100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are being outfitted with Waymo self-driving technology, (formerly the Google s
elf-driving car project) and will join the autonomous drive test fleet in early 2017.
This first-of-its kind collaboration brought engineers from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo together to leverage each company’s individual strengths and resources. Engineering modifications to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were implemented to optimize the Pacifica for the fully self-driving technology.
“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo.
Waymo and FCA co-located part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the overall development process. In addition, extensive testing was carried out at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as Waymo test sites in California.
“As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”
Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94 percent of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help FCA and Waymo better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.
In British Columbia alone, new car dealers account for more than $10 billion annually in economic activity…
by Blair Qualey
President of the New Car Dealers Association of BC
It’s that time of year again, when car shoppers can check out the hottest trends, latest innovations and some old classics at the 94th annual Vancouver International Auto Show.
This year’s show, which runs from March 25 to 30 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West, promises to be a great family-friendly event with some exciting new features, following a record-breaking year for auto sales in Canada in 2013.
The show is owned and operated by the New Car Dealers Association of BC, serving as a new model showcase for the Canadian automotive industry and representing more than 30 distinct brands from the world’s leading manufacturers.
Canadians purchased a record-setting 1.74 million cars last year: a four per cent increase over 2012 and just the second time in history that the market has ever surpassed 1.7 million units.
In British Columbia alone, new car dealers account for more than $10 billion annually in economic activity. This makes it an important industry for entire province where our dealer members employ, directly and indirectly, more than 34,000 high paying, full-time people in the more than 50 communities they serve.
The show may be at the coast and therefore a little too long a drive for many readers but I would encourage you to cast your eye over show media coverage and use that material for information and ideas. Then go to visit some of our members’ dealerships where they operate an ‘auto show’ for 52 weeks a year!
For those of you who can attend be sure to participate in the Green Ride and Drive, which puts you at wheel of the latest eco-friendly vehicles. Another feature is the Exotics, which is a selection of truly exhilarating automobiles – you can dream!
Visitors at this year’s show will also get to experience a bit of automotive history at Hagerty Classic Alley, featuring beautiful cars from the 1950s and 1960s, including a special salute to the Ford Mustang and its 50th anniversary celebration.
Two classic cars will also be auctioned off, with 100 per cent of the funds going towards two very deserving causes. The first is a 1966 Plymouth Satellite, funds from which will go towards the MS Society of Canada. The second is a 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe, profits from which will be donated to the New Car Dealers Foundation of BC.
For more information on the show visit: vancouverinternationalautoshow.com
*Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. Email him at bqualey [at] newcardealers [dot] ca.
Chrysler Canada recently recorded fifty consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth…
These days, there’s always something new and interesting to see at a Chrysler auto show product display.
Big and small, it’s got’em all.
There’s a super-cute little Fiat that can run forever on litre of fuel over here and a big, brawny heavy-duty Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Diesel that can pull a mountain over there.
Then there’s value-packed Dodge, go-anywhere Jeep and those top-line Chrysler brand products, including the sleek new (2015) 200 sedan. Gear-heads will, of course, be gathered around the SRT Viper, which reportedly can transport occupants to 100 km/h in less than four seconds.
On the business side, Chrysler Canada recently recorded fifty consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth, which is the longest period of continuous market improvement in the company’s history. Globally, 2013 was another great year for parent company Chrysler Group LLC, which reported a year-end net income of $2.8 billion, up from $1.7 billion the previous year. So far, in 2014, the sales growth story continues with award winning new vehicles and there are more new products in the pipeline.
The radically redesigned Jeep Cherokee was recently voted 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, by members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and has already achieved best ever mid-size SUV sales results for Jeep. Cherokee is the first Jeep built on a body platform co-developed with corporate partner Fiat S.p.A. The base engine is a fuel-efficient 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir 4-cylinder engine and there’s an optional new 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 engine. Other engineering highlights include a nine-speed automatic transmission and a new Jeep Selec-Terrain traction control system with up to five customized drive modes.
This year the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered with a new 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 engine option, which is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy, a driving range in excess of 1,100 km and towing capability up to 3357 kg (7,400 lb). A new eight-speed automatic transmission comes with all powertrains. Grand Cherokee also offers three 4×4 systems and a Quadra-Lift air suspension.
