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Bosch No Buttons

By: Gary S. Vasilash 12. November 2015

As we don’t have Suzuki cars in the U.S. anymore, it struck me as interesting that Bosch has announced that its multimedia system is being deployed in Suzukis, as they are still available in other markets. (Indeed, for those in Europe, the new system offers digital radio capability).

Suzuki Bosch

Knobs for the HVAC but not the multimedia

But what is more interesting to note is that the system, which features a 7-inch touch screen display (and offers Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, audio streaming, SD map-based navigation, and Mirror Link), doesn’t have one thing that is becoming of increased interest in at least the U.S. market.

According to Bosch, “Function keys and knobs have been completely eliminated.”

So in order to choose stations, select music, use the navigation screen, or perform other functions, it is a matter of pinching, swiping and sliding along the touch screen.

Said Manfred Baden, president of the Car Multimedia division at Bosch, “Using the smartphone connection and the easy-to-understand menus and symbols on the display, users of the new Suzuki system can stay connected with the outside world anytime and from anywhere.”

Of course, when that Scorpions tune comes on the digital radio channel and the Suzuki wants to crank it up, the ergonomics of a knob would probably be more helpful than a pinch, swipe or slide.

Performance Directly on the Road

By: Gary S. Vasilash 11. November 2015

Although tire development is part of new vehicle development—after all, the ride and handling of any vehicle is going to be significantly affected by that singular patch on the road surface (OK, there are four such patches, but you know what I mean)—generally an OEM talks about as much about its tire supplier as it does its seat supplier (and the tire supplier at least has the advantage of having its name visible on the product, while the typical seat supplier is effectively transparent).

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see this:

Ford and Michelin Team Up

Yes, that’s right, Michelin Bib in the company of a Ford Shelby.

Ford and Michelin have announced that they have established “an official relationship” for Ford Performance vehicles including the Ford GT, Shelby GT350 and GT350R Mustangs, Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS, and F-150 Raptor.

According to Dave Pericak, director, Ford Performance, “We have a long relationship with Michelin, and could not ask for a better teammate to help extract maximum capability from our vehicles.”

And when it comes to those cars (and truck), capability in the form of performance is what it is all about.

And speaking of performance, the Ford GT that will be campaigned at Le Mans in 2016 will have Michelins all around, too.

Ford GT - FIA World Endurance Championship

Product & People

By: Gary S. Vasilash 10. November 2015

Although it’s often said that this is an industry that’s all about product, it is all about people, too.

I received a press release from Fiat that included this picture:


Which, I must say, puzzled me, because when you see non-car focused images from Fiat, they are more along the lines of this:


Anyway, being intrigued, I read on. And learned that the woman in the picture is Anneliese Abarth. Yes as in:

2016 Fiat 500 Abarth

And I learned that Ms. Abarth is the widow of Carlo Abarth, the man who established the company that carries his name in 1949. His interest in things that are light and quick manifest itself in a motorcycle racing career in the late 1920s to mid-‘30s.

Anneliese Abarth was Carlo’s third wife.

Carlo married for the first time in 1934. The woman was a secretary to Anton Piech. And Anton Piech was the son-in-law of Ferdinand Porsche.

Makes you wonder why Abarth & Co. was sold to Fiat in 1971 rather than Volkswagen—although Anton Piech’s son Ferdinand didn’t take over the chairmanship of VW until 1993.


Hyundai and Sales and SEMA, Oh My

By: Gary S. Vasilash 9. November 2015

Hyundai had a good month in October in the U.S. market, as it reported cumulative sales, through the start of the year, of 638,195 units, up from 607,539 during the same period in 2014.

And chances are, come 2020, Hyundai people are going to be even happier because the day after sales were reported, November 4, Euisun Chung, Hyundai Motor Company Vice Chairman—and this is as in the WHOLE company, not just the US portion, announced that they’ve established a new brand, Genesis.

Genesis Logo

Cue “Abacab”

About it he said, “We have created this new Genesis brand with a complete focus on our customers who want smart ownership experiences that save time and effort, with practical innovations that enhance satisfaction. The Genesis brand will fulfill these expectations, becoming a market leader through our human-centered brand strategy.”

Or said another way, they’re going into the luxury segment, full bore.

The plan calls for six vehicles—sedans, coupes and an SUV—in the showrooms by 2020.

November 3 was when sales were released for the U.S. market. And by and large, things were awfully damn good, with October sales, according to Autodata, of 1,455,516 cars and trucks, which is 13.6% better than October 2014.

For the year sales are 14,507,911, which bests the same period last year by 5.8%.

2016 Cadillac CTS sedan

This is a wonderful car.  Why do so few buy it?

Of course, there were some winners and losers among the vehicles. For example, Cadillac SRX sales were up 65.4% in October and Cadillac CTS sales were down by 49.4%. The Chevy Malibu was up a whopping 122.1% and Chevrolet Suburban sales were off by 22.3%. The Lincoln MKZ was down 4.1% but the Lincoln MKX was up by 9.7%.

Some things are simply difficult to explain, but on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” John McElroy, Todd Lassa of Automobile, Bob Gritzinger of Ward’s, and I try to explain them.

In addition to which, we talk about some of the things seen last week at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, like the COPO Camaro:

Gen Six Chevrolet COPO Camaro

No, not coming to a street near you.  A drag strip, though.

and what is clearly designed with Las Vegas Boulevard in mind, the Toyota Tundrasine, which is 7.5-feet longer than a normal full-size Turdra CrewMax, at 26.58 feet:


Is this the official vehicle of David Lee Roth?

The whole Volkswagen diesel debacle is discussed.

And it seems like it can’t be a show without talking about the company that manages to get exceedingly outsized attention, Tesla.

You can see it right here.


Audi’s 1,000-hp Hybrid

By: Gary S. Vasilash 6. November 2015


What word typically comes to mind when you want to modify or describe a locomotive?

As in: __________ locomotive.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think diesel locomotive.

Which is probably a word that isn’t in much favor in Ingolstadt (or Wolfsburg) nowadays.

So it isn’t exactly surprising that Audi has announced that it is using a plug-in hybrid locomotive at its facility in Ingolstadt. A 1,000-hp hybrid.

Hybrid locomotive at Audi plant in Ingolstadt

Explains Johann Schmid, head of the Audi plant railway in Ingolstadt (know that there are some 11 miles of track on the site), “Our goal is all-around sustainable logistics. The new railway technology allows more economical, energy-efficient and low-emission rail transport. In connection with the latest chassis technology”—isn’t this beginning to sound like a description of a new A4 or something?—“the plug-in hybrid locomotive sets new standards in shunting and rail transport.”

The locomotive can run within plant buildings as it doesn’t have any emissions when it is running on electric power. It can run for up to two hours in pure electric mode.

When the locomotive is not being used, it is plugged in for recharging with what Audi describes as “CO2-free electricity.”

However, the fact that it is a hybrid means that there is another element of the powertrain beyond the electric motors.

And it just so happens that this is, indeed, a diesel locomotive, too.

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