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0:30 Jeep Testing Subscription Services
1:18 Ford Puts 3D Printed Parts Into Production
2:28 Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Update
3:28 Mercedes A-Class Pricing
3:48 Charge As Fast As Filling a Gas Tank
4:59 Lotus to Start Making SUVs
5:34 Ford Explorer’s Slick Digital Display
On today’s show… the digital instrument cluster in the new Ford Explorer really caught our eye… Geely wants to revive Lotus by adding SUVs to its lineup… and Jeep is dipping its toes into subscription services. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the voice of the automotive industry.
JEEP TESTING SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES
We’ve seen a number of luxury brands launch subscription services but now a mainstream brand will offer it. Bloomberg reports, Jeep is partnering with Avis Budget to offer a three-month subscription service that will allow owners to swap out their Jeep for other FCA brand vehicles, as many as six times. In addition to that, Jeep is launching a three-month pilot program that will allow owners to rent out their vehicles through Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing start-up. Both programs launch next week in Boston and will be limited to the first 100 customers that register for each. Other brands have offered subscription services with mixed results but Jeep says it still wants to try it out to see if it works for the brand.
FORD PUTS 3D PRINTED PARTS IN PRODUCTION
3D printed components are finding their way into new areas and additive manufacturing company Carbon and Ford have teamed up to put 3D printed parts in production vehicles. They include a HVAC lever arm for the Ford Focus, an auxiliary plug for the F-150 Raptor and electric parking brake bracket on the Mustang GT500. All the parts had to pass Ford’s performance standards and withstand weathering tests.
And if you haven’t done so yet, check out our latest Autoline Spotlight from WardsAuto and Ally, which looks at whether dealers can sell financing and insurance without a dedicated F&I person. You can watch that discussion right now on our website or on our YouTube channel.
Hyundai’s Santa Cruz pickup is closer to reality. And we’ll have more about that, right after this.
HYUNDAI SANTA CRUZ UPDATE
Mid-size pickup trucks was one of the best performing segments in the U.S. last year and it could soon be getting a little more crowded. We caught up with William Lee, the President and CEO of Hyundai Motor North America and he said its R&D and production people are working on a business case for the Santa Cruz pickup, which it first showed in Detroit in 2015. Mr. Lee expects to get the green light very soon and if the decision is made, he’s sure it will be built in Alabama. Hyundai has been talking about the pickup for a while now. The head of design even said last month that the design had been all sketched out, but this is the first we’ve heard of it being built in the U.S. in Alabama.
And if you’d like to watch more of our Detroit auto show coverage, brought to you with help from Continental Structural Plastics, just look for it in the Autoline on the Road section of our website or on our YouTube channel.
MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS PRICING
The least expensive Mercedes you can buy in the U.S. is now the new A-Class. Including destination charges, it starts at just under $33,500. All-wheel drive tacks another 2-grand on top of that. The new A-Class will start hitting dealer showrooms soon.
CHARGE AS FAST AS FILLING A GAS TANK
Charge time is still a concern for some possible EV buyers, but a new startup, named GBatteries has a pretty bold claim: it can enable electric vehicles to charge as fast as it takes to fill up a tank of gas. It’s developed a self-contained adaptor that combines software algorithms or AI and electronics to speed up charging speeds. The best part is it can be used with current off-the-shelf lithium-ion batteries and existing fast charging stations. GBatteries says it’s able to charge a 60 kWh battery pack with 119-miles of range in 5-minutes. Now we’ll have to wait and see if it can deliver on those claims.
Coming up next, Ford’s slick digital display in the all-new Explorer.
LOTUS TO START MAKING SUVs
We’ve seen a number of luxury brands that used to exclusively make sports cars jump into the SUV segment due to customer demand. And now Lotus will follow suit. Reuters reports that Geely, which bought a majority stake in the British sports car maker in 2017, plans to start producing Lotus’s in China for the first time, including SUVs. Lotus currently builds its vehicles in England but wants to expand capacity to help revive the brand. The sports car maker sold just over 1,600 vehicles in 2018.
EXPLORER’S SLICK DIGITAL DISPLAY
Here’s something we think is kind of cool on the all-new Ford Explorer. It has an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that uses these slick 3D graphics when switching between drive modes. For example, if you rotate the selector knob over to the “Trail” setting there’s an animation of rocks coming together and then the screen morphs into a speedometer and tachometer with an altitude gauge. There’s even a topographical map as the background. There’s seven modes in all to choose from and each has its own unique animation and display.
And don’t forget to tune into Autoline After Hours this afternoon. Joining Gary Vasilash for a roundtable discussion is Frank Markus from Motor Trend, Joann Muller from Axios and Todd Lassa from Automobile magazine. The Detroit auto show is likely to be a hot topic but if you have any other questions, send them our way to firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on social media. That’s today at 3PM eastern time on our website, Autoline.tv.
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.