Nissan’s new car cleans itself

BY GERRY MILES

If I owned a car wash, I might not think that Nissan’s ability to develop a car’s paint that essentially renders it self-cleaning like a cat constantly slathering its own saliva on its fur to be a good thing.

But if you like technology and its advances, it could be cool.

Watch the video by clicking here.

Nissan notes it’s the first to apply the technology, called Ultra-Ever Dry®, on automotive bodywork. By creating a protective layer of air between the paint and environment, it effectively stops standing water and road spray from creating dirty marks on the car’s surface. So whereby air in the paint system used to be a bad thing with bubbles, until now in a properly controlled environ where in a different paradigm it can repel dirt.

Nissan in Europe has begun tests on innovative paint technology that repels mud, rain and everyday dirt. Thus, drivers may – except those in Vermont who have to deal with Mud Season (and yes, it is its own season before spring) — may never have to clean their car again.

The specially engineered super-hydrophobic and oleophobic paint, which repels water and oils, has been applied to the all-new European market Nissan Note to create the world’s first self-cleaning car.

So far, the coating, which is being marketed and sold by UltraTech International Inc®, has responded well to common use cases including rain, spray, frost, sleet and standing water.

“The Nissan Note has been carefully engineered to take the stress out of customer driving, and Nissan’s engineers are constantly thinking of new ways to make families’ lives easier,” said Geraldine Ingham, Chief Marketing Manager for Nissan Note. “We are committed to addressing everyday problems our customers face and will always consider testing exciting, cutting edge technology like this incredible coating application.”

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What is VW thinking? Phaeton may come back to US market, no more US plants.

BY GERRY MILES

An interesting piece of PR mail landed in the in-box just now. VW, wait for it, MAY bring back the Phaeton to the US market later on this decade. Yup, this decade, like 2018. After being roundly excoriated for such an opulent non-plussed expensive sedan produced from the firm that originally built “the people’s car” and sagging sales, it went quickly into the dark night.

Part of it has resurfaced, its huge engine sits under the bonnet of most Bentleys in what a friend calls Bentwagens, and another unprintable term for the unwieldy combination of a British-German car given past World War history and all, but as he is won’t to say, no one listens to him.

Volkswagen Group of America President/CEO Michael Horn told Bloomberg’s Matt Miller at the NY Auto Show that they won’t build any more plants in the USA, the Phaeton is slated for a comeback and small market pickup trucks aren’t likely. The excerpts are below but you can watch the interview if you click on the link here.

Highlights:

On whether bringing a German back to run VW Americas is a sign that VW America need to get more efficient and more organized:

“No, not at all.  I think it is more a sign that we need to connect closer from the American market to the German market.  And since I know the German company for more than 20 years, I think I’m very — I have a lot of value added to explain the American demand to the American customers to our German entity.  And I this is the most important reason for them to bring me over here.”

On his plans for VW America:

“Well, first of all, we will be very close to the dealer network.  That is very important.  If you look at the NADA results last year, and most probably also winter, which will be published pretty soon, the dealers are not happy because they do not earn enough money.  And then they send a great distance to the company, both in Hern (ph) and in Wolfsburg.  And so we have been working very hard with dealer council and the dealers to get this reconnection and lots of different things on the bonus programs on tier 2 marketing, on service loaner cars.  And our overall approach to talk together again as partners.  This is very important to get the dealers engaged.”

“And the second big thing is product.  And we start with the Golf and with the Jetta.  Next year is the Passat.  It will be a new Passat, maybe even all new.  So we have to see on whether this is possible. And then we’re going to see the next step when the two SUVs are coming, the Passat SUV and the compact SUV.  So we’re working very hard not only on bringing cars to the market, but with all the accessible features, what we talked about, all the exterior designs, and to go from there.”

On whether he is aiming to make VW more of a luxury brand in North America:

“No, not at all.  My experience is more than 20 years with the brand Volkswagen, and I had a short time, two or three years, introducing the Phaeton and the Touareg, which was an interesting experience.  Very good experience, but I am a people’s car guy. As I come from Golf, I come from Jetta to the top and so we definitely don’t want to position the brand upwards, but we want to make it even more mainstream and to conquer volume.”

