2020: Ford Edition

With the new year fast approaching, Ford motor company has some big projects up their sleeve for 2020. There has been a clear shift in the overall market Ford is trying to cater to. Once focused around cars, Ford is putting crossovers are the forefront of their new business model. The Ford Fiesta, Focus, and Taurus full-size sedan are no longer being sold in North America.

Although Ford is simplifying its sedan lineup, it will continue to sell its Mustang and Fusion models. In addition, Ford will introduce an electric crossover inspired by the Mustang. Ford is also expected to roll out the new Ford Bronco in 2021 which is expected to be a massive success.

With the many upgrades happening to Ford vehicles in 2020, technology is at the forefront of these changes. Ford is expected to roll out their latest infotainment system featuring FordPass Connect, the connected-car app that features live troubleshooting, maintenance tracking, and remote start and looking. This new infotainment system will be a standard feature for all Ford vehicles with the exception of some F-150, Edge, and Expedition models.

So… what are some unique features of these new ford vehicles?

2020 Ford Escape:

  • Powertrain options including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, 2.0 liter turbo-4 with 8-speed automatic transmission.
  • Lower, longer, and wider than previous Escape models.
  • All-wheel drive
  • Ford Cp-Pilot360 (automatic emergency braking, active lane control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and high-beam assist.)

 

2020 Ford Explorer:

  • Three-Row SUV
  • Three engine choices with 10-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive: 300-hp 2.3-liter turbo-4, 365-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, 318-hp 3.3-liter hybrid engine.
  • Ford Co-Pilot360 Standard on all but the base and XLT trims
  • Sirius XM radio and FordPass Connect included

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

  • 760-horsepower 5.2 liter supercharged V-8 with 7-speed dual clutch transmission
  • Seven drive models with active exhaust system
  • MangaRide dampers, six-piston Brembo front calipers, 16.5-inch rotors
  • The most powerful street-legal Mustang yet.

 

2020 Ford Edge

  • Standard dual-zone climate control
  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • 10-way power driver’s seat

These are just some of the many new vehicles in Ford’s 2020 lineup. Classics like the mustang are getting a fresh new face while best-sellers like the Ford Escape are going electric. The future of automobiles lies in the hands of big auto companies like Ford. With electric vehicles at the forefront of automaker’s minds, the future of the automotive industry is surely something to look forward to.

Consumers Prefer Shared Control With Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous vehicles are becoming increasingly popular among drivers in the United States and across the globe. Automakers are pouring millions of dollars into developing fully-autonomous vehicles for consumers.

While automakers are working rapidly to push out new vehicles with autonomous capabilities, whether consumers will be receptive to the changes is still widely unknown. We’ve all seen Tesla’s massive success over the past few years, becoming the top-selling plug-in car manufacturer with over 101,000 units sold is no small achievement for the relatively new company. Despite this success, however, many traditional drivers have proven to be reluctant to hop on the fully-autonomous bandwagon.

According to a SAE International survey on public perceptions and preferences for autonomous vehicles, 73 percent of respondents prefer to share control of their vehicle. Additionally, a whopping 92 percent of survey participants said it is a requirement to have an emergency stop function ready to be activated by the driver if needed.

While most consumers are excited about the new developments in automation, consumers are still conflicted on whether or not they prefer self-driving car brands. According to the SAE, autonomous vehicles are a safer experience than driving a human-driven car. This same survey found that only 6 percent of participants have driven a self-driving car in the past. This, most likely because of the notoriously high price-point put on these vehicles.

Surely autonomous vehicles will become cheaper as more hit the market in the coming years. According to another consumer study done by J.D Power, over two-thirds said they have “little to no knowledge” about autonomous vehicles. This unfamiliarity with autonomy is the driving factor for people’s doubts about the cars. Once consumers begin to realize just how safe these vehicles have proven to be as opposed to regular human-driven cars, their confidence and excitement for the future of autonomy is sure to increase dramatically.

All in all, the biggest roadblock for autonomous vehicles is consumer’s doubt surrounding them. While some drivers are skeptical, many others are eager to get behind the wheel and try it for themselves. With proven environmental benefits and safety improvements, our doubt for autonomous vehicles may soon be a thing of the past.

The Biggest Threat to Automation? Jaywalking

Even the most upstanding citizens break this law… You guessed it, Jaywalking. It’s hard to imagine a bustling city without the occasional group of jaywalkers running across the road unexpectedly.

While jaywalking is certainly a safety hazard, it’s extremely difficult to control in a city filled with millions of people. Combine jaywalking with autonomous (self-driving) vehicles and you get an entirely new (and dangerous) public safety issue.

