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0:07 U.S. Car Market Headed for Deep Trouble
0:51 Consumers Open to Online Car Buying
1:44 Toyota Corolla Apex Edition
2:58 Toyota Tweaks the Camry
3:09 Nissan Introduces Ariya EV
4:53 Volkswagen Opens Next Gen Charging Station
5:53 Small Pickup Sales Remain Steady
6:27 Maserati Likely Using Mahle Jet Ignition Technology
8:35 Range Rover Gets 48V Mild Hybrid Diesel Engine
9:35 States Adopt New Mandates for Big Trucks
10:39 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition
11:16 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. CAR MARKET HEADED FOR DEEP TROUBLE
The U.S. auto market could be headed into deep trouble. A month ago, GM’s CEO warned that returning to full production “depends on how the country manages containing the virus and following the safety protocols.” Well, we all know the answer to that. The virus is surging again, and Cox Automotive reports that 71% of consumers are very concerned or extremely concerned about the surge. Deloitte reports that one out of three Americans who are still employed are afraid of losing their jobs. And nearly half of all car owners say they’re going to keep the car they’ve got instead of buying a new one. Deloitte says a V-shaped recovery is increasingly looking far-fetched.
CONSUMERS OPEN TO ONLINE CAR BUYING
One thing dealers can do to help boost sales during the pandemic is improving the online car buying experience. According to a Cox Automotive study, two-thirds of buyers are more likely to buy a vehicle fully online. It also found that car buyers want to minimize the time spent at a dealership and make sure the trade-in value of their car is fair compared to market value. Consumers want to know that value at the beginning of the buying process because it helps them understand what they can afford. And they’re more likely to recommend a dealer if they’re happy with the experience.
TOYOTA COROLLA APEX EDITION
Performance sells and automakers are trying to figure out how to sprinkle some performance into even the most unlikely models. Toyota is coming out with a limited-edition version of the Corolla called the Apex. They’re only going to make 6,000 of them. It gets a 2-liter, naturally aspirated engine with an impressive 13:1 compression ratio but only makes 169 horsepower and 151 pound feet of torque. It comes standard with a CVT but Toyota will put a 6-speed manual available in only 120 of the cars. To make it look meaner than it is, they blacked out a bunch of trim pieces, including the grille and lower fascia, the rocker panels and rear wing. Stiffer springs reduce roll stiffness by 47% in the front and 33% in the rear and lower the vehicle by six-tenths of an inch. 18-inch aluminum wheels reduce unsprung weight by 2.2 pounds at each corner and can be mounted with optional summer tires. It’s rated at 34 miles to the gallon with the CVT and 32 with the manual. No word yet on when it will go on sale or what it will cost.
TOYOTA TWEAKS THE CAMRY
Toyota also tweaked the front-end styling of the Camry by adding more definition to the air intakes in the lower front fascia. It’s also making its suite of safety technologies standard.
NISSAN INTRODUCES ARIYA EV
Nissan’s first fully electric crossover, the Ariya, made its debut. Before we jump into specs, let’s talk about design. Much of the concept’s styling carried through to the production model and Nissan says the Ariya signals its future design direction. The automaker also no longer calls that black thing at the front of the vehicle a grille, but rather a shield, which hides sensors and cameras for Nissan’s ProPilot driver assistance system. Eagle eyes will notice a slight change to Nissan’s logo, which now lights up with 20 LEDs. The interior is modern and spartan with few buttons or knobs, we only notice a few surface mounted haptic controls on the dash and center console. Two 12.3-inch display screens blend together the infotainment and driver instrument cluster. Now to the specs. The Ariya comes with two battery sizes and either two- or 4-wheel drive. The battery sizes are 63 kWh of usable capacity and 87 kWh, which return between 430 kilometers or 267 miles of range to 610 kilometers or 379 miles of range based on the WLTP test. Performance ranges from zero to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds down to 5.1 seconds for an all-wheel drive model with the large battery. The Ariya first goes on sale in Japan in the second half of next year with a starting price of around 5 million yen, which is about $47,000.
VOLKSWAGEN OPENS NEXT-GEN CHARGING STATION
Volkswagen opened a next-generation charging station at its proving grounds in Arizona, which will be used to evaluate battery and charging performance in extreme heat. The fifty-vehicle station features 25 DC fast chargers with outputs ranging from 50-kW to 350-kW, that are capable of charging at speeds up to 20 miles a minute. Ten Level 2 chargers have also been installed at the site to simulate at home charging. The chargers have different charge plugs that are used in the U.S., Europe and China. And in the future, pads will be installed to test wireless charging.
SMALL PICKUP SALES REMAIN STEADY
Sales of new vehicles are down dramatically, but in the U.S. market the small pickup segment is doing the best of all. It’s only down about 9% this year, while the rest of the market is down 23%. Here’s how the sales break out. The Toyota Tacoma is still at the top of the heap but has lost some market share. Surprisingly, Ford clawed its way into the number two spot, edging out the Chevrolet Colorado. And the Jeep Gladiator elbowed its way past the Nissan Frontier, the Honda Ridgeline and the GMC Canyon.
|U.S. SMALL PICKUP SALES H1 2020|
|Source: Wards Intelligence|
MASERATI LIKELY USING MAHLE JET IGNITION TECHNOLOGY
Back in March we spoke to MAHLE’s Head of Powertrain Research, Mike Bunce, about the supplier’s Jet Ignition technology. That’s where a pre-chamber about the size of a thimble and only a few cubic centimeters in volume sits at the end of a spark plug. The plug lights off an air-fuel mixture inside the pre-chamber, which forces it through small holes, coming out the other side like high-speed jets. That is then used to ignite the air-fuel mixture inside the main combustion chamber. Because it’s a very fast, complete burn, a much leaner air-fuel mixture can be used that a normal spark plug wouldn’t be able to ignite. And now we have an update to this story. We believe Maserati will be the first automaker to use this technology in a road-going car. It recently revealed its all-new Nettuno engine, which features a pre-chamber ignition system derived from F1. In our March interview, Bunce noted that Ferrari used its Jet Ignition technology. Even though Ferrari is now its own brand, it was recently part of the FCA Group which owns Maserati, and Maserati looks to be using what MAHLE calls its active system. This setup uses two fuel injectors; one in the cylinder and one in the pre-chamber. This allows for a different air-fuel mixture in the pre-chamber compared to the main chamber and Maserati also uses a second spark plug in the cylinder when the engine is operating at a level that doesn’t need the pre-chamber. The 3.0L twin-turbo V6 makes about 630 horsepower and nearly 540 lb-ft of torque or 730 Nm and will first be used in the MC20 sports car, which will debut in September. MAHLE also has what it calls a passive system, which is a more drop-in application and Bunce says it’s working with an automaker on that, so we may have more Jet Ignition updates in the future.
RANGE ROVER GETS 48V MILD HYBRID DIESEL ENGINE
Land Rover updated the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The most significant addition is a new 3.0L inline six-cylinder diesel engine with 48V mild hybrid technology, which is available in three different power outputs. In the Range Rover, the more powerful engine achieves up to nearly 31 MPG or 9.2L/100km based on the WLTP test cycle. And in the Range Rover Sport, the more powerful engine helps it achieve a 0 to 60 MPH time of 6.5 seconds. Besides the new engine, each model now comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And new special editions are available for each model as well.
STATES ADOPT NEW MANDATES FOR BIG TRUCKS
Medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses account for roughly 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, but only 4% of total sales. And now 15 states are banding together to boost the adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles in that segment. The goal is for 30% ZEV sales, like electric semi-trucks, by 2030 and 100% by 2050. In the next six months, the states will try to work out roadblocks and solutions to them, including possible incentives and growing the charging infrastructure. While California is involved in this initiative, in late June the California Air Resources Board also approved a policy requiring manufacturers to produce an increasing number of zero emission trucks. It starts out at 5-9% by 2024, ramping up to 100% in 2045, which is estimated to put 300,000 ZEV trucks and buses on California’s roads by 2035.
KIA TELLURIDE NIGHTFALL EDITION
Journalists and enthusiasts often scoff at blacked-out versions of vehicle models, but automakers make better profits and consumers seem to snatch them up. Here’s the latest from Kia, the Telluride Nightfall Edition, which features an exclusive grille finish, grille logo, headlamp bezels, lug nuts and center caps as well as unique wheels and badging. It also gets black roof rails, side molding, air vents and skid plates. The Telluride Nightfall Edition goes on sale in the second half of this year, or in other words… soon.
MERCEDES-AMG GT BLACK SERIES
Mercedes-AMG pulled out all the stops for the new AMG GT Black Series. It has the most elaborate aerodynamics package it’s ever done, the most intelligent materials mix and at its heart, the most powerful V8 engine AMG has ever made. That engine, a twin-turbo 4.0L with a flat-plane crankshaft, was plucked from the AMG GT3 race car and tuned to 730 horsepower and roughly 590 lb-ft of torque. All that power is channeled through a 7-speed DCT to the rear wheels, which helps the Black Series hit 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds from a standstill and 200 km/h in under 9 seconds. Just look at the car and you can pick out most of the other upgrades; huge hot air openings on the hood, massive rear wing, rear diffuser and plenty of carbon fiber as well as near full underbody paneling and coil-over suspension. While the AMG GT Black Series is approved for the street, this is really a car for the track. If looking at the car didn’t give that away, hopefully the seats will.
Have you ever heard of a state appointing a chief mobility officer? Well neither had we until the state of Michigan appointed Trevor Pawl to that position. And he’ll be joining us on Autoline After Hours tomorrow. We want to know his plans for electrification, autonomy and sustainability. Pete Bigelow from Automotive News will also be on the show, so join John and Gary for some of the best insights into the issues that are affecting the automotive industry.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.
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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.