Super Cruise Rated Higher than Tesla Autopilot by Consumer Reports

General Motors’ Super Cruise has been compared to Tesla’s Autopilot in an evaluation of 17 vehicles equipped with driving assistance systems by Consumer Reports. The Tesla Model Y with Autopilot feature finished second to Cadillac CT6 that was equipped with Super Cruise, which GM is rolling out to more than 20 vehicles, including its new Hummer electric pickup truck. Experts in safety and insurance has warned about the risks of consumers relying too closely on ADAS systems and their abilities. Many automakers call their products Autopilot, ProPilot or Co-Pilot, leaving consumers with a false sense of complete security.

Two years ago, the Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise scored higher than a Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot, in a Consumer Reports test of just four vehicles equipped with ADAS.  Now in the most recent test that was conducted in summer on a track as well as on public roads, the Cadillac scored 69 points out of a possible 100, while the Tesla scored 57. A Lincoln Corsair vehicle that was equipped with Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 system scored a 52.

The critical difference in the Super Cruise system is a driver-facing infrared camera to make sure he or she is paying attention to the road and is ready to take over manual control when necessary, said Kelly Funkhouser, head of connected and automated vehicle testing at Consumer Reports. The group noted that Autopilot can shut off abruptly in some situations, while Super Cruise did a better job of notifying the driver when the system is disengaging.

In similar tests concluded in Europe, a Tesla 3 with Autopilot placed sixth out of 10 systems, with high marks for performance and ability to respond to emergencies but low marks on maintaining driver’s ability to focus on the road. “The features might be cutting edge, even cool, but we think buyers should be wary of shelling out $8,000, or potentially $10,000 soon, for what electric car company Tesla calls its full self-driving capability option,” the report said.

Using Renewable Energy To Power The Future Of The Auto Industry

Often when we think of cars in the future, we imagine sitting in a cockpit as our vehicle does the driving for us. Sometimes we don’t see roads at all and take the popular term the sky is the limit to a whole new level. 

The flying cars we see in The Jetsons aren’t reality as yet, but the future of driving electric vehicles is fast approaching 

Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH is leading the way in electric car manufacturing.  The company is headquartered in Zwickau, Germany, and is a fully-owned subsidiary of the VW Group. It operates production plants in Chemnitz and Dresden and employs over 10,200 people across the three sites. 

Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH is devoted to meeting the company’s commitment to sell more than one million vehicles annually by the year 2025. To do so, they sought further insight into manufacturing profitability, optimizing efficiency, reducing manual workflows, and minimizing environmental impact. 

Green Light for Green Energy 

Because consumers are demanding higher environmental consciousness, there has been a rise in sustainable mobility. The VW Group strived to deliver e-mobility for everyone while minimizing the eco-impact. However, the VW Group needs support to meet its TOGETHER-Strategy program. 

To identify and deploy the best technology options for the TOGETHER—Strategy 2025 programVolkswagen Sachsen GmbH launched an 18-month project with partner IBM. One of the VW Group goals is to launch 75 entirely battery-operated models by 2029. The two companies worked closely with SAP in order to support the company’s move towards sustainable production. They developed a custom integration code, enabling Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH to connect their core SAP S/4HANA solution with SAP S/4HANA Sourcing and Procurement. 

A New Technology Platform Set New Standards 

Lead Project Manager of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Ronald Göllnitz said, “Electric mobility has to be affordable. With SAP S/4HANA, we have created a new technology platform that helps us set new standards at Volkswagen.” 

Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH has finally laid the groundwork for a global template for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with the help of IBM Services to implement standardized financial processes. 

VW Sachsen GmbH designed a standardized finance system that integrates existing processes, leading to increased transparency as well as productivity while enhancing analytic capabilities. The following became possible, based on SAP Best Practice templates and additional work with IBM Services:  

  • Reducing the complexity of its data structures resulting in 30% fewer cost centers 
  • Optimizing organizational processes with leaner approval processes, needing only 8 instead of 13 hierarchical levels 
  • Reusing 80% of workflows for global rollout of the new ERP applications 

Because of innovations in this environmentVW Sachsen GmbH realized its electric mobility mission. This takes us one step closer to a future with cars flying up against the sky. 

Winter Car Care

With the weather continuously changing and winter fast approaching, giving one’s vehicle extra care is important. For startersit is ideal to make sure your car is prepared for the winter during early fall to ensure that your car is prepared for whatever the cold weather brings. The last thing any driver needs during the winter is for their car to break down or get into an accident because you can’t see through your windowsLuckily, these tips can help you avoid these dangerous situations. 

