October 19th, 2010 at 11:50am
Big news for electric vehicles. GM is showing the Volt to automotive journalists this week and Nissan is letting them drive the LEAF next week. Another hurdle EVs face is a shortage of machines that make lithium-ion batteries. The Volkswagen/Porsche merger is taking a little bit longer to go through than we thought. All that and more, plus a look at the exterior design of the 2011 Volvo S60.
This is Autoline Daily for October 19, 2010. And now, the news.
EVs IN THE NEWS (subscription required)
A lot going on with electric cars this week and next. GM is showing the Volt to automotive journalists this week, and Nissan will have them in the LEAF next week. But according to the Wall Street Journal, scientists and engineers are questioning whether the price for EVs will drop in the short term due to the high cost of batteries. Experts say prices for some of the core metals used in batteries will go up. And the same goes for some of the electronic parts. The U.S. Department of Energy wants to reduce battery costs 70 percent by 2014 compared to last year’s prices. But experts say this goal is way too ambitious. Some predict it could take twenty years just to get a 50 percent reduction in battery costs.
BATTERY BOTTLENECK (subscription required)
And here’s another problem with EV batteries. According to Ward’s, a story that’s gone largely unreported is the shortage of machines that make these high-tech batteries. Half of the global capacity to make this equipment is located in Japan, and most of that comes from a single supplier, CKD Corporation, which only sold nine of its machines in 2009. It is on track to deliver 25 this year. Each machine can make cells for up to 3,000 EVs per year. So if you want to make 1 million electric cars, you need 333 of these machines. They ought to get to that in 2021.
DETROIT ECON CLUB DUMPS RATTNER
In a gutsy move the Detroit Economic Club told Steven Rattner he was being uninvited to speak to the prestigious speakers venue. Rattner was on President Obama’s automotive task force until the White House discovered he was implicated in a million-dollar bribery scheme involving the New York pension fund. Now, as we’ve reported, it looks like Rattner, a Wall Street investor, is going to get slapped with a $5 million fine and be barred from trading for several years. The Detroit Free Press reports that Beth Chappel, the president of the Detroit Economic Club, decided to uninvited Rattner even though tickets were selling well for his appearance scheduled later this month. Bravo Beth! The Econ Club has been around for 76 years and has invited a veritable who’s who of political and business leaders to speak to its members over the years.
Ford and Mazda continue to move through what I’m calling a slow-motion divorce. Ford has been slowly backing out of some joint ventures and some joint-product development, and now reports out of Tokyo strongly suggest that Ford will sell a chunk of its stock in Mazda to Japanese bank Sumitomo. The Detroit News reports that Mazda will now have to start looking for another automotive partner.
PORSCHE’S LEGAL TROUBLE
The saga over Volkswagen acquiring Porsche is going to take a little bit longer than we thought. The AFP reports that Porsche faces lawsuits from 30 U.S. investment funds, accusing the automaker of manipulating the stock market and not being honest about its attempted takeover of VW in 2008. Porsche and VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn called the accusations “inadmissible and without merit.” Because of the lawsuit Winterkorn says next year’s planned merger could be delayed. He also said a tax hurdle over the merger could delay it as well. But he emphasized it will happen.
BMW, PEUGEOT EXPAND PARTNERSHIP
BMW and Peugeot are expanding their partnership. Since 2004 the two automakers have worked together developing engines, and now they’ve signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on front-wheel-drive hybrid systems. They hope shared production, standardized components and economies of sales will cut the cost of the technology. Could this be a diesel hybrid system that Peugeot has been keen on introducing? Neither company is talking.
Do you know much about the new Volvo S60? Me neither. But coming up after the break, we’re both going to learn a whole lot more about it.
2011 VOLVO S60
Volvo says the new S60 is the model that’s going to put it back on the map. That’s because it puts Volvo right smack in the middle of the mid-size luxury segment. Autoline Daily recently caught up with Jonathan Disley, the interior designer of the S60, and we asked him to take us around the car and tell us what it’s all about.
The Volvo S60 goes on sale later this year in the U.S. market and will start at $38,550.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.