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0:07 IHS Markit Slashes Global Sales Forecast
0:34 Hyundai Miscalculated Impact of Virus
1:02 SEAT Will Test Workers to Restart Production
1:51 Byton Cuts U.S. Workforce in Half
2:30 PSA Execs Reduce Compensation in Shares
3:06 GM Shutting Down Maven
4:08 Lordstown Delays Its Electric Pickup
4:36 VW Makes Tutorial for DIY VR Headset
5:12 Hyundai Recalls Sonatas with Smart Park
6:40 How to Attract Young Talent to the Repair Industry
8:00 Opel Testing All-New Mokka Electric
8:26 Evoque & Discovery Sport Get Plug-In Variants
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
Well, the coronavirus crisis continues to take a toll on the auto industry.
IHS MARKIT SLASHES ITS GLOBAL SALES FORECAST
IHS Markit slashed its sales forecast for global sales. It expects automakers to sell 70 million light vehicles this year, down from 90 million last year. That’s the equivalent of losing production from 83 assembly plants around the world. Just to put that in perspective there are about 55 assembly plants in the U.S.
HYUNDAI MISCALCULATED IMPACT OF VIRUS
Reuters reports that Hyundai miscalculated the impact of the coronavirus. While automakers in the U.S. began closing plants in March, it cranked up production in South Korea of the new Tucson and its other SUVs, betting it could sell them in the U.S. Now those vehicles are sitting in U.S. ports going nowhere. Dealers are not taking delivery because they already have too much inventory.
SEAT WILL TEST WORKERS SO IT CAN RESTART PRODUCTION
Meanwhile, Spanish automaker SEAT is getting ready to restart production. That’s really saying something because Spain was hit really hard by the virus. The automaker will carry out PCR tests on 15,000 of its employees. PCR tests are claimed to be the most reliable way to identify if a person has the COVID-19 virus. After the tests, SEAT will restart production at several of its plants on April 27th but only on one shift. After that it will do 3,000 PCR tests a week on production employees and the pace of production will continue to ramp up from there. The results of the tests will be part of a scientific study that will help us better understand COVID-19 and the extent of the pandemic.
BYTON TAKES DRASTIC ACTION TO SURVIVE
EV startup Byton is taking drastic action to survive. According to Electrek, it laid off nearly half of its 450 employees in the U.S. Top execs are taking 80% pay cuts. It already made similar cuts in China. It hopes to bring everyone back at the end of May. The company’s M-Byte SUV was scheduled to launch this year in China and next year in the U.S. but those plans are now up in the air. Byton is the one with that giant 48-inch display screen in its cars, and you can check out our interview on YouTube with the guy who is in charge of designing it.
PSA EXECS WILL REDUCE COMPENSATION IN SHARES
Here’s a different take on cutting executive pay. PSA is forcing executives to give up stock shares. CEO Carlos Tavares will give back 50,000 shares, which represents 35% of his fixed income. The company’s other board members will reduce their compensation in shares by 25% and the top 100 executives will reduce their shares by an average of 21%. A total of 335,000 shares, valued at more than 4 million euros will go back to Foundation PSA.
GM SHUTTING DOWN MAVEN
And the coronavirus finally forced GM to throw in the towel with Maven, its car sharing service. GM told 230,000 customers yesterday that Maven will start to shut down. Maven was already running into problems with high capital investment, high operational costs and lower long-term profitability. There were signs it was in trouble a year ago, when it cut back the number of cities it operated in and the executive in charge, Julia Steyn, left the company. Now, due to the coronavirus, few people are car sharing. GM will auction off the 1,400 vehicles in the Maven fleet to dealers and the rest of the assets will be transferred to GM’s Global Innovation organization.
LORDSTOWN MOTORS’ ELECTRIC PICKUP DELAYED
The first two electric pickups that were supposed to hit the market have been delayed. We’ve reported how Rivian’s R1T was pushed back and now Lordstown Motors will change the delivery date for its Endurance pickup. It’s been moved to January of next year from December of this year. Lordstown also planned to reveal the final production version at the Detroit auto show, but since that’s been cancelled the EV maker will reveal the Endurance in an on-line event. While many of its employees are at home, Lordstown says testing and tuning on the truck continues.
VW MAKES TUTORIAL FOR DIY VR HEADSET
Volkswagen released a series of videos showing how the all-electric ID.3 is made, and you can watch is all in virtual reality. And if you don’t have your own VR goggles, VW hosted a tutorial on how to make one out of cardboard. It’s a little more in-depth than you may think. It involves cutting little circles from plastic water bottles, gluing them together and filling them with water to make biconvex lenses. Now all we need to do is get Sandy Munro to wear one of these headsets and gives us his insights on Volkswagen’s approach to manufacturing EVs.
HYUNDAI WILL RECALL SONATAS WITH SMART PARK
Hyundai made a big splash at the Super Bowl with a television ad that kind of went viral. You’ll remember the people with Boston accents talking about their Smaht Cah. Well, Sonata’s equipped with its Remote Smart Parking feature are being recalled. There is an error in the software which could cause the vehicle to continue to move, even if a system malfunction is detected. Almost 12,000 Sonata’s with it are being recalled.
When will the cost of batteries come down to the point that EVs cost the same as ICE vehicles? Will we ever see those solid state batteries? And can EV batteries be fully recycled? Those are some of the topics we’ll be getting into tomorrow on Autoline After Hours. Our guest will be Bob Galyen, who just retired as CTO from CATL, China’s giant battery maker. By the way he was the lead designer of the battery pack on the GM Impact, which was the prototype for GM’s EV-1. This guy knows electric cars. Anton Wahlman from Seeking Alpha will also be on the show. So join me and Gary Vasilash for some of the best insights you can get about the automotive industry.
HOW TO ATTRACT YOUNG TALENT TO THE REPAIR INDUSTRY
There’s a big shortage of qualified automotive technicians and it’s not getting any better. Older techs are starting to retire and new ones aren’t being encouraged to come in. Sean McElroy sat down with Craig Van Batenburg, the owner of a hybrid and EV training center who has some big ideas on how to attract new young talent into the repair industry.
Craig Van Batenburg, CEO, Automotive Career Development Center
“You can’t expect these young, smart kids to get in the industry if they don’t have the money. That’s an issue. Flat-rate, very controversial. There was a big lawsuit, there was a huge problem in California and the union around Chicago went on strike two years ago. I follow all of this. So, we need to change the whole deal. We need to make flat-rate work, which means a really really good base pay. We need to make tools provided by the shop, but to do that you need a tax credit. If I bought tools today, I want the government to buy those tools, give me a tax credit. I want education to be the same curriculum [in] every single state because people move around. I would like to have colleges be free at least for two years, a little bit maybe for more. And make it mandatory that every technician has a license. I mean it’s been a long time. We need to do all this and more. And it can work.”
If you want to dive deeper into the world of automotive repair you can watch that interview right now on our YouTube channel.
OPEL READIES ALL-NEW MOKKA ELECTRIC
PSA is doing an amazing job of helping Opel get back on its feet. Opel is now testing the all-new Mokka and there will be a full BEV, but it will also be offered with combustion engines as well. And that likely means there will be a plug-in version too. It’s camouflaged because it’s still under testing, but production kicks off in 4th quarter and deliveries start early next year.
EVOQUE & DISCOVERY SPORT GET PLUG-IN VARIANTS
Speaking of electrified vehicles, Land Rover will offer plug-in hybrid versions of the Evoque and Discovery Sport. Both are powered by a 1.5L 3-cylinder engine mated to an 85 kW electric motor. The 15 kWh battery is mounted under the rear seats. The Evoque’s range is 66 kilometers or 41 miles, while the Discovery Sport comes in at 62 kilometers or 38 miles. Both are based on the WLTP test cycle. The new plug-ins are available to order right now.
That’s the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us.
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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.