AD #2972 – Autopilot Rated #1 In China; Fisker’s Business Model Inspired by Apple; U.S. Car Market Not Slowing Down

December 4th, 2020 at 11:57am

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Listen to “AD #2972 – Autopilot Rated #1 In China; Fisker’s Business Model Inspired by Apple; U.S. Car Market Not Slowing Down” on Spreaker.

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Runtime: 11:16

0:39 U.S. Car Market Is Not Slowing Down
1:24 Autopilot Rated #1 In China
2:17 Tesla Short Seller Changes Tune
3:32 Daimler Shares Fuel Cell Semi Details
5:13 Volvo Launches Electric Semi-Truck Sales
5:41 Renault & Faurecia Partner on Electronic Parts Repair
6:59 How & Why BMW Acquired Mini
8:23 Fisker’s Business Model Inspired by Apple

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55 Comments to “AD #2972 – Autopilot Rated #1 In China; Fisker’s Business Model Inspired by Apple; U.S. Car Market Not Slowing Down”

  1. RS Says:

    Really enjoy you insights into the movers and shakers of the auto industry – especially those like Sir Alec and his second cousin “once remived”.
    These bio sketches are at least as interesting as the daily news stories. I am sure I am not the only viewer who has noticed that the auto news can be a little thin in this pandemic year.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. RS Says:

    That sb “removed” – before someone rude wants to complain

  3. Buzzerd Says:

    @1 – agreed!, and after a while – sales up, sales down … sales sort of not really down.. yea yea yea what ever.

  4. Larry D. Says:

    2 I am sure that you considered your teachers ‘rude’ every single time (and I bet there were thousands of times) they tried to correct your grammar, syntax and math and make you a literate human being. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…

    But this is the new norm, in the age of social promotion, ‘new math’ (1+1 is not 2, but whatever makes you happy) and participation trophies.

    Satisfied, you little jerk, or do you want me to try to match you in TRUE rudeness?

  5. Larry D. Says:

    When your… Genesis G80 or whatever is 67 years old, will it look this good? (or will even exist at all?)

  6. Drew Says:

    @4 – Completely uncalled. Shameful. Just shameful.

  7. Lambo2015 Says:

    Fuel cell semi’s? I really find it difficult to see how making this technology work could be better,safer or cheaper than electric. Highly flammable tanks that need to be under 423 degrees F. Just sounds like way to many obstacles are in the way to continue to pursue this technology for vehicles. May very well become a great way to power generators or some other stationary power source but just seems to be the wrong application for a vehicle.

  8. Lambo2015 Says:

    4 Its also the day and age of people being bold enough to type any old thing they feel safely behind their screen, when we all know that same person would hold their tongue in person. Sometimes a good old punch in the mouth is well deserved and teaches people manners where others have failed.

  9. Drew Says:

    @8 – God gave us two ears and one mouth. Wise people use them in the same proportion (I.e., listen more than talk). When it comes to typing a comment on-line, two eyes and one brain need to control ten fingers. Some people do it better than others.

  10. Drew Says:

    @8 – My comment #9 is just expanding on your thought… not criticizing it.

  11. Victor West Says:

    It would be nice if the forum was about the industry and products rather than trading insults.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Until there is an infinite amount of free electricity to dissociate water into hydrogen and oxygen, I don’t see fuel cell vehicles making much sense. There are four main sources for the commercial production of hydrogen, natural gas, oil, coal, and electrolysis. They account for 48%, 30%, 18% and 4% of the world’s hydrogen production respectively. Fossil fuels are the dominant source of industrial hydrogen. How does it make any sense at all to use hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles, even if you didn’t have to deal with 10,000 psi tanks, or -423 F thermos bottles?

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    6,8,9,10 Exactly

  14. Lambo2015 Says:

    12 Completely agree. Hydrogen doesn’t make any more sense than converting over to EVs if your electrical plant is a coal plant. This mad pursuit of developing a gas alternative needs to make sense and not just start with a alternate source.

    Like so many other problems the solution often makes the problem worse. When we contaminated enough water supplies that people turned to water bottles which is packaged in a plastic bottle (petroleum product) and now turns out to be some of the biggest contributors to water pollution.

    So lets develop vehicles that use hydrogen that we can make using electrolysis from our electricity that is produced from burning coal. Just add a few more steps in there and it has to be more efficient.

  15. Bob Wilson Says:

    Sometime necessity is the mother … so I can appreciate that Fisker really has few options other than outsourcing to Magna. But it would be similar to seeing iPhones made in the same plant as Android or other phones. The hardware would soon look alike and perform alike. Sort of like the sameness of the MicroSoft/Windows PC world. Still, good luck to his endeavors but it does remind me of Trevor Milton’s partnership with GM when GM was to provide all the drivetrain hardware.

