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0:07 Auto Industry Entering Tough Phase
0:52 North American Market Slows
1:11 GM Might Sells Lordstown Plant to Workhorse
2:33 VW Readies 1st ID Electric Vehicle
3:27 6-Wheeled Race Car Inspires Wild Go Kart
4:00 Honda Names Its Little Urban EV
4:23 Kia Delaying U.S. Introduction of Soul EV
5:00 Busch Beer Creates “Millennial” NASCAR
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This is Autoline Daily reporting on the global automotive industry.
AUTO INDUSTRY ENTERING TOUGH PHASE
Toyota posted a whopping $17 billion net profit for its fiscal year that ended in March. But that was down from a $22 billion profit the year before, a 22% drop. Honda’s net profit for the year fell 42%. BMW’s pre-tax profit fell 75% and it’s automotive division lost money for the first time in 20 years. We keep hearing more warnings from automakers and suppliers that their earnings are going to drop this year. Mitsubishi just announced it expects a 19% drop. All this shows that the industry is entering a tough phase, which will likely cause more restructuring and partnerships as everyone struggles to cut the cost of doing business.
NORTH AMERICAN MARKET SLOWS
Along those lines, Ward’s reports that sales of new vehicles in Canada fell over 9% last month and they dropped nearly 14% in Mexico. Couple that with a five-and-a-half percent drop in the US market and we can see that the North American market slowed considerably.
GM MIGHT SELL LORDSTOWN TO WORKHORSE
You probably heard that General Motors might sell its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio to a startup called Workhorse that makes electric trucks. President Trump tweeted out that this is great news for Ohio, but we’re not all that impressed. Lordstown is a massive facility that can make 250,000 vehicles a year. But Workhorse is a tiny, underfunded startup that will build a fraction of that. We’ve seen other startups buy GM facilities and choke on the cost of running them. Fisker bought GM’s plant in Wilmington, Delaware only to go belly up. And Elio promised it would build its 3-wheel commuter car in GM’s plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. But Elio made that promise 5 years ago and nothing’s happened. However, Tesla took over an old GM-Toyota plant, and Rivian bought a Mitsubishi plant for next to nothing, so for some well-funded startups buying an old plant can make sense. But we think Workhorse would be far better off with a much smaller facility.
VW READIES ITS FIRST ID ELECTRIC VEHICLE
Volkswagen is sharing more details about its first ID electric vehicle. It’s going to be called the ID.3 and that’s how its other ID EVs will be named, ID and then a number. If it looks familiar, you may remember the SEAT el.Born concept that debuted earlier this year. Three battery sizes will be available, which will provide ranges from 330- to 550-kilometers or 205- to 341-miles. This is based on the WLTP test. Taking a page from Tesla’s book, Volkswagen is taking 1,000 euro deposits and says it got 10,000 orders in the first 24-hours. A Launch Edition goes on sale by the end of the year, while other models won’t be available until the middle of 2020.
WILD RACER INSPIRES WILD GO KART
If someone ranked the wildest-looking race cars of all time, chances are the 6-wheeled Tyrell P34 from 1976 and 1977 would be on that list. Well, a 13-year-old kid from Ohio has used the Tyrell as inspiration for this awesome go kart. After showing a natural knack for car design, Gene Lin, nicknamed “The Hamster,” moved on to a mechanical project and the 6-wheeled go kart was born. We get the feeling this kid has a pretty bright future.
HONDA DOES FLYING HEADBUTT INTO EV MARKET
Honda has named its cute, little urban electric vehicle Honda E. But we think if it really wanted to attract millennials, it should have called it the E Honda.
KIA DELAYING U.S. INTRODUCTION OF SOUL EV
Kia is delaying the introduction of the electric version of the Soul to the U.S. It was supposed to go on sale this year but Wards reports that it likely won’t be available until next year. The company didn’t say why but as we’ve reported, demand for EVs is virtually non-existent outside of Tesla. The company has also had to steer electrified versions of the Niro to Europe to meet upcoming emission regulations. So it could be doing the same with the Soul EV. When it does arrive, the Soul EV will only be sold in the 14 ZEV states.
BUSCH BEER CREATES “MILLENNIAL” NASCAR
If you tune into the NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May, 18th you won’t have a hard time spotting Kevin Harvick on the track. That’s because he’ll be driving a pink car with emojis all over it. Last year, Harvick’s sponsor, Busch Beer, made a bet that if he didn’t win at Homestead, they would give his car a “millennial” look. He ended up finishing third in that race, so Busch is making good on their bet.
On Autoline After Hours this afternoon John and Gary will have Ryan Eustice, the senior VP of automated driving at the Toyota Research Institute. He’ll bring the TRI-P4 prototype to the studio, which is a modified Lexus LS equipped with self-driving technology. Pete Bigelow from Automotive News will also be on board, so tune in today at 3PM eastern time on our website, Autoline.tv..
But that brings us to the end of today’s report, thanks for watching and we’ll see you 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.