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.

Listen to the Automotive Reporter Radio Show every weekend on, or from our webpage.

Monday, May 25, 2015

All Gave Some...Some Gave All

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a short speech on the field of battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was heartsick over the state of the union at that point, a country he described as a nation "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

What is now known as The Gettysburg Address was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield to “those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.” And he said, “It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” 

President Lincoln knew that no one living could truly accomplish that consecration. “…in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground,” he said. “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

And then Lincoln uttered one of the most profound paragraphs of his entire Presidency: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

This Memorial Day we remember: All gave some…some gave all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 5-25-15

“Gentlemen, start your engines.”
The 99th running of the Indy 500 Sunday gave the crowd its money’s worth. Pre-race pageantry, including the only logical replacement for Jim NaborsStraight No Chaser, singingBack Home Again in Indiana”—plus a little startus interruptus—the first few laps were run under the yellow flag after a three-car crash in the first half-mile of the race—add the usual mechanical demons, and a few more crashes for the complete spectacle that is The Indianapolis 500.

Juan Pablo Montoya jockeyed for the lead in the final five laps, despite a couple of scrapes earlier in the race. His right rear fender and rear wing assembly had to be replaced after being struck from behind by Silvera De Simona, and in Lap 40, he skidded into the pits and had to be backed up to his mark. That pit stop cost him over 12-seconds, which can be a race-losing margin. 

Montoya crossed the finish line 0.1046-second ahead of team mate, Will Power, to collect his second Indy win.

“This is pretty much un-fricking-believable,” he told ABC Sports. “This is what racing in IndyCar is all about. Racing down to the wire,” he said. And then he drank a quart of milk.

Actor Patrick Dempsey was the honorary starter for the race. NASCAR god Jeff Gordon drove the pace car, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Recent retiree David Letterman was honored by his Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan racing team with his likeness emblazoned along the side of Oriol Servia’s yellow #32 race car, with the hashtag, “#ThanksDave.” Servia was sidelined by an accident midway through the race, but team mate Graham Rahal finished in fifth place.
Not a bad way to spend your first weekend in retirement, Dave!

Inigo relation to Juan Pablo
The other race at Indy this year was between Honda and Chevrolet. Half the engines whirring around the track at over 200-mph were built by Honda’s Santa Clarita skunk works. The rest of them were Chevy’s. 

Both companies spend millions to provide the engines for IndyCar that must run 2,500-miles with no more than normal service and maintenance.
For race cars. 

Still… the bragging rights are incalculable. Think about that the next time you consider a new car purchase from one of the companies that builds the engines in those spectacular race cars.
I’m impressed.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic muscle car auction achieved over $42-million in sales of over 900 vehicles. Don Davis’ 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster set the high water mark, selling for $1-million. 

The second-highest price was paid for a 1971 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta.
“The Spring Classic auction brought consignments from 36 states this year and buyers from all over the world increasing sales by more than $2 million over last year,” Mecum said.

What’s your favorite Chevrolet Corvette color? Torch Red, Gray Metallic, and Laguna Blue Tintcoat are among the most popular on the new and improved ‘Vette’s. 

A $439-million investment into Chevy’s Bowling Green, KY assembly plant will include a new paint shop that’s nearly half the size of the original production facility. Corvette is now the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car—at 62-years.

So, it’s rained every day for the past two weeks where I live. Some parts of the Texas Hill Country remain waterlogged, and there’s more rain on the way this week. I need to go wash my car in time for the next rinse cycle.

Listen to the Automotive Reporter Radio Show every weekend on, or from our webpage.