    As for pure hydrogen, there are so many inefficiencies, it only makes sense if the waste heat can be used for space or other purposes. Now convert the hydrogen in liquid ammonia, it has ~3x more hydrogen density and much easier storage. Every USA Co-Op sells liquid ammonia which solves most of the distribution problem. But the cost per mile even with liquid ammonia remains a problem.

  16. Wim van Acker Says:

    @12, 14: I may look at this wrongly, but to me it seems like the hydrogen is the substitute of the battery. A fuel cell powered vehicle is driven by electric motors, and the electric power is delivered by the fuel cell, isn’t it?

    To me it seems like a battery consisting of solids is much safer than a tank filled with hydrogen. Does that make sense, or am I misunderstanding this?

  17. Bob Wilson Says:

    About battery semitrailer trucks, Google reports on commercial drivers:

    “You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The 14-consecutive-hour driving window begins when you start any kind of work.”

    In a 24 hour day, up to 14 hours would be available to charge the batteries. Those battery miles cost nearly half of diesel and even cheaper than current hydrogen technology. Perhaps a future “Mr. Fusion” from a movie would change the economics (grins).

  18. Wim van Acker Says:

    @17: good point. And then those dynamics would change dramatically if and when driverless trucks become a reality.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    16 That makes sense, if the hydrogen comes from electrolyzing water. From what I can find, a battery electric car would be more efficient than fuel cell. A cleantechnica article and others say battery electric cars are about 60% efficient from power grid to the wheels. From what I can find, fuel cells themselves have efficiency of about 60%, and you still have the motor, control electronics, etc.

    17 We’d need properly located big chargers for battery electric over-the-road trucks, but when/if they exist, that would work for trucks that use a single driver. For autonomous, or some fleet trucks that run more hours a day with driver changes, the equation would change, unless you have quickly swappable batteries.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    16 Yeah, a battery seems a lot safer to me, even though they occasionally catch fire. Compressed hydrogen is normally stored at very high pressure, like 10,000 psi. That sounds kind of hazardous, even for something that doesn’t burn.

    15 The usual feed stock for ammonia is natural gas or other hydrocarbons, but ammonia would be much easier to deal with, liquifying at much lower pressure.

  21. SteveO Says:

    A key factor when discussing long-haul EV trucks is the significant weight of the battery that would be needed to power a large, heavy truck for several hundred miles. This weight will reduce the maximum freight payload of such a truck, cutting potential revenue for the hauler. Fuel cells do not have this issue (although they have many others for sure!).

  22. Wim van Acker Says:

    @21: I see, yes, the fuel cells must have a weight advantage. Good point.

  23. Sean Wagner Says:

    We are actually moving towards an economy with massive, nearly free amounts of electricity, and that’s based on current costs.

    The challenge is with time and place.

    Factoid: US electricity production using coal has fallen off a cliff. In little more than 10 years, from about 23 quadrillion British thermal units (a lot) to 11 (still a lot, but since 2019 less than renewables). And the decline was particularly impressive recently, perfectly in line with the outgoing administration’s stated goals.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 A lot of coal plants are being converted to natural gas, and more renewable capacity is being built. Indiana is still 57% coal.

  25. Buzzerd Says:

    OK who ever is moderating this forum when someone is name calling like a child “ little jerk” that’s when you are supposed to step in.

  26. Larry D. Says:

    Jay Leno knows his auto history. I knew about the Tatra brand but not all the details of this pioneering V8 which could get 20 MPG when most of its peers back then were getting 9-10.

    When Tuckers sell for $1-1.5 mill and don’t have even a fraction of the engineering genius this design has, it looks like a huge bargain to collectors.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I was in Czechoslovakia for a couple weeks in 1992, many of the bigger cars I saw were Tatras, though they weren’t as exotic as the car in Jay’s video. Most of the cars were Skodas of various models. Tatra wasn’t in the car business for too long after I was there, but used air cooled engines clear to the end, or nearly so.

  28. Larry D. Says:

    27 I was in Prague only for a day, a very long day between flights of a free trip with frequent miles, spent most of my time downtown walking but did not pay attention to any cars, there were far more interesting sights and people. I may have seen a Tatra or two in museums over the years. This one was very aero in the rear, but not in the front so much.

    At some time during that day I walked up to the Castle which has several large buildings and a cathedral, I rested on a bench and fell asleep, fortunately woke up in time to catch my connecting flight. Not sure when that was, some time in the 90s probably.

    This place is full of Skodas, lots of them small taxis, which I try to avoid, since their back seat is extremely uncomfortable (its back is just a board).

  29. Sean Wagner Says:

    My parents visited then Czechoslovakia in the early 90s too, and caused quite a stir wherever they went with their Citroen XM. Seems people actually would wait to watch it rise on its hydropneumatic suspension.

