Ford Creates Autonomous Vehicles Company

Ford Motor Company has announced the creation of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a new organisation charged with accelerating its autonomous vehicles (AV) business to capitalise on market opportunities.

The new company will include Ford’s self-driving systems integration, AV research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams. The new limited liability company, which is structured to take on third party investment, will be primarily based at Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit and will hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development. Ford expects to invest US$4 billion in its AV efforts through 2023, including its US$1 billion investment in Argo AI.

Sherif Marakby, currently Ford Vice President Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, will be appointed CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, reporting to a board of directors chaired by Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s Executive Vice President and President, Mobility. Ford says the closer alignment of the self-driving platform and mobility solutions teams will allow faster development of businesses that can thrive in the pre- and post-autonomous vehicle worlds.

“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain – from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” said Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

With Marakby’s move, Ted Cannis, Global Director Electrification, will lead Ford’s Team Edison, the team responsible for developing and bringing to market its next-generation of electric vehicles. Team Edison will continue to report to Jim Farley, Executive Vice President and President Global Markets.

Ford’s electric vehicle strategy includes rethinking the ownership experience, including making charging an effortless experience at home and on the road, as well as offering full-vehicle over-the-air software updates to enhance capabilities and features.

In addition, Ford is reorganising its Global Operations division led by Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs to include Information Technology as well as the company’s global order-to-delivery system, integrating the teams, technologies and processes from both across Ford’s production system. As a result, Jeff Lemmer, Vice President and CIO, will report to Hinrichs.

The realignment will help the company accelerate the integration and application of technology across its industrial system to further streamline manufacturing, speed vehicle delivery times, reduce inventories and improve capital efficiency.

All the changes are effective 1 August.

Holden’s First GMC Vehicle On The Horizon

Holden will release its first GMC-based product, the Acadia premium seven-seat SUV, later this year.

While the Acadia is unashamedly American in design, Holden says its performance and driving characteristics will feel familiar to Australians, thanks to local engineering input. Using lessons learned from recent Commodore and Colorado programs, Holden engineers have focused on ensuring Acadia has direct steering and a composed ride.

Holden is also putting a fleet of 14 vehicles through real-world testing, contributing to a total of more than 1.5 million test kilometres.

Dave Buttner Appointed Chairman And MD Of GM Holden

Automotive industry veteran Dave Buttner will become Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, with Mark Bernhard to retire from Holden and the wider GM group at the end of July, the company announced today.

The leadership transition comes at an important time for the Holden business, as it seeks to leverage its “strongest ever vehicle portfolio to win more customers, grow sales and strengthen GM Holden for the future,” said GM Executive Vice President and President of GM International Barry Engle.

“Dave’s proven track record and understanding of Holden’s markets – and the company’s potential in those markets – makes him the right leader for this next phase in the evolution of the business,” said Engle.

“GM’s most senior leadership strongly believe that we have a rare jewel in Holden, an iconic Australian brand that understands the needs of Australian and New Zealand drivers.

“Dave’s mandate is to work closely with our dealer network to win more customers for life, grow Holden’s market share and ensure our business is strong and profitable for the long term.

“Holden has all the building blocks for future success, including the best and most comprehensive vehicle portfolio in Holden’s history; the introduction of Maven, OnStar and GM Financial; and the ongoing global design and engineering work that continues in Australia.

“Dave is an outstanding leader with a peerless record of success in Australia and New Zealand. Holden will have a strong future under Dave’s leadership.”

“As Mark hands over the reins of Holden, I want to recognise all of his contributions over his career at GM. I appreciate his passion and commitment to Holden during his tenure as Chairman and Managing Director and throughout his career,” said Engle.

Bernhard said the opportunity to lead the company where he began his career in 1986 has been a privilege.

“Holden is where it all started for me. It has been an honour to lead Holden as we laid the foundation for a new future of this iconic Australian company,” said Bernhard.

“I am grateful to GM and the terrific people I have worked with through a career that spanned Australia, Europe, the US, Singapore and China – exceeding my wildest dreams when I joined the company as a fresh-faced eager graduate.

“Holden was born here and has a special place in our hearts. I wish Dave and his team every success for the future.”

Buttner has had an extensive 40-year career in the automotive industry, having most recently been President of Toyota Motor Corporation in Australia from May 2014 to December 2017. In his time at Toyota, Dave performed senior roles in Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, Corporate Affairs and Product Planning and Development. Throughout these roles, Dave maintained a focus on customers and dealers. Buttner also led Toyota on its transition from a manufacturer and distributor to an importer and national sales company.

He will begin as Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden on 1 August 2018.

“I am honoured and energised by this incredible opportunity to lead Holden, a company which is part of the fabric of our country,” said Buttner.

“I look forward to working with our people, our dealers and our partners to grow our business and get more and more Australian and New Zealand drivers behind the wheel of more and more Holdens.”

Audi Australia Initiates Takata Recall

Audi Australia has begun recalling vehicles with frontal Takata airbag inflators. The mandatory safety recall, which was issued by the Australian government earlier this year, requires that all affected Takata frontal airbags in Australia be replaced by 31 December 2020.

