0:31 Waymo Calls Out Uber
1:30 BMW Pulls Out of Detroit Show
2:09 Hyundai’s Union Chief Calls EVs “Evil”
3:17 Daimler Reveals DENZA EV
4:00 Nissan to Offer Refabricated Batteries
4:50 Nissan Partners to Recycle EV Batteries
5:47 Why Buick Jumped into Wagon Segment
On today’s show…uh-oh, another German luxury brand is pulling out of the Detroit auto show…the head of Hyundai’s union in South Korea says electric vehicles are “evil”…and Nissan is creating ways to reuse EV batteries. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the show for enthusiasts of the automotive industry.
WAYMO CALLS OUT UBER
The recent incident in which an autonomous Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona may be more of an indictment of Uber than of autonomous technology. John Krafcik, the head of Waymo, says he’s confident that Waymo’s autonomous cars would have detected and avoided that pedestrian. Speaking at the National Auto Dealers Association conference over this weekend Krafcik said, and I quote: “Based on our knowledge of the accident and our systems, I can say with some confidence that our technology would…have handled situations like that.” We here at Autoline Daily think that other companies developing autonomous technology, like GM’s Cruise Automation and Aurora, would also be able to say the same thing. We’ll wait for the National Transportation Safety Board to give its final analysis of what actually occurred, but at first blush it looks like this is more of a problem with Uber’s approach than it is with autonomous technology
BMW WON’T ATTEND DETROIT SHOW
Last month, after Mercedes announced it won’t attend next year’s Detroit auto show, we worried that more German automakers would follow suit. And now Automotive News reports that BMW is pulling out of the Detroit show. The company says it’s looking at alternative formats to showcase its new vehicles. But it’s not that surprising of a move. Over the last few years, Mazda, Porsche, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover, have all skipped the show as well. But it’s clear automakers believe they’re better off holding special events to introduce new vehicles, instead of sharing the stage with their competitors during an auto show.
HYUNDAI’S UNION CHIEF CALLS EVs “EVIL”
While most automakers are embracing electric vehicles and have plans to significantly boost EV models, not everyone is happy about the change. In an interview with Reuters, the head of Hyundai’s union in South Korea said “Electric cars are disasters. They are evil. We are very nervous.” That’s because he’s concerned that the shift to electric cars will result in fewer jobs, since they don’t require engines and transmissions. He says, in a worst-case scenario, EVs could lead to 70% fewer jobs. Because of this, the union is studying ways to build cars in the future without reducing its workforce.
And speaking of electric cars, Daimler just introduced a new EV for the Chinese market. We’ll take a look at that, right after this.
DAIMLER REVEALS DENZA EV
Daimler and its Chinese partner BYD share a EV joint venture company, called Shenzhen DENZA New Energy Automotive and it just launched a new model. As its name implies, the DENZA 500 has a range of around 500-kilometers. It comes with a refreshed exterior that features, what the company calls “tiger eye” LED headlights and rippling LED taillights. The dash now sees a larger 9-inch touchscreen, which also supports DENZA’s smartphone app. The DENZA 500 is produced locally for the Chinese market and to help increase sales, it will also be added to select Mercedes-Benz dealers in the country.
NISSAN TO OFFER REFABRICATED BATTERIES
But one of the problems with most EVs is that they lose a ton of value by the time they hit the used car market because potential customers worry about having to replace an expensive battery pack. But Nissan hopes to change that by offering LEAF customers in Japan the option to exchange their old battery for a refabricated unit. Starting in May, it will initially offer 24 kWh batteries for 300,000 yen, which is about $2,850. While that is expensive, Nissan says a new pack of the same size is more than double that at 650,000 yen or about $6,200. Nissan plans to expand its lineup to include 30 and 40 kWh refabricated batteries.
NISSAN PARTNERS TO RECYCLE EV BATTERIES
And while this is one way to get more life out of used battery packs, as we said the other day no one is currently able to recycle EV batteries on a large scale and for a profit. But Nissan has set up a joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation, called the 4R Energy Corporation that is opening a new plant in Japan to focus on the reuse and recycling of lithium-ion batteries. The plant will also use the recycled batteries for large-scale storage systems and electric forklifts.
Wagons make up just a small part of the car market. And coming up next, Buick explains why it wants to be a player in that segment.
WHY BUICK JUMPED INTO WAGON SEGMENT
Once upon a time, station wagons were popular in the U.S. but now they’re just a niche part of the market. That’s why it was so intriguing to see Buick add a wagon to the Regal lineup. On last week’s Autoline After Hours, Doug Osterhoff, the Marketing Manager at Buick, explained why the company is entering the segment.
(The AAH preview is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
For more about the Buick Regal TourX, you can watch that entire show right now, on our website, Autoline.tv or you can find it on our YouTube channel.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.