It’s no secret that autonomous vehicles are equipped with automatic-stop and pedestrian detection. The issue is not the cars themselves, but the confidence pedestrians have in their braking capabilities. If pedestrians know that cars will stop for them no matter what, some may be tempted to run in front of these self-driving cars, knowing they won’t get struck.

Automotive industry professionals have suggested a potential solution to the jaywalking epidemic, gates. Professionals suggest putting gates at each corner, which would open periodically allowing pedestrians to cross the road.

The former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Mark Rosekind says “With autonomous vehicles, the technical stuff will get worked out. It’s the societal part that’s the most challenging.” The pedestrian safety problem is not exclusive to major cities, suburban and small-town are also prone to these same jaywalking issues in the future.

Rosekind goes on to describe this shift in autonomous vehicles as “the single-most transformative societal change in decades. We have to be ready for it.” It’s no question autonomous vehicles are ready for us but are we ready for them? How society will adjust to these changes is still widely unknown.

As of right now, there are six levels of autonomous vehicles (0-5).

Level 5:  Aka “Hands off” The vehicle is fully autonomous (which is not expected to be released to the public for another 10 years).

Level 4: Aka “Mind off” The driver can safely go to sleep while behind the wheel.

Level 3: Aka “Eyes off” The driver can safely turn their attention away from the talk of driving.

Level 2: Aka “Hands off” The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, steering). The driver must monitor the vehicle and pay attention to the road at all times while behind the wheel.

Level 1: Aka “Hands-on” The driver and the automated vehicle share control of the vehicle.

Level 0: Automated system issues warnings and may momentarily intervene but has no sustained vehicle control.

While autonomous vehicles have received some negative media attention, self-driving cars are already proving to be much safer than traditional level zero vehicles. Today’s cars and trucks kill, on average, 300,000 people every year in the United States according to Rosekind. Autonomous vehicles are expected to greatly reduce that number in the future.

The Rugged Yet Revolutionary 2020 Kia Telluride

We all remember the iconic marketing campaign when Kia announced its new Kia Soul models. The ads featured hamsters playing the banjo, wearing sunglasses, and even wearing gold chains. This ad campaign allowed Kia to gain huge momentum in the automobile industry, something they have not lost since. Meet the brand new, innovative Kia Telluride.

Kia recently unveiled its 2020 Telluride with one goal in mind: to create a rugged, sport-utility vehicle. The Telluride is designed to handle anything life throws at it. From rocky terrain to your busy morning commute, the Telluride’s got you covered. So, what does the Telluride feature? Well, sit back and buckle your seatbelt because this should be quite the ride!

TECHNOLOGY

The 2020 Kia Telluride features an all-wheel-drive system with an advanced, electro-hydraulic coupling, sending the power of its big V6 to the front wheels, allowing for more weight at the front of the vehicle, therefore giving better traction to the driven wheels.

The system allows for great power shifting abilities, shifting between the front and rear axles seamlessly.

IN THE DRIVER’S HANDS 

While the Kia Telluride does most of the work for you, it still allows the driver to take matters into their own hands.

A tap of the center console drive mode control takes you into professional-grade ‘AWD Lock’. Here, the system’s central clutch can lock-in the power evenly between the front and rear axles. So 50 percent goes to the front, 50 percent to the rear.

Coupled with the center console drive mode feature, the Telluride also has an intuitive traction control system. Simply grab the brake rotor on a wheel that’s slipping, sending the torque to the side with traction.

The Kia Telluride also features a V6 engine with an impressive 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. With a strong mid-range response, rapid acceleration, and refined high-speed cruising, the Kia Telluride virtually does it all.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

The 2020 Kia Telluride is a powerhorse. Sporting a V6 engine, 291 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, the Telluride is some of Kia’s best work yet.

Ford Recalls 320,000 Transit Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. has recalled over 300,000 vehicles in North America due to safety concerns with their Ford Transit vehicles. The recall affects certain 2015 to 2017 Ford Transit vehicle models in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The recalls are associated with three specific issues, the largest related to driveshaft flexible coupling problems. Ford said the vehicle’s driveshaft could crack with increasing mileage, causing separation of the driveshaft, a loss of motive power or unintended vehicle movement when the parking brake isn’t applied. In all three reported cases, Ford Motor Company reported no accidents or injuries related to the issues.

Independent from the recent recalls, Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday that it would disclose the expected costs of the recall if the costs exceed $250 million. If the recall reaches that point, it would only add to the company’s cloudy future. In addition to the three different recalls applying to the Ford Transit vehicles, Ford also issued a recall on select 2019 Edge vehicles for an issue related to the seat-belt. This recall, however, is much smaller, affecting only 366 vehicles in the United States and 65 in Canada.

As if those recalls weren’t enough, the company also issues a recall for its 2019 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator models for their improperly secured rear-toe link fasteners.

