew far less emissions into the air we need to breathe, their foot print does still exist. It is hoped Quick Charge stations will start to appear where you can also “exchange” low cost electric vehicles people will share with many of a group. The car you climb into will be fully charged for the next 50 miles and cleaned by an attendant just for you.

Hyundai Sales Making News

October was a good month, Fall arrived, leaves started falling, and Hyundai proudly reported an increase in sales of almost 40%.  Worthy reason to celebrate, but not for Hyundai, who plans on increasing all of 2011 sales by at least 14%.  We’re talking a massive increase projection, for an entire year!

So how did Hyundai increase sales successfully?  Reportedly the 2011 Sonata is what drove sales figures higher and made car salesmen happy on pay day.

Hyundai hopes to sell 3.8 million cars in 2011, an amazing figure for the 5th largest car maker in the world.  Obviously the Sonata sedan will help, but what about Hyundai’s other line up of vehicles and there latest jump into the luxury market with the Hyundai Equus?

No doubt it will take a diverse line up of vehicles, that Hyundai has committed themselves to providing.  Whether it’s small fries like the Accent or the performance of the Genesis, Hyundai hopes to have you covered.  Perhaps we’ll take a look at their concept cars in a future post as well, some very exciting things happening, like the Veloster.

Cash For Clunkers Future

By now everyone has heard of the Cash For Clunkers program by the US Government.  It’s the program where the government (see tax payers dollars) gives large incentives to consumers looking to buy a new fuel efficient vehicle.  It breaks down by allowing a higher dollar amount, up to a max of $4,500, for buying a vehicle that gets over 10 more mpg than the vehicle you are trading in.

cash-for-clunkersIt’s a program that has proved very successful on paper, so much so they have even extended the program by an additional $2 billion.  However, such a program can’t last forever, which got me asking a few questions.

First question, will future buyers be waiting around for government assistance before they buy their next vehicle?  That is to say, once this incentive ends will the sales dry up until the next government intervention or will dealerships be capable of staying afloat on their own?  I’m on the mind that sales will again tank, more dealerships will close, and consumers will hold on to their money again until the next incentive.

Similar consumer buying habits changed back in the mid 90’s when 0% financing was first introduced.  It created a flux of buyers looking to capitalize.  However, once dealerships tried to end the special promotion the sales ended as well.  Just to keep the status quo, dealerships have had to continue that special promotion to some extent to maintain sales.  Are we going down this road again?

Ford Posts $2.3 Billion Profit

Ford BOGO

So Ford posts a $2.3 billion dollar profit today for the 2nd quarter of 2009 and already the official industry experts are chiming in.  I already have  a view point on why Ford managed to get in the black for the second quarter and it has nothing to do with vehicle offerings.  That’s right, I don’t think hybrids and fuel economy had anything to do with the recent numbers published by Ford.

In my opinion Ford manged to turn $2.3 billion in profit because they received the support of the American consumer.  The regular Joe blows saw that this corporation was not taking a hand out and decided to show their support through their wallets.  The American consumer, when faced with countless options on car lots, decided to choose a Ford vehicle over GM, Chrysler, or Toyota.  It’s a sign that the majority of Americans don’t support the bail out plans in Washington.

Another driving force in sales will be whether or not the vehicle you buy now will be supported 5 or more years from now.  If you have a major component go out on your car after the warranty has expired, will parts be radically expensive, or supported by the manufacturer.  Vehicles that are discontinued generally see higher replacement parts in generic and OEM form, why put yourself in that kind of a position.

I thoroughly realize that $2.3 billion in profits is a far cry from where a company this size needs to be, especially to keep the stock holders happy.  However, in this economic environment every ray of sunshine helps to swallow the negative news around every corner.  It’s a move in the right direction and I hope Ford can prove themselves again next quarter and the American people continue to voice their opinions with their wallets.

Why Toyota Wants GM To Succeed

World markets are a tricky thing and staying in the customers good graces can be a balancing act.  That’s why, at least vocally, Toyota hopes that GM will succeed and are constantly sending good wishes their way.  But why would a competitor, in a ever growing cut-throat market, want it’s biggest competitor to succeed?

Let’s look at history, even a few short decades ago.  In the 80’s and before there was huge hatred toward the foreign market.  The perceived quality of foreign vehicles had not yet been established, so Toyota like other brands were just trying to prove themselves.  Another challenge they were trying to overcome was the general publics patriotism, the hope, and want for an American company to dominate the industry.

How far have we come?  Obviously Toyota took over GM as the largest car manufacturer in the world, owed largely to it’s ever increasing US market share.  So what does Toyota risk, if they don’t actively support it’s domestic competitors?  In a sensitive market, walking on egg shells may be the only thing that keeps Toyota from slipping back into the early 80’s in the eyes of American car buyers.

Consider the devastation to Toyota domestically if the American people decide to rally against foreign competitors and strongly support their domestic car manufacturers again.  Potentially, all the work Toyota had done to generate brand quality would be destroyed.  I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but there is a reason the owl wants the rabbits to mate.