First of all, get your batteries checked by a professional to ensure that it is strong enough to last the winter because it is more difficult for a battery to operate in colder weather. Also, get an oil change. This tip is easy to miss because of its simplicity, but the cold weather can negatively affect your oil’s effectiveness by making it thicker and reduce your engine’s circulation. Check your owner’s manual and purchase oil that is thinner than normal, especially if you live in really cold areas. 

Be sure to check your antifreeze level as it is essential for your engine in the winter. Make sure that the antifreeze levels are high and that there aren’t any leaks where it might be draining from. It works to keep your engine from freezing.  

Make sure to check that both the defroster and climate control are working properly in your vehicle. The climate control helps to keep you warm, while the defroster keeps your windows from getting foggy or icy—avoiding a potential crash. 

Wash your vehicle with special soap formulated specifically for cars and wax it to protect your exterior against the elements. Waxing should be done at least four times a year, ideally at the beginning of every season. 

After washing and waxing, it is important to check out the exterior of the car that are exposed while driving. Tires are the first accessory that should be checked because it is harder to grip wet roads if the tires are worn down and have less traction.  

If you live in areas that experience heavy snow, consider getting snow tires. They are made of a softer rubber than standard tires and have tread patterns that allow them to retain flexibility in cold climates and grip snow and ice. 

The other accessory that needs attention is the windshield wipers. Car wipers have a short lifespan and in the winter your wipers need to be in excellent condition to keep your windshield free of snow, ice, and other dirt that gets in contact with it. Do a thorough inspection of your windshield and wipers during the winter season so that you can prevent uncomfortable situations. 

The safe winter driving checklist also includes heaters, break, light, and filter. It is necessary to get all of these items checked before the winter season hits because it reduces the probability of a car breakdown. Try taking your car to the professional to get these parts down so that it’ll be in tip-top shape to endure the tough winter ahead. 

If you need a car that is in better condition or maybe just has more features to help brave the various types of weather, check out swapalease.com. For more information on finding the best car lease deals or to learn how you can have a successful car lease trade, visit Swapalease.com or contact them at 866-SWAPNOW 

The new trend in automotive hiring: Amazon

With sales flourishing and low employment rates, recruiting workforces over the past few years have been hard prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

As businesses are slowly slipping back to normal, automotive companies now face a new challenge, Amazon.

With a starting wage of $15, about 20 percent more than what auto parts plants usually pay to start, the online marketplace plans to recruit 100,000 hourly U.S. and Canadian workers.

Recruitment troubles

This is making auto-sector expansion a bit tougher than usual.

“Not just Amazon, but all of the employers who have done well through the pandemic while the auto industry was stalled, like Home Depot, food companies, grocery chains, and medical-sector companies,” said Dietmar Ostermann, U.S. automotive advisory leader for PwC.

Many other factors are affecting automotive manufacturers’ production expansion as they continuously compete for hourly labor with these major corporations and large gig economy employers.

Automotive employers are getting creative and reevaluating how they can secure talent in order to compete with other business segments. According to Keilon Ratliff, vice president and automotive lead at Kelly Professional & Industrial, this includes waiving some of the traditional hiring contingencies, such as drug testing as well as background screenings.

“You now have different sectors all looking for the same talent, and people are amending some of the qualifications that they have on the front end,” he said. “Companies have had to adjust those processes in order to compete.”

Auto manufacturers have been dealing with some of the lowest unemployment rates in America since World War II. Trying to recruit workers in a market where there is little available work has been quite difficult.

Although thousands of American workers were laid off and are coping with a recession, the recruitment of factory workers has been aggravated by COVID-19 this year. People are now more hesitant to take a job in a factory. Additionally, with the availability of unemployment benefits of up to $25 an hour, it beats out the bait of lower wages to go work in the risky, dangerous quarters of an assembly plant.

It’s all now coming to a head.

“There is a significant shortage of workers in the auto industry right now,” Ostermann said.

Different strategies

Employers are trying to get new hiring projects on track while some are simply returning to previous production levels. But the shortage of workers is a blockage. With about a tenth of a much-needed workforce missing, this can hold back volumes and hinder efforts to operate a plant efficiently.

David Kalb, president at Applied Tech Industries, a Tier 2 specialized automotive coatings provider in Chesterfield, Mich., said that shortly after the industry came back online, he has not been able to find enough workers to keep up with production commitments.

“We had to go to 10-hour shifts, six days a week because we couldn’t get good help, other than the people we had,” said Kalb, who services 12 auto assembly plants.

Kalb had to outsource some work to competitors, in addition to working extra hours. “Just in trying to find people, we’ve added more temp agencies. We had to increase our pay by a couple of bucks an hour because that’s what the market was doing at the time,” he added.

Additionally, others have asked salaried engineers to fill gaps on assembly lines.

“There’s definitely a battle for talent,” Ratliff said. “Customers are experiencing higher turnover rates. As we’re looking to engage with the workforce, there’s lower enthusiasm to go back to work due to COVID. The war for talent became that much more challenging.”

Some employers are even considering making their wages more competitive and are teaming up with organizations that have a connection to the manufacturing workforce.

The Texas Workforce Commission, which is a state agency that provides workforce development services to support the state’s economic development activities, creates grant programs that aim to increase the available worker pool by connecting incoming or expanding companies with those workers.

Texas is currently awaiting the arrival of a new Tesla Gigafactory truck plant southeast of Austin, which is expected to pull in more suppliers and incite local parts companies to expand production, creating the need for more auto workers around Austin. With the University of Texas, state government offices, and Dell Technologies as a major local employer, the area is hardly hurting for jobs. But now a new Apple campus there plans to hire 15,000 people.

“You can have all the great tax incentives and benefits and be a nonunion state and all these things that Texas has, but if you don’t have the workforce that is ready to meet those needs, that’s going to hurt that recruitment,” said James Bernsen, deputy director of communications at the state commission. “A key input is having that workforce, and that’s really been our strength.”

Brexit Could Cost Auto Industry Several Billion Dollars

Britain’s separation from the European Union could cost carmakers and suppliers up to $13 billion unless cross-border trade remains tariff-free and unbureaucratic, said BMW Chief Financial Advisor, Nicolas Peter.

During a virtual roundtable discussion on Thursday, Peter told journalists that BMW has spent about a million dollars this year to prepare for Brexit.

“The auto industry association ACEA has estimated that it could cost carmakers and suppliers 10 to 11 billion euros ($11.7 billion to $12.9 billion),” Peter said. “We need tariff-free trade. And even then, it needs to be seamless. We have a just-in-time manufacturing system so the administrative processing at customs needs to be efficient.”

He also suggested that Britain continue to keep pace with European Union emissions requirements so that carmakers can offer the same cars in all European markets.

“Strong demand for electric and hybrid cars has helped BMW stay ahead of projected fleet emissions reduction targets for 2020”, Peter added.

At this moment, BMW is on track to meet its full-year targets after a recovery in auto sales led by China helped the manufacturer overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter asserts that BMW will meet both its full-year forecasts and the European Union-mandated CO2 targets this year. He cited a boon from China, where car sales rose by a fifth in September compared to a year ago.

“The third quarter was much better than the second quarter, but with different speeds in different markets and regions,” Peter said to the reporters on a call.

The German carmaker has projected an automotive earnings margin, before interest and taxes (Ebit), between 0-3 percent this year, and for sales to be significantly lower than last year after the pandemic shut down both factories and dealerships. Earlier this week, the company said that deliveries of BMW-brand vehicles were down 11 percent this year through September.

Additionally, the company is trying to increase sales of EVs to meet emissions regulations in Europe which will get stricter in 2021. Peter said that he sees the company meeting those demands this year and next year.

Why should you get an Oil Change?

Have you ever wondered why we change the oil in our cars regularly?

A lot of people who do this regular maintenance on their automobile do not know or understand what it is or why they are doing it.

Changing the oil in a car is a type of routine maintenance—and is one of the most important routine maintenance for your car. The process is more than just replacing the old oil with fresh new oil, but it also replaces and recycles the engine oil filter to ensure that the vehicle is running safely.

Because motor oil and the engine oil filter are necessary and important to run and protect your vehicle, getting a regular oil change is the best way to keep your vehicle in a healthy condition.

Over time, the moving parts of vehicles rust or erode from friction and create heat. The motor oil lubricates the engine of the car and absorbs heat to prevent overheating so that the internal parts of the car can work together efficiently.

Engine oils break down and wear out eventually. When this happens, it loses its ability to absorb heat and lubricate your engine effectively. Vehicle owners should change their engine oil before this happens to avoid major engine troubles.

