PRNDL goes the way of horseless carriage for 10-speed gauge cluster in 2017 F-150

Ford's 10-speed gauge cluster

BY GERRY MILES
There’s been a lot of talk about the math and common core changing how we all learned how to count and perform mathematical calculations.
Now whether you want to count up or down the shift tree of the 2017 F-150 through its 10 gears in its all-new 10-speed transmission you can right on the dash’s instrument panel.

The first volume-produced 10-speed automatic for consumers – will deliver improved acceleration and performance compared with previous 6-speed automatic transmissions, thanks to optimized wide-span gear spacing coupled with drag-reduction actions. Three overdrive gears and a wider span enable lower-numerical rear-axle ratios to help improve fuel efficiency at highway speeds while still maintaining best-in-class towing performance.

All-new adaptive shift-scheduling algorithms monitor more than a dozen powertrain and driver control signals in real time – ensuring the right gear at the right time for an engaging driving experience, including in sport mode.

An integrated electric pump works with the standard Auto Start-Stop system for seamless restarts and improved driving efficiency.

The 10-speed gearbox – the first from Ford not to employ cast-iron components – uses advanced materials and alloys that result in lighter weight. Additionally, an integrated torque converter/turbine clutch helps shave more than two pounds, reducing weight.

The all-new 10-speed is paired with Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine. Ford engineers designed the all-new 3.5-liter EcoBoost to provide best-in-class torque for a V6 engine – one that beats all gasoline- and diesel-powered competitors at more than 450 lb.-ft. The new engine provides better low-end and peak engine torque. It is ideal for hauling heavy payloads and towing heavy trailers.

Ford is investing $1.4 billion at its Livonia Transmission Plant to create or retain 500 hourly jobs to build the all-new 10-speed transmission.

Advertisements

Top Drone races Jaguar XJ through China

V0DHOMv21z9fKjyS4szYPH6E36GEVj4P_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_1BY GERRY MILES

If you want to see the future of the next potential James Bond chase scene, we’ve got a short film from Jaguar to see what it may look like.

s3qmOScBw3NKzTHfMcWy8u5986UK2Nfu_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_6Jaguar, Mark Higgins, a stunt driver in Hollywood blockbusters and one of the top drone pilots had a cat-and-mouse chase to see who’d win. You’ll have to watch the video here to see who wins.

JaeHong Li used his drone to showcase how the chases may be used and filmed while also showing off technologies in both the car and drone.

The development of advanced driver assistance systems with radar sensors and on board cameras is more closely aligned to the development of technology in drones, which are now being used for everything from racing to autonomous parcel delivery.

DCfnqcW4HwU0nthTN6uQEEoejv7BztIc_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_12“Drones are becoming increasingly integrated into society and they can do some amazing things these days,” said Higgins, who is also a champion rally driver.

“So when Jaguar offered up the XJ and all its technology to go up against one of the world’s top drone pilots, I jumped at the chance.

“The Jaguar XJ is designed for the luxury executive market, but it is still a dynamic drive and very capable in all environments. So this was an exciting challenge to use it in. It was certainly up to the chase, and we found some fun ways to evade the drone!”

qd4zag3aPLSGAZ4Nuy8AIeQsGGeZU1gj_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_15The challenge, which took place at the Zhuhai International Circuit in China, saw Higgins trying to shake off the drone through an industrialised zone containing shipping containers, wide tree-lined boulevards, pit garages and an underground car park. The XJ demonstrated agility and control with effortless performance during the challenge.

With the drone pilot using autonomous circling and 360-degree camera searching and Higgins in the XJ, benefitting from electric power assisted steering that improves responsiveness and feedback as well systems that use sensors and four on board cameras.

EyIKQOi9Svo3iNL671QEnfNXLCWUta76_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_2Drone pilot JaeHong Li said: “Flying against the car gave us some interesting insight into how this kind of technology can be used for filming cars – and I think we’ve shown there’s some big potential for future movie car-chase sequences!” : “Technology in drones is developing fast, and like cars, the latest trend is for pilot assistance. The DJI Inspire 1 drone we used is more about precision and poise than outright pace. It has the best-in-class, stabilized Zenmuse X5 aerial camera aboard, as it is mainly used for filming, and was perfect for this challenge.

