Four Guys Walk into a Studio. . . .

Peter DeLorenzo.

Peter DeLorenzo.

Todd Lassa. Automobile Magazine.

John McElroy. Autoline Detroit.

Gary Vasilash. Automotive Design & Production.

And they begin to talk about the auto industry, circa right now.

Lassa and Vasilash are just back from a trip to the Continental AG Contidrom proving ground in Jeversen, Germany. There they learned about—by listening, driving and riding—automotive connectivity systems, vehicle electrification, high-performance tires (you really, really don’t want to drive on wet, curved roadways at, um, brisk speeds on what are described as “Asian Import Tires” when there are things like the ContiSportContact tires available—you REALLY don’t), and automated driving and autonomous vehicles.


A real car that can essentially drive itself.  The setup here shows how it will brake and/or steer to avoid pedestrian collisions.

And so the conversation begins, with a particular focus on driver assistance all the way to autonomous driving. Continental has a pair of automated vehicles that it is running tests on, VWs that have been fitted out with an array of sensors, yet sensors—four short-range radar sensors (two each front and back), a long-range radar, and a stereo camera--that are integrated into the vehicle in a way that doesn’t make the cars look like some sort of lunar rover. (Last December, Continental became the first automotive supplier to be granted “Autonomous Vehicle Testing Licenses” from the state of Nevada, which allows the cars to be tested on public roads.) Continental, says Alfred Eckert, head of Advanced Engineering in Continental’s Chassis & Safety Div., suggests that while “a lot of research and development work is still needed before fully automated driving is possible,” the company is investing more than €100-million this year in R&D, and fully automated driving is possible by 2025, if not before.

The four guys talk about the implications of autonomous driving from various standpoints, ranging from the technical to the societal.

They talk about the design of the 2014 Chevy Malibu, which was refreshed extensively to address its sagging sales.


The 2014 Chevrolet SS is the first rear-drive performance sedan that Chevy has offered since 1996, the year Internet Explorer 3 was launched and the Spice Girls had their first number-one single.

They talk about the price of the 2014 Chevy SS ($44,470) and wonder about not only that as the price of a Chevy that’s not a Corvette, and what the expectations are for this 415-hp V8, rear-drive car.

They talk about Chrysler’s response to the NHTSA for 2.7-million Jeeps (“We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data. . . .”) and the implications of recalls.

And they talk about a whole lot of other stuff, as well.

Think about this as one of those roundtables on the Sunday morning political shows but without the table and on a variety of more interesting subjects. . . .