On whether he is looking to bring the Golf and Jetta into the North America mix more:

Jetta is our best selling car.  So we sell roughly 150,000 Jettas in the U.S., 120,000 Passats.  And the Jetta is very important because it’s a long-term big seller here for us.  And so for us, it is very important now to continue our value story because we refreshed the Jetta from the outside.  It’s going to be very good-looking, very nice, more sporty and more dynamic because we lowered, we widened it.  The interior is eased up quite a bit.  We seat tubes inside and we will have the value story on the Jetta.  So we moved the acceptable, high-premium features like rearview cameras, like all the collision warning systems, we moved them down to make it more accessible.  We don’t talk about pricing yet, but it will not just look nice, and will be totally renovated also in terms of technology.  We have new engines, a new diesel engine, V8, 288 and the 1.8 turbo, which you know.  But they will be more fuel efficient, 10 percent, roughly, highway miles per gallon, average miles per gallon.”

On what Americans want:

“The Americans pretty much want to have everything starting from the base.  You want it all and you want to have great and nice-looking cars also from the base, so not differentiate too much the lines from the outside small chrome, small price, pick from the price.  And that is what we are working at.  And you would see this also with a Jetta.”

On whether the Chattanooga factory is making cares for the rest of North America: “Yes.  And we even export cars to Korea. So it is a North American car and the car gets being exported to some of the Asian markets, not to China.”

On whether there are any plans to build more factories in the U.S.:

No, I think that from this location, it is pretty much set up what we have in Mexico, what we have in Chattanooga and then we have more opportunity to grow the business there.”

On whether the Phaeton is coming back to the U.S.:

“Yes we plan to bring it back somewhere in 2018, 2019”

On whether VW will sell pickup trucks in the U.S.:

“No, it’s the emerald.  We built this in Argentina.  I checked one of our plants over there.  And even in Hanover, but it’s very small.  It is much smaller than the F-150.  And the technology and the engineering is a little bit too expensive from our point of view for the U.S. markets.  So if we would want to – if the SUV market, SUV segment here – we would really need to do something different.”

Bill Ford answers questions on Mustang, F-150, Mulalley

BY GERRY MILES

There’s some interesting news out of New York with Ford and its chairman, Bill Ford, spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Matt Miller about the new Mustang and F-150.

Below follows some parsed remarks on several tops for a quick hit and here’s a link that will take you to the interview, courtesy of Bloomberg TV.

Ford on various subjects:

“Our [European] sales are getting better each quarter,” said Ford. “And we — you know, I’m feeling quite good about Europe. We still have a ways to go but we are definitely in a better situation today than we were a year ago.”

On the succession plan at Ford, he said “One of the things that Alan and I have talked about really since he hired in is how important it is for a great CEO to also have a great transition…the final act of a great CEO is having a great transition.” He declined to say if Mark Fields would succeed Mulally.

Bill Ford on the debut of the special edition 50th anniversary Mustang:

“We cut it into five pieces, reassembled it at the top of the Empire State Building and had a great reveal this morning. And the reason we did that is we did that in 1964, with the original Mustang. So we thought to re-create it 50 years later would be kind of cool.”

On what makes the special edition different:

“It’s got Brembo brakes, a little bit of differentiation on the exterior, all chrome treatment in certain places, the Pony Corral badge, which hearkens back to the original Mustang. Some unique interior finishes, and really there are only two things that you have to decide. A, you want white or blue and, B, do you want manual or automatic. And for me it is always manual.”

On more carmakers are going only automatic and getting rid of the manual transmission:

“I understand but I do not like it. I love to drive cars and I — particularly a sports car to me should always be a manual. It is just a lot of fun to work through the gears. And I feel you can control the car better. But not everybody feels that way. So we do offer both. I will always get the manual.”

