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0:07 U.S. New Car Sales Looking Stronger
0:50 Is Tesla Going to Make a Van?
1:38 Tesla Suing Rivian Over Trade Secrets
2:46 Bentley Makes 3D Wood Door Inserts
3:33 More Manuals Disappear
4:11 Enthusiasts Seem to Love Paddle Shifters
4:58 How GM Defense Won Its New Army Contract
7:35 Local Motors Expanding Use of Autonomous Shuttles
8:10 Daimler Struggles But Sees Signs of Recovery
9:07 TuSimple Wants to Take Autonomous Trucking Nationwide
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. NEW CAR SALES LOOKING STRONGER
Sales of new cars in the U.S. are looking stronger. Wards Intelligence reports that the SAAR, or the annualized rate, for July suggests that sales could come in at 14.1 million vehicles for the year. That would be a million units higher than the SAAR was in June and nearly 2 million higher than it was in May. Wards forecasts that automakers will sell nearly 1.2 million vehicles this month, compared to 1.4 million a year ago. But because there’s an extra selling day in July this year, on a daily selling rate basis the market is down nearly 18%.
IS TESLA GOING TO MAKE A VAN?
Say, is Tesla going to make a van? Sure sounds that way. On an earnings call this week Elon Musk said Tesla will build a “higher capacity passenger vehicle”. That sure sounds like a van to us. Earlier reports suggest it could be a van that would be used by the Boring Company for transporting people in underground tunnels. Musk also confirmed that Tesla is going to come out with a compact vehicle, meaning it would be smaller than the Model 3 or Y. That sure puts Tesla on track to becoming a full line manufacturer. It will have 8 different models, including three passenger sedans, two crossovers, a pickup, a semi and a sports car.
TESLA SUES RIVIAN OVER TRADE SECRETS
Speaking of Tesla, it’s sueing Rivian. Tesla claims that Rivian poached some of its employees and encouraged them to share intellectual property with it. It’s not clear yet what secrets Tesla thinks Rivian stole, but, of course, Rivian completely denies the charges. Of Rivian’s roughly 2,300 employees, Tesla claims 178 are its former employees. BTW, Rivian also stole a good chunk of designers from the Jeep studio.
BENTLEY MAKES 3D WOOD DOOR INSERTS FOR FLYING SPUR
Diamond stitching on leather seats and door panels has long been a sign of luxury, but with so many automakers using it, it’s not so unique anymore. And since true luxury bands are all about uniqueness, Bentley came up with a new way to use the diamond pattern. It’s now making wood inserts for the rear doors on the Flying Spur that are carved with a 3D diamond pattern. The inserts are made from a single piece of wood, which is either American Walnut or Cherry that is first machined with a multi-axis router and then finished by hand. Bentley pioneered the look on a concept vehicle in 2015 and said that it was so well received that it decided to bring it to a production model.
MORE MANUALS DISAPPEAR
I think it’s safe to say we all love manual transmissions here and while they generate a lot of buzz in the media, manuals make up a very small percentage of the overall market. And now we’re seeing two more casualties; the Jeep Compass is dropping its manual, which is not a big surprise. But Genesis is dropping it on the G70, and that one is a bit shocking. Genesis had bragged that the G70 manual would really appeal to enthusiasts. But with a very low take rate, even Genesis decided to throw in the towel.
ENTHUSIASTS SEEM TO LOVE PADDLE SHIFTERS
Wow, were we stunned by how many of you responded to our story about paddle shifters. And we were not only stunned by the amount of comments you left, but also by how many of you actually use paddle shifters. The most common scenarios you reported for using the paddles were for downshifting when coming down a big hill, or from those times when you need to zip through traffic. Of course we probably shouldn’t have been surprised at all by your response. We know that most Autoline viewers are true enthusiasts.
HOW GM DEFENSE WON ITS NEW ARMY CONTRACT
On Autoline After Hours yesterday we had Mark Dickens, the chief engineer of GM Defense on the program. He told us about the ISV or Infantry Squad Vehicle that they just developed for the U.S. Army and how they won the contract to make it.