“Our customers are our first priority and, as a result of the Australian government’s mandatory recall of certain vehicles with frontal Takata airbag inflators, we will be conducting a staged recall of the affected vehicles between now and the end of 2020. We will contact owners to let them know when they should visit a dealer to have their Takata airbag inflator replaced, free of charge,” said Audi spokesperson Shaun Cleary.

The first group of Audi vehicles under active recall includes Audi Q5 (8R), model years 2009-2012, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators. By the end of July 2018, the following additional models will be under active recall:

  • Audi A5 Sportback (8T), model years 2009-2012, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators;
  • Audi A5 Cabriolet (8F), model years 2010-2011, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators;
  • Audi A3 (8P), model years 2006-2013, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators.

The company expects to have initiated a recall of all Audi vehicles with affected Takata airbags by the end of 2018. Owners of these vehicles will be contacted directly on an individual basis.

Audi has prepared a VIN check tool on its website (see address below) to determine whether a vehicle is affected by the mandatory safety recall and, if so, the specific date from which it will be recalled. The website also contains Audi’s approved Recall Initiation Schedule, which outlines more generally when each make, model and model year of affected Audi vehicles is scheduled to be recalled.

Audi says none of its vehicles imported into Australia are equipped with ‘alpha’ airbags, which have been identified as posing the highest safety risk of all the recalled Takata airbags and must be recalled by manufacturers of vehicles containing those airbags immediately.

According to Audi, the Australian government says that as the faulty ‘non-alpha’ Takata airbags fitted to the recalled vehicles ages and/or is exposed to high temperatures and humidity, the PSAN propellant is exposed to moisture and degrades. If a vehicle is involved in a collision, the airbag can go off with too much explosive force, rupturing the airbag inflator housing. This causes sharp metal fragments to shoot out, resulting in death or serious injury to vehicle occupants.

Audi says the Australian government warns a defective Takata airbag may rupture between six and 25 years after it is installed in a vehicle. In areas of high heat and humidity, the risk of rupture may arise between six and nine years.

For more information, visit Audi’s Takata recall webpage at www.audi.com.au/au/web/en/owners/Takata-Airbag-Safety-Recall.html, or contact Audi’s toll-free Audi Takata Information Line on 1800 856 770 during business hours.

UPDATED – Kia To Respray More Than 70 Sunset Yellow Stingers

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional details about the response Kia Australia received from its customers, including take-up of the respray offer.


Kia Australia will repaint up to 72 Sunset Yellow Stingers after a fault was discovered with the colour supplied by its paint provider. The paint is believed to contain an oil that may cause it to crack from stone chips and other types of contact.

According to Kevin Hepworth, General Manager – Media & Corporate Communications, the issue is limited to the Sunset Yellow colour.

“From what we’ve been told from headquarters, all the other colours have been tested and Sunset Yellow is the only one that is affected. The colour will come back onto the palette, late October I believe, once they have adjusted it.”

Hepworth told BodyShop News that Kia Australia has offered each of the 72 vehicle owners a complete respray, which will be covered by a lifetime warranty, though he declined to say who will perform the work.

Hepworth said that upon initial contact, about 75 per cent of Sunset Yellow Stinger owners had requested resprays, however final decisions have not yet been made.

“The initial phone contact is followed up with a letter and after that, [the owners] come to us in writing saying what they want to do,” he explained. “Nobody has made a final decision as to what they want to do. There isn’t a requirement that once we contact you that you have to make your mind up straight away.”

Kia Australia has earnt praise on social media for the way it has handled the problem, with many people claiming other manufacturers could learn from the company’s example.

Craig Lowndes Announces Retirement From Full-Time Driving

Craig Lowndes will quit full-time driving at the end of the 2018 Supercars Championship season.

Lowndes is contracted to drive for Triple Eight Race Engineering until the end of 2019, however the team’s managing director Roland Dane has agreed with Lowndes’ decision to step back from full-time duties.

Lowndes has achieved a win and three podium finishes so far in 2018 and currently sits fourth in the championship.

“I’ve always said there are two key factors keeping me racing and those are my motivation to keep getting up and doing what I love, and my competitiveness, and for me, nothing has changed. But at the same time, I want to make sure I finish my last full-time season with some strong results in the bag,” said Lowndes.

Lowndes will continue to be an integral part of Triple Eight for the foreseeable future by taking on the role of team ambassador, as well as co-driving one of the Triple Eight Commodores in the endurance events.

“He’s a massive part of the team here and has played a huge role in making Triple Eight what it is today,” said Dane. “We don’t know yet who Craig’s going to be co-driving with for the endures – that depends on the structure of the team – but he’s undoubtedly got a few more Bathurst wins in him.”

Lowndes also hopes to race overseas and in different categories.

“Le Mans is definitely on the bucket list and hopefully this will enable me to go and do that, which Roland and the team will be supportive of,” he said.

Lowndes has broken records and hit milestones in his 21 seasons as a full-time Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championship driver. The 44-year-old has amassed three championship wins, six Bathurst 1000 crowns and 106 race wins.