“Automated driving really does allow denser driving patterns that allows better safety. I mean, there are a lot of really great advantages to it. But I love to drive cars and always have and always will.”

“I mean, to me it’s a way for me to have great fun. So I’m very excited about the all the autonomous features coming into vehicles because people really do want them. A lot — not everybody feels the way I do about driving a vehicle. A lot of people just want to get from point A to point B and they want to do it quickly and safely. And so a lot of the automated features we’re putting in allow them to do that. But I will always want to be behind the wheel.”

On the Mustang being available all over the world:

“What’s very cool is I introduced this in Barcelona at the end of last year and they went wild over it. It was interesting; even though they have never had the Mustang in Europe, it needed no introduction at all. Everybody knew Mustang and everybody knew what it stood for. And really in many ways, Matt, it’s a brand unto itself. You do not have to say Ford Mustang. You just say Mustang like F-150. And that is true around the globe and so you’re right, finally people around the world are getting to have a Mustang.”

On the F-150:

“Well, we think the aluminum F-150 will be very cool for all the reasons you mentioned. One of the things we did it is we were worried initially that customers might not think it was tough enough, so we gave it to big fleets of mining companies for a year and said just beat it up as much as you can. And they came back with glowing reports about how well it held up that way surpassed their expectations. We’re going to always be looking to lightweight our vehicles as we go forward.”

On the 50th anniversary edition reveal:

“We’re going to reveal that one a little bit. And by the way, I’ve signed all 1,964 — well, they are on a plaque. I signed the plaque. And then each plaque will be numbered so you will know what number you have and it will be very cool.

On whether the aluminum will be more difficult to repair and more expensive:

“We do not think so. We’re spending a lot of time working with our parts and service group, with our dealers, and one of the things that we do know is that aluminum has great dentability characteristics. It will dent less easily. So but in terms of assembling it and repairing it, this will be new for some of our dealers. And so we are trying to get them up to speed.”

On whether Tesla should be able to sell direct to consumers or if they should have to have a franchisee network:

“I mean, look, we love our model. We have great dealers. They’ve been through thick and thin with us. And we have all gotten better over the last few years. We have — the manufacturer has, our dealers have as well. I think the issue will be, going forward, is not so much how you sell them but how you will service them in the market. That is something that I am not sure how is going to play out in the other model.”

On Ford’s relationship with its dealer network:

“Well, it’s hugely important. The dealers are the face of Ford Motor Company to our public, and our dealers do a really good job of taking care of their customers in their communities. The people in that community think that dealership is Ford Motor Company. So it’s a huge responsibility they have and they do it very well. And we work — both sides, dealers and ourselves, work very hard to keep the relationship strong.”

On the succession plan at Ford:

“We have got a great team. One of the things that Alan and I have talked about really since he hired in is how important it is for a great CEO to also have a great transition. And so we feel our team is really good and really deep and very experienced. So and it is interesting, a lot of great CEOs leave and then there is chaos behind them. And Alan and I have talked about that, the importance of the final act of a great CEO is having a great transition.

On whether Mark Fields will succeed Mulally:

“Mark is really important to us. But, come on, man, I will not give you that this morning.”

On how key China is to Ford’s future:

“Well, long-term, it is very important. It is the biggest market in the world. It is growing at 7.5 percent a year this year and it’s a very healthy growing market. We are doing really well. Now we are also coming off a relatively small base. So we are growing as fast as we possibly can. The Ford brand is very well respected in China and that is why I am excited that the Mustang is coming to China because they will love that, too.”

On whether the future is bright as far as Europe reports:

“Yes, it is getting better thankfully. We have seen this — I have seen this many — all too many times in my career, both in North America, Europe, South America, where you’re going great guns and then things fall off and you have to rebuild. And we have had a few quarters now of things getting better in Europe. Our sales are getting better each quarter. And we — you know, I’m feeling quite good about Europe. We still have a ways to go but we are definitely in a better situation today than we were a year ago.”

Heritage Inspires First Scion FR-S Release Series

Heritage Inspires First Scion FR-S Release Series

Heritage Inspires First Scion FR-S Release Series

BY GERRY MILES

There’s little surprise, really, that after the successful launch of the Toyota FR-S/Subaru BRZ that a more sporting edition would eventually arrive. Today, it has.

Scio, aka Toyota’s hip-hop happening’ arm, added some of Toyota’s Racing Development or TRD tweaks to reveal the FR-S Release Series 1.0 at the NY Auto Show.

The Series 1.0 is a limited edition with just 1,500 copies to be built with such enhanced features as a custom-designed aero kit with a rear spoiler and side fender garnish, TRD Quad Tip Exhaust System, TRD lowering springs and Smart Key with Push Button Start and Yuzu exterior paint color.

The series offers either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Dynamic Rev Management® technology. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) will start under $30,000, excluding the delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee of $755.

Additional FR-S Release Series 1.0 features include:

TRD steering wheel
TRD shift knob
Black seats with T-pattern
HID headlamps with LED daytime running lights
Dual auto AC
TRD logo cargo mat

Each vehicle will feature its sequential release series badge (1 of 1500) on its brushed aluminum shifter surround plate. The cars are expected to arrive in dealerships in August.

Stay high and dry, driving in the rain

Drivinginrain

BY GERRY MILES

It’s days like this that I love to quote John Fogerty crooning “and I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?” from his days fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival, or CCR when their logo appeared on album fronts. Yes, record albums. Round pieces of plastic that dispensed music on a record player or turntable if you owned the spiffy model that plugged into a receiver…, but I digress.

Days like this, where it pours, the wind slants the water at angles you’d need your Algebra teacher to discern and puddles that swallow the wheels at night while often rendering vision impossible can happen year round. Now that we no longer have to fear shoveling said precip from the clouds, I thought these tips from Paul Sullivan of Sullivan Tire worthy to pass on to the road warriors behind the wheels. Heck, there’s “always” a bit of info you can take away.

5 Tips for Staying in Control This Spring

  1. Feeling Out of Touch? – Is the steering looser than normal? Are you sliding when you brake? If so, your tires could be losing their grip and you might be hydroplaning. Best to reduce your speed.
  2. Losing Speed? – If you’re pushing the accelerator and not going faster or slowing down while consistently holding the accelerator, you’re likely losing traction. It’s time to ease off the gas and resume a slower, safer speed.
  3. Cautious from the Start – It doesn’t have to be raining for long to compromise traction. When the first rain falls, the water can mix with oil and dust to create a slick surface.  Slow down as soon as it begins to rain.
  4. Seeing the Whole Picture – To properly inspect your tires for traction, turn the wheel so you can see the whole tire. The tread could be worn on the inside. If you just look at the side, you might not catch a trouble spot.
  5. Two on the Back – If you can only replace two tires, replace the most worn tires and put the new ones on the rear. The back two tires are most critical for keeping the car going in a straight line to avoid fishtailing.

Hyundai’s “Dad’s Sixth Sense” Super Bowl ad beat mega brands

HyundaiSixthSensead

Third Highest Scoring Ad of all Time According to Ace Metrix

BY GERRY MILES

It’s well after the Super Bowl, but the advertising “touchdowns” are still trickling in.

Hyundai, in advance of the NY Auto Show, is rightly touting that its “Dad’s Sixth Sense” TV  was deemed the third highest ad according to Ace Metrix, a firm that measures that stuff. And, if placement counts at all for those keeping track, it was rated as the second most effective ad in the first quarter.

I mention placement only from the standpoint of my New England roots and to note that rankings mean little some times. Example A: Tom Brady not being taken in the NFL draft until the sixth round, but now considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

“Captivated consumers received an entertaining product demonstration during this artfully crafted story of parental protection,” said Toula Thomas, SVP & GM – Automotive at Ace Metrix. “Dad’s Sixth Sense” dramatizes the near-misses and breathtaking saves of everyday parenting. The action follows a young boy as he grows up, and Dad is there for him again and again. The commercial culminates with a final breathtaking save – only this time, it’s the all-new 2015 Hyundai’s Genesis that has the young man’s back.