Mark Dickens, Chief Engineer, GM Denfense
It’s was, I want to say, a year and a half ago that we read about the program in FedBiz at the time as to the look for, the need for a 9-passenger vehicle that’s unarmored, that can carry soldiers in and out of battle fast. And we were working at the same time or I had responsibility for the ZR2 Colorado and the ZR2 Bison and also the Benson desert race program. And we saw the requirements and thought, wow, what a direct fit of all of these parts and pieces that are commercial, off-the-shelf parts and put together a proposal. We had, essentially from the time we started to actually delivering our bid sample to the Army for testing was 18 weeks. And that’s from putting pencils to the ground. And as you see pictures of the vehicle, the body to the seating arrangement, there’s nothing Colorado ZR2 about that. So, the team pulled off a big win there and delivered our bid sample, our first prototype to the Amry. And they evaluated I want to say maybe 5 or 6 manufacturers at that time and then we were selected as one of three companies to go forward with a prototype. And in the prototype phase they asked for two vehicles that were production representative and we delivered two vehicles to them and those went through an entire battery of testing; soldier touch points, feedback from soldiers. And I will say, really excitingly, that the Army has put a huge emphasis on the soldier’s feedback on these. I mean price is important but they’re making certain that they get products in the soldier’s hands that are going to keep them safe, get them in and out of battle fast. Those reviews and all that evaluation went really well for us. We put in our bid package for price and how we would deliver the vehicles and just a couple of weeks ago we were selected to be the sole source for production.
Mark Dickens is a true gearhead and racer, and if you’d like to learn more about what he had to say about the ISV you can watch that entire episode right now on our website or YouTube channel.
LOCAL MOTORS EXPANDS USE FOR AUTONOMOUS SHUTTLE
It’s been a while since we’ve reported anything about Local Motors. You’ll remember that’s the company that 3D prints its vehicles, notably the electric, autonomous shuttle, called Ollie. Well, Local Motors teamed up with Beep, a mobility provider out of Florida. Local will provide Beep with its Ollie 2.0, which will be deployed in geo-fenced, fixed-route environments. The two companies will also work to expand the usable area for vehicles like Ollie. But no word yet when we’ll see them out in the real world.
DAIMLER STRUGGLES BUT SEES SIGNS OF RECOVERY
Daimler was struggling before the pandemic which only added to its woes. Daimler reported it sold just under 542,000 passenger cars and commercial vehicles for the second quarter, a 34% drop from a year ago. It generated just over 30 billion euros in revenue, which is about 30% less. It posted an adjusted EBIT of a negative 708 million euros and it recorded a net loss of 1.9 billion euros. Daimler says it’s seeing signs of economic recovery and if that continues and there are not any other major COVID outbreaks in its key markets, it expects to make an operating profit this year. However, Bloomberg reports it could end up cutting as many as 20,000 jobs, and maybe as much as 30,000.
|Daimler Q2, 2020
TUSIMPLE MAKES PLANS FOR NATIONWIDE AUTONOMOUS TRUCKING
Are autonomous vehicles years away from reality? That’s what a lot of people think. But TuSimple, a startup developing Level 4 autonomous technology for semi-trucks, already has trucks on the road, shipping freight in Arizona and Texas, operating on both highways and surface streets. For now the trucks have a safety driver on board, but next year it plans to do a demo without a driver and by 2024 it plans to take its operations nationwide. It recently signed a deal with Navistar to develop autonomous trucks, which will arrive in 2024 and can be purchased through Navistar’s sales network. And it’s working with Penske Truck Leasing for maintenance and roadside assistance. Since the trucks won’t have drivers, Penske will rely on connectivity to monitor the vehicles and use the data collected to determine why a truck went to a service center or why it broke down on the road. Penske wants to better understand what the differences are between repairing autonomous trucks and regular ones. This will be critical because TuSimple plans to operate its trucks 24/7. So there you go, autonomy is already here.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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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.