Monday, July 20, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 7-20-15

And then there were 999…

production run of the first 1,000 new fourth-generation MX-5 Miata has already been reduced by one unit. “Steve” and his wife had just taken delivery of their brand-spanking-new Miata LE in Jacksonville, Florida when they were hit from behind by an F-150 Pickup truck, traveling at an estimated 50mph. The impact of the collision pushed the couple’s car forward into the rear of a Mazda 3.  They were less than a mile from the dealership.

Steve says every body panel on the MX-5 was altered in some way.  “[The] trunk is jammed, fenders and body parts are in contact with the wheels, and the body gaps around the doors have shifted, but the doors both still open.”

“We have to be thankful [to] the "higher powers" that be that we walked away from this,” Steve posted over the weekend. “It is also a testament to Mazda and their design and engineering team that the car did what it should do in so many ways and we literally walked away from what could have been a fatal in just slightly different circumstances,” he wrote.

The pictures tell the tale. “5000-lbs F-150, no brakes applied, closes on us at a 20-30 mph difference and punts us into a car in front of us at probably a 15-20 mph closing speed difference and we walk away!” says Steve. “Amazing........”

The insurance company is expected to total the car.
Despite the massive damage, he says, “the car still runs, but that's about it.
Steve is now looking for a clean, used 6-speed LE.

One of the fog lights on my 2007 MX-5 gave up the ghost last week. Hating to drive around at night with a burned out bulb, I replaced both lamps with a new set of LED lightbulbs, which should last until the next millennium.

Ford Motor Company is developing a new camera-based Advanced Front Lighting System that will widen the beam of lights at junctions and in curves—after memorizing routes and interpreting traffic signs.

“Many people who drive at night have had to quickly react to someone or something suddenly appearing in the road – as if from nowhere. Ford’s Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting System and Spot Lighting help ensure the driver is quickly alerted to people or animals that could present a danger,” says Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. Elements of the technology are already available in Ford vehicles, providing drivers with “improved visibility at roundabouts, stop, and give way or yield signs.” 

The system also uses GPS information to better illuminate bends and dips on a chosen route. Where GPS information is not available the technology uses a forward-facing video camera mounted in the rear-view mirror base to detect lane markings and predict the road’s curvature, using the information to illuminate the area more effectively. In a further evolutionary step, the camera stores the information in the navigation system, allowing the headlights to automatically adapt to the course of the road.

Spot Lighting – currently in the pre-development phase with Ford engineers in Europe – uses an infra-red camera in the front grille to simultaneously locate and track up to eight people and bigger animals, including larger dogs, at a range of up to 400-feet.

Ford already offers Dynamic LED Headlights which combines full-LED headlamps with Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System. The system adjusts the headlight beam angle and intensity to match the driving environment. I’m a big fan of Ford’s Glare-Free Highbeam technology, which detects vehicles ahead and fades out light that could dazzle oncoming drivers, while retaining maximum illumination for other areas. Apparently in Houston, many drivers are already blind, and normally drive around with their high-beams on at all times.
Thank you, Ford, for saving my retinas.

The next-generation Nissan Titan XD is on its way. The automaker has produced a series of videos highlighting the passion of truck owners, called the Nissan “Titan Truckumentary.” 

Chapter 7, “Truck Love,” was filmed in-part at the 8th Annual Texas Nissan Truck Meet, as well as the first public unveilings of the 2016 Titan XD earlier in the year in Southern California. 
The series, starring Dave Mazur, vice president of Market Intelligence, Nissan North America, also provides a look at current-generation Titan customers and an analysis of Nissan's market positioning for the next-generation Titan.
The U.S. Apollo Spaceflight Program inspired several generations of young Americans to enter math and science careers. Ford is continuing the legacy for an eighth consecutive year of producing aviation-inspired Mustang models to benefit youth education programs. The automaker has created a one-of-a-kind 2015 Ford Mustang Apollo Edition which will be sold at a charity auction this week (7/23) at the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Edsel B. Ford II is enthusiastic about the US space program—and the special-edition vehicles. “The Apollo program delivered astonishing innovations in technology and achieved a national goal of landing the first human on the moon,” he says. “The entire program was extraordinary – one of our nation’s greatest technological achievements.” 

Ford’s Apollo Edition salutes “that spirit of American ingenuity with the quintessential American automobile – Ford Mustang.”

Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt headed up the project. The exterior features a one-of-a-kind glossy pure white and pure black non-production paint scheme featuring a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, rocker moldings and accent treatments, along with unique LED underbody lighting to symbolize atmospheric re-entry.

Enhancements include a Ford Performance supercharger and shifter, X-pipe with side and rear exhaust, sport-tuned suspension, six-piston Brembo brakes and custom Forgiato 21-inch performance wheels. Betancourt says the Apollo Mustang “will deliver a heart-pounding 627 horsepower and 540 lb.-ft. of torque to provide an exhilarating, controlled launch for its new owner.”

Unique Ford vehicles have raised nearly $3 million for EAA youth aviation programs, including the Young Eagles group. Other unique vehicles that support EAA youth education programs are:

2008 Mustang AV8R, with cues from F-22 Raptor, which helped introduce the glass-roof canopy and delivered an auction contribution of $500,000

AV-X10 “Dearborn Doll” Mustang, crafted in honor of the World War II aircraft

– Two automotive icons – the late Carroll Shelby, former U.S. Air Force flight instructor, and Jack Roush, longtime P-51 pilot – collaborated for the first time to create the SR-71 Blackbird Mustang inspired by legendary reconnaissance jet

Blue Angels Mustang, created to celebrate 100 years of U.S. naval aviation

 2012Red Tails Mustang, to pay homage to Tuskegee Airmen – courageous squadron of P-51 Mustang pilots who were the United States’ first African American military airmen

2013U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition Mustang, built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team

F-35 Lightning Edition II Mustang, which featured design cues from the world’s most advanced multirole fighter jet – the F-35 Lightning

The Apollo Edition Mustang
will proudly be on display all week in the Ford hangar at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. To participate in the auction, prequalify by contacting the EAA development office, (800) 236-1025 or

GMC’s best-selling truck continues to perform on the road—and on General Motors’ sales ledges. Truck sales are coming off the best June since 2006, with 12 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains. GM says exterior styling is the top reason for purchases, and the new truck adds key design elements: LED “C-shaped” signature daytime running lights and LED headlights; new front fascia and grilles for each trim level; new LED fog lamps; new bumpers; and new “C-shaped” LED taillights.

The new Sierra will be available in the fourth quarter of this year, with additional details and information on the new model released in the coming months.

Are we destined for driverless cars? In his Weekend Essay, LinkedIn Executive Chairman and co-founder, Reid Hoffman, opines in the affirmative, pointing to Google’s impressive record over the past 6-years in its driverless fleet: Only 11-minor accidents—none caused by the pilotless cars—and no fatalities.

While Hoffman owns a Tesla-S, which he says purchased for its pure driving pleasure, he predicts networked, driverless transportation between two points will be the norm of the future. 

That future will take some time to assemble, with more than 2-billion “legacy cars” still on the road, and the automotive industry only able to produce/replace about 100-million units a year.  With those numbers in play, Hoffman’s driverless utopia would take about 20-years to become a reality.  

Say “it’ll never happen” until they pry your cold, dead hands off your steering wheel?
Hoffman reminds that our love of the open road, and driving upon it at will, is not a right, but a licensable privilege. What the Government giveth, the government can taketh away.

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