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0:23 NASCAR Finally Bans the Confederate Flag
1:06 Ford Aims New Bronco at the Jeep Wrangler
1:37 Highlights of Ford and VW Partnership
2:30 Ford Expands Scooter Business to Germany
3:03 China Approves Tesla’s Cobalt-Free Battery
3:37 Nikola Taking Pre-Orders for Its Electric Pickup
4:24 New BMW X5 PHEV Arrives in the U.S.
5:38 MINI Updates Its U.S. Lineup
6:43 VW Starting Sales of the ID.3 in Germany
7:20 FCA and PSA Merger Faces Antitrust Probe
8:04 Big Trucks See Big Drop in Sales
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NASCAR FINALLY BANS THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
In a story that literally went around the world, NASCAR finally did it. Yesterday it banned all Confederate flags from NASCAR events and properties. That infuriated some fans, but here’s my editorial opinion. It’s astonishing that for so long NASCAR tolerated the flying of a flag that represents traitors to the United States of America who were willing to go to war to preserve slavery. And so, 155 years after the South was soundly defeated in the Civil War, we’re no longer going to see the Confederate battle flag flying at NASCAR races.
FORD AIMS NEW BRONCO DIRECTLY AT THE JEEP WRANGLER
Ford is aiming directly at the Jeep Wrangler with the new Bronco which comes out later this year. Ford COO Jim Farley told investors yesterday that Ford is already the Number One cross-shopped brand with Jeep and thanks to the Raptor it has a lot of brand credibility with off-road enthusiasts. And while Ford hopes to steal sales from the Jeep Wrangler, Farley also expects the Bronco to help grow the size of the off-road segment.
HIGHLIGHTS OF FORD & VW PARTNERSHIP
Speaking of Ford it released more details of its partnership with Volkswagen. Here are some of the highlights:
– Ford will build a mid-size pickup that VW will sell as the new Amarok.
– VW will build a small delivery van based on the VW Caddy that Ford will sell under its own name.
– Ford will build a 1-ton van that VW will also sell.
– All told VW and Ford expect to collectively sell 8 million commercial vehicles over the lifecycle of these products.
– Starting in 2023, Ford will start making electric cars in Europe based on VW’s MEB platform, though Ford will design and build those EVs. Ford expects to make 600,000 of these EVs though it did not say over what period of time.
FORD EXPANDS SCOOTER BUSINESS TO GERMANY
While companies that offer ride sharing and car sharing are struggling or even going out of business, the shared electric scooter business is growing. Two years ago Ford bought a scooter startup based in San Francisco, named Spin, and the business is promising enough that it is now offering the service in Germany. Ford says that since the Covid pandemic broke out it’s seen an increase in ridership as people shunned mass transit and used scooters to maintain social distancing.
TESLA GETS APPROVAL FOR COBALT-FREE BATTERIES IN CHINA
In February, we reported that Tesla was in talks with CATL to use its Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries in China-made Model 3s. Today, we’re able to report that Tesla won approval to use those kinds of batteries. Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries contain no cobalt, which is one of the most expensive materials in batteries. They’re also less energy-dense as lithium-ion, which means less range, but they’re significantly cheaper as well. Some say the EVs will be reduced in price by a “double digit percent.”
NIKOLA TAKING PRE-ORDERS FOR ELECTRIC PICKUP
So is Nikola going to actually make an electric pickup truck or not? At first, the company’s founder Trevor Milton, said that Nikola would concentrate on making semis. But now Nikola says it will start taking pre-orders at the end of this month for the pickup, which is called the Badger. So will Nikola beat Tesla to the market with an electric pickup? We’ll get a lot more details later today on Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Trevor Milton. We’ll go live at 3 pm eastern time, so join me and Gary Vasilash as we give you a front row seat to what’s going on at Nikola.
NEW BMW X5 PHEV MAKING U.S. DEBUT
The plug-in hybrid version of the new BMW X5 arrives in the U.S. next month. And it’s much more performance oriented than the previous model. A 3.0L turbocharged 6-cylinder replaces a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder engine. When combined with the electric motor it produces 389 horsepower, 81 more than before and it also makes 111 more lb-ft of torque. The X5 plug-in comes standard with a 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive as well. Zero to 60 is achieved in 5.3 seconds, which is 1.2 seconds faster. Battery range doubled to 30 miles with a doubling of battery capacity from 12 kWh to 24 kWh. It can even tow up to 7,200 pounds. Moving to the inside, the X5 plug-in comes standard with the latest-generation of BMW’s iDrive system and two 12.3-inch display screens. The SUV is made at BMW’s U.S. plant in South Carolina and will go on sale in July with a starting price of over $66,000, including destination charges.
MINI UPDATES ITS U.S. LINEUP
In other BMW Group news, MINI revealed a number of product updates for the U.S. market. And good news for fans of the #savethemanuals movement. MINI is actually re-introducing a manual transmission for some Cooper Hardtop and Convertible models as well as the Clubman. Staying with the Clubman for a moment, it also gets a new John Cooper Works model with a 301 horsepower engine and the Signature trim now comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Let’s move over to MINI’s most-popular model in the U.S., the Countryman, which actually accounts for 40% of MINI’s sales in the region. The grille is newly designed, LED headlights and fog lights are now standard, the rear taillights feature a Union Jack design and there’s new body finishes. The instrument panel gets a new look as well and an 8.8-inch touchscreen is standard. Lastly, MINI lowered the price on 8 of its models by $1,000 in hopes of making its vehicles more accessible to customers. (Clubman: Top; Countryman: Bottom)
VW ID.3 GOING ON SALE IN GERMANY NEXT WEEK
Volkswagen has faced criticism for delays related to the introduction of its ID.3 electric car, but it looks like those delays are behind it. Volkswagen said “first edition” versions of the EV go on sale in Germany next week with a starting price under 40,000 euro. And it just so happens that earlier this month Germany doubled incentives for EVs that cost less than 40,000 euro. That means buyers of the ID.3 will be eligible for up to 9,000 euros in subsidies. Deliveries of the ID.3 are expected to start in September.
FCA & PSA MERGER FACES ANTITRUST PROBE
The $50 billion merger between FCA and PSA hit a snag over antitrust concerns. Regulators in the EU are worried they will have a dominant position in the small van segment. The automakers had until yesterday to make concessions in the deal but did not do so. That automatically triggered a four-month long investigation by the European Commission. The EU was going to decide whether to clear the deal later this month but that will now be delayed by the new investigation. The companies declined to comment but sources told Reuters that they’re not worried about the investigation and that it won’t delay the merger and they expect to finalize the deal in the first quarter of next year.
BIG TRUCKS SEE BIG DROP IN SALES
While passenger car sales in the U.S. are way down, they were better than expected in May. But Wards reports medium- and heavy-duty trucks took it on the chin last month with a nearly 50% drop in sales. It’s the 8th month in a row they’ve fallen. Class 8 semi-trucks were down over 60%, the other Classes all recorded big drops as well, except Class 4 which was only down 2%. Through the first five months of the year, medium- and heavy-duty truck sales are down about 30% compared to last year. We thought sales of big trucks would fare better during the lockdown since truck traffic held strong with all the deliveries being made. But apparently that wasn’t the case.
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.