    I visited with friends a little later and dragged them to the storied Vinarna at the opera with its holdover gatekeepers aka waiters (I had no idea, a story onto itself) – my friends actually would have preferred the then first McDonald’s in Prague. (Incidentally, we had a feast.)

    I also vividly recall a fragile, little old lady leaning on her stick in front of the place and looking in with utter bafflement. Floor-to-ceiling windows, light pouring out, and kids sharing a drink just to be there.

    The long-standing engineering heritage is an important part of the country, and German suppliers as well as your usual suspects have built one factory after another.

  30. Larry D. Says:

    29 Czechoslovkia was for many decades part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, before it became an independent nation (I believe in 1925) and Skoda was a big-ass weapons (and general) manufacturer for that empire long before they dabbled with cars. Their cannons were well known and sought after even in WW II. Maybe one reason Hitler gobbled up the rest of the young nation after he first annexed the Sudetenland where ethnic Germans lived. Not sure about Tatra’s past, if any, before they made cars.

  31. Larry D. Says:

    Tatra is a mountain range between Poland and Czekhoslovakia, and it seems it has some excellent water from which some of the best beers in the world are made. There is also a beer brand in Poland, forget its name, which is made from that water and I had it back in 2007 when I was invited for a week at the U of Warsaw.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29 I was there in the summer of 1992, just a few months before Czechoslovakia split into Czech Republic and Slovakia. I was there for a model airplane world championship, and rented a car at Frankfort airport. The event was in Hradec Kralove, ~50 miles east of Prague. Knowing where I was going, the rental car company gave me a Ford Escort, rather than a VW Golf. They said Golfs were a hot item for theft in the old eastern bloc countries, and that the Ford was safer in that regard.

    30 Wikipedia says Tatra made horse drawn vehicles starting in ~1850, and got into cars later. They still exist, as a small maker of trucks.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pilsner beer got its name from Pilsen, a city a little west of Prague.

  34. Larry D. Says:

    “…The noble Waldstein family founded the company in 1859 in Plzeň, and Emil Škoda bought it in 1869. It soon established itself as Austria-Hungary’s leading arms manufacturer producing heavy guns for the navy, mountain guns or mortars along with the Škoda M1909 machine gun as one of its noted products. Besides producing arms for the Austro-Hungarian Army, Škoda has ever since also manufactured locomotives, aircraft, ships, machine tools, steam turbines and equipment for power utilities.”

    Much bigger than even I thought earlier. No wonder it was very widely known all across Europe in the late 19th and up to the 1930s.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Czechoslovakia was formed shortly after WW II. Like Yugoslavia, it was a country that should never have existed. At least Czechoslovakia split up peacefully, unlike Yugoslavia.

  36. Larry D. Says:

    35 WW i not ii. in 1918, in fact. I remembered 1925 but it did not make much sense to me still.

    The Czechs and the SLovaks are both Slavic nationalities. THeir languages should not be much different.

    In fact I just did a test with Google translate. The phrase “The Czech and Slovak languages are similar” is

    Český a slovenský jazyk sú si podobné. In Slovak, and

    Český a slovenský jazyk jsou podobné. In Czech.

    They seem much more similar to each other than to other languages in their own family of Slavic Languages. In Polish the above would be

    Języki czeski i słowacki są podobne.

    In Serb and croatian,Чешки и словачки језик су слични. and Češki i slovački jezik slični su.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yes, WW I.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It should be an interesting F1 race tomorrow, with a new guy, George Russell driving the best car, with Hamilton out with covid.

  39. Larry D. Says:

    $ 5 mill US for an 80-year old used Merc? Scarcity helps, of course.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    39 It’s a nice car, but so slow, compared to the competition from Indianapolis.

  41. ChuckGrenci Says:

    @38 Russell in the M/B and Fittipaldi (Jr.) in the Haas.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Interesting race. Unbelievable disarray in the M-B pit. Maybe they are slacking off, since they have the championships won.

  43. ChuckGrenci Says:

    42, Yeah, that was one of the messiest races ever (I thought I was watching NASCAR for a minute ;) ). Glad to see Perez get the win (that was almost worth the craziness that ensued today).

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    43 I, too was glad to see Perez win. It’s crazy that he might be out of F1 next year. There is too much “daddy’s rich” in F1, but Stroll has done ok recently.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It will be interesting to see how Vettel does next year.

  46. Larry D. Says:

    I bet the Elio guy is thinking “why didn’t I come up with this (unsafe at any speed 3-wheeler) first?”

  47. Larry D. Says:

    46 In other, far more serious news:

    Toyota is coming out with its BEV, and, perhaps wisely, it is an SUV.

    Ford is delaying the Bronco until Summer 2021. You can bet that the Tesla haters here, who always criticize the dominant BEV maker for every one of its delays (such as semi delay recently) will not utter one iota of protest, despite the fact that Tesla is a pioneering company sailing in uncharted waters, while FOrd is resurrecting some loser from the 70s.

    But I am sure you will hear much more in today’s show.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    46 Some of the numbers actually add up, if it will really go a mile per 100 watt-hours, as they claim. That’s about 1/3 the energy/mile of a normal EV. If they can put 15 square feet of panels on it, at 20 watts/square foot, the 4 kWh in a day would be possible, on a sunny day in the summer. As far as putting a 100 kWh battery in it, no way, at least with today’s batteries. Also, it would not be crashworthy at all. The reason for 3 wheels it to avoid meeting safety standards.

  49. Lambo2015 Says:

    46 26-45k for a 3 wheel car seems a bit much. Get rid of the solar panels and drop the price 10K and they might have something.

  50. Larry D. Says:

    46 I know, that’s why I said ‘unsafe at any speed’ as I did for the other 3 wheeler Elio back then. Maybe their numbers can add up in the Sahara in the summer, and if they watch out for camels, the safety issue becomes less important there. As for 1/3 the energy/mile of a ‘normal’ BEV, what fraction is it of the best available BEVs (I’m sure these are all Tesla models), 1/2 or higher?

    In other news, 150 Caddy dealers accepted the buyout (I believe it was $500k each so they don’t have to invest in selling and servicing BEVs). Not the way to sell more Caddy BEVs, but maybe this is what GM wants, if it keeps losing $ per unit sold.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    49 The cost of the solar panel would be less than $500. The solar panel is what makes the vehicle sort of make sense, if it will actually go 1 mile per 100 watt-hours.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    50 The most efficient Model 3 is rated 136/123-MPGe (260 watt-hour/mile).

  53. Lambo2015 Says:

    Kit Since you have been involved in RC’s for a long time don’t most people involved in that hobby consider the Gas powered RCs on the higher end and the electrics always seem to be the cheaper versions? Maybe that’s changed in recent years but I just remember seeing the Electric RC cars as a child were cheap compared to getting into the gas RC stuff.
    Even as an adult the electric weed wacker is almost always cheaper than a gas version. So I think many people have grown up with these examples time and time again of Electric being the cheaper version. So when it comes to cars I think many folks expect them to be cheaper than the Gas counterpart.. Just wondered about your thoughts as I don’t really follow the RC crowd closely to know how that’s changed.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    53 The entire RC hobby has changed tremendously over the years. At one time, model building was as much a part of the hobby as flying. It is still a big part of it to a few people, like those who compete with scale models, which are judged both for appearance/accuracy to scale, and for flying. Most non-competition RC flying is now with highly prefabricated airplanes.

    Currently, most RC flying is electric, because it’s easy, and you don’t have to wipe oil off of the airplane. Generally speaking, operating cost of electric airplanes is probably higher than for similar size ICE airplanes. The way the batteries are abused, they only seem to last 2-3 years, and cost about $20 each for a ~40 inch wingspan electric airplane. For me, fuel cost is less than battery cost for a similar size airplane.

    Electric flying became competitive with glow and gas engines with the arrival of lithium batteries and brushless motors. You can buy “ready to fly” electric airplanes that fly decently, and don’t cost much. Also, there is a wide variety of motors and speed controls for all sizes of airplanes.

    As far as “high end” vs “low end,” most non-serious “fly for fun” airplanes are electric, but the airplanes competing at the highest level in RC aerobatics are also electric. I fly both electric, and glow engines with methanol-based fuel. Gasoline engines are used for some bigger airplanes, bigger than I fly.

  55. Ukendoit Says:

    That Aptera looks promising, if all their claims come true. I rarely go over the “solar charged” daily mileage, so other than parking outside and on the roof of the parking deck at work, it would be very convenient for a spare, commuter car. In another article, they boasted the convenience of wireless &/or plug-less magnetic charging and for those who do still need to occasionally sip some home electricity, they say the charging rate for standard 110v should be adequate (no electrician’s install cost and no large draw on the grid from 220 or 440v).
    Aptera: “Most electric vehicles require massive current to get good charge rates, but a standard 110-volt outlet, where you’d charge your cellphone, charges the Aptera at 13 miles per hour. So our touchless interface does not need to be a system that conducts a lot of electricity, which can be dangerous and produce a lot of heat if designed incorrectly. We can charge with things like the detachable magnet cords you see for phones and laptops nowadays. This opens up a whole new world of ways that we can drive over or on to charging devices that the driver never has to touch when they get out of their Aptera. They just park and walk away and it all just works.”