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Audi’s new A8 is set to be released in 2018 and will be a level 3 autonomous vehicle. The car is suited with a ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ which will allow it to drive itself at speeds up to 60 km/h on highways where oncoming traffic is separated, but requires the driver to regain control at any time when cued by auditory and visual signals which become “increasingly annoying” until the driver takes the wheel.
The car will also include active suspension and mild-hybrid systems, along with the option of four-wheel steering.The optional automated driving pack, which will be embedded in the vehicle only when requested by a customer, will also allow the car to park itself in a garage even when the driver is out of the car.
Though road laws do not currently permit these types of vehicles, Audi’s CEO believes this will change next year, at which point cars which are fitted with automated system may need to be returned to the dealer to activate it.
Source: Automotive News
It has only been a year since Volkswagen put out a report outlining the group’s growing need for lithium-ion battery cells and the number has gone up already. With now 25% of Volkswagen’s sales predicted to be electric vehicle based by 2025 Mr. Ulrich Eichhorn, head of Volkswagen R&D, is predicting that in response to these goals and those of its competitors the world will need at least 40 “gigafactories” in the next ten years or face a massive shortage.
A Gigafactory is a Tesla battery production factory that can pump out 150 GWh of batteries each year. To meet the global demand by just 2025 a total of 40 of these gigafactory style factories will need to produce a combined 1.5 terawatt hours a year or at least 35GWh per factory. This is tough news for manufacturers like Volvo whom recently announced that they plan to make all their new vehicles electric or hybrid based in the next three years.
As a result it is reported that Volkswagen is looking to start producing its own electric battery factories to get ahead of the growing demand. Will other manufacturers follow suit to support their own electric vehicle goals or will Volkswagen and Tesla become the market leaders for this increasingly revolutionary product?
Source: Automotive News Europe
The Toronto based company of Drven certainly believes so. Described as the “Fitbit for your car” Drven’s new product titled Kē (Key) is a two-piece system. You plug the accessory part into the diagnostic port of your car and then download the app on your phone. Kē will connect to your car to the internet to gather data and send it, and recommendations, to your phone. Kē will give you facts about your car without the subjectivity a mechanic might have when trying to service your vehicle.
Kē, and other products like it will, break down the cost for recommended actions and the potential cost of not fixing them. Kē’s diagnostic accessory is currently selling for $30 with the app coming out soon. Drven’s current strategy is to have mechanic garages sell the product to bring more servicing business their way.
One of Drven’s competitors, PitStop is taking the opposite approach, having the dealer sell their version of Kē. Retailing at $50 the other Toronto based startup has allowed their device to connect to the owner’s phone and the dealership in hopes of building strong dealer-customer relationships. But it will not be easy for these startups to grow with so much competition on the rise as companies such as SirisXM recently bought a San Francisco startup who also produces a similar product and with car manufacturers already working on their own versions of mobile diagnostic software.
Source: The Globe and Mail
This year’s winner of the J.D. Power quality awards was Kia Motors followed by Hyundai’s new stand-alone brand Genesis and Porsche rounding out the top three. J.D. Powers Vice President Dave Sargent said, “This is without question the best quality the world has ever seen.” This year has set new records for quality and has resulted in a large shift among the usual top players.
German brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi came far under standard. Japanese brands Toyota and Lexus were flanking both sides of the industry standard making this Lexus’s first time below the standThe winners and losers at J.D. Power Vehicle Quality Awards.
ard in its history. Sargent attributes the drop in the past years high performers to the fact that many of them have come out with all-new products which tend to have more issues than refined models. BMW and General Motors both received 4 vehicles specific awards with Kia being awarded 5.
Source: Automotive News
With a total of $673 billion in trade between the United States and Canada, $134.5 billion, or 20%, of it was directly from the automotive sector. By state, Michigan received the most Canadian automotive exports totaling $33 billion with total Canadian exports to Michigan accounting for 16.8% of national exports alone.
This would mean “Michigan would be Canada’s second largest trading partner, ahead of China.” according to Statistics Canada. California and Ohio follow Michigan as Canada’s next largest U.S. trade partners by state.
Source: Automotive News
Mercedes-Benz has confirmed a long-time rumour of bringing its successful A Class vehicle to the North American market. This recent North American product expansion is carrying some unique features with it and it has investors excited.
First, the new A Class will not be a hatchback like it is in the European market. This decision was made off the disappointing sales of the hatchback models of the C-Class introduced in 2001. Instead, Mercedes will be building their new generation of the A Class with strictly a sedan trim. This new generation will also take advantage of the company’s innovative MFA2 platform.
