General Motors will invest half a billion dollars into Lyft, part of which will involve self-driving car development, the company said Monday. Ford followed with…
The New York Auto Show recently wrapped up after plenty of announcements to whet the appetite of automotive media and vehicle buyers.
Along with the hype and shine came some messages collision repairers should hear as well.
We already covered the carbon-fiber-hatched, plug-in hybrid Prius Prime, and the lightweight bodies of the Hyundai Ioniq rivals, which runs the gamut from hybrid to electric. Here’s three other announcements worth your attention.
2017 Acura MDX
Honda made the AcuraWatch package of advanced safety features like autobraking standard in the 2017 model year of the popular SUV, claiming the MDX will be “the first luxury SUV in its class to offer these advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies.”
Besides autobraking and collision warnings, the AcuraWatch package not only warns you if you’re leaving your lane or the road, it’ll stop you from doing so. It also includes adaptive cruise control and “low-speed follow,” which is adaptive cruise control below 25 mph. Here are some videos related to the technology on the Honda Civic:
Technically, as the Wall Street Journal has observed, you would sort of have a freeway self-driving car with that technology, considering it can follow the car in front of you, adjust the speed accordingly, and stay in the lane at speeds between 45-90 mph.
“Moreover, with Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist, AcuraWatch can significantly decrease the driver’s workload during freeway cruising by maintaining a set speed and following interval, initiating both braking and throttle inputs, and adding steering input to help the driver maintain their position in the detected lane,” Honda wrote in a news release.
However, one expert at Automotive Megatrends last month said a package like that was not a substitute for a more integrated system such as Tesla’s Autopilot, which is actually designed to self-drive in some areas. OEMs also say such a suite is different, according to the WSJ, and even Tesla stresses that the driver is supposed to watch the road and the system when Autopilot is engaged. (Honda, like all OEMs, has a ton of disclaimers related to the similar package offered as an option on the 2016 Honda Civic.)
Honda videos indicate the systems rely on a monocular camera behind the windshield, and the news release indicates millimeter-wave radar technology is located somewhere on the vehicle.
Besides cutting into crash volume, the technology will demand repairers pay greater attention to Honda diagnostic scanning and calibration procedures. Acura also retooled design elements like the grille and hood, so make sure you order the correct part. Finally, don’t forget the kind of structural changes — including the ultra-high-strength steel door ring — Honda made when the new generation debuted with the 2014 MDX.
2017 Subaru Impreza
We’ve covered the 2017 Subaru Impreza before, but now that it’s debuted, repairers should remember that it carries the first iteration of the Subaru Global Platform (see our past coverage here).
If techs familiarize themselves with the automaker’s recommendations (available here via I-CAR), they should be relatively comfortable with all next-gen Subarus, as all will share a common foundation. (Though shops should still double-check OEM procedures every repair.) But a technician wrong about one element of the modular platform’s repair will likely repeat the error across all the Global Platform Subarus he or she encounters.
“The new Subaru Global Platform, together with the Boxer engine, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and EyeSight® that represent Subaru’s core technologies, constitutes the basic foundation of the next generation of Subaru vehicles,” Subaru wrote in a news release. “Impreza’s new platform incorporates new frameworks with optimized cross sections and highly stiffened joints between structures to significantly enhance straight-line stability, agility and ride comfort while suppressing noise, vibration and harshness to a degree not seen in the compact class. Specifically, the new platform increases rigidity of the unitized body structure by over 70 percent.”
2017 Kia Cadenza
Kia didn’t sell many Cadenzas last year — in fact, 2,000 less than a mere 9,267 in 2014 — but repairers should still know about the 2017 Cadenza in case one of the next-generation sedans comes in the door.
The car includes more than 50 percent advanced-high-strength steel, more than double the previous-generation Cadenza, and some of that is likely ultra-high-strength steel, particularly the hot-stamped body metal referenced in Kia’s news release. Besides that stronger structure, Kia said it also threw in a ninth airbag (at the driver’s knee) for safety and seeks top crash-test ratings.
Besides body shops, the paintless dent repair community should also pay attention to the possibility of a little less work — Kia upped the steel strength of its side body panels to cut dents.
- The Hyundai subsidiary also cut more weight out by trading steel for aluminum on parts of the chassis, and it touted larger bushings on the front and rear subframes.
- It used more structural adhesive, which probably means shops will as well.
- The windows and windshield have more “acoustic absorbing laminate” to cut wind noise, which means aftermarket glass might not yield as “library-quiet” a car if the aftermarket manufacturer doesn’t replicate the material.
- Make sure you put the right grille on a repair. Some Cadenza trims have a “Diamond Butterfly” grille similar to other Kias but with a concave shape. More expensive Cadenzas will use the “Intaglio,” which has vertical, faceted blades.
Honda, March 23, 2016
Subaru, March 23, 2016
American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel on March 23, 2016, shows the 2017 Acura MDX at the New York International Auto Show. (Provided by Honda)
The Subaru Global Platform is shown in this rendering accompanying the debut of the 2017 Subaru Impreza, which has it. (Provided by Subaru)
The 2017 Kia Cadenzas includes more than 50 percent advanced-high-strength steel, more than double the previous-generation Cadenza. (Provided by Kia)