Jaguar spokesperson, Ian Hoban, Vehicle Line Director said: “Technology plays a significant part in new Jaguar vehicles these days – from driver assistance systems to telematics and infotainment. This race was an entertaining way to showcase our current technology of 360-degree cameras and sensors on the XJ.

V0DHOMv21z9fKjyS4szYPH6E36GEVj4P_Jaguar_XJ_Drone_Chase_-_Zhuhai__China_1“In everyday situations, cameras and vehicle sensors bring an added reassurance to the driver, making it easier to manoeuvre and park. Our new systems are all about enhancing the driver experience and making it more relaxing, enjoyable and safe.”

All-new Ford Fusion protects you from potholes, boosts comfort

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

2017 Ford Fusion Sport                                                                                                              (Ford photo)

  • Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers approximately $3 billion a year
  • At the touch of a button, Fusion V6 Sport drivers can change the car’s suspension setting from normal to sport mode – for the perfect combination of control and finesse

BY GERRY MILES

When it comes to New England there are some givens:

  • spring training renews hope for Red Sox fans
  • snow melts leaving us with “mud season”
  • temperatures rise along with our better moods
  • and potholes emerge like dandelions.

Even though we’re far from Dearborn, Michigan, Ford and many other Detroit-based firms that eschew the jarring ride the concrete highways there offer up, has found a way to make them far less tooth rattling.

Anyone who survived last spring after the horrific winter we suffered knows how quickly potholes sprung up and dented many a rim while often ruining a tire in the process.

Ford proclaims its engineers have developed an advanced computer-controlled shock absorber system for the all-new 2017 Fusion V6 Sport, which significantly reduces that unpleasant feeling one gets when driving down a pothole-riddled road.

Simply stated, some 12 sensors – which adjust the dampers every two milliseconds (which is faster than the blink of an eye) – adjust to the stiffest setting when a pothole’s edge is detected so the wheel doesn’t drop completely into the hole. Because the technology negates a drop into the full depression, the tire doesn’t completely strike the far side of the pothole with the impact that’s so jarring and damaging to the vehicle. Further, the rear suspension can respond even faster, with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel well before it reaches the pothole.

“Our new pothole mitigation technology works by actually detecting potholes and ‘catching’ the car’s wheel before it has a chance to drop all the way into the pothole,” said Jason Michener, Ford’s continuously controlled damping engineering expert.

According to a AAA report, pothole damage cost U.S. drivers approximately $3 billion a year causing drivers to pay nearly $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage per wheel — if you’re lucky enough to keep two wheels out of the depression.

The Fusion V6 Sport is the first Ford to have this technowizardy included as standard equipment. Ford notes that neither the Toyota Camry nor Honda Accord have such a suspension system.

“We tested and tuned this system by driving over countless potholes – subjecting Fusion V6 Sport to the brutal, square-edged potholes of our Romeo Proving Grounds to finesse the software,” said Michener. “It was long hours of not very pleasant work, but the results are well worth it.”

What this means for drivers of the all-new Ford Fusion V6 Sport is a sedan that’s exciting in the corners while still offering a smooth ride. Suspension tuning can be changed at the push of a button – normal mode balances comfort and handling for daily driving, while sport mode’s increased overall damping rates allow the car to respond quicker to driver input and to corner flatter for more spirited driving.

The all-new Fusion V6 Sport with continuously controlled damping and pothole mitigation technology arrives at Ford dealerships this summer.

Ford also has a test center in Belgium that replicates the effects of the world’s worst potholes and other extreme surfaces. Lommel Proving Ground incorporates test tracks covering 50 miles, and more than 100 extreme surfaces replicated from 25 countries, including 1.2 miles of potholes.

Study: Technology’s great … when it works. Adds to vehicle problems: JD Power

image002Lexus Ranks Highest in Vehicle Dependability for Fifth Consecutive Year;

General Motors Receives Eight Segment Awards; Toyota Motor Corporation Receives Six

BY GERRY MILES

Well, Dad always said, it if ain’t broke…don’t fix it.

Would that include tinkering and adding things into the mix to make things better, which then become “worse” when they don’t work (as well)?

Seems that all of this technology, whiz-bang wizardry that we crave in our vehicles is great when it works, but causes 20 percent of the problems in today’s vehicles, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM.

