Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
Yesterday marked the second and final day of the press previews at the Detroit Auto Show. Here’s all the industry news on the heels of the show and a roundup of all that was unveiled yesterday.
And yes, we survived living in the vans. Barely.
1st Gear: Survey Says Drivers Want Cars To Do Everything, And They Don’t Want To Buy Them
Here’s some depressing news after all those neat cars came out in Detroit yesterday: an IBM Automotive survey of 16,000 people worldwide revealed that drivers increasingly want their cars to do everything for them, and a quarter aren’t even interested in full-time ownership. Via The Detroit News:
Drivers want their cars to be smarter and do more things for themselves and their owners, according to results of a study announced Tuesday by IBM. And they don’t necessarily want to purchase cars outright.
“It all comes down to the consumer experience,” said David Taylor, director of automotive connected services for Panasonic, which is involved with a cooperative effort that includes Ford Motor Co. and other carmakers. Survey results were released Tuesday, as part of the Detroit auto show press preview days.
According to Donna Satterfield, IBM Automotive vice president, the four major things learned from the driver study are that consumers want their cars to learn, diagnose problems, fix and drive themselves and enable their human users to socialize.
So, do everything humans used to do? Okay then. That 1980s Mercedes has never looked more appealing.
2nd Gear: GM Dabbles With Online Car Shopping
This is just a two-paragraph blip in Reuters but it’s very interesting: next month General Motors will launch a new website to market and help re-sell lightly used vehicles from leases, employee vehicle programs and rental car companies.
Consumers will be able to browse a collection of about 30,000 vehicles, which GM said will all have fewer than 37,000 miles on their odometers, and then arrange to buy them from franchised dealers.
The last part is key, because while a lot of companies would probably love to try and experiment with online car sales like Tesla Motors does, they can’t do so without pissing off their dealer networks. This seems like an interesting compromise, albeit one like Cars.com or AutoTrader.
3rd Gear: Most Important Cars At Detroit?
Automotive News notes that at the Detroit show, “the number of concept and future production vehicles getting their world debuts at the show are far fewer this year than in years past,” but there were still some standouts. The pub’s top picks were the Acura Precision Concept, Buick Avista, Chrysler Town & Co-er, Pacifica, Honda Ridgeline and Lincoln Continental.
4th Gear: Lincoln Targets China
I was pretty thoroughly disappointed in the new Continental after last year’s beefy Bentley-esque concept. But remember, it’s not for you, it’s for China. Ford CEO Mark Fields re-iterated this yesterday, reports Reuters:
“We’re not trying to out-German the Germans or try to be like anyone else,” Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields told reporters at the Detroit auto show, declining to forecast sales volume for the revival of the Continental, a model that was discontinued in 2002.
Ford’s U.S. luxury sales have lagged those of foreign competitors including BMW AG and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit. Until the 1990s, Lincoln along with General Motors Co’s Cadillac were far and away the U.S. luxury sales leaders.
[...] Ford sold about 11,000 Lincoln vehicles in China last year, which was its first full year on sale in China. To attract more Chinese buyers, many who have drivers, Lincoln is offering Continental versions with enhanced backseat comfort and features including greater connectivity.
5th Gear: Ghosn Skeptical Of Car-Sharing And Connectivity
Even as Nissan-Renault pledges to bring autonomy to the masses in an affordable way, CEO Carlos Ghosn said last night he’s skeptical of all the stuff you read in 1st Gear. Once more from Automotive News:
He acknowledged that the practice is gaining prominence, and noted that General Motors just invested $500 million in the taxi service Lyft.
Still, he said, “you have to be careful not to jump to conclusions. We have contradictory trends coming. There are some things that go against sharing.”
For examples, he said, smartphones defy the sharing trend because they contain a wealth of private data. Similarly, he said, “the car is going to be connected, and you’re going to have a lot of personal data. You’re going to have emails, videos, phone calls and images, etc. Some people are not going to want to share.”
And that data is going to be very valuable to marketers, automakers, and the government. More tech raises more questions.
Reverse: As Read In Unsafe At Any Speed