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0:07 CARB & Automakers Finalize Fuel Economy Agreement
1:12 Canoo Jumps on Reverse Merger Bandwagon
1:49 How Polestar Will Launch Its Lineup
3:38 How GM Can Get More EV Credits
4:43 Future Model Intel
5:38 Baojun Launches New Sedan & Wagon
6:52 Ford Bronco First Ride Impressions
9:35 Ram Reveals Its Raptor Killer
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CARB & AUTOMAKERS FINALIZE FUEL ECONOMY AGREEMENT
Last year, the California Air Resources Board made a deal with Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Honda to boost the average fuel economy of their fleets to 50 MPG by 2026. That deal angered the Trump Administration, and the Justice Department even opened an antitrust investigation, but that went nowhere. So California and the automakers are moving forward with their agreement which was finalized yesterday. Thirteen other states follow California’s standards and they support the deal. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration eased up on fuel economy regulations enacted during the Obama Administration. Those new targets improve vehicle emissions by 1.5% annