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0:07 PSA & FCA In Merger Talks
1:06 Automakers Choose Sides on CA MPG Fight
1:49 GM Posts Decent Q3 Earnings
2:44 Tesla’s U.S. Revenue Tumbles
3:43 Kiekert Creates Locking System for EV Chargers
4:29 Ford Upgrades SYNC and Adds OTA Updates
5:50 Skoda Developing Kinetic Energy EV Charger
6:54 Car Dealers Face Technician Shortage
8:47 Uganda Backs Startup to Build EVs
9:58 Mopar Modifies 1968 Dodge Camper for SEMA
This is Autoline Daily reporting on all aspects of the global automotive industry.
PSA & FCA IN MERGER TALKS
We start off today with some significant developments in the industry. Bloomberg reports that PSA is seeking a merger with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. This must be a heavy blow to Renault and Nissan which had been trying to add FCA to their alliance. If the deal goes through, Carlos Tavares, the CEO of PSA, will be the CEO of the PSA-FCA merger. John Elkan, the chairman of FCA will become the chairman of the merger. Here’s our Autoline Insight: PSA, which is the parent company of Peugeot, Citroen and Opel, has no presence in North America. Nor does it make pickup trucks or large SUVs. So putting the two companies together could be a very powerful combination. The only problem is, both of them are weak in China. So if the deal goes through and once the dust settles, we’d expect them to seek out a Chinese partner.
AUTOMAKERS CHOOSE SIDES ON CA MPG FIGHT
In a surprise development, General Motors, Toyota and FCA came out in favor of the Trump Administration denying California the right to set its own fuel economy rules. The Alliance of Global Automakers also came out in support of the Trump Administration. The Alliance is the lobbying group for most foreign automakers in the U.S. Ironically, Honda is a member of the Alliance but earlier this year, Honda, Ford, BMW and VW came out in favor of California. So now we’re going to see a battle royale between Trump and California that splits the auto industry right down the middle.
GM POSTS DECENT Q3 EARNINGS
General Motors reported its third quarter earnings yesterday and the numbers look decent even though it lost a billion dollars in pre-tax profits due to the UAW strike. But remember, most of the financial damage from the strike will be reported in the fourth quarter. GM’s sales dropped more than 5% in the last three months, but that mainly was a reflection of the weak Chinese market. GM’s sales were actually up in North and South America. Revenue dropped slightly to $35 billion. And net profits fell 7%, coming in at $2.3 billion. This was a pretty good performance considering the global weakness in the industry and GM’s stock jumped 5% on the news. But as we noted, the real damage from the strike will be reflected in the fourth quarter numbers. Let’s see what the stock does then.
|GM Q3, 2019 Financial Results
TESLA’S U.S. REVENUE TUMBLES
Tesla reported a surprise profit in the third quarter, however that growth came from outside the U.S. A securities filing from the company revealed that its revenue in the U.S. last quarter was $3.1 billion, down from $5.1 billion a year ago, which is a drop of almost 40%. But that was offset by a 64% jump in China to $670 million and a billion dollar increase in the rest of the world to $1.8 billion. Thanks to that global growth, Tesla set a record of 97,000 deliveries in the third quarter.
KIEKERT CREATES LOCKING SYSTEM FOR EV CHARGERS
Dozens of new EVs are being introduced to the market over the next several years, so making sure the charging process can’t be disrupted is becoming more important. That’s why Kiekert, a German supplier company, designed a new locking system for EV chargers called secuCHARGE. As you can see in this video, an actuator inside the car activates a locking mechanism once the charger is fully plugged in. This makes it difficult for someone to pull the plug out while it’s charging. If the car has no power, the lock can be opened mechanically, but in a normal situation either the key fob, charging station, or a mobile app can operate the lock. Kiekert starts production of secuCHARGE later this year.
