Follow us on social media:
0:07 Cox Automotive Makes Huge Investment in Rivian
0:50 Honda Joins with Germany’s Ubitricity
1:36 Former LED Maker Improves Battery Efficiency
2:55 Toyota Develops New Platform for Small Cars
3:37 Ford’s Credit Rating Slashed
4:36 Ward’s Rates 10 Best User Experiences
5:32 UAW Could Go After GM’s Arlington Plant
This is Autoline Daily reporting on all aspects of the global automotive industry.
RIVIAN GETS HUGE INVESTMENT FROM COX AUTOMOTIVE
Cox Automotive is a company that offers all kinds of services for car buyers and sellers, with brands that extend from AutoTrader to Kelly Blue Book to Manheim Auctions. But the company is looking to grow beyond those services. Yesterday Rivian announced that its getting a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive. RJ Scaringe, the CEO of Rivian praised Cox’s global footprint, service and logistics capabilities, and retail technology platform. Cox says that this is part of its commitment to environmental change. And it wants a first row seat in watching how consumers adapt to electric vehicles.
GERMANY’S UBITRICITY TO INSTALL PUBLIC CHARGE POINTS
Earlier this year we told you how New York City held a competition to quickly come up with lots of charging stations at low cost. A German company, ubitricity, won the contest. It came up with the idea to install charging outlets on lamp posts on city streets. Well, now Honda is partnering with ubitricity as part of its EV strategy in Europe. Ubitricity will install charge points in residential areas so owners can charge overnight without needing to move their car, offering the same kind of convenience you get from charging at home, even though they’re parked on the street. Little advances like this are going to make EV ownership a lot more convenient for people in cities.
TESLA SUPPLIER CREE INCREASES BATTERY EFFICIENCY
And here’s another example. A company called Cree can increase battery efficiency by 6% to 10% by replacing standard silicon with silicon carbide. That gives automakers the choice of extending range or reducing battery size, weight and cost. Cree was best known for making LEDs, but it sold that off and is plowing $1 billion into silicon carbide. Cree expects the market for the material to surge to $9 billion by 2025. Cree is already a supplier to Tesla and recently signed deals with Volkswagen and Delphi. Big battery breakthroughs are hard to come by, but little developments like this can really add up over time.
TOYOTA’S NEW GA-B PLATFORM FOR SMALL CARS
Back in 2015 Toyota launched its Toyota New Global Architecture modular platforms that are used for both Toyota and Lexus models. And now it’s developing one for small cars. Called the GA-B platform, it’s more rigid, reduces weight, allows for different vehicle wheelbase lengths, heights, track widths and suspension setups to accommodate a number of different vehicles. It was also designed so the driver sits lower and towards the center of the car, which helps lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity and maximizes interior space. Look for the GA-B platform to be the basis for small cars, like the Toyota Yaris.
FORD’S CREDIT RATING SLASHED, NEW MODELS BRING HOPEFUL FUTURE
Moody’s, the credit rating agency, doesn’t like what it sees at Ford. It downgraded Ford’s credit to junk status, blaming operational deficiencies and a swing from a billion dollar profit in China to a loss. Ford stock dropped sharply on the news, but then partially recovered. Here’s our Autoline Insight. Ford doesn’t look too good right now, but by the end of next year it should be a different story. In this business, new products make up for a lot of sins, and Ford has a ton of them coming, including the new Explorer, Escape and Kuga, Ranger, Bronco, and F-150. The Edge was refreshed and Mustang gets the revamped GT 350 and GT 500. And then there’s that Mustang-inspired EV coming out next year. Meanwhile, Lincoln gets the new Aviator, Corsair and Nautilus. Put it all together, and by the end of 2020, Ford should be in very good shape.
WARDS AUTO 10 BEST USER EXPERIENCE
For the last 4 years Wards has been awarding manufacturers with the best infotainment as part of its “10 Best UX List”. Half of the ten makes this year are from Europe, three are from Japan and South Korea, and two are from the U.S. BMW won for a consecutive fourth year in a row. Ward’s editors assess the infotainment systems by user satisfaction and accessibility for apps and controls. Display designs are a key factor in Wards’ ranking but mechanical controls are still important and just as useful.
POSSIBLE UAW STRIKE AGAINST GM COMING
On Saturday the labor contract between General Motors and the UAW expires and it sure looks like we’re going to see the union go out on strike. I talked to three analysts yesterday and they all expect it to be a long strike. Whether that means two weeks or a month, no one knows. But there’s no question the UAW could inflict extreme economic pain on GM. On last week’s Autoline After Hours, Mike Tracy from the Agile Group, explained why workers at GM’s Arlington plant, which makes its pickups and big SUVs, will likely strike first.
(Clip from AAH #477 can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
Interestingly, GM built up inventory of the products made at Arlington. The Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon XL have over 100 days of inventory. But the Suburban and Tahoe only have 58 days. GM also built up inventory of its full size pickups with 93 days worth of Silverados. So it has some leeway if a strike doesn’t last more than a couple of weeks.
We have another fantastic Autoline After Hours coming up tomorrow when our guest will be Ralph Gilles, the head of design at FCA. He oversees every brand in the FCA lineup from Jeep to Alfa Romeo and you will not want to miss his insights on the future of automotive design.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and we’ll see you again tomorrow.
Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website: WardsAuto.com
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.