Consumer Reports isn’t at all impressed with Tesla’s Autopilot, Fiat Chrysler reports record profits and Jaguar Land Rover is ready to hand a lot of money over to the European Union. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 28, 2020.
Consumer Reports is the only publication in America that can honestly claim to test cars in any way that approaches objective. It actually purchases the cars it tests and puts them through their paces on its own track and elsewhere. All of that gives it weight when it says, like it did today, that Tesla’s Autopilot is a “distant second” to GM’s Super Cruise.
CR says this is because of Super Cruise’s monitoring system, which can detect when drivers stop paying attention.
From Consumer Reports:
Even after two years, Cadillac’s Super Cruise remained our top-rated system because, when turned on, it uses direct driver monitoring to warn drivers that appear to have stopped paying attention to the road. General Motors told CR that Super Cruise will be on 22 GM vehicles by 2023. Of the other systems we tested, we saw minor improvements in lane keeping performance for the Tesla and Volvo. Systems that didn’t give clear warnings to the driver to pay attention, such as Volvo’s, or that failed to keep the vehicle within its lane, even on fairly straight roads, such as systems from Buick, Mazda, and Land Rover, didn’t fare well in our overall scoring. When CR requested comment from these companies, several said their lane keeping assist systems were not designed to keep the vehicles centered. (See rankings below.)
“Even with new systems from many different automakers, Super Cruise still comes out on top due to the infrared camera ensuring the driver’s eyes are looking toward the roadway,” says Kelly Funkhouser, CR’s head of connected and automated vehicle testing.
Monitoring whether the driver is paying attention is a big part of the reason that Super Cruise is still tops in our ranking. The system uses a small camera facing the driver’s eyes to assess whether they are watching the road ahead. If the system determines that a driver isn’t paying attention, it delivers multiple warnings—such as bright red lights on the upper rim of the steering wheel—to grab the driver’s attention. If the driver still does not react, the system will start to slow the car down on its own, eventually bringing it to a stop. It also will call for help.
One of my pet conspiracy theories is that Super Cruise’s camera is there to protect GM when you crash using Super Cruise and GM needs to prove that you weren’t paying attention. Also, I don’t really believe in any conspiracy theories, since they assume that people aren’t as lazy as they are.
FCA said today it had a net income of $1.4 billion for the third quarter, including what Automotive News says is a record profit in the U.S. This seems to be a part of a pandemic rebound, as consumers go back to buying cars. You can read FCA’s press release on the matter here, but here is Auto News’s summary:
The automaker, in one of its final earnings reports before its merger with PSA Group is scheduled to close early next year, said it earned an adjusted $3 billion in North America, up 26 percent from a year ago, due to positive pricing and lower advertising costs. Unit sales in North America declined 8 percent.
FCA’s global adjusted profit increased 21 percent to $1.8 billion — another record — as factories in North America and Europe largely returned to normal after the coronavirus disrupted the industry in the spring. Revenue fell 6 percent to $30.3 billion.
The company’s net income compares with a loss of $210 million in the third quarter of 2019, which included one-time charges of $1.5 billion from Europe.
This is all very exciting for FCA shareholders. The stock is up this morning and has also been up in recent months. As a longer-term proposition, well, we’ll see.
Emissions regulations in Europe are finally taking hold this year, because Europe is worried about the world ending or something. Jaguar Land Rover said it expected to pay a big fine as a result.
From Automotive News:
Jaguar Land Rover has set aside 90 million pounds ($118 million) to pay a likely European Union fine for failing to meet its CO2 emissions reduction target.
The automaker expects to miss its goal because of delays in launching new plug-in hybrid vehicles, which emit less CO2 than diesel and gasoline models.
“We are not happy that we will not be compliant in 2020, but a lot of that has been taken out of our hands,” JLR CFO Adrian Mardell told investors during the automaker’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday.
The rollout of the plug-in hybrid Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport was halted after the crossovers’ stated CO2 emissions figures rose above the original amount promised when they went on sale in April.
“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not yet in a position to deliver the previously communicated best-case WLTP combined figures,” Land Rover said.
Land Rover previously said the Evoque P300e’s CO2 was as low as 32 grams per km and the Discovery Sport P300e was as low as of 36 g/km.
Land Rover now says the lowest emitting model records 44 g/km and has an electric range of 43 km (27 miles), compared to 66 km previously. The automaker declined to say which model reaches those levels.
The company said it aims to improve those figures in future versions.
This has been a theme, truckmakers partnering to work on EV tech, because research and development is very expensive.
From VW’s statement today:
TRATON SE (TRATON) and Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) have signed a joint venture agreement for e-mobility in order to plan and provide e-mobility products that will be based on the two companies’ strategic partnership to offer customers the highest value. TRATON and Hino will combine their unique strengths to consequently develop electric vehicles including battery electric vehicles (BEV), fuel cell vehicles (FCV), and relevant components as well as creating common EV platforms including software and interfaces. They will form a team of advanced specialists from both companies and launch activities in Södertälje (Sweden) and in a second step in Tokyo (Japan). TRATON and Hino will team up to shorten lead times for future e-mobility products with battery and fuel cell technology. The two companies are convinced that both technologies will be needed in the future.
PSA, which makes Peugeot, Citroën, Vauxhall and Opel cars and is also in the midst of the aforementioned merger with FCA, reported its third-quarter earnings today. It said it was doing basically fine.
Per the Financial Times:
PSA said that overall sales in the quarter were down 0.8 per cent compared with the same period last year to €15.5bn. However, sales at its key automotive division were up 1.2 per cent at €12bn.
The number of cars it sold fell but a “strong product mix and pricing policy” — highlighting the renewed focus on more profitable models pushed by chief executive Carlos Tavares — helped keep revenues in the autos division positive.
Revenues had fallen sharply in the first half, with the automotive division down 35.5 per cent as PSA, along with peers, suffered as lockdowns closed dealerships and cut demand for cars.
Philippe Houchois, an analyst at Jefferies, said PSA’s overall revenues were 5.6 per cent above consensus estimates while the auto division revenues were 10 per cent ahead.
I stumbled and fell last night (everything is fine!!!!) and apparently upset my neighbors. Is this a metaphor for blogging? Who can say?