Problems with infotainment, navigation and in-vehicle communication systems—collectively known as audio, communication, entertainment and navigation or ACEN—has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems in the study. ACEN is now the most problematic area on most vehicles and is the cause of the industry’s 3% year-over-year decline in vehicle dependability.

“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power, noted. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.”

The problems most often reported by owners are Bluetooth pairing/connectivity and built-in voice recognition systems misinterpreting commands. Navigation system difficult to use and navigation system inaccurate are also among the 10 most frequently reported problems.

Building Trust in Technology

While automakers, suppliers and even the U.S. government are enthusiastically moving toward putting fully autonomous vehicles on the roads, consumers need to have confidence in the technologies currently in vehicles before they will be willing to take their hands off the wheel of self-driving cars.

“If you think about the technology problems from the study in the context of conversations around autonomous vehicles, the industry clearly has more work to do to secure the trust of consumers,” said Stephens. “Right now, if consumers can’t rely on their vehicle to connect to their smartphone, or have faith that their navigation system will route them to their destination, they’re certainly not yet ready to trust that autonomous technology will keep their vehicle out of the ditch.”

Expected reliability remains critical in today’s automotive market. More than 50% of owners cite expected reliability as one of the most influential reasons for choosing a specific make and model.[1] At the same time, concerns about reliability have risen this year as a reason to avoid particular models.

“The decline in reliability coupled with a record number of vehicle recalls and safety-related complaints[2] affect consumer confidence,” said Stephens. “Dependability has a direct impact on purchase decisions and brand loyalty.”

Among owners who experienced no problems with their vehicle, 55% purchased the same brand again. In contrast, only 41% of owners who experienced three or more problems with their vehicle stayed with the same brand for their next purchase. Additionally, only a third of owners who had to replace a component outside of normal wear items said they would definitely repurchase or lease the same brand again.

image004image003

Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models

Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates for a fifth consecutive year, with a score of 95 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100).

  • Porsche (97 PP100) follows Lexus in the rankings, moving up from fifth in 2015.
  • Following Porsche in the rankings are Buick (106 PP100), Toyota (113 PP100) and GMC (120 PP100).

General Motors Company receives eight segment awards and Toyota Motor Corporation six.

  • GM models receiving an award include the Buick Encore; Buick LaCrosse; Buick Verano; Chevrolet Camaro; Chevrolet Equinox; Chevrolet Malibu; Chevrolet Silverado HD; and GMC Yukon.
  • Toyota awardees include the Lexus ES; Lexus GS; Lexus GX; Toyota Prius v; Toyota Sienna; and Toyota Tundra.

Others models to receive segment awards are the Fiat 500; Honda Fit; Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class; MINI Cooper; MINI Coupe/Roadster; and Nissan Murano.

 

Key Study Findings

  • The overall industry average is 152 PP100 this year, compared with 147 PP100 last year.
  • Among owners who experienced a Bluetooth pairing/connectivity problem, 53% said the vehicle didn’t find/recognize their mobile phone/device.
  • Among owners who indicate having experienced a voice recognition problem, 67% say the problem was related to the system not recognizing/misinterpreting verbal commands.
  • The number of engine/transmission problems decreases to 24 PP100 in 2016 from 26 PP100 in 2015.
  • Seven of the top 10 problems are design-related. Design-related problems account for 39% of problems reported in the study (60 PP100), a 2-percentage-point increase from 2015.

The 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 33,560 original owners of 2013 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded from October through December 2015.

The study, now in its 27th year, examines problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of 2013 model-year vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality. The study covers 177 specific problem symptoms grouped into eight major vehicle categories.

Find more detailed information about the 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-vehicle-dependability-study

VW offers Apple Watch car connectivity

  • Volkswagen’s Car-Net® app will sync with new Apple Watch 
  • VW customers will be able to remotely lock*/unlock doors; check fuel level or charge status; set up speed and boundary alerts and more from their Apple Watch
VW car-net's app on an Apple Watch

VW car-net’s app on an Apple Watch

Herndon, VA  — Volkswagen of America, Inc., is excited to announce that VW’s Car-Net® platform will enable Apple Watch functionality for many new Volkswagen vehicles. The Apple Watch app will be available globally on all VW Car-Net® enabled vehicles allowing for enhanced connectivity on the go.

