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0:07 Tesla “Killer” Getting Killed
0:50 No More Frankfurt Auto Show?
2:33 Ford Using Robots to Sand Car Bodies
3:18 GM Puts Alexa in Its Vehicles
4:01 September Sales Forecast to be Down
4:44 UAW Strike Affected by Corruption Scandal
This is Autoline Daily reporting on all aspects of the global automotive industry.
TESLA “KILLER” GETTING KILLED
Investors who put their money in NIO, the electric car startup in China, may rue the day they ever bought the stock. As recently as March 1 NIO’s stock was trading at just over $10 a share. Today it’s down to $2, a 80% drop. NIO, which was largely touted as a Tesla killer is hemorrhaging cash, slashing costs, laying off thousands and struggling to survive. The key difference between NIO and Tesla is that, if he needs to, Elon Musk can pick up the phone this afternoon and raise another $2 billion. No other EV startup is blessed with that capability.
NO MORE FRANKFURT AUTO SHOW?
There’s a fascinating report from Automotive News that we may have seen the last Frankfurt auto show. Toyota, Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan, Kia, Volvo, Ferrari, and FCA all skipped the show which took place earlier this month. BMW, Volkswagen and Audi cut back on their display space and public attendance was down 40% from its high in 2015. Now there’s talk of moving the show to Berlin. All auto shows are in trouble and it’s amazing to see how quickly the downfall has hit. The Detroit auto show may have been lucky by getting hit harder and earlier than everyone else. It’s completely reinventing itself as a combination of the South by Southwest music festival, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and an auto show. If they can pull it off it could be the template for other auto shows to follow.
AAH & CITROEN DS CHAPRON
Be sure to join us for Autoline After Hours later this afternoon. We’ll have Ken Nelson with his well worn but very rare Citroen DS Chapron convertible, as well as Joe McCabe from Autoforecast Solutions. And automotive expert Jack Keebler will join us too. So join me and Gary Vasilash for some of the best gear head insights in the business. That’s later today at 3 pm eastern time at the autoline website or on our YouTube channel.
FORD USES COBOTS TO SAND CAR BODIES
Collaborative robots or cobots are being used by automakers to free workers up from monotonous and repetitive tasks. Ford just started using them for the first time at its plant in Cologne, Germany and for a very unique application. The team of six cobots are used to sand the entire body of Ford Fiestas, which they can complete in just 35 seconds. They’re able to feel when more pressure needs to be applied, they vacuum up their own mess and can more easily get to hard to reach places, like the center of the roof. Once the bodies are sanded they move off to the paint line. Ford says it’s looking into further rollout of cobots at its plants in Spain and Romania.
GM PUTS ALEXA IN ITS VEHICLES
General Motors is giving its owners a new set of ‘skills.’ In the first half of next year, GM will make Amazon’s Alexa available to customers with 2018 and newer vehicles. Alexa will still be able to do the same things it does in a home, like check the weather and control smart devices, but it will also give navigation directions, play songs and make phone calls from the car. Amazon just announced you’ll be able to get Samuel L Jackson as Alexa’s voice as well, which we hope makes it into GM vehicles. Getting navigation directions would never be the same again, especially if they involve snakes.
U.S. SEPTEMBER SALES WILL BE DOWN
We’ll get new car sales numbers for September in the U.S. market next week. Wards says that because the Labor Day holiday fell in August this year, the September numbers will be down sharply. The blowout sales over the holiday probably pulled sale ahead, meaning September could look even weaker. Wards is forecasting that the seasonally adjusted annual rate will come in at 16.9 million vehicles, which would be slightly below trend for the year.
UAW STRIKE AFFECTED BY CORRUPTION SCANDAL
The UAW strike against General Motors looks like it could be resolved this weekend. Both sides report they’re making progress.
One of the reasons why negotiations have plodded along at a slower rate than normal goes back to all these charges of corruption against UAW officials. Right now the rank and file don’t trust their leadership to negotiate the best deal possible. In the past, when negotiations got down to the end, the president of the union could go into a room with the automaker’s vice president of labor relations and they could quickly hammer out the final agreement behind closed doors.
But today the rank and file don’t trust any closed door negotiations. So elected officials from all the UAW locals have to be witnesses to all the discussions. They need to be able to go back to their plants and tell the workers there, “Look, I was in the room when all these issues were settled.”
So the strike may have been over already if not for these corruption charges and criminal convictions. In fact, I would argue that it’s actually in the UAW’s leadership interest to drag this out as long as possible. Because once these labor contracts are signed, sealed and delivered, all eyes are going to turn back to the corruption scandal.
And that brings us to the end of today’s report, thanks for watching and hopefully we’ll see you later for After Hours.
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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.