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0:06 Automakers Running into EV Supply Issues
1:04 FCC To Review 5.9 GHz Spectrum
2:42 Subaru More Popular in U.S. Than in Japan
3:08 Volvo Launches Car Accident Advisor App
3:52 VW Gives Lesson on Design Terms
5:05 Mustang GT350 Sparks Sound Debate
6:34 2019 Lexus NX 300h Impressions
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This is Autoline Daily reporting on the global automotive industry.
AUTOMAKERS RUNNING INTO EV SUPPLY ISSUES
Automakers are racing to ramp up production of electric cars, but they’re already running into problems getting the components they need, and the situation is likely to get worse. Bloomberg reports that Volvo is running into a shortage of inverters, batteries and chargers. And this is happening before EV production really gets going. Volkswagen is building enough assembly capacity to make nearly one million EVs at two plants in China and one in Germany. It’s also teaming up with a Swedish company called Northvolt to make battery cells in Germany, which is an unusual move. Automakers typically don’t make battery cells. For example, Daimler is building nine plants to make battery packs, but will buy cells from suppliers. U.S. automakers could face even more severe shortages. President Trump’s new round of 25% tariffs on many Chinese goods will also apply to lithium-ion batteries.
FCC TO REVIEW 5.9 GHZ SPECTRUM
A few weeks back, Toyota announced its ditching plans to equip vehicles in the U.S. with Dedicated Short Range Communication or DSRC, connected car technology. Part of the reason was a lack of support from the government to protect the 5.9 GHz spectrum for DSRC. Well it looks like Toyota was right to be concerned. At a conference yesterday, the FCC Chairman said the agency will review the 5.9 GHz spectrum that’s been reserved for automakers, to potentially open it up for Wi-Fi use. This isn’t a big surprise. The industry is starting to back away from DSRC in favor of 5G and cellular V2X technology. Also, states, counties and municipalities would have to build up the DSRC infrastructure, while the Telco’s will pay for 5G and cellular because they can make money off that technology.
With the move to aluminum, plastic and carbon fiber materials in vehicles, the steel industry can’t just sit on its hands. So to learn what it’s doing to do to survive, tune into Autoline After Hours tomorrow afternoon because our special guest is Jody Hall from the Steel Market Development Institute. That’s 3PM eastern time on our website, Autoline.tv.
SUBARU MORE POPULAR IN U.S. THAN IN JAPAN
Subaru is growing spectacularly in the American market, with sales going up every year in the last decade. But in its home market of Japan, it doesn’t do nearly as well. In the U.S., Subaru sells twice as many cars as Mazda and four times more than Mitsubishi. But in Japan, Mazda is twice as big as Subaru and Mitsubishi is nearly as large.
VOLVO LAUNCHES CAR ACCIDENT ADVISOR APP
Volvo launched a new app called Volvo Car Accident Advisor to help owners after an accident. Once you contact Volvo Customer Care and confirm you’re not hurt and don’t need medical help, a link is texted to your smartphone, which opens an app to take you through several steps following the accident. It then prompts you to capture facts and photos of the scene, offer you the option to digitally notify your insurer and to search for collision repair shops, helping to speed claims and hopefully reduce the time your car is in the shop. It’s free to use and will automatically be available for model year 2015 and half and newer Volvo’s via the in-car SOS communication system.
VW GIVES LESSON ON DESIGN TERMS
Volkswagen is so enamored with the looks of the new Arteon that it wants to help anyone sound smart when talking about beautiful cars, like the Arteon. So, it put out a list of many common design terms with a short description of each. Now, we’ll leave it up to you to determine what you think of the Arteon’s design, but the list of terms is pretty good and there’s even a few we didn’t know or know the term for. Joint line is not a row of doobies, but rather where two body panels meet. And while rarely the star of a vehicle’s design, joint lines can add or subtract a lot from the overall impression. Wheel arch gap is basically just that, the space between the wheel and the body. And here’s one specific to VW: Flitzer. It’s the German term for the side badge on Volkswagens where the front door line meets the fender. And remember, thanks to Volkswagen, you’re going to sound a whole lot smarter at the next car show you go to.
MUSTANG GT350 SPARKS SOUND DEBATE
We get a lot of comments that come through on our shows and one really struck a chord with me yesterday. On the Autoline website XA351GT wrote, “Those GT350s with that flat plane crank sound awesome… That is one thing that EVs will never have. They will beat the pants off the GT350 in a drag race… a Tesla S will eat its lunch, but won’t sound good doing it. For me performance is more than outright speed it’s the whole package of looks, performance and sound. So given the choice I’ll take the GT350 any day and have some money left over for gas.” I kind of feel the same way and have been a bit torn about this: I love EVs, everything they represent and think they will one day dominate the market. But I also love the sound of a great engine. Along with design IT IS what got me into cars in the first place. So, I wonder if any of the EV enthusiasts out there are still able to appreciate a great sounding engine, or are you like Doug H. Nuts and Jay Jay on YouTube? Doug says, “Mustang is too loud and pollutes. POS.” and Jay Jay comments, “That Mustang sounds terrible. Loud, noisy. Ugh. And this from a huge Mustang fan. Go electric already Ford.” Can’t wait to read what you have to say.
2019 LEXUS NX 300h IMPRESSIONS
We’re lucky enough to get to drive a number of vehicles and I’d like to talk about one of the ponies in our stable this week, the 2019 Lexus NX 300h. What jumped out to me right away is the powertrain is lifeless. Acceleration is most certainly not linear. Dip your foot into the throttle and nothing happens. A little more, still nothing. More, nothing. And when the engine finally does kick in it’s loud and buzzy and the acceleration does not match all that noise. Switching it into sport mode does help a bit, but it kills your great fuel economy. And that’s what I have to remind myself, this is not a sports car, it’s a hybrid and people buy it for fuel economy. The NX 300h is rated at 33 miles to the gallon city and 30 on the highway. We averaged just over 32.5. Let’s move over to the interior. I loved the seats (very soft leather and comfortable), but headroom is going to be an issue for taller drivers. Trunk space is good too. But I hate the touchpad. The screen is nice and big, but that touchpad stinks. The highlighted cursor will jump all over the screen and I find myself always having to pull my eyes off the road. The day can’t come soon enough for Lexus to drop this system. But overall, it’s a good vehicle and our tester was priced a little over $49,000.
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.