“These high-tech features, available through the Car-Net® app for Apple Watch, are paving the way to Volkswagen’s future of connected vehicles,” said Abdallah Shanti, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Information Officer for Region Americas. “As a part of Volkswagen’s Digital Vehicle Management Platform, this was a truly collaborative effort between our Technical Development and Group IT teams.”

The Car-Net® app for Apple Watch will allow VW customers to control a host of features and functions that are available through the Car-Net mobile app and Customer Web Portal directly from their wrist. Owners can keep an eye on their vehicle from afar, remotely locking* and unlocking doors and viewing the status of doors, windows and sun roof (open or closed). Finding a parked vehicle is a snap, with a map of the current vehicle location, walking or driving directions to the vehicle and the ability to honk the horn and flash the lights remotely. Customers can also receive speed and boundary alert notifications to monitor certain drivers in their households.

Drivers of Volkswagen vehicles with gasoline and TDI® Clean Diesel engines may remotely check their fuel level, while those driving the all-electric e-Golf  will be able to check their current charge and estimated driving range, turn charging on or off and access climate control features.

VW Car-Net® is available on select trims of 2014 and later Beetle, CC, Eos, Jetta, Passat and Tiguan models and on all trims of 2015 and later Golf, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen and e-Golf models. For additional details, go to www.vw.com/features/vw-car-net/.

Car-Net for Apple Watch will be available in the App Store for Apple Watch, found in the Apple Watch app on iPhone®.

Volkswagen is committed to driving the development of more connected and intelligent vehicles. The VW Car-Net® integration with Apple Watch adds to the recent announcement made at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, introducing the second-generation “modular infotainment platform” (MIB II) which will feature advanced app and smartphone integration. Along with the new infotainment system, MirrorLink™ will integrate the apps and operating layout of numerous smartphones (including Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony) into cars. When MirrorLink™ is introduced, two other interfaces will also be launched under the App-Connect label: Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ (Google®).

Ford won’t be first with driverless car: Mark Fields

While there’s a bevy of technology in all shapes and forms always on display at the CES or Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford CEO Mark Fields spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Brad Stone where he said the first driverless car on the road will not be a Ford.

He said, “Our view is within five years somewhere within the industry somebody is going to be introducing a vehicle. In our case at Ford we have semi-autonomous vehicles on the road today that people can buy, features that will help people keep in their lanes, allow to adjust their speed based on traffic flow, those types of things. And we at Ford eventually will have a fully autonomous vehicle, but our approach when we introduce it goes back to our history. We want to make sure it’s accessible and affordable for the masses because we’re Ford.

Field’s interview with Stone can be viewed by clicking on this link

A full transcript of the Bloomberg TV interview can be found below.

 

BRAD STONE, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK: Hi, Mark.

MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: How you doing?

STONE: Pretty good. So you said yesterday, you told my colleague, Keith Naughton, that you think we will have a fully-automated driverless car in five years. That kind of took my breath away. Is the state of technology that advanced?

FIELDS: I think when you look at the level of advancement in sensors, and cameras, and software and the algorithms behind it, it’s moving very, very fast. So our view is within five years somewhere within the industry somebody is going to be introducing a vehicle. In our case at Ford we have semi-autonomous vehicles on the road today that people can buy, features that will help people keep in their lanes, allow to adjust their speed based on traffic flow, those type of things. And we at Ford eventually will have a fully autonomous vehicle, but our approach when we introduce it goes back to our history. We want to make sure it’s accessible and affordable for the masses because we’re Ford.

STONE: So when does Ford get there? And let me ask you, because I’ve sat in a Google driverless car, is Google a partner?

FIELDS: Well I think from that we see a lot of different players now making some inroads into that. And I think that’s overall the level of innovation I think is very exciting for the industry. So as we look at it, and we’re always looking for great partners, we’re going to decide the things that we want to do ourselves, develop ourselves, things that we want to buy, things that we want to partner with others, but I think it will be very collaborative. And our approach is to make sure we have fully autonomous test vehicles on the road today. And some of them have been on the road since 2013. We haven’t announced a time frame when it’s going to be introduced, but it’s all going to come back to make sure it’s accessible and affordable for the masses, versus some of our luxury competitors.

