Here’s a special extra episode for our listeners. Sam will be doing a talk on partnerships in automated vehicle development during the Drive World Expo conference in Santa Clara, California August 27-29. In the runup to the conference, the organizers have produced a special podcast series called the Drive to Level 5. Sam talks with host Jack Heslin about the his topic in episode 5.
This week Rebecca and Sam had very different hybrid experiences on opposite coasts. Rebecca has been enjoying the thrill of the Acura NSX while Sam got to sample the 2020 Ford Explorer. They also both to sample the third generation Kia Soul in faux crossover flavor and find it continues to be a favorite small car. Meanwhile Dan has been getting around in the latest Nissan Altima.
GM is reportedly considering reviving the once gas guzzling Hummer brand to build EVs. Aurora Innovation is shifting alliances and taking on new partners to develop automated driving systems and Mazda is eschewing touchscreens, something two-thirds of trio wholeheartedly approve of.
This time out, Sam is recording from a hotel room in Miami as we discuss the Volvo XC40 T5 and its goofy shifter design, the Audi Q5 and its surprisingly fast handwriting recognition and the marvelous Kia Stinger. Subscriptions may or may not be the future of car buying, assuming car buying even has a future in an age of automated vehicles. Faraday almost certainly has no Future and Walmart joins Ford’s automated delivery test program.
After a week off, we have an extended length show to make up for it. Dan drives a very expensive Ford F-150 and a sportier Acura MDX A-Spec. Sam goes from the not really a crossover Toyota C-HR to the ginormous Genesis G90. Then we dive into some discussion of sales and earnings, GM’s call for a national EV mandate in response to Trump administration moves to freeze fuel economy standards and cost cutting moves while profits are still reasonably healthy. We also discuss Consumer Reports reliability data and answer listener questions including the Hyundai pickup truck.
This week Sam drives the latest Mazda6 which is still his favorite midsize sedan while Dan samples the Hyundai Kona and Toyota Sienna with all-wheel-drive. As the auto industry changes, Mercedes-Benz considers paring down niche models while GM and Honda team up on automated driving and mobility.
Wheel Bearings episode 79, Larry Burns photo by Hite Photography
In this special episode of Wheel Bearings, Sam sits down with Larry Burns, retired SVP of R&D and Strategic Planning at General Motors to talk about his new book, Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car—And How It Will Reshape Our World. Since retiring from GM in 2009, Burns has been an educator and consultant including working with the Google Self-driving car project and Waymo since 2011. The book is a great read for anyone interested in learning more the history of the DARPA Grand Challenge and development of automated vehicles in the past decade.
This week Sam drives what may end up being the last Ford car to Pittsburgh to learn about how Argo AI is helping Ford build the future of transportation. Dan takes a road trip in the biggest of Ford’s passenger carrying vehicles. A lot of very cool vehicles climb Lord March’s driveway at the Goodwood festival of Speed. VW will build some of its new generation of EVs in America. Small Hyundai’s are really good. The guys discuss the meaning of crossover in an attempt to answer a listener question, too.
This week Sam has been in the new Ford Expedition Max, Dan gets a re-run of the Lincoln Navigator and Mazda CX-9. Lots of news including the new Audi e-Tron quattro without mirrors, chargers for GM’s automated Chevy Bolts, rising prices due to the trade war and the Toyota Supra goes to NASCAR. Finally, Honda builds a 150 mph lawnmower because why not?
The delay between episodes is always Dan’s fault. Most of the miles were put on this week via 737-700s and a rental Kia Soul. Sam was busy paying attention to all of the automotive goings-on, including leadership shuffles at General Motors, and Ford’s latest real estate investment in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, while also finding time to drive the 2019 Honda Insight. Because it’s been a while, there’s also a plethora of cars we’ve been driving. Sam was in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the 2018 Nissan Leaf while Dan tried out the 2019 Ram 1500 Laramie and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label.
This week Sam really likes the third-generation Acura RDX, Dan likes the Mazda CX-5 and then they try hard not to talk about Tesla and mostly succeed although you can see more of Sam’s opinion on the subject at the link below. The guys also talk GM and Softbank and the upcoming product plans for Chrysler and Dodge. Just kidding on the last part, there are no known product plans for Chrysler and Dodge but Jeep, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Maserati are all getting new stuff.