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0:07 Judge Throws Out GM Racketeering Case
0:48 UK Government Denies Bailout for Jaguar Land Rover
1:37 CATL Developing Batteries w/o Nickel & Cobalt
3:04 Rolls-Royce Develops New Suspension System for The Ghost
4:09 Super Cruise Subscription Fee Revealed
5:52 Michigan Creates Autonomous Vehicle Corridor
6:43 Viewer Barn Find
7:41 Is the Polestar 2 A Tesla Killer?
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
JUDGE THROWS OUT GM RACKETEERING CASE
General Motors was hoping to breathe new life into its racketeering case against Fiat-Chrysler. A judge had thrown out the case, but GM claimed it came up with new evidence involving secret offshore bank accounts for bribing UAW executives. GM claimed the union was working with FCA to financially hurt GM and eventually take it over. But the judge threw the case out again saying GM’s evidence of offshore accounts was too speculative. GM says it’s going to appeal his decision. But GM should do what so many of you suggested in the comments section when it made the new accusations, and that’s make it into a movie.
UK GOVERNMENT DENIES BAILOUT FOR JAGUAR LAND ROVER
Jaguar Land Rover is struggling due to the coronavirus. It lost close to a billion pounds in the first half of the year. So it turned to the UK government for financial support, which started a program to help cash strapped companies. But the Financial Times reports those talks broke down and the automaker won’t receive a bailout. The UK Treasury said it did not qualify for taxpayer support and that Tata, Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company, has deep enough pockets to support it. The deal would have required the automaker to speed up its electric vehicle development and phase out its diesel-powered vehicles but JLR balked at those demands. So now JLR and Tata will have to turn to private financing to try and weather the downturn.
CATL DEVELOPING BATTERIES W/O NICKEL & COBALT
Chinese battery maker CATL is once again in the news. Last week, the company announced its developing technology to integrate battery cells directly into the frame of a vehicle to extend range. And over the weekend, a company executive revealed that it’s also developing a battery for electric vehicles that doesn’t use nickel or cobalt. It wasn’t revealed what the battery will use instead or how much it will cost. Nickel and cobalt are expensive, so not using them in a battery should lower the price. CATL supplies batteries to Tesla, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Daimler.
ROLLS-ROYCE DEVELOPS NEW SUSPENSION SYSTEM FOR THE GHOST
Rolls-Royce is revealing more information about the all-new Ghost, which debuts sometime this autumn. It said the goal was to make a vehicle that’s great to both ride and drive in, in any condition. Instead of using an existing platform, Rolls modified its spaceframe architecture to accommodate the features it wanted, like all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering. To achieve the automaker’s magic-carpet-like ride quality, engineers spent the last three years developing a new Planar suspension system. Cameras and GPS data tell the vehicle what’s coming up in the road ahead and both prepares the suspension and selects the optimum gear for the transmission. There’s also an Upper Wishbone Damper unit that’s mounted above the front suspension assembly and is said to stabilize the ride and make driving the car feel more effortless. Rolls claims this is a world-first technology. If you’d like to learn more about the new Ghost, Rolls has a series of podcasts available on Apple, Google and Spotify.
SUPER CRUISE SUBSCRIPTION FEE REVEALED
The song says the best things in life aren’t free and customers who want to use Cadillac’s Level 2 autonomous driving technology, called Super Cruise will have to pay a monthly subscription fee. Some current owners won’t have to start paying for another year, but new buyers will only have free access for one month. After that they’ll have to set up the subscription, which is bundled into OnStar. There are two OnStar packages that unlock SuperCruise; one costs $25 a month, while the other is $45. The more expensive package has 6 more driver assistance features outside of Super Cruise that the cheaper package doesn’t offer. But that means the yearly cost to operate Super Cruise will come to $300 or $540. What do you think, does that seem like a fair price?