The regularity of your oil change depends on a few factors such as the type of oil and filter used, the way you drive, where you live, and your engine type. Most mechanics recommend getting an oil change every 3,000 miles, whereas automobile manufacturers suggest a longer interval, such every 5,000 miles. However, people who tend to drive at much higher speeds, have older engines, and live in very hot, cold, or dusty areas, should consider changing their oil more often. Manufacturers also suggest getting an oil change every 10,000 miles for those who use special synthetic oil. Car owners should consult the owner’s manual in the glove compartment of their car so that they will know exactly when an oil change is needed.

The oil filter, which is the tool used to clean the motor oil as it runs through the engine, is also changed during the oil change. Like the motor oil, if it is not changed, it will also lose its effectiveness, and will not have the ability to clean the motor oil. If the oil filter can no longer clean the motor oil, the oil will eventually become ineffective at protecting your engine.

Quantum Computing: The future of Auto

Quantum computing (QC) could potentially add billions of dollars to the automotive industry. Thanks to the recent quantum computing device that can operate at 1.5 Kelvin, the automotive sector have been exploring the computing device’s potential.

Although quantum computing applications are still about five to ten years down the road, the automotive industry has been exploring its effectiveness in the manufacturing and synthesis of new materials as well as the management of autonomous vehicles. The technology is said to have the potential to solve complex optimization problems that include processing vast amounts of data to accelerate learning in autonomous vehicles navigation algorithms.

Additionally, original equipment manufacturers and tier-one suppliers have been actively exploring the technology and its abilities to find solutions to existing issues related to route optimization, fuel-cell optimization, and material durability.

Automotive manufacturers such as Volkswagen and BMW have already announced their intentions to pursue quantum computing research. Their area of research includes quantum simulation for material sciences, as they aim to improve the efficiency, safety, and durability of batteries and fuel cells.

Volkswagen partnered with D-Wave in 2019, a quantum computing company based in Canada, to implement quantum computing to reduce traffic congestion to improve the travel routes of nine public transit buses during the 2019 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

Likewise, a German tier-one supplier, Bosch, has acquired a stake in Zapata Computing and contributed $21 million Series A investment in the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based quantum start-up.

With quantum computing services estimated to be worth 32 to 52 billion dollars in the automotive industry by the year 2035, the automotive sector, as well as automotive stakeholders are currently working on establishing a lucid QC strategy.

The primary potentials of QC include accelerated research in electric vehicles, improvement in vehicle routing and route optimization, material, and process research, and improving the security of connected driving. Furthermore, it can be used by automakers to improve fuel efficiency during vehicle design and it can also help to reduce drag.

The technology can potentially reduce computing times from a few weeks to just a few seconds, thus ensuring car to car communication in real-time. In areas such as vehicle crash behavior and cabin soundproofing, QC can apply advanced simulations and apply algorithms used in the development of autonomous driving software.

QC is a growing field that assists automotive companies with logistics and production-related problems, as well as the advancement of autonomous vehicles that require tremendous computing prowess for processing and wireless communication. The technology can possibly bring autonomous vehicles from the testing and prototyping stage to the highly anticipated commercial phase.

Just as the Auto Industry Revives Itself, Worker Shortages Impedes the Process

In today’s current climate, companies and employees alike have seen how the Coronavirus continues to affect the economy. This includes the auto industry; an industry that started to recover only to face the roadblock of worker shortage.

When the coronavirus pandemic began back in January, many companies were forced to stop production or implement very rigid protocols. For the auto industry or specifically auto plants, it meant the entire stop of vehicle production. Despite the altogether halt in production, consumers never stopped in their demand for cars and caused an insufficiency in inventory. Consequently, auto plants now have to play a game of catch-up.

So far there has been success in steadily restocking inventory. According to Wards Intelligence, an automotive research and analytics firm, vehicle production in North America has returned nearly to pre-virus levels. With such progress, it begs the question: Why are production levels not matching or exceeding pre-virus levels? The answer: worker shortage.

Auto plants are facing a staffing issue largely due to absenteeism or any reason an employee cannot go to work. The grounds for absenteeism cover a wide range, from reasons like not having childcare to being mandatorily quarantined after positively testing for the Coronavirus.

Furthermore, auto plants find it hard to convince people to join with such a large group of employees-approximately 2,000 people- in one enclosed space and when it lacks high-paying wages.

To combat issues of absenteeism and Coronavirus fears, auto plants have gone beyond hiring more team members and internally moved some of their ‘white-collar’ workers to the production line. This means these office-dwelling employees find themselves in the production line helping in the assembly of vehicles. Desperate times call for desperate measures as companies like Toyota, Honda and General Motors have all employed this tactic.

While it is unusual, it isn’t the first time auto plants have implemented this tactic. Emily Lauder, the vice president of administration at Toyota Mississippi, reflects on when she herself had to go from accounting and help build transmissions twenty years ago.

The automotive industry has had its’ fair share of challenges over the years. From emission woes to the demand to convert to electric powered vehicles, the Coronavirus is the newest challenge on the docket. Although there has been immense improvement, worker shortage has proven to slow-down progress. Hopefully, with the current methods being applied, the auto industry will be once again thriving in the economy.

Uber Says Their Vehicles Will be 100% Electric by 2040

Uber recently announced that every vehicle on its global ride-hailing platform will be electric by 2040. The company will contribute $800 million through 20205 to help drivers switch to battery-powered vehicles, including discounts for vehicles bought or leased from partner automakers. Uber, which has over 5 million drivers worldwide, said it formed partnerships with General Motors and the Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi alliance.

In a separate announcement, GM said the eligible Uber drivers in North America can purchase a 2020 Chevy Bolt and receive a GM employee discount.  The discount can be combined with the $8.500 national rebate that’s currently being offered. Bolt U.S. drivers will also be eligible for a discount of 20 percent below sticker price on accessories, including at-home charging equipment.

GM and Uber plan to launch a pilot program in Los Angeles and Denver to offer special financing agreements through GM financial.

“Through this program we’re offering new ways for drivers and customers across the country to fall in love with driving electric,” Steve Majoros, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, said in a statement. “This is a key opportunity to grow Chevrolet’s EV business through a program that matches our expertise and strength with a rideshare platform that brings its own scale and reach.”

Uber says the $800 million program includes discounts for charging and a fare surcharge for electric and hybrid vehicles, which would be offset by an additional small fee charged to customers who request a “green trip.” Uber also says that vehicles on its platform will be zero-emission by 2030. The deals with GM and the Renault alliance focus on the U.S., Canada and Europe. Uber said it was discussing partnerships with other automakers.

Uber has faced much criticism in the past by environmental groups and city officials over pollution. Lyft Inc., Uber’s smaller U.S. rival, in June promised to switch to 100 percent EVs by 2030, but said it would not provide direct financial support to drivers.

Before the pandemic, electric cars made up for only 0.15 percent of North American Uber trip miles. Ride-hail trips overall account for less than 0.6 percent of transportation-sector emissions, according to U.S. data, but the total number of on-demand vehicles has significantly increased since Uber’s launch nearly a decade ago, with 7 billion trips last year, according to Uber’s February investor presentation.

Beginning on Tuesday, all U.S. and Canadian Uber drivers in a fully battery-powered electric vehicle will receive $1 extra per trip, and an additional 50 cents in major U.S. cities if passengers choose to pay extra when booking a “green trip.”

Tesla Looks to Gain EV Lead in Energy Market

Elon Musk has found a new mission in the automotive market: providing power for EVs. Tesla recently acquired a license that will enable them to trade electricity across western Europe, and the company has also been surveying customers in Germany about using Tesla electricity in their cars. Automotive experts and consultants say this could be the beginning of many new partnerships. Germany is currently Europe’s biggest power market and home to many automotive brands.

Generating trading power would help Tesla lower the running costs of its cars at a time where rival automotive brands are producing new electric vehicles themselves. Tesla already sells solar panels to Powerwall battery storage for homes but not appears to be looking at selling electricity directly to customers using the home storage systems to provide services to the grid.

In June, the company became a member of the EPEX spot power exchange, a platform used to trade much of Europe’s cross-border electricity. A month later, it surveyed German customers about their interest in energy services. “What would encourage you to switch from your existing energy supplier?,” the survey said, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

“Would you buy a Tesla photovoltaic system and home storage (Tesla Powerwall) if you could switch to a specially designed Tesla electricity tariff?,” it said.

Tesla also asked potential energy customers whether they would allow the company to control when cars would charge.

This could allow it to coincide charging with cheap electricity rates during off peak hours, consultants and industry executives said.

Companies offering similar services in Germany include sonnen, Next Kraftwerke, and Lichtblick.

“The next and obvious step for Tesla is to get into production, especially of renewable power,” said consultant Berthold Hannes, who has 30 years of energy advisory experience.

“Tesla could use its own locations, for example the roofs of plants or the sites of charging points, and alternatively, or in addition, it could take stakes in solar plants or wind parks,” he said.