This means the car will be built on a modified four -wheel drive compact base which creates extra room in the vehicle. Along with being packed with all the latest and greatest technology Mercedes is going to price this vehicle at under $30,000.
Mercedes-Benz’s strategy is to grab a hold of the millennial generation with a low-priced luxury entry vehicle. Mercedes is looking for the new A Class to account for 5% of their US sales by the end of 2020.
Source: Automotive News
Are North American car dealerships destined to be the next business to fail due to advancing technology? James Arbib and Tony Seba of RethinkX certainly think so. A technology investor and a Stanford economist respectfully, they put out a report recently that details the reasons why North American car dealerships are going to start disappearing in 10 years.
The report cites the growing benefits of ridesharing programs and more importantly the role of electric vehicles. As electric vehicles become less expensive ($20,000 range) and have further battery ranges they will be widely adopted, and that then becomes a problem for the service department of these dealerships. A traditional vehicles has 2,000 moving parts in the power train, an electric vehicle has 20. The result is less cars needing to be fixed and less profit being seen for a dealership owner.
However, industry experts disagree with the report explaining how the industry has only flourished as of late and shows no sign of slowing down and liken the RethinkX report to that of the hype that surrounded hybrid cars 17 years ago. Arbib and Seba are none the less determined that their report is accurate and warn dealers by referencing companies such as Nokia and Kodak whom also feel by the way side to rising innovation.
Source: Automotive News Canada
“Autonomous vehicles could constitute the biggest disruption to society since the introduction of the automobile.” says Michael Polowin of Gowling WLG Law Firm. Mr Polowin is referring to the liability companies, and the government, will face with the introduction of fully autonomous or “Level 5” vehicles.
Level 1 and 2 vehicles already exist as vehicles with cruise control or lane-departure assistance with a Level 5 as a fully autonomous vehicle with no driver input. Companies see Level 3 and 4 vehicles as too much of a grey area for both the driver and from an insurance standpoint and so manufacturers are heading straight into Level 5 development.
The biggest problem however, is the governmental restrictions prohibiting the testing of autonomous vehicles or even their existence in different parts of the country. Underlying all of the above is the ethical dilemmas developing from Level 5 vehicles.
A recent study found that those surveyed agreed it was ethical that if a pedestrian dangerously crossed in front of a Level 5 vehicle the vehicle should prioritize the safety of the pedestrian over the driver but the same study found that if a consumer knew a vehicle was designed this way they would less inclined to purchase it.
Although, according to Blackberry’s Grant Courville, Level 5 vehicles are not thought to be a reality until 2032. This gives the government, and society, the time to decide what they think is more important.
Source: Automotive News Canada
Bell’s latest move has been announced by Hyundai’s subsidiary Hyundai AutoEver Telematics America (HATA). Bell is planning on providing wireless services in new Hyundai and Kia vehicles starting with a few of their 2018 models.
Emergency roadside assistance, automatic collision notifications, remote start, climate control, local search, remote door lock/unlock, maintenance alerts, and on-demand diagnostics are the features Bell will link with Hyundai’s BlueLink and Kia’s UVO networks. With the purchase of a new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT or Sonota and Kia’s 2018 Rio or Optima a complimentary 5 year contract will be provided for the new service.
The service is cited as helping to provide greater safety and an innovative driving experience. This deal will also open up a door for third party apps to play a role in the driving experience down the road. This endeavor is just another way that Bell is looking to play a bigger role in the Internet of Things.
Where is Canada in the growing electric vehicle market?
A new report by the International Energy Agency boasts that there are now two million electric vehicles on the roads of North American, Europe and parts of Asia. A 60% increase from the year before the numbers sound all good until put in perspective.
Electric vehicles still only make up 0.2% of cars on the road today and to make a real difference to climate change there needs to be six hundred million electric vehicles being used by the year 2040.
Where does Canada fall in to all of this? Neck in neck with Norway for quick growing electric vehicle market Canada is still only 8th in the world with the Chin, the United States and Japan leading the charge, no pun intended.
According to the report Canada’s biggest obstacle to further growth is the lack of public charging stations across the country with electric car ownership six to one for public charging stations. The report seems to say that until the infrastructure for electric cars is built up, like it is in China, the Canadian market will be hard pressed for continued growth.
Is bamboo the new carbon fibre?
Ford may think so. The automaker is currently investigating the feasibility of combining bamboo fibres with resins to create car parts that could be as strong, if not stronger than, carbon fibre.
The plant would be a renewable and more natural alternative to the synthetic fibres that are currently used in making parts. It has an incredible growth rate, as it can grow to full maturity between 2 and 5 years, and its strength can rival some metals. Its flexibility and heat resistance have also contributed to piquing Ford’s interest.
