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0:23 Tesla Plans to Close Most Stores
1:12 GM Management Shakeup
2:05 Toyota Teams Up to Create HD Maps
3:07 FedEx To Test Autonomous Delivery Robots
3:46 New SEAT EV Looks a Lot Like a Tesla
4:48 Porsche Clarifies Macan’s Future
5:27 Ferrari Takes Wraps Off the F8 Tributo
This is Autoline Daily reporting on the global automotive industry.
TESLA PLANS TO CLOSE MOST STORES
Tesla is once again changing the way people can buy its cars. The company angered car dealers when it decided to forgo the dealer network and sell its vehicles directly to customers. But now the EV maker says it’s going to close most of its stores and will shift to selling vehicles online only. Tesla says this will allow it to lower the price of its vehicles by 6% on average. For example, the company is now offering the Model 3 for $35,000, which was the original target for its starting price. Before the shift, the cheapest Model 3 you could but was about $43,000. Online only purchases are a risk for Tesla but if it’s successful, we imagine other automakers will follow.
GM MANAGEMENT SHAKEUP
There’s a management shakeup going on at General Motors. The company’s President of North America, Alan Batey, announced he’s retiring after 40 years with the automaker. He’s being replaced by Barry Engle, who’s currently the head of GM International. In addition to North America, Engle will also be responsible for the automaker’s South American operations. Julian Blissett, currently the VP of GM-SAIC, will take over GM International. In addition to that, the company’s head of Global Manufacturing, Alicia Boler Davis is leaving the company, reportedly to join Amazon. Replacing her is Gerald Johnson, who is currently VP of North American Manufacturing and Labor Relations at the company. All the moves are effective on April 1st.
TOYOTA TEAMS UP TO CREATE HD MAPS
In order for fully autonomous vehicles to become reality, they’ll need to know exactly where they are, at all times. That’s why Toyota has teamed up with CARMERA to create high definition maps for urban and local roads, allowing autonomous cars to travel beyond just highways. The companies will place cameras in Toyota test vehicles to collect data. That info will then be processed by CARMERA’s real-time platform to create the HD maps. The test will be done over the course of several months in downtown Tokyo. Currently, creating HD maps is expensive and time consuming but this new process has the potential to cut both time and cost.
FEDEX TO TEST AUTONOMOUS DELIVERY ROBOTS
FedEx is following in the footsteps of Amazon and will test autonomous delivery robots. The SameDay Bot is designed to help retail stores make last-mile and same-day deliveries to customers. Its battery powered and uses Lidar and a number of cameras to navigate streets and sidewalks. The robot will stop at stop signs, let people walking their dogs pass by and it can even climb over curbs or up stairs. FedEx is teaming up with AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart for the test, which is scheduled to start this summer in Memphis, Tenn.
NEW SEAT EV LOOKS A LOT LIKE A TESLA
SEAT, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, is showing off an all-electric concept car, called the el-Born. Let’s get this out of the way first; yes, the front end looks a lot like a Tesla Model 3. But if you remember the VW I.D. Electric that debuted back in 2016, you can really see where the car got its styling inspiration from. Also, SEAT calls this a concept, but the el-Born looks very production ready to us. Note how there’s no wild wheels and tires and it has traditional mirrors and door handles. The car features a 150-kW electric motor paired to a 62-kWh battery pack. It can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5-seconds and has a range of 420-kilometers or about 260-miles. The el-Born will make its debut in Geneva.
PORSCHE CLARIFIES MACAN’S FUTURE
And a quick update on the story we did the other day that the Porsche Macan is going all electric. Porsche has clarified that the next-gen Macan will be EV only starting in 2021 and will be built on a new platform. But it will extend the originally planned life cycle of the current gasoline-powered Macan, which is based on an Audi platform. So, the two models will be sold alongside each other at the same time. They both will be built at the same plant and will have similar interior and exterior styling. Porsche did not say when the current model will go out of production.
FERRARI TAKES WRAPS OFF THE F8 TRIBUTO
Ferrari just the revealed the replacement for the 488 GTB. Meet the F8 Tributo. It’s powered by a 3.9L twin-turbo V8, which cranks out 710 horsepower and 568 lb.-ft. of torque. It moves from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 340 km/h or about 210 MPH. It has 49 more horsepower than the 488 GTB and weighs 88 pounds less. It’s the most powerful non-special series car with a V8 in the company’s history.
But that’s it for today, Sean says thanks for watching, have a good weekend and we’ll be back again on Monday.
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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.