STONE: Well one of your competitors, Mercedes, is here at the show showing a concept car with four seats that swivel inward. So none of them are facing the road. There’s no driver. There’s no driver’s wheel, no steering wheel. Do you get in that car?

FIELDS: Well I haven’t seen the Mercedes concept. I’ll get into any Ford vehicle of course, but as I said, we have research vehicles on the road today gathering data, understanding the situation and making sure all with that aim to making sure they’ll eventually be affordable for the masses.

STONE: So let’s talk about the in-vehicle computer systems. They are not perfect today. Any new car owner can tell you that there are flaws, there are bugs. They’re too difficult to use. How are we to trust the carmakers to deliver a reliable, 100 hundred reliable automated experience when playing Pandora and getting your phone to work on your in-vehicle system is not as simple as it should be?

FIELDS: Well our approach at Ford is pretty simple. We want to make sure we’re listening to our customers. And when we come out with our systems like our SYNC system we want to make it very intuitive and we want to improve it over time. For our SYNC system right now we have — it’s our vehicle connectivity system. We have ten million folks around the world that have purchased that system. And the system keeps getting better and better. We’re actually here at CES introducing SYNC 3.

STONE: And tell us a little bit about the SYNC 3. What does it bring?

FIELDS: Well it takes all the learnings that we’ve — and input that we’ve gotten from customers over the last eight years. So it’s more intuitive, easier to use. It’s also faster. It has more conversational voice commands, so enhanced voice commands. It allows you to update. If we need to update the software we’ll be able to do it over Wi-Fi. And overall just at the same time we’re also going to be offering Siri’s eyes-free in the vehicle as well. So it’s really taking the foundation and the leadership that we had with SYNC and now taking it to the next level with SYNC 3.

STONE: Do you see the smartphone as the center of the in-vehicle computer experience, or an in-vehicle computer that has its own connection to the internet?

FIELDS: Well I think it will be a piece of it. With the SYNC system we took the approach of a brought-in device that the customer can stay connected. As you think about going forward we’re in the process of introducing embedded modems into our vehicle because that allows the vehicle to be part of the Internet of Things. And as we go forward and as customers decide to opt in to share their data with us we want to make sure that for that we’re providing them first safety and security of their data, and secondly giving them something back that they find a lot of value for. So it’s going to be a combination of both.

STONE: So, Mark, let’s talk about 2014. All the automakers had a great December. The price of gas is very low right now. People are excited about new cars, but overall you were a little soft and you missed expectations for 2014. What happened?

FIELDS: Well as we started 2014 we said very clearly that 2014 was an important transition year for us. We said our revenue was going to be about equal to the previous year. And that’s because we’re launching 23 global launches. And we launched all of them, and many of them in the third and fourth quarter. So that sets us up very well for 2015. And when you look at some of those new products we’ve introduced, our Mustang, our Transit, our new Lincolns, they’re doing extremely well in the marketplace. And I think that bodes well for all the new products that we’ve launched in the last couple of quarters.

STONE: And one of those new products is the new Ford F-150, an all-aluminum vehicle. What does that mean exactly to move from steel to aluminum? And is that — do you see that as an industry trend?

FIELDS: Well we’re always looking at things from a customer standpoint. And obviously we spend a lot of time with our truck customers. We’re the leader in that area for 38 years. And what they told us is they continually want better capability of the truck, better payload, better towing, et cetera. And they want really good fuel economy. So we were able to take 700 pounds out of the vehicle. We put it on a diet by putting it on aluminum. And we’ve been able now to deliver industry-leading levels of capability and great fuel economy.

STONE: Last question, Mark. You recently said that you’re going to increase your dividend to shareholders by 20 percent. And yet profitability is challenged. It’s a time of enormous change. Why not reinvest that money, that capital in the business and in these technologies?

FIELDS: Well our capital strategy, as we’ve said before, is pretty simple. We want to keep reinvesting in the business. We want to keep and strengthening our balance sheet. And we want to reward shareholders. At the same time we want to make sure over time that that dividend is sustainable versus the economic and the business cycles. We haven’t announced anything about increasing dividends. We did it last year in January at this time. And that’s really our capital strategy.

STONE: Thank you, Mark.

FIELDS: All right. Thanks, Brad.