Overall, Ford has had their fair share of recalled vehicles. That being said, the recalls are expected to cost Ford more than $250 million. These recalls would explain Ford’s lower profit outlook for the year. This mostly due to the cost of warranty repairs, weakness in China and vigorous competition from other sport-utility vehicles and trucks.

The Ford Transit vehicle recall was voluntary and is effective as of October 29, 2019.

3 of 4 GM Brands Sales Decline

We’ve all seen the ups and downs of General Motors, but with an intensifying union strike and decline in sales, the future of GM remains a mystery.

Of the four brands owned by General Motors, sales continue to weaken for three of them. Sales for all GM brands plummeted 28 percent, with truck sales improving 5.9 percent according to the Automotive News Data Center. The company’s overall sales have decreased by 1.1 percent to 2.1 million through the month of September. 

The Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC brands all had a drop in sales, while the sales for Buick models increased by 4.8 percent thanks to its Encore and Envision models.

 

Here’s the breakdown (rough estimates according to Automotive News Data Center):

Buick: Up 4.8%

Cadillac: Down 4.8%

Chevrolet: Down 13%

GMC: Down 6.9%

According to Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader, “The real story for the auto industry will be told in the coming weeks as Chevy and GMC dealers run low on pickup trucks to sell, with the UAW strike against General Motors leading the company to idle the plant in Mexico that makes the Silverado and Sierra, Dwindling inventory comes at a time of year when pickup truck sales are strong, and at a time when GM is in launch mode with its full array of new, full-size trucks. This will put the Chevrolet Silverado even further behind the popular Ram in sales. Most importantly, fewer pickup truck sales will impact Q3 and now Q4 profits at GM since pickup trucks account for the bulk of the income.”

In addition to the decline in overall sales for GM, their union strike has just entered its fourth week, and a union leader says that company negotiations have “taken a turn for the worse.” This union strike is bound to have a negative effect on the company and their financial standing.

According to CNN, General Motors announced that they will reduce their workforce by 15 percent including a quarter of the company executives. In addition, GM also announced that five of its production facilities will be shutting down. With GM’s major business overhaul, many workers are left looking for new jobs in the industry.

While GM is no stranger to hardships, it’s closing of 5 factories may indicate a grim future for the automotive company.

The Electric Surge

With Automotive companies investing heavily in the EV market, here are several vehicles you will be seeing in the near future: 

In 2020:

Aston Martin Rapide E: Making its auto show debut in Shanghai, the Rapide E features an 800-volt electrical system encased in carbon fiber and Kevlar, with 65-kWh capacity. Although the company has not announced the exact release date, the Rapide E is expected to go on sale in 2020.

BMW: Automaker BMW is wasting no time when it comes to producing electric vehicles. The automaker plans to produce a 3 series plug-in hybrid, improved X3 plug-in hybrid, and X5 plug-in hybrid all in 2020.

Ford Escape: Ford announced the fourth-generation Escape hybrid said to launch in spring 2020.

Ford Mach E: Move over Tesla, Ford is coming out with a brand-new Electric Vehicle that is said to be inspired by the Mustang. The Mach E is a crossover with a 300-mile range.

Jeep Wrangler: The classic, rugged Jeep Wrangler is notorious for being a bit of a gas guzzler- until now. Jeep recently announced a plug-in hybrid option Wrangler said to roll out in 2020.

Kia Soul: The notoriously boxy Kia Soul has been completely re-design and modernized for the 2020 lineup. While the soul EV has been around for quite some time, the new and improved version has a 64-kWh battery with 243 miles of range. Kia has committed to producing many more electric vehicles in the future.

Mercedes-Benz EQA: Mercedes-Benz is working tirelessly to deliver the best and brightest in luxury electric vehicles. Mercedes’ EQ sub-brand will feature an impressive lineup of electric cars including the EQA and EQC compact crossover.

Amazon Commits To 100,000 Rivian Delivery Vehicles by 2021

Online shopping giant Amazon is committing to 100,000 new electric delivery vehicles in 2021. 

Electric vehicle startup company Rivian just made the deal of a lifetime. Amazon executive Jeff Bezos said that it would order 100,000 vans from Rivian in an effort to be carbon neutral by the year 2040. Amazon’s goal is to have all of its Rivian vehicles up and running by 2024.

Rivian is an electric vehicle startup company founded in Plymouth, Michigan. Founded in 2009, Rivian has received billions of dollars of investments from companies like Cox Automotive, General Motors, and Ford Motor Co. Rivian plans to be the first company to produce a mass-market electric pickup, the R1T, which will hit the market by the end of 2020. The Amazon delivery vans will be produced at a former Mitsubishi factory in Normal, Illinois according to Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast. Prior to the Rivian deal, Amazon had purchased 20,000 sprinter vans from Mercedes-Benz.

