Sunday, May 31, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 6-1-15

The Great Houston Flood of 2015:
I-45 North at North Main
(Photo Credit: AP)

In the Genesis account of the Great Flood, Noah opens the window of the ark after 40-days and nights, and dispatches a dove to look for land. The dove returns with an olive leaf, indicating something is above water.

Drivers in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio (and many places in between) may have been wishing for similar salvation over the past two weeks of heavy rains in Texas.  The Texas Water Development Board says state reservoirs went from being 73% full to 85% full, thanks to the Memorial Day Weekend deluge of about 8-million cubic feet of water flowing into state reservoirs.

"Scubaru" WRX
Some might have hoped for an amphibious vehicle to navigate flooded streets and highways. Enterprising Aussies sold a “Scubaru” WRX earlier this month in an online auction on  The car sold for $620.

A more conventional—and attractive—amphibious car is being produced by the Gibbs company. The British-built Aquada can achieve up to 30-mph on water, and has a top speed of 100mph on land. It’s powered by a 175hp V-6 engine.

Many automakers answered the call for help in Texas last week. Nissan made a $50,000 cash donation to the American Red Cross for relief efforts here, and RAM Truck and the FCA Foundation contributed $100,000 to the First Response Team of America for recovery and relief support in Central Texas. The FRTA uses a fleet of RAM Trucks to provide its services.

Chevrolet is spending $175-million to retool its Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant, and hiring 500-workers for a second shift to build the Gen-6 Camaro

Lansing, MI Mayor Virg Bernero quipped, “I may be the luckiest mayor in America today,” as GM announced full-scale production of the car. 
The City of Lansing, the UAW, and Chevrolet have enjoyed an extraordinary relationship for more than two decades. “We build the best car in the world, right here in Lansing,” he said.

Some of the facility improvements will include three new paint systems for Camaro’s unique colors, Summit White, Bright Yellow, and Red Hot. GM is also installing two robotic framers, which will allow better dimensional control, resulting in a more precise driving experience.

So many cliché’s, so little time. Apple and Volvo are two companies appealing to a similar audience. Nothing says “whitebread” like tooling around in your Volvo with anything-i: iPhone, iPod, iPad…and now the Apple Watch. 

In fact, the companies are collaborating on a remote control system whereby you can control your Volvo with your Apple Watch. IkidYouNot. Would that make this an iVolvo, or is that just too weird?

Volvo On Call will release a smart phone app for both Apple and Android users to lock or unlock their car, start it up and cool it down, and even check your fuel level. Volvo boasts the app will even help you locate your misplaced car in a crowded parking garage near the Apple Store.

2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid
What would happen if competing car makers had access to one anothers patents? Ford Motor Company is betting that sharing its electrified vehicle technology patents with other manufacturers could result in the accelerated development of those cars (no pun intended). 

Kevin Layden, Director of Ford’s Electrification Programs, says “Innovation is our goal.” Last year Ford filed more than 400-patents for electrified vehicle technologies—representing more than 20% of the total patents the company filed. The company is making available some of these technologies through AutoHarvest, which is a collaborative innovation and licensing marketplace. Ford is a founding member of the group.

Francis Jehl, Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison
inside reconstructed Menlo Park laboratory, Dearborn, Michigan
FoMoCo plans to hire 200 electrified vehicle engineers as the Ford Engineering Laboratory team moves into its new facilities this year, located on the site of Henry Ford’s first laboratories.

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