Ace Metrix determines itsr top 10 list by measuring ad creative effectiveness based on viewers’ reactions to national TV ads. The ads are scored on the following qualities: persuasion, relevance, information, attention, change, desire and watchability.

Hyundai’s “Dad’s Sixth Sense” beat out brands such as Budweiser, Google, TGI Friday’s, Ore-Ida, and Procter & Gamble, respectively.

Quite simply it was a message that resonated with viewers for its straight forward, productive and protective message about the safety systems and how parents, in most cases, never stop looking out for the welfare of their children.

No gimmicks. No genies. No smoke and mirrors. Common sense.

Volvo Car Group Celebrates 50 years of Dedication to Child Safety

BY GERRY MILES

It’s an analogy that’s as envious as Golden Arches and the hamburger: Safety and Volvo.

This year makes the 50th anniversary of the once-Swedish firm’s historical work with the world’s first rear-facing child seat prototype in a PV544 back in 1964. The latest innovation is an Inflatable Child Seat Concept that is easily tucked away in a small bag when not in use.

The differences in anatomy between children and adults form the foundation for Volvo Cars’ child safety developments both in terms of car integrated features and accessories. Children are not small versions of adults, which is why children need special restraints when travelling in cars.

Volvo XC70 interior (2007)

“The basic principle remains the same as 50 years ago. The smallest children must always travel facing the rear until the age of 3 or 4. Older children should use a booster cushion or booster seat that makes sure that the lap belt is correctly fitted over the pelvis,” says Professor Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Center.

Here are some of the most important milestones in Volvo Cars’ child safety history:

First rearward facing child safety seat prototype tested in a Volvo (PV 444)

First rearward facing child safety seat prototype tested in a Volvo (PV 444)

1964    First child seat prototype

Inspired by how astronauts travel rearwards, Bertil Aldman, medical doctor and subsequently professor in traffic safety at Chalmers University of Technology, developed the very first child seat prototype. Volvo was closely involved in the development and testing was carried out in a PV544.

1967    Reversible front passenger seat with special child backrest

The first child seat to be sold to customers was created by turning the front passenger seat around. Adding a padded backrest with straps made sure that the rearward-facing child was kept in place. The solution was sold as an accessory for the recently introduced Volvo Amazon.

1972    Volvo’s first rear-facing child seat

Rearward-facing child seats are designed to support the neck and help spread the force of a frontal impact over a larger area. Frontal impacts are the most frequent and usually the most severe impact situation.

1976    The booster cushion – a world first from Volvo

Children from 3 or 4 years and up travel facing forward using the standard safety belt with a belt-positioning booster cushion. Volvo Cars’ policy is that children should use a booster cushion until they are 140 centimeters tall and 10 years old. When using a booster cushion, the child runs about a 75 percent lower risk of being injured compared to being unrestrained.

1990    World’s first integrated booster cushion

The first integrated booster cushion was an ingenious fold down and out version in the rear center position in the Volvo 960. Double integrated pop-up booster cushions in the outer rear seats were introduced in the Volvo S40 in 1995.

1999    World’s first rear-facing seat for ISOFIX

The world-first solution for the standardized, car-integrated ISOFIX fittings was actually two rearward-facing seats in one. Both seats – one for infants and one for toddlers up to four years of age – could be fitted in the same ISOFIX frame.

2007    World’s first two-stage integrated booster cushion

Two-stage integrated booster cushions were introduced in the Volvo V70 estate. The two-stage version, with two sitting heights, enables a better belt fit regardless of the child’s size. Child adapted safety belt load limiters were also fitted.

2014    Inflatable Child Seat Concept

The innovation, which is still in the development stage, is easy to install and can be tucked away in a small bag when not in use. This means that the child seat can be easily transferred between cars and the bag even fits in carry-on luggage when flying or travelling.