“I feel extremely lucky to have been able to keep doing what I love at a competitive level for such a long time,” said Lowndes. “I have to thank my family and friends, the whole team at Triple Eight and (engine builder) KRE, Supercars, my personal and team sponsors and of course the fans for supporting me throughout. Ultimately, the fans are the backbone of our great sport and the reason I’ve pulled my helmet on every race weekend, so to them, thank you.”

GPs Take The Title For Britain’s Most Accident-Prone Drivers

A study by GoCompare Car Insurance (UK) has found GPs are the most likely to make a claim due to an accident that was their fault, as more than one in every eight GPs has made at least one ‘at-fault’ claim in the past year – more than double the national average across all occupations. Interestingly, 11.6 per cent of these claims involved no injuries, with GPs not actually making the top 20 for claims involving persons injured.

The research shows that overall, health and medical professionals are the most likely to cause a collision on the road. Along with GPs, hospital doctors, surgeons, optometrists and speech therapists feature in the top 10 drivers by occupation, who are most likely to be in a no injuries collision that was their fault.

At the other end of the scale, those least likely to make at-fault claims were barmen/barmaids, pickers, packers, carpet cleaners, despatch drivers and car dealers at just three per cent.

“It may seem ironic that those working in the medical profession are those potentially causing the most accidents, but these are all roles which carry a significant degree of stress and usually long hours, potentially leading to a lack of concentration on the road,” said Matt Oliver, spokesperson for GoCompare Car Insurance.

“Further to this, another reason we could be seeing these occupations in the top 10 is because of where these health professionals are driving. Typically, they will be driving for short periods at peak times in highly built-up areas, increasing the risk of an accident.

Toyota Wins Le Mans 24h With Fernando Alonso

Toyota finally broke its long-standing Le Mans 24 Hours curse by claiming a dominant victory in the 86th running of the event with the #8 car shared by Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

The two TS050 Hybrids were a class apart from their LMP1 rivals, with the battle for the win quickly boiling down to a two-way battle between the Toyotas.

It was a see saw battle between the #8 machine and the #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez for the majority of the distance, with a rapid night stint by Alonso helping to ease the effects of a 60s stop-and-go penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone.

Aussie driver Matt Campbell in just his second year of international competition with Porsche, was handed his Le Mans debut with a seat in the Dempsey-Proton 911 RSR alongside Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer. The trio dominated the GTE-Am class for the majority of the race, with their #77 Porsche beating the #53 Ferrari by a little under two minutes.

Daimler To Recall 238,000 Diesel Vehicle Over Use Of Defeat Devices

The German government has ordered car manufacturer Daimler to recall 238,000 vehicles in Germany after they were found to be fitted with illegal software that masks diesel emissions.

Across Europe a total of 774,000 diesel vehicles could contain ‘defeat devices’ and Daimler said it would recall them all.

In an official statement, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt–(KBA) said it had ordered Mercedes to immediately recall selected Vito, C-Class and GLC models in Germany:

Among the models said to be affected are the Vito 119 CDI, C220d and GLC 220d.

The KBA has not indicated the age of the cars involved, although officials suggest they include latest-generation models with Euro 6 emissions certification.

Transport Ministers Agree To Drafting New Laws For Automated Vehicles

A new approach to driving laws in Australia will see the development of purpose-built legislation to allow an automated driving system (ADS) to drive more automated motor vehicles in place of a human.

National Transport Commission (NTC) Chief Executive Paul Retter said a new national law, due to be in place by 2020, would bring certainty to manufacturers and operators looking to bring more automated vehicle technology to Australia.

“With automated vehicles, there will be times when an ‘automated driving system’, rather than a human, will be in control of the vehicle. We need a nationally consistent law to know who is in control of a motor vehicle at any point in time,” Retter said.

“Without a change to existing laws or new law, there would be no-one to hold responsible for compliance with our road rules when an automated driving system is in control of a vehicle.”

Retter said the NTC believed a uniform national approach will help automated vehicle manufacturers and the public understand the legal framework they are operating in and accelerate the introduction of automated vehicles in Australia.

Last month (May), transport ministers agreed to a uniform approach across all states and territories to ensure there is always a legal entity in charge of driving when an automated driving system is engaged. This is set out in the NTC Policy Paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles. The new legislation would be in place by 2020 in time for the anticipated commercial rollout of automated vehicles in Australia.

The NTC proposed the introduction of a uniform law to:

  • allow an automated driving system (rather than a human) to perform the dynamic driving task when it is engaged
  • ensure that there is always a legal entity responsible for driving
  • set out any obligations on relevant entities, including the ADS entity, and users of automated vehicles
  • provide flexible compliance and enforcement options.

The NTC consulted widely with government and industry in 2017/18 with a discussion paper on changing driving laws to support automated vehicles.

Following on from the ministers’ approval, the NTC will work closely with road agencies and transport departments to develop the detailed policy recommendations and legislative analysis necessary to establish the new purpose-built national law by 2020.

“This is a considerable change to national road transport laws, to support the significant changes we see coming in transport technology,” Retter said.