Led by the Ram 1500, Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of Year for the second year in a row and the only half-ton with a diesel engine option, Ram is now the second-best selling vehicle in Canada. Chrysler separated its Dodge brand and created the distinct standalone Ram brand to concentrate on core truck customers and offers a range of vehicles that includes pickup trucks, vans, cab/chassis platforms and commercial products,
The Fiat brand is a relative newcomer to the Chrysler family and is sold through selected Chrysler dealers. A recent surge in sales was led primarily by the introduction of a new Fiat 500L. Expanding the size and appeal of the diminutive Cinquecento (Fiat 500) and offering 42 per cent more interior space plus seating for five, the new 500L is a contemporary and uniquely Italian styling package.
If big, bold, and powerful is more your style, the Dodge Charger is a rear-drive, full size sedan with power to match its muscular styling. A new Redline Package comes with 20-inch black chrome wheels, Beats Audio and an upgraded 300 horsepower, 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine. If that’s not enough, there’s a new R/T edition comes with a 370 hp HEMI V8 engine.
The best selling minivan of all time, Dodge Grand Caravan is the definitive family transporter. It now only comes with a Pentastar 3.5 litre V6 engine – no gutless base engine here – linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A new “Blacktop” package includes a black gloss front grille and headlamp treatments plus black polished aluminum wheels, giving it a more sinister appearance.
The already mentioned 2015 Chrysler 200 is a redesigned mid-size sedan for those who have earned the right to enjoy some luxury and those extra frills, yet still demand value for money. The 200’s exterior front-end design is apparently the new “face” of the Chrysler brand and it’s now based on an Alfa Romeo chassis.
At the L.A. auto show about six years ago, the lights were turned out at an abandoned Chrysler display during the press preview days.
It was both ominous and sad to see, as behind closed doors a once great company was struggling to survive.
The dark days are over.
An all-new, multi-million dollar Porsche dealership has been opened in Vancouver by the Dilawri Automotive Group of Companies.
The sole Porsche Centre located in Vancouver is led by Dealer Principal Ajay Dilawri – who welcomed guests at the formal grand opening ceremony.
Bernhard Maier, Porsche AG member of the Board, Sales and Marketing, was among the many guests present for the occasion.
“Beautiful sights are synonymous with Vancouver and this new Porsche Centre is another great example,” said Mr. Maier. “This building is a great foundation to offer an exclusive purchase and ownership experience as well as foster the appreciation for the brand.”
“Vancouver is an important and growing part of Canada,” added Alexander Pollich, Porsche Canada’s President and CEO.
BMW believes there is a big future for wind power in its cars.
No, not for the propulsion of the prestige brand’s models but the making of their sleek machines of the future.
Long before visitors arrive at the auto manufacturer’s new hi-tech factory in this economically depressed region of what was once communist East Germany, they were greeted with a wave from four giant wind turbines. Those metal giants power the production of the impressive five-seater BMW i3, test driven today – by me – for Driveway.
The i3 models now roll silently off the production line; silently, not just because it’s an all-electric vehicle but also because the entire manufacturing process rarely rises above a whisper.
The BMW i3 is the first of the manufacturer’s projects for which the environmental sustainability objectives were determinedly set at the same high standards as the economic goals applied to the manufacturing process. Next year, it will be joined by the i8, which looks every inch a super-sports car.
To achieve those lofty dual goals, the BMW Group retains close control over the complete production process from the carbon fibre production, which starts in a hydroelectric powered plant in Moses Lake, Wash.
Entire noisy and stinky processes associated with manufacturing in steel are gone. Robots screw and bond the important parts together and send the shells on their way, suspended form an overhead rail. Happy workers can actually hear each other chat down on the factory floor, bathed in sunlight and breathing freely courtesy of an efficient hi-tech ventilation system.
Amazingly, the energy used is 50 per cent of that required to turn out a conventional car and 70 per cent less water is used. My group roamed around looking for waste, which turned out to be a waste (of time) in itself. The bits and bats and ‘wasted’ trim are gathered up and recycled for use elsewhere along the production line.
BMW even boasts the lithium ion batteries that will power each car’s motor will outlive the individual car’s life. They can be used as storage batteries when the car is put out to pasture… sorry, recycled.
If one of the eight modules should fail then a replacement easily drops in rather than there be a need for an entire battery replacement. The lightweight body is also designed with a view to quick and economical repair in the event of a collision. Body parts again drop into place with the minimum of fuss and cost. They say the cost of a fix will likely mirror that of putting a BMW 1-series back on the road after a similar crash.
Email: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca