Audi Vehicle Safety Center Upgrades Crash-Testing Capability

First Up 09/28/23

Audi Vehicle Safety Center Upgrades Crash-Testing Capability

Audi opens a new vehicle safety facility claiming improved crash-testing technology. According to Wards, the Audi Vehicle Safety Center on the automaker’s Ingolstadt, Germany, campus is the result of about $106 million invested to create an 820-ft. run-up track, a mobile 100-ton crash block and the ability to collide two vehicles at a 90-degree angle. The block is arranged in the crash arena so that it can be moved and rotated, enabling a highly efficient process for the many different types of crash tests. The area is crisscrossed with several crash lanes, enabling research on collisions between two vehicles and integral safety. The so-called “flying floor” also allows vehicles to be driven sideways against obstacles. Each vehicle undergoes a high double-digit number of test scenarios before it is launched. Audi says the concept, technology and adjacent expansion areas were planned to meet the requirements of future generations of vehicles. They allow the center to be used flexibly and ensure that it can be equipped to meet new technological requirements, even as standards and regulations in global markets continue to tighten. Click here for the full story.

Mercedes to Offer True Self-Driving in Late 2023

Mercedes-Benz revealed on Wednesday that American drivers would be able to purchase Drive Pilot, its Level 3 automated driving system, starting in late 2023, making it the country’s first automaker to do so. “Drive Pilot is a technological game changer and incredible leap forward in the pursuit of conditionally automated driving,” said Dimitris Psillakis, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “This ground-breaking system reinforces our intention to lead in safety and technology, while giving precious time back to our customers during heavy traffic situations.” According to The Detroit Bureau, Drive Pilot will be accessible on a small number of EQS sedans in California and Nevada through participating authorized Mercedes-Benz dealers. In other states, Level 3 autonomous driving is not permitted by law. Mercedes-Benz intends to extend the option to S-Class models as well in the early 2024. Prices start at $2,500, with other pricing options to be announced at a later date. Click here to learn more about Drive Pilot.

This Ford vs. GM Feud Could Shape the Future of EVs in America

In June, Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley pitched visiting members of Congress on the company’s plans for a $3.5 billion battery factory. Using Chinese battery technology at the Michigan plant, he argued, was a smart way for the U.S. to catch up with China’s expertise. Later the same day at General Motors, CEO Mary Barra and her team had a different message for the lawmakers: Ford’s plans could be the harbinger of Chinese domination of U.S. car manufacturing. At stake in the meetings, described by people familiar with them, was more than just pride between the old crosstown rivals. According to The Wall Street Journal, it was also the price many Americans could pay for their electric vehicles in the next 10 years — and how the automakers would invest billions of dollars to sell EVs in the U.S.  The pair are lobbying over the terms of a $7,500 tax credit for consumers who purchase new EVs. Starting next year, buyers can’t use the credit on cars that contain battery components from any source that the U.S. deems a “foreign entity of concern,” a vague term meant to reduce American reliance on Chinese batteries and materials. Click here for the full story.

Strong Q3 Performance for Auto Sales Defies Economic Challenges — Cox Auto Forecast

According to an estimate by Cox Automotive, the robust year-over-year sales recovery continued in the third quarter. Despite rising interest rates on new-vehicle loans and a UAW strike against the major domestic manufacturers, September sales volumes are expected to exceed about 1.3 million, a more than 13 percent rise from 2022. Moreover, sales in Q3 are predicted to top 3.9 million, up more than 15 percent from the same period last year, reports CBT News. As the first three-quarters of 2023 close, Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, observed that many auto analysts may feel “pleasantly surprised.” The market has experienced high interest rates, genuine affordability concerns, and ongoing inflation, all of which have the potential to cause significant drops in vehicle sales. On the other hand, this year’s vehicle market has been driven by a backlog of demand.  Additionally, the September seasonally adjusted sales pace, or SAAR, is estimated to be approximately 15.5 million in the final month of Q3. This is a slight increase over the August total of 15.0 million and is getting closer to the rate of 15.7 million from July. Click here for the full story.

Grenadier SUV Will be Available in November at 18 U.S. Dealers 

The Grenadier, a rugged, boxy BMW-powered four-door off-road vehicle made in France by Ineos Automotive, will arrive at the company's 18 U.S. dealers in about eight weeks. According to Automotive News, production of the U.S. version of the Grenadier began Sept. 22 at the company's Hambach, France, plant. Ineos has 7,200 firm orders from U.S. customers who configured the vehicle and are ready to take delivery, said Greg Clark, Ineos' executive vice president for the Americas. The next step, which Ineos calls Dealer Day, gets underway Thursday when dealers can access customer information and contact them to finalize their purchase. Deliveries are expected to start around Thanksgiving. "Back in May, we announced pricing and opened up the order banks," said Clark. "We've had a really positive response as we moved from reservation to pre-order." Of 8,200 reservations, 7,200 are firm orders, he said. "Each one of those customers has not only built their Grenadier, but they've elected when they'd like to take delivery," Clark said. Ineos announced the first 18 U.S. dealers, all of which are in areas where SUV sales are strong. Each of them will get two demonstration vehicles starting this week. Click here for the full story.

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