BMW enjoyed a first quarter profit that topped analysts’ expectations and for a familiar reason – it sold a boat load of sport utility vehicles such as the X5. Strong sales in the U.S. and Europe made up for a slowdown in China.
Some may find this hard to believe, but guess what is selling very, very well these days – VANS. Yes, those vehicles that many suburban Moms say they would rather walk than drive are hot. The Detroit News said GM has added a third shift at a plant in Missouri to keep up with demand and Edmunds.com reports van sales over the past five years have more than doubled. Most of these sales are commercial in nature it should be noted, such as the in demand Ford Transit, but it still builds up the old bottom line.
The Toyota Sienna van was named the Best 3-row family vehicle by auto writers in Atlanta. And later this month, I will take a look at the redesigned for 2015 Kia Sedona van that will seat seven or eight depending on configuration.
It is being called the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway. Freightliner used the Hoover Dam as a back drop for showing off the big semi that was developed with parent company Daimler Trucks North America. Onboard systems link together a set of camera and radar systems with lane stability, collision avoidance, speed control, braking, steering and other monitoring systems. This is not a driver less truck, but the operator can cede some safety systems to the big rig. The autonomous system is responsible for maintaining legal speed, staying in the selected lane, keeping a safe braking distance from other vehicles, and slowing or stopping the truck based on traffic and road conditions. Thus far, only two trucks have the new system that also monitors conditions that require transition back to full driver control. (Thank heaven!)