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0:07 Detroit Three Keep Plants Open
1:05 BMW Automatic Emission-Free City Driving
1:56 GM Merges Powertrain Ops into Product Development
3:05 VW Reveals ID.3 Pricing
3:51 Toyota Testing Blockchain Technology
4:24 Work Boots for Women
5:31 BMW To Cut Drivetrain Variants in Half
6:14 Ford Mustang Mach-E Winter Testing
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
DETROIT THREE KEEP PLANTS OPEN
Well the coronavirus is dominating all the headlines, and while we will cover how it’s impacting the industry, we’re not going to dwell on it. The SAE cancelled its World Congress for late April. GM, Ford and FCA told their office workers in the U.S. to stay home and work from there. But they’re keeping their plants running, at least for now. They formed a task force with the UAW to develop procedures to minimize the risk of transmitting the disease. For example, they are taking the time between shifts to wipe down work stations and equipment. Volkswagen closed its plant in Chattanooga today to thoroughly clean the plant. We’ll see how long this lasts. Health officials are asking that people not gather in groups of more than 250, whereas the typical assembly plant employs several thousand.
BMW AUTOMATIC EMISSION-FREE CITY DRIVING
BMW started equipping some of its plug-in models in Europe with a new feature called eDrive Zones. When the vehicle enters a designated low emission zone it automatically switches to electric drive. The system uses geo-fencing technology via GPS to know when it’s in one of these zones. A graph showing the size of the eDrive Zone also pops up on the navigation screen as does a notice that the vehicle is in electric-only mode. Most of the areas that already have defined zones are in Germany, but there’s 20 other major cities in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and France that do as well. The plug-in 7 Series, X5 and 3 Series are the vehicles that currently offer eDrive Zones.
GM MERGES POWERTRAIN OPS INTO PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
General Motors wants to get products to the market faster and more efficiently. So it’s merging its powertrain operations into its product development operations. GM Powertrain, which was recently renamed GM Propulsion Systems, used to have its own headquarters and staff. Wards reports that as GM developed its all new EV architecture, it realized it had to approach the design from a total systems standpoint, and brought its propulsion operations under the same roof as its product development teams. That provides GM with more overlap between departments as they develop new cars and trucks to allow better continuity and communication. To run it all, Doug Parks was named executive vice president-Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
VW REVEALS ID.3 PRICING
Despite rumors of delays, Volkswagen says it’s on track to deliver its ID.3 electric vehicle this summer and has released pricing for the base model. It will cost just under 30,000 euro in Germany, before a 6,000-euro environmental discount. The base ID.3 pairs a 148-horsepower electric motor with a 45-kWh battery pack, which returns up to 205 miles on the WLTP test cycle. Volkswagen also says owners will save up to 840 euro a year due to lower refueling and insurance costs as well as less cost for maintenance and no road vehicle tax.
TOYOTA TESTING BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
Autonomous and connected vehicles will create a mountain of data and keeping that data safe will be a top priority for companies. That’s why Toyota launched its Blockchain Lab nearly a year ago to test the technology. The automaker believes it will be fundamental in openly connecting people and businesses in a manner that is secure. Going forward, Toyota is planning more collaborations with other companies, to test blockchain for supply chains and mobility services.
WORK BOOTS FOR WOMEN
Years ago, one way to insult someone was to yell: “Your mother wore Army boots.” But here are some work boots that truly look attractive. Many women don’t like to wear clunky shoes, but if you work in a factory you have to wear steel toed shoes, and they’re designed for men. So a company called Xena decided to design stylish shoes with steel toes aimed directly at women who work in factories, labs or in any kind of STEM related work. The shoes feature a nice heel and a side zipper. But make no mistake they’re truly work shoes. Each pair is ASTM Certified, OSHA Compliant, Oil, and Chemical Resistant and have slip resistant soles. It’s a great idea, but we have one suggestion. The company ought to consider coming out with a good-looking line of work shoes designed for men. They could really be on to something here.
BMW TO CUT DRIVETRAIN VARIANTS IN HALF
Last week, we talked about GM cutting EV manufacturing costs by slashing its powertrain build combinations. Today, it has 555 for ICE powertrains but it will only have 19 for its EV propulsion systems. And BMW also plans to drastically reduce its ICE variants. Beginning in 2021, the German automaker will eliminate 50% of its “traditional drivetrain variants,” to help pay for its shift to electric vehicles. The company didn’t reveal specific details but we’ll likely see more automakers make similar moves to help cut costs for manufacturing EVs.
FORD MUSTANG MACH-E WINTER TESTING
Speaking of electrics, Ford is inching closer to the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E and to tease us even more it posted this video of winter testing. The whole idea is to show you the torque vectoring and acceleration capabilities of the EV by shutting off all the stability controls. We think this is a great way to end the show so take a look and we’ll see you 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.