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MICHIGAN CREATES AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE CORRIDOR
Autonomous vehicles may not be hitting the streets as early as we thought a couple of years ago, but they’re still on the way. The State of Michigan is partnering with Alphabet and Ford to create a corridor between Detroit and Ann Arbor for autonomous vehicles. The effort will be led by a company called Cavnue, which is a subsidiary of an operation called Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, which in turn is part of Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company. And they’ve put together an impressive advisory board to set standards that don’t favor one car company over another. Those partners include Ford, General Motors Co., Argo AI, Arrival, BMW, Honda, Toyota, TuSimple and Waymo. They’ll develop a feasibility study over the next two years and are expected to start construction after that.
VIEWER BARN FIND
We got a great letter the other day from viewer Nick Hernandez. Nick was recently out on a group scavenger hunt that found him at the Motor City Dragway. Even though it closed in 1978 and is pretty overgrown, you can still see where the drag strip was. Nick also ran into a pair of old trucks, which he identifies as a Ram Power Wagon and a 1957 to 1959 GMC 800-series that was a limited-year facelift and has amazing patina. And if you have any tidbits of info you’d like to add about these trucks, we’d like to hear that too. Nick ended his letter by saying “Not sure if you’d want to do this for the Barnfind series, but I figured I’d share it anyway.” Well, thank you for sharing anyway, and anyone else is welcome to do the same. Oh, and one last thing to Nick. What’s the deal with the die-cast Pontiac Vibe? We’d love to know.
IS THE POLESTAR 2 A TESLA KILLER?
Every time a new electric car comes out it’s instantly called a Tesla killer. And the same goes for the Polestar 2. It’s the latest electric car to hit the market, the product of a joint venture between Volvo and Geely. We got a chance to test drive the car and here are our impressions. First off, this sedan sure looks like a Volvo. And thanks to its conventional looking grille, it could easily be mistaken for a Volvo powered by an internal combustion engine. But that’s where the similarities end. With over 400 horsepower and 487 pound feet of torque on tap, this car is a blast to drive. Of course, you can say that for just about any car with 400 horses. Polestar claims it will accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds, and our rough timing attempts bear that out. Not only is it quick off the line, this thing picks up its feet and sprints at any speed. Passing cars on a two-lane country road is an adrenaline rush that makes you want to do it again and again and again. Inside, it’s quite conventional and familiar, mainly because all the switchgear is from Volvo. And while it does have the obligatory center screen, it doesn’t dominate the IP like you’ll see in any Tesla. The cabin features what Polestar calls a vegan interior, using materials such as flax and cork. The carpet is made from recycled plastic bottles, while the seats are covered in a recyclable material called Weave Tech. The good news is that this is sustainable and healthy for the planet. The bad news is that it feels plasticy. In fact, the interior is dominated by a lot of hard plastic. The rear seats offer decent head room and knee room but the seat back is very upright and your head is very close to the side rails of the roof. But the trunk space is gigantic. Out on the road the Polestar 2 has a low resonance boom that rumbles through the cabin as you drive over rough pavement or surfaces with a coarse aggregate. That may be due to the fact that it sits on 20-inch low profile tires, and it uses the same platform as the Volvo XC40 which can be kind of buzzy. There is a gear whine in the background that is noticeable while driving at a steady speed around 50 miles an hour, but you can easily drown that out with the radio. Now for the price. The first ones going on sale are what Polestar calls the Launch Edition. They’re fully loaded and tip the scale just over $61,000, but later editions will start closer to fifty grand. And that’s before any EV subsidies. So is it a Tesla killer? No, it’s not, despite the fact that it’s a connected car that provides over-the-air-updates. It’s a very well done electric car but lacks the pizzaz and surprise that Tesla delivers. Perhaps that will change when they come out with the Polestar 3, a crossover that will sit on a dedicated EV platform. But the Polestar 2 serves notice that there’s a new EV brand in the market.
But that wraps up today’s show, thank you 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.