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0:35 China Car Market on The Mend
1:35 Nikola Scores Garbage Truck Contract
2:03 Lucid Claims Top Spot in EV Range
3:37 Startups Raise Money Easier Than OEMs
4:43 Traditional OEMs Will Make Their Own Batteries
6:02 JLR Teaches AVs To Avoid Car Sickness
7:27 All New Civic Coming Next Year
7:39 Honda Civic Type R Is an Impressive Performance Machine
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHINA CAR MARKET ON THE MEND
New car sales are surging in China. They shot up more than 16% in July, the fourth month in a row that they’ve posted gains. Automakers delivered 2.1 million cars and trucks, but sales are still expected to be down 10% for the year. If there is a second wave of the coronavirus, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says sales could be down 20%. Deliveries of what China calls New Energy Vehicles, which includes BEVs and PHEVs, jumped more than 19% to 93,000 vehicles. That’s the first time in a year those numbers were up. But these numbers represent wholesale deliveries to dealers, not direct sales to customers. So it’s possible that retail sales are not as strong as these numbers suggest, and really represent dealers rebuilding their inventory.
NIKOLA SCORES GARBAGE TRUCK CONTRACT
Nikola, the startup that plans to make fuel cell powered semi trucks, is making progress. It got an order for 2,500 garbage trucks from Republic Services, which is a recycling and waste disposal company. It wants quiet and emissions-free trucks to operate in neighborhoods. Nikola is still a couple of years away from production, but Nikola stock jumped 22% on the news.
LUCID CLAIMS TOP SPOT IN EV RANGE
Look out Tesla! InsideEVs reports that Lucid Motors’ Air sedan has an EPA estimated range of 517 miles. That blows away the range of the Model S which has an EPA rated 402 miles. While it’s not an official EPA number, the Air’s range was certified by FEV North America, an independent engineering company which certifies range for a number of automakers. Lucid still hasn’t disclosed the size of the battery pack, so it’s not known yet if it’s more efficient than Tesla, or if they just packed more cells into the car. We won’t have to wait long to find that out. Lucid will unveil the production version of the Air next month.
STARTUPS RAISE MONEY EASIER THAN OEMS
Tesla lost money every year for a decade. But it was able to survive because Elon Musk has an uncanny ability to borrow money. Now many EV startups like Nikola, Fisker and Li Motors are raising money through reverse mergers, which gets them listed on a stock exchange even though they’ve never made anything. All this allows Tesla and other EV startups to raise money far cheaper than traditional automakers can. At the recent Management Briefing Seminars, Rod Lache with Wolfe Research, said it costs $21,000 in capital expenditures to add one unit of capacity for EVs, compared to only $11,000 for an ICE. This just counts the powertrain, batteries and cells. He says the auto industry needs to spend $116 billion to be able to build 12 million EVs by 2025. And since the startups can essentially raise money for free, it’s going to give them a leg up in the race to come out with electric cars.
TRADITIONAL OEMS WILL MAKE THEIR OWN BATTERIES
Speaking of investing in EVs, FCA’s CEO, Mike Manley says he expects traditional OEMs to make their own batteries and packs. That’s because the stock market is rewarding automakers and startups that make their own. So far FCA is not making batteries, but based on Manley’s statement, we’d expect it to start making them in the not too distant future. In the meantime, FCA is spending a fortune on emissions credits because its lineup in Europe does not meet CO2 standards. During the earnings call last month, FCA said it spent 400 million euros on credits in the first half of the year and expects to spend the same amount in the second half. We know that FCA cut a deal with Tesla to buy credits and that is the money that allowed Tesla to report a profit in the second quarter. Tesla can probably count on that money only for another year. FCA says that by 2022 it won’t need to buy any more credits in Europe. A key reason is that it came out with plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Compass and Renegade, and will come out with a PHEV version of the Jeep Wrangler by the end of this year in the U.S., and early next year in Europe and China.
JLR TEACHES AVs TO AVOID CAR SICKNESS
Many passengers experience motion sickness in a car, and it’s a problem that could be more common in autonomous cars. So Jaguar Land Rover is teaching autonomous vehicles how to reduce motion sickness. It uses software that combines 20,000 real-world and simulated test miles to come up with a set of parameters for driving dynamics. Machine learning is then used to optimize the vehicle’s driving style. The technology is then able to adjust acceleration, braking and lane positioning to help avoid passengers getting nauseous.
On Autoline After Hours this Thursday, we’re diving into a topic that affects aftermarket companies that modify vehicles. They’re going to have to recalibrate the ADAS sensors if they raise or lower a vehicle, or make it lighter or heavier, or put on bigger or smaller wheels and tires. Fortunately, there are processes and procedures to do this all safely and that’s what we’ll be getting into. That’s this Thursday on Autoline After Hours.
ALL NEW CIVIC COMING NEXT YEAR
Thanks to Autoforecast Solutions we know when the next generation Honda Civic is going into production. Honda’s assembly plant in Aliston, Canada will start making them next April.
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R IS AN IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE MACHINE
By the way, if you dream of becoming a weekend warrior, you ought to take a serious look at the Honda Civic Type R. We just had one come through the Autoline Garage and we instantly regretted not getting any track time with it. This car just begs you to get out and push it to the limits. Its 2-liter turbo kicks out an impressive 306 horsepower and 295-pound feet of torque. The 6-speed manual has a short throw that lets you bang off quick gear changes. Its limited slip diff lets you put down the power hard. And the severely bolstered seats clamp you firmly in place. Best of all, for the 2020 version, Honda sharpened the blade. Front and rear bushings were tightened up for faster steering, the adaptive damper system was retuned for better control, and there are 2-piece front rotors that reduce unsprung weight. Plus, both the brakes and engine get better cooling. In other words, a car that was already fun to fling around just got hardened for battle. For the first time, Honda also added a data logger to capture your performance at a track or closed course. It displays a lot of info including lap time, performance traces, and replays on maps. It will even give you a score on how smoothly you drive at the limit. One thing I found curious is that when you put it in +R driving mode, it automatically rev matches your downshifts. For a car that is obviously aimed at hard core enthusiasts, automatic rev matching is like putting training wheels on a mountain bike. True enthusiasts need to learn how to heel and toe on their own. Speaking of which, the brake pedal is set a tad to high for easy heel and toe. The Civic Type R is a product of Honda’s far flung global operations. The manual transmission is made in Japan, the 2-liter turbo is made in the U.S. and the car is assembled in England. Now for the bottom line damage. Our version came with a price tag just under $38,000. That’s a lot of money for a Civic. But it’s not a lot of money for a car that can deliver the goods, and the Honda Civic Type R definitely delivers.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching Autoline Daily.
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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.