Listen to “AD #2809 – Dealer Lots Start Piling Up; New Electric Flying Car Racing Series; Toyota 4Runner TRD Impressions” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Tesla Shows Prototype Ventilator
0:39 Magna Develops Ventilator from Car Parts
1:06 GM Encourages More Suppliers to Get Involved
1:41 How GM is Keeping Its Ventilator Plant Clean
2:21 Global Sales Are Going to Tank
2:56 Dealer Lots Start Piling Up
3:49 Electric Flying Car Racing Series Readies
4:41 eRacing Coverage Getting Better
5:45 Skoda’s Forgotten Bus from 1908
6:42 How RSM is Advising Suppliers During Coronavirus
8:54 Toyota 4Runner TRD Impressions
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TESLA SHOWS PROTOTYPE VENTILATOR
The auto industry is doing its part to help make medical supplies for coronavirus patients. Tesla posted a YouTube video showing off a prototype ventilator its developed using its own parts. It has a Model 3 touchscreen as its display, which is powered by the Model 3’s infotainment computer. The ventilator also features a backup battery which provides 20 to 40 minutes of power. Tesla did not provide a timeline as to when or how many it will produce.
MAGNA DEVELOPS VENTILATOR FROM CAR PARTS
The supplier Magna also developed its own ventilator. They joined the open source community called Open Source Ventilator to work on the design. The ventilator, which is designed for use in field hospitals, uses a seat recline motor and lever to compress the self-inflating bag used in emergency rooms. Magna is working on sourcing components that could enable 500 hours or about 21 days of operation.
GM ENCOURAGES MORE SUPPLIERS TO GET INVOLVED
And GM is encouraging more suppliers to get involved by offering them step-by-step plans to manufacture face masks for frontline workers in essential services. GM says any of its suppliers should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their first and last name, email address, and company name and DUNS number. They will then get a follow-up email from GM with directions on how to download the material.
HOW GM IS KEEPING VENTILATOR PLANT CLEAN
And GM revealed its process for keeping its Kokomo plant clean to build ventilators. Everyone will have to sanitize their hands immediately upon arrival and have their temperatures checked. And everyone will wear masks. There will be a 30-minute interval between shifts to allow employees to clean their stations, when they arrive and before they leave. Each station will be manned by one person and everyone will be at least six-feet apart. Cleaning crews will sanitize common surfaces three times per shift. And each shift will enter and exit through a different door to minimize contact. Volume production kicks off in less than two weeks.
GLOBAL SALES ARE GOING TO NOSE DIVE
Well, we knew the virus crisis was going to hurt new car sales all around the world, and now we’ve got more info on it. Ward’s Intelligence reports that global sales fell 20% in February, which is the latest data available. Obviously, the numbers are going to get a lot worse since the full impact of the virus had not hit most global markets in February. We can probably expect sales to fall over 80% in Europe, North America and South America in April. Now the question is, how soon and to what extent can the market recover?
DEALER LOTS ARE ABOUT TO START PILING UP
Here’s another data point on the impact of the crisis on car dealers. Even though production came to a screeching halt in the U.S. market several weeks ago, inventory on dealers’ lots actually increased. Dealers now had over 3.7 million vehicles in inventory in March, up from 3.6 million in February. But because sales have almost completely dried up, the February numbers represented 69 days’ of inventory, while the March numbers represent 95 days. And no doubt the days’ supply will skyrocket in April.
ELECTRIC FLYING CAR RACING SERIES GETTING READY FOR DEBUT
A new racing series is getting ready to kick off and this one’s taking to the skies. Airspeeder is an electric flying car racing series that reminds us a little bit of drone racing but with humans in the aircraft. The flying cars, made by a company named Alauda, already look a little like drones. Pilots will race head-to-head on desert race tracks at speeds up to 200 km/h or about 124 MPH. Augmented reality inside the cockpit will help pilots navigate the course. LiDAR and Machine Vision are meant to ensure close but safe racing and will also make digital no-fly zones around spectators and officials. Once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted more testing will be done and the first races are scheduled to take place before the end of the year.