However, Ford is no stranger to unconventional resources, as the company has used materials like recycled cotton, denim, rice hulls, wheat, straw, and nylon carpeting to some extent in certain models.
Sources: Taylor, Kelly. Automotive News Canada. June 5th, 2017
Smith, Luke. Express. June 5th, 2017
The long-awaited Tesla Model 3 is to start production in July, and will be priced at around $47,000 CAD. The vehicle will be able to accelerate from 0 – 60mph in under six seconds, and comes with a very new and unique product feature. Leaks have shown a touch-screen display in the center of the vehicle’s flat dashboard, which replaces the traditional gauges and dials. All of these instruments, including the speedometer and ‘fuel’ gauge, will be accessible through this new display.
Some consumers are concerned about this new feature. They do not want to sacrifice space on the display screen to make room for the gauges, and they are worried about having to take their eyes off of the road to check their speed while driving. However, Elon Musk, company co-founder and CEO, says that drivers will not even notice the difference due to the vehicles high level of autonomy, tweeting “The more autonomous a car is, the less dash info you need. How often do you look at the instrument panel when being driven in a taxi?”
Sources: Grover, Sami. Treehugger. May 31st, 2017
Smith, Luke. Express. May 31st, 2017
Facebook’s “Marketplace”, a feature on the platform which allows users to buy and sell their used items, is rising in popularity among used-car traders. Currently, the feature has great potential of becoming a big player in used-car sales, as it is convenient, has an extremely vast potential reach, and is safer than other buy-and-sell platforms such as Kijiji and Craigslist.
However, until the Facebook makes some improvements to the feature, it is likely that ‘Marketplace’ will not be too much of a threat for used-car dealers, as these dealers can offer the certified pre-owned vehicles and financing options that Facebook cannot.
Moreover, Facebook may seek to make some profit from the feature, in which case the company could offer advertising options for dealers, meaning that the feature could become an opportunity for dealers rather than a threat.
However, until we see what the future holds, dealers should keep an eye out for this up-and-coming force.
Source: Truett, Richard. Automotive News. May 30th, 2017.
A quarterly survey conducted by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association has uncovered the concern that is being felt by North American suppliers over President Trump’s promised revisions to, or termination of, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Executives say that the uncertainty surrounding the trade policy is creating serious difficulty in their decision-making regarding their manufacturing needs. The survey also shows increased concern regarding shortages of skilled labour, which leaves suppliers even more on edge as they attempt to continue to meet deadlines under the anxiety that comes with such an uncertain future for the industry.
Source: Walsworth, Jack. Automotive News Canada. May 29th, 2017.
Currently, batteries makes up about half of the entire cost of an electric vehicle, however research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that battery costs will fall close to 77% by 2030. This will result in less expensive, and therefore more abundant, electric cars in North America and Europe.
As the cost of electric vehicles is dropping due to these technological breakthroughs, the cost of combustion engine vehicles is increasing due to firmer industry regulations. This means that the two vehicle-types may become equal in price by the year 2025, after which electric cars will be the cheaper option.
Source: Shankleman, Jess. Bloomberg. May 25th, 2017.
Here are 10 car facts that you probably don’t know about:
Honda Canada Inc. has officially sold its two-millionth Honda Civic in Canada since it introduced the car to the market forty-four years ago. For just under two decades, the Civic has been the country’s top-selling passenger car, and has united Canadians from all different lifestyles, building its own loyal ‘Civic Nation’.
The Civic, which accounts for 40% of Honda’s sales, is manufactured in Alliston, Ontario, where 4.8 million vehicles have been produced. This factory became the global lead manufacturer for the 10th-generation Honda Civic in 2015.
Sources: Rivard, Guillaurme. Auto 123. May 24th, 2017.
Mertl, Steve. Automotive News Canada,
The Trillium Automobiles Dealers Association (TADA) is not pleased with Ontario’s recent labour law revisions, which may group original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and auto dealerships as “joint employers” of dealership staff, meaning that both entities would be liable for a dealer’s employees.
TADA has expressed its concern in a letter written to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, who says that these revisions are in place to help the Ontario Labour Relations Board clarify who is the “true employer” of dealership staff. However, TADA believes that auto manufacturers and their dealers are separate business entities which act as a franchisor and franchisee respectively, and is worried about the confusion that these revisions may cause for both parties.
TADA has asked that its members be excluded from “joint employer” provisions, writing “Let automakers design and build vehicles. Let dealers hire staff to sell and service vehicles in the local market.”
Source: Layson, Greg. Automotive News Canada. May 23rd, 2017.