Automotive Industry Seeks First Sales Gain for 2019

U.S. new light-vehicle sales are expected to be on a downward trend for the sixth consecutive month according to automakers reports from June.  The results will be released June 2nd, 2019- making this the second time in three years that the automotive industry failed to achieve a single month increase from January into June. Although showroom traffic hasn’t necessarily slowed, dealerships simply aren’t offering large incentives to increase their monthly numbers.  Higher interest rates and rising vehicle prices are also a factor.

Some automakers have experienced changes that will be important to watch.  Ram recently had a 22% increase, making it the nation’s number two ranked pick-up truck five months into the year, threatening the Silverado that has come in first on an annual basis.  Chevy says it plans to increase sales to commercial and other fleet customers after focusing on its retail business. For Subaru, May marked the 90th consecutive year-over-year sales gain for the brand.

Although light-vehicle sales were down 2.4% through May, light trucks will likely top 12 million in sales for the first time.  Manufacturers had never sold over 10 million trucks in a year until 2016.  Meanwhile, cars are down 11% in the first five months of the year, the lowest since 1958.

Interest rates have also played a huge role in the sales process.  An increase in interest rates has consumers spending less on upgrades, and holding back on overall buying.

Auto Industry Decides First Safety Rules for Self-Driving Cars

A number of automotive companies have teamed up to create new guidelines for autonomous vehicles.  The paper, titled “Safety First Automated Driving” was made with the intent to establish framework on universal safety principles that all self-driving cars should have to follow.  The standards deal with how the industry should monitor and report safety standards when building and operating the autonomous cars.

Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, BMW, Continental, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Here Technologies, Infineon and Volkswagen were all involved in crafting the paper.  The paper further outlines 12 rules and principles for the vehicles that includes items such as safe operation, operational design domain, vehicle operator-initiated handover, security, user responsibility, vehicle-initiated handover, interdependency between the vehicle operator and the automated system, safety assessment, data recording, passive safety, behavior in traffic and safe layer.  The paper is over 100 pages, and contains details on each topic listed above.

Establi8shing guidelines comes at a time when self-driving cars my be facing additional governmental concerns.  The US Department of Transportation has been working on its own set of rules at the federal level, while states are working on their rules as well- some more detailed than others.

Tesla Shaping Up Well for Green Car Industry

Tesla experienced a record quarter for deliveries, showing the market for green vehicles in the United States is expanding.  Contrary to some reports, it seems that Tesla does not have demand issues- according to a former executive for Chrysler and Toyota.

Tesla shared jumped more than 7% in extended trading after announcing 95,200 vehicle deliveries in the second quarter.  The analyst expectation was 91,000.  The company delivered 63,000 in its first quarter, as the company had a number of production issues.  The lower number had analysts predicting that Tesla had a demand issue. Tesla was said to have had many unfilled orders outside of the United States.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been stressing to his investors that there is a healthy appetite for the vehicles, telling them “there is not a demand problem.”  The most popular model was the Model 3, which was responsible for 77,550 of the deliveries.  Analysts predicted that the Model 3 would have 74,100 deliveries.  Tesla has not provided a regional break down by location, but they do expect to see more competition from other manufacturers itching to gain favor in the green market.

Gene Munster, a venture capitalist and Tesla bull, said Tuesday that  the electric auto maker’s deliveries show it is taking a “powerful step forward” after being plagued by production issues and executive departures.

Munster said the company appears to be working through its manufacturing problems, and in fact may not have a manufacturing problem.

Types of Cars and Their Best Summer Destination

School is out, and summer is in full-swing! Would any summer be complete without one or two of the traditional road trips? Certainly not! To inspire drivers across the nation to hit the open road, below is a list of summer destinations with recommendations on vehicle pairings.

If you’re headed to Route 66, Arizona: Consider a Convertible
With the ability to put the top down and enjoy a 360-degree view, it is only logical that the summer destination for a convertible is Route 66. Known for its scenic views and historical significance, Route 66 gives convertible drivers a diverse trip as they travel through multiple states; spanning across Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, and Illinois. Besides the breathtaking desert views, drivers can pull over at multiple, quirky roadside attractions. These roadside attractions range from caverns to diners to animal structures; allowing there never to be a dull moment!

If you’re visiting Daytona Beach, Florida: Try a Sports Car
The sports car is large, a ton of horsepower, and has just enough space to pack up all the beach supplies ever needed; making Daytona Beach the perfect summer destination! Home of NASCAR Headquarters, Daytona Beach is every sports car driver or racing enthusiast dream. When a sports car driver is not possibly speeding down the racetrack in a ride-along session at NASCAR, they can take a stylish ride down the 23 miles of compact sand offered by the beach.

For a summer in Shiloh Ridge, Texas: Opt for an “All American” Truck
Trucks and mudding go together like mac n’ cheese. That is why, for summer locations, truck drivers are directed to Shiloh Ridge in Alto, Texas.  A park of around 1000 acres with trails of over 36 miles and four mud pits, truck drivers should expect to have an adrenaline-packed time! Additionally, if there are any truck drivers that are true mudding enthusiasts, Shiloh Ridge is the place of the Texas Redneck Games: a four-day event of mudding, contests, and entertainment!

For a family road- trip to Stanley, Idaho: Get comfortable in a Van, Hatchbacks, or Sedan
What do vans, hatchbacks, and sedans all have in common? They are versatile…and so is Stanley, Idaho! In Stanley-the “Trailhead to Idaho Adventure”- activities range from those of the outdoors to those of downtown to those of a spa. With all the variety provided, drivers can pick several activities to create an experience unique to them!

A New Development in Self-driving Technology with Radar

Self-driving vehicles still face many obstacles in their ongoing development; including the obstacle of extreme weather conditions. Companies and automakers alike have wondered how it could better the sensors currently used to work in hazardous conditions like ice, snow, or heavy rain. Now, with the integration of radar, there may finally be an answer.

What is radar? Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging System) is a technology that uses an electromagnetic system to identify an object by distance and location. While RADAR was created in 1935, its widespread use wasn’t until World War II, and it wasn’t until 1999 that radar was first used in the production of automobiles.

Until recently, self-driving companies preferred lidar(laser) and camera-based sensors over radar. The sudden interest self-driving companies have in radar may be due to some of the advantages radar has over the current sensors. According to LIDAR and RADAR Information, these advantages include penetrating mediums such as snow, giving the exact position of an object, determining the velocity of a target, and measuring the distance of an object. With these advantages in mind, three companies are actively incorporating radar into its self-driving technology: Bosch, Lunewave, and Wavesense.

Bosch, a global engineering and electronics company, has begun making a prototype in its ongoing journey with radar. This prototype pinpoints its location through a road signature created by GPS and radar data; forgoing the need for camera-based sensors. While Bosch is still developing its prototype, it has shown the prototype’s success through a recent test run on a snowy state highway in Michigan.

Wavesense, a company out of Boston, has a radar system unlike any other currently on the market. This radar system pierces the ground; gaining an idea of the surroundings through soil type, soil density, roots, rocks, and infrastructure. Based on the information gathered, the system creates a map of the road’s subsurface that allows the automobile to position itself laterally two centimeters and longitudinally 15 centimeters.

Lunewave, a start-up technology company in Arizona, created their own customized set of Luneburg antennas. Luneburg antennas, designed by German physicist Rudolf Luneburg in the 1940s, are radar antennas known for their range and detection capabilities. Lunewave updated the common Luneberg antennas by reducing its size to fit inside a vehicle. A device the size of a small fruit, these antennas can sense obstacles at around 380 yards, and sense obstacles from a 360 degrees viewpoint.