Autofield Blog

300th Show & a ’05 Ford GT


By: Gary S. Vasilash 31. August 2015

While there is great anticipation for the forthcoming Ford GT, the previous generation car, which was produced in model years 2005 and 2006, is still among the best designed vehicles ever.

2006 Ford GT

[Not Karl’s car.]

On “Autoline After Hours” we’ve interviewed Camilo Pardo, who is credited with that car’s design.

(We also interviewed Craig Metros, who worked on the next-gen GT.)

Ford GT - FIA World Endurance Championship

The new Ford GT setup for racing

On this edition of “After Hours” we have a 2005 Ford GT in the studio along with its one-and-only owner, Karl Brauer, who picked up his car in Santa Monica on August 23, 2005, with seven miles clocked on the odometer. He’s since put real miles on the car.

Brauer shipped his car east not to have it in the studio, but to attend the 9th annual Ford GT owners’ event, which was held, not surprisingly, in Dearborn. There were, Brauer explains, about 110 Ford GT owners who came to participate. (There were a grand total of 4,038 GTs built during the two-year run; the next-gen car is expected to have production of 200+ vehicles per year, but with a price tag in the $400,000 vicinity. . . .)

Oh, one more thing.

Not only is Brauer a GT owner, he is also a senior analyst at Kelly Blue Book, so he knows more than a little about the entire industry.

He joins Michelle Krebs of AutoTrader, host John McElroy and me on the show.

Oh, and it is the 300th “Autoline After Hours.”  (No, I haven’t been on all of them.)

In addition to the GT, we discuss subjects including the outlook for alphanumeric car nomenclature (e.g., Cadillac CT6), the manufacturers’ points in Formula One and IndyCar racing, and the outlook for sales going forward, given rising prices, increasingly age of vehicles on the road, and a whole lot of leases that will find their way back onto lots.

Check it out here:

 


 


Mazda & Design


By: Gary S. Vasilash 28. August 2015

Mazda—as we’ve said in this space many times—is the mainstream manufacturer that has consistently had the best design for its products across the board.

It is one thing to be able to create low-volume vehicles that have extraordinary designs. It is entirely another matter to shape sheet metal for compacts like this:

Midsize cars like this:

Mazda6

And crossovers like this:

And while some manufacturers have just come to the realization that design matters, Mazda has been doing this for a decade or more.

All good, right?

No.

Ask people where there’s a Mazda dealership and you’re likely to get answers that include:

· An endless “Umm. . . .”

· “Didn’t there used to be one over by. . .?”

· “I don’t know.”

Seriously.

In all, there are about 630 Mazda dealers in the U.S.

Which isn’t a whole lot.

Through July, these dealers shifted 186,153 vehicles.

By way of comparison, Honda dealers moved 189,440 Civics.

Still, Mazda keeps emphasizing design.

Mazda dealer

Yesterday it announced what it is calling “Retail Evolution,” the redesign of dealerships so that they’ll have the upscale look and feel that is characteristic of Mazda vehicles.

Said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, “Thanks to our KODO design philosophy and suite of SKYACTIV technologies, our vehicle lineup has never been stronger. We are now able to take that groundbreaking design language and translate it into our dealership experience.”

They keep on emphasizing design.

Good for Mazda.


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


By: Gary S. Vasilash 27. August 2015

While the drive to reduce emissions from cars and trucks is on-going, the automakers are faced with adding technology to vehicles that cost consumers money, but which can’t be appreciated the same way, say, LED headlamps or satellite radio can.

After all, those various and sundry systems that keep emissions from happening in the first place or that capture it before it goes out of the tailpipe are essentially invisible.

BIG smoke ring

Which leads to something that is happening in Copenhagen as a result of work being done by an architectural consultancy, BIG, along with an aerospace organization, Rumlaboratorium, and the Danish Technical University.

It is based on an idea from Berlin-based artists group realities:united.

They are going to create (assuming that their Kickstarter campaign is successful) to create a steam-ring generator that will produce a smoke-ring for every ton of carbon dioxide created by a power plant.

According to the EPA:

“To obtain the number of grams of CO2 emitted per gallon of gasoline combusted, the heat content of the fuel per gallon is multiplied by the kg CO2 per heat content of the fuel. In the preamble to the joint EPA/Department of Transportation rulemaking on May 7, 2010 that established the initial National Program fuel economy standards for model years 2012-2016, the agencies stated that they had agreed to use a common conversion factor of 8,887 grams of CO2 emissions per gallon of gasoline consumed (Federal Register 2010).

“This value assumes that all the carbon in the gasoline is converted to CO2 (IPCC 2006).”

So if there are 8,887 grams per gallon and there are 907,185 grams in a ton, 102 gallons of gasoline burned produces a ton of CO2.

Imagine if cars rolled around creating smoke rings every time they burned that much fuel.

Might make things at least more amusing—unless, of course, you were inching along on the 405 in Los Angeles, which would be one huge cloud of smoke rings.


Petersen & Pixar


By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. August 2015

A couple weeks ago we mentioned that one of the places that Gearheads need to go at some point in their lives is the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. . .but not until December 2015, when the museum, which is undergoing massive refurbishment, reopens.

How massive?

Petersen 2

Well, for one thing, they’ve partnered with Pixar Animation Studios to create “The Cars Mechanical Institute,” based, of course, on the Disney/Pixar Cars. This is an “augmented reality” exhibit that includes “CARSpad” mobile devices. The objective, in the words of Jay Ward, the Cars Creative Director at Pixar Animation Studios, is to “entertain, educate and inspire many generations of children.” Meaning grown-ups, too.

Petersen Pixar

What’s notable about the New Petersen is the massive amounts of New Technology that is being deployed.

So far, more than 68 miles of data-carrying cable have been installed, as well as an array of routers and switches so there is a 500-Mbps transfer rate. The Petersen has partnered with Belkin/Linksys to help with this infrastructure.

Among other significant data points:

  • 25 new exhibits
  • 1,600 LED lighting fixtures
  • 45 Panasonic projectors
  • A 130-foot long display in the Hollywood Gallery
  • A 8 x 20-foot storyboard in the Grand Concours foyer
  • A 166-foot long wall with 12 projectors in the Grand Salon
  • A 134-foot/180-degree wall in the Motorsports Gallery
  • 43 interactive touchscreen kiosks

Oh. One more thing.

There are cars.

Lots of cars.

Real ones, too. Not just Cars.


About the Hybrid’s Future. . . .


By: Gary S. Vasilash 25. August 2015

There are a number of fabulous failed tech predictions, like Thomas Watson’s 1943 comment, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” and he was chairman of what was to become IBM at the time.

Arguably, Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., was even more off the mark in 1977 when he stated, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

Now we all, effectively, carry computers in our pockets.

Toyota hybrids

Hybrids, one and all.

Back at the turn of this century, the concept of hybrid cars seemed fairly absurd, to those in Detroit, in particular.

Marketing gimmicks at most.

Even European automakers seemed to think that cars didn’t need electrification, they needed dieselification (and now not only are they offering hybrids, but they are jumping to full electric vehicles).

Maybe the predictions of the hybrid’s irrelevance isn’t as grand as Watson’s or Olson’s comments (Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, 1995: “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse”), but Toyota’s bet on the tech seems to be paying off quite well.

Toyota has calculated that since the first Prius was made available in Japan in 1997—the year that it delivered 300—to today, when it has an array of hybrids beyond the Prius, an array that includes forms like Lexus luxury hybrids and even SUVs, they’ve delivered 8,048,400 hybrids (through July ’15) on a global basis.

The North American market accounts for 2,789,100 hybrid sales.

Some gimmick.

Who would have predicted it?




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