How will this deal affect Rivian? Because of Amazon’s stellar reputation and increasing popularity, the value of the company is projected to grow. According to Vice President of Auto Forecast Solutions, “It helps boost the image of the brand.” Some even expect Rivian to become a potential rival to Tesla, Inc.

To give an idea of just how much confidence is in Rivian, here’s a breakdown of how much has been invested into the company already:

  • Cox Automotive: $350 million
  • Ford: $500 million
  • Amazon: $700 million

Rivian plans on making its Amazon delivery vans with the custom exterior, interior, software and suspension according to a spokesperson for the company. By 2030, Amazon expects to have a full fleet of electric delivery vans on the road. Rivian has developed one “skateboard” design, on which all its vehicles are based. That includes a 180-kWh battery pack and, according to Rivian, good for 450 miles of range, even in a heavy, not-so-aerodynamic vehicle.

Once the full fleet of Rivian vehicles hit the road, Amazon will have roughly 130,000 vehicles delivering packages. Going fully electric will not only cut down on the company’s fuel costs but will alleviate some employees who are upset about how delivery vehicles are contributing to climate change.

All in all, the deal between Amazon and Rivian will surely have a positive impact on the environment. With 100,000 new electric vehicles, Amazon hopes to inspire other companies to make the switch. Because electric vehicles can easily be charged at night, electric fleet vehicles are becoming more and more popular with companies. Cutting on fuel costs and saving the environment, Amazon may be the first of many brands to go electric

Americans Are Biting Off More Than They Can Chew When It Comes to Auto Loans

The average loan term is over 60 months and $30,000… can people still afford to buy new cars?  

No, that shiny new car isn’t a necessity, but we want it- and some Americans are willing to go great lengths to get it. What new car owners see is the new car, immaculate interior, and the odometer at 5 miles. What many drivers do not see is that new-car loans are more expensive than they’ve ever been before. Aside from that, many are rolling their old loans into new loans, which is a recipe for financial disaster.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, only 18 percent of households in the United States can afford to pay cash for a new car. With so many people living beyond their means, it’s easy to get caught up in an unfavorable car loan. What’s difficult is having the willpower to buy a used car when many consumers want a new car.

According to Experian, the average new car loan was $32,119 during the second quarter of this year. For a used car, it was $20,156. Of those with loan payments, over seven million people are 90+ days behind on their payments. To make matters even worse, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that 42 percent of all car loans made in the year 2017 were 72 months or longer, with the average loan length for new cars at 69 months.

With the country swimming in $1.2 billion of auto debt, it’s easy to get caught up in the mess. While some monthly payments may seem small, the overall price of many loans (including monthly taxes, fees, etc.) can become much higher when interest is added. According to the Wall Street Journal, average interest rates are at 10 percent for used cars and 6 percent for new cars. A third of all car owners now roll their debt into new loans, compared to only a quarter of car owners before the 2009 recession.

New AAA Study asks: How “Smart” is New Vehicle Technology?

With so many new safety features rolling out, AAA analyzed how effective these automobiles really are. 

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), new vehicle safety features aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Testing done by the association shows an inconsistency in the effectiveness of pedestrian-detection technology. AAA tested four popular sedans- the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, and Tesla Model 3. The vehicles were put through various scenarios meant to simulate dangerous pedestrian situations. 

Successful pedestrian detection relies on radar, cameras and various sensors to detect people in the vehicle’s way. Once the car alerts the driver, the driver must react quickly. If the driver does not react, the car will brake automatically. This prevents a potentially fatal accident from occurring

When testers drove the cars directly toward a dummy in the dark, not only did the cars fail to brake, but completely failed to detect the pedestrian. Even at 20 miles an hour, the cars had a difficult time passing the AAA test. During the testing, pedestrians were hit approximately 89 percent of the time. 

While Tesla declined to comment on the matter, Honda said its customers are aware of the car’s technological limitations and provides a warning for all drivers to always keep their eyes on the road (featured in every owner’s manual). GM said its technologies are beneficial to customers but do not replace the primary responsibility of the driver. Toyota said its pedestrian-detection technology has performed well in other tests performed by AAA.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2017 due to traffic accidents. Of those 6,000 accidents, many are pedestrian fatalities. According to AAA director of automotive engineering Greg Brannon, “Pedestrian fatalities are really becoming a crisis. While pedestrian-detection systems have the potential to save lives, drivers shouldn’t become overly reliant on them to prevent accidents.” 

The AAA study proves that technology is never a perfect science. AAA worries that the way automotive companies advertise these safety features can leave drivers with the impression that they’re safer than they really are. 

While new vehicle safety features are constantly improving, the best safety measure you can take is to always pay attention to the road. With pedestrian fatalities occurring at alarming rates, it is especially important to remain focused and never find yourself distracted while driving.