FORD UPGRADES SYNC AND ADDS OTA UPDATES
We got a sneak peek at some of the new technology that will be making its way into future Ford vehicles. The SYNC 4 infotainment system will be available in select models starting next year. Some of the new features include, standard cloud-based connectivity, conversational voice recognition and twice the computing power as the current system. Depending on the vehicle, there’s several different touchscreen sizes that run from 8 to 15.5 inches, which are able to simultaneously display different features for multi-tasking. And thanks to machine learning, it’s able to suggest and display functions based on your driving habits. It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can be paired wirelessly to the system. In addition to a new SYNC system, Ford will also be adding over-the-air updates to its vehicles. The bumper-to-bumper updates will cover most of the computer modules in a vehicle. Some of the updates will be invisible to the owner and install the new software in the background. It keeps the current software running until the new version is ready to activate. And customers can schedule when they want an update to occur. The OTA updates will be available on certain models beginning next year.
SKODA DEVELOPING KINETIC ENERGY EV CHARGER
Skoda, which is part of the VW Group, is working with a company called Chakratec to develop a unique charging station for plug-in vehicles. It’s a kinetic energy storage system that uses the same principles behind Formula 1’s KERS system. Electricity is stored in the form of kinetic energy in a flywheel that spins super-fast. Some of the benefits of the system include the ability to install fast-chargers almost anywhere, even in remote areas and since the system doesn’t use batteries that degrade, it also allows for a virtually unlimited number of high-power charge and discharge cycles. Although, I would have to think there’s some general maintenance that wouldn’t be needed with batteries. Skoda says it will install some of these charging stations in Prague in the Czech Republic.
CAR DEALERS FACE TECHNICIAN SHORTAGE
Today’s cars are loaded with all sorts of new technology and components which makes them more difficult to repair. At the same time, auto dealers are facing a shortage of technicians to fix those cars. Recently on Autoline This Week, we were joined by Charlie Gilchrist, the 2019 Chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, and he told us that this is one of the biggest issues car dealers face today.
(The ATW preview is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
You can watch that entire show on our website, Autoline.tv or you can find it on our YouTube channel.
And don’t forget to join us for Autoline After Hours tomorrow afternoon. John and Gary will be joined by Lindsay Brooke from SAE Engineering and Michelle Krebs from Cox Automotive, to dissect the latest news in the global automotive industry. If you have a question you want answered just send it our way to email@example.com or hit us up on social media. That’s tomorrow at 3PM eastern time.
UGANDA BACKS STARTUP TO BUILD EVs
Have you ever heard of a car company called Kiira based in Uganda? Neither had we until viewer Jonathan Kasumba alerted us to it. Kiira is a startup funded by the Ugandan government to build electric vehicles. They’ve developed three different vehicles, including an EV commuter car, a hybrid passenger car and an electric bus. The EV commuter has an 8-kilowatt hour battery that will deliver about 50 miles of range. The hybrid, called the Smack, is a 5-passenger car that will also be offered in a non-hybrid version. And the bus, called the Kayoola, is battery powered, also with a range of about 50 miles. Kiira is building an assembly plant in Uganda that will be finished in 2021, with an initial production capacity of 5,000 vehicles a year. Obviously, this company has a long way to go. But Africa is projected to have a population of 2.4 billion people by mid-century, or about a billion more than China has today. So who knows? Maybe Kiira is getting a jump start on everyone else.
MOPAR MODIFIES 1968 DODGE CAMPER FOR SEMA
The SEMA show is right around the corner, but I know some people don’t really think it’s all that important. Think about this though. There’s brands like Jeep, where 90% of new Wranglers rolling off the assembly line will get at least one Mopar accessory. And in all, the accessories market generates $70 billion worldwide. I think the reason some people don’t get down with the SEMA show is because it’s not open to the public, so they don’t get to experience what it’s really like. But we’re going to pull back the curtain a little. Over the years Mopar has shown over 100 vehicles at SEMA and this year it will have a Mopar-ized Wrangler, a Ram Rebel that’s ready for an overland excursion and we’ll highlight these in a future video, but what we really want to talk about is the Lowliner. It’s a 1968 heavy-duty Dodge D200 Camper Special that designers bought for $6,800 in Ohio and then heavily modified. Everything was cleaned up, the door handles were shaved, trim removed and the raised badges and Dodge lettering were replaced with painted on ghost badges. The wheelbase was also stretched in the front by 3-inches and now there’s a Cummins diesel from the 1998 to 2006 era stuffed under the hood. Here’s a video of it running. Hope we didn’t startle you with that horn blast, but don’t feel bad. If you go back and watch the video again you can see the hand of the guy next to me jump as well.
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.