E-RACING COVERAGE GETTING BETTER
All this eRacing is actually a decent replacement for the real thing. And it’s getting better. FOX’s coverage of the NASCAR eRace, which was won by William Byron, this weekend was pretty good at following the action. And it’s only going to get better as they get used to the format. There was also some good action over in IndyCar. Winner Scott McLaughlin beat out teammate Will Power by just 0.4 second. There’s another good storyline going on in IndyCar as well. Robert Wickens, who was left paralyzed after an accident at Pocono two years ago, is getting another shot behind the wheel with eRacing. Despite not getting his racing simulator set up until Thursday and starting dead last in the field, Wickens was able to pilot his car to 8th place. He said the race felt like the real deal and he hopes this is the first step for him to get back into a real IndyCar. It will be interesting to watch how the viewer ratings perform.
SKODA’S FORGOTTEN BUS FROM 1908
Here’s another one of those lesser-known models from Skoda’s history. This bus and van with its own trailer is from 1908 and was specially made for the mountainous area of Montenegro. It could carry up to 12 people, had a maximum payload of 900 kilograms or about 2,000 pounds and the trailer could carry another 1,500 kilograms or 3,300 pounds. It was powered by an advanced 4-cylinder engine of the time that produced nearly 26 kW or 35 horsepower and was mated to a 4-speed transmission, which drove the rear wheels. The vehicles were used until the First World War in 1916. There are no known survivors.
HOW RSM IS ADVISING SUPPLIERS DURING CORONAVIRUS
The auto industry is struggling during the coronavirus. But small and midsize auto suppliers are particularly vulnerable during this downturn. RSM is a tax and audit company that has a number of midsize suppliers as clients and here’s how they’re advising them on liquidity and cost management.
Larry Keyler, RSM
“A lot of our clients and a lot of the market, they have very sophisticated modeling in place that allows them to understand the short-term, mid-term and long-term needs (of the company). But, you know John, I don’t think that anyone could have ever anticipated the impact of what we’re going through today. And so, there are a lot of companies that don’t have those models in place. So, one of the things we work with our clients on, and we see a tremendous need, is just the overall modeling out of all the short-term to mid-term and long-term cash needs of the organization from a financing and cash flow perspective. I think the other thing that we’re working with our clients on is, during this period of distress on the business, it really has to do with a re-validation of their business models. You know, their operating models are going to change. The new normal is unknown. It’s anticipated. They have expectations. But they need some assistance in really understanding what their business might look like in the future. I think the other aspect of liquidity that we’re seeing our clients are really concerned about really has to do with some of the disputes that may come up over the next few months. Disputes regarding lease agreements, contracts or general disputes tied to the supply chain in general. And I think our clients are very concerned about that. Again, it’s a little bit of new ground for them and it’s something they need the help in anticipating and bringing resolutions to. Those are the kinds of things that we’re seeing how we help our clients in the area of liquidity and overall cost management.”
You can watch that full interview on our YouTube channel.
TOYOTA 4RUNNER TRD IMPRESSIONS
I was test driving a Toyota 4 Runner last week, a TRD Off-Road Premium model. The 4 Runner is a rugged, body-on-frame SUV, and the TRD edition includes some serious hardware. Obviously, it comes with all-wheel-drive but also has skid plates, a locking rear differential, multi-terrain select modes, and what Toyota calls Kinetic Dynamic Suspension, which provides more wheel travel at low off-road speeds. Of course it also comes with a graphics package so everyone knows you’re driving a TRD. And just so the driver doesn’t forget, there are TRD logos on the headrests, shift knob and floor mats. It also comes with a safety package that Toyota calls Safety Sense P, and yet the 4 Runner only gets a 4-star rating from NHTSA because front passenger protection only merits 3-stars in a frontal crash. Driver protection only gets 4-stars and it gets 3-stars for rollover protection. Under the hood the TRD edition is powered by a 4-liter V6 that cranks out 270 horsepower and 278 pound feet of torque. It also has dual independent variable valve timing. And while the engine is responsive, this SUV is rated at only 17 miles to the gallon. I think one reason why is that it only comes with a 5-speed transmission. The 4 Runner drives and feels like a heavy, body-on-frame SUV. It’s meant for serious off-road driving, not everyday commuting. The one criticism I have of this TRD version is the exhaust note. At light throttle, it’s not pleasing. Instead of a throaty rumble, there’s a constant drone in the cabin. And you pay $800 to get that drone if you select the TRD Pro-Exhaust option. And since this SUV is priced at $47,000, skipping that option would be one way to knock the price down a bit.
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.