Listen to “AD #2812 – Automakers Running Out of Cash; VW Starting to Recover in China; Amazon Won't Compete w/ FedEx and UPS” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Automakers Running Out of Cash
0:46 GM Using Blockchain for HD Maps
1:20 Tesla Has Best Sales Month in China
1:50 VW Starting to Recover in China
2:48 Rivian Delays EV Truck
3:15 Amazon Won’t Compete with FedEx & UPS
3:50 Kia Teams with Electrify America for Fast Charging
4:20 You Said It!
8:25 Customer Support Issues Facing Dealers
10:16 Refreshed Volkswagen Atlas Goes On Sale
10:59 A Gearhead Makes Custom Face Mask
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
AUTOMAKERS RUNNING OUT OF CASH
Automakers are really starting to get worried and are going into survival mode. Deutsche Bank estimates that GM and Ford only have 15 to 17 weeks of cash left before they hit the minimum amount of cash needed to run their businesses. In other words, they’ll run out of liquidity by the end of July. Even though Deutsche Bank singled out GM and Ford, it’s a problem that all automakers face. Tesla is cutting executive salaries 20%, everyone else gets a 10% cut, and temp workers are getting laid off with no pay. Nissan is trying to get a $4.6 billion loan from Japanese banks.
GM USING BLOCKCHAIN FOR HD MAPS
General Motors is exploring the use of blockchain technology to keep maps up to date for its autonomous vehicles, according to Wards Intelligence. Using vehicle sensors, GM would map infrastructure, like new construction, traffic signs or speed-limit changes. An algorithm would then mark the changes and electronically make a note on blockchain. Having accurate maps is critical for the deployment of autonomous vehicles but as of today, only 1% of the world’s roads are mapped, so automakers are turning to technology like blockchain to help map the rest of the roads in a cost-effective way.
TESLA HAS BEST SALES MONTH IN CHINA
Good news for Tesla. It just had its highest monthly sales in China last month. According to the China Passenger Car Association, the EV maker sold more than 10,100 vehicles, which accounted for nearly 30% of all battery electric vehicles sold in March. That’s up from the 3,900 units Tesla sold in February. The automaker is aiming to produce 150,000 Model 3s this year at its new plant in Shanghai.
VW STARTING TO RECOVER IN CHINA
And speaking of China, the Volkswagen Group says it’s starting to recover in the market. All of the 2,000 VW brand dealerships have resumed business and 95% of Audi and Skoda dealerships have also reopened. It says foot traffic in showrooms is comparable to the same period last year. And its production is back on track, with 32 out of its 33 manufacturing facilities in the country up and running. It’s a significant year for VW in China as it moves forward with its electrification strategy. It will start local production of BEV models at two of its plants which have a combined capacity of 600,000 units per year.
RIVIAN DELAYS EV PICKUP
One of the most hotly anticipated EVs of the year is being pushed back. Rivian’s R1T pickup, which was scheduled to come out in December, will now make its debut in 2021. The EV maker has been retooling an old Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, but was forced down to a skeleton crew of workers. We won’t know the exact launch date until those retooling efforts are back in full swing.
AMAZON WON’T COMPETE WITH FEDEX & UPS
In other Rivian news, Amazon is less likely to order more delivery vans from the EV maker. Amazon suspended its service, called Amazon Shipping, which delivered non-Amazon packages. That’s good news for FedEx and UPS and their stocks shot up on the report. Amazon will continue to insource its own deliveries over time. A big thanks to viewer Ken who brought this story to our attention. And if you run across some interesting news, please pass it along our way.
KIA TEAMS WITH ELECTRIFY AMERICA FOR FAST CHARGING
Kia teamed up with Electrify America to offer a fast charging incentive for Niro EV buyers. The two are launching the ‘Kia Select’ charging program. It offers a flat rate of 35-cents per minute of charging and there’s no session or subscription fees. To sign up, participants will have to download the Electrify America app and complete the enrollment process. Better sign up sooner rather than later. The program runs until the end of the year, at which time it will be re-evaluated.
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for You Said It! where we report back on some of your feedback.
Sam Fiorani from Autoforecast Solutions saw our report on that mid-engine Mustang concept from the mid-1960s. Ford designers say it was not part of the Mustang Mach 2 program, but Sam asks, “Tell me WHY this can’t be an early stage of the ’67 Mach 2 concept?” and he sent us this image of the concept superimposed on the Mach 2, and he’s right. One fits right over the other.
And Daniel Stedem noted something in the background of one of those photos. “Couldn’t help but notice the stand-up ashtrays lined up for engineers and others to move to wherever they were working! It’s a good thing the world has changed when it comes to smoking, but unless you lived through it, people today can’t imagine how cigarette driven a society we were back then.”
Mark Johnson wrote in to tell us how much he loves U.S. Post Office trucks, which made their debut 30 years ago, and are still going strong. “This thing was built like a WW2 Grumman Avenger. It even has rivets in it’s aluminum body. I for one will proudly stand in line to purchase one and give it a place of honor in my stable. I hear Jay is planning on as well.”
Martin Wolny, who lives in Poland, chided us for giving Elon Musk too much coverage. “I know you’re U.S. media, so propping US companies might be natural, but come on, Musk is doing PR stunt, just as he did during the Thai Cave Rescue, yet you fall for it, as if no lessons were learnt. And that’s all coming from a billionaire who first spent weeks down-playing the virus, and is still forcing SpaceX employees to go to work for his pet projects, despite 6 of them testing positive for the virus! Really disappointing. Please, stop this publicity for denialists who endanger public health.”
Milton Piontowski saw our report that automakers are sneaking in price hikes by raising what they charge for delivery and destination charges. “Just looked at my “window sticker” from my 1965 Mustang that I bought in June 1965. Destination charge was $42.75. Dearborn to Milwaukee.” Well Milton, we did an inflation adjustment to put that in today’s dollars. It comes to only $351, while today Ford would charge you over $1,000 to deliver the car to the dealer.
And finally Charles Orvis wrote in to say, “We’ve seen Gary V. at home on “After Hours” via the web, but where the hell is Sean???” Charles, the entire Autoline staff is working from home and Sean is busy everyday working on Autoline Daily and posting video interviews on our YouTube channel. We’ve been able to keep on doing all of our shows and hope to keep on doing them with your help. We’ve begun asking for donations from you, our viewers and need to thank you who have done so. He’s a list of the names, which is too lengthy to read. And we are so grateful for all of you helping us out.
And be sure to join us for Autoline After Hours this afternoon when our guest will be Doug DeMuro, one of YouTube’s superstar car reviewers with millions of followers. We’ll be talking about the exotic and historic cars he test drives, and get into the details of how he does it all. Frank Markus from Motor Trend will also be joining us for that show, so join Gary Vasilash and me for one of the best gearhead programs in the business.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT ISSUES DEALERS ARE FACING
Automakers are scrambling to provide customer support during the coronavirus. So, what are some of the issues they’re facing? We spoke with Cathy Orrico, the Chief Client Officer and Automotive Lead at Agero, a company that provides driver assistance and vehicle services for car companies. And she gave a couple examples of how it’s helping automakers during the lockdown.
Cathy Orrico, Chief Client Officer & Automotive Lead, Agero
“One of the car companies that I work with said they were having a problem because dealerships were losing service appointments. So, people had scheduled service in advance and due to COVID they’re not interested in leaving their houses, so they’re cancelling. Well we know that parts and service revenue is very important to these dealerships right now. So they called up and asked if we could help them. So we put together a program if a dealership has an issue and they in fact are having cancellations, they can offer up an alternative that we can either pick up the car for them, on a flatbed tow truck or send a driver out to pick up the car, take it to be serviced and return it home. So that’s one example of where they’ve asked us for help. I had another partner of ours that said that digital requests have been coming in much higher, spiking higher than they had planned and they weren’t prepared. So they asked if we could put people on the phone representing their brands, taking and scheduling appointments for them. Whether it be sales or service, so we’ve helped out some there. In fact, we’ve got some clients that have asked us to set up these programs in 24 hours. So because we do this, because we’re an emergency services company, we have a lot of these protocols setup today and we’re able to help them out.”
REFRESHED VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS
A refreshed Volkswagen Atlas is on sale now and while it has a number of changes, the starting price is unchanged at nearly $32,600, including destination charges. The big change is front end styling, which now more closely resembles the Atlas Cross Sport. The grille slips under the less-blocky headlamps and the lower fascia is more aggressive with large lower air intakes. And if you squint, you’ll notice a slight change to the lower fascia on the rear as well. There’s no real styling upgrades to the interior, but the automaker’s turbo 4-cylinder is now available to top trims and with all-wheel drive.
A GEARHEAD MAKES CUSTOM FACE MASK
And to end the show on a light note, one of our viewers Grant Anderson sent us this shot of a gearhead who figured out how to make a Covid 19 face mask made from the air filter of a car. Breathe deep!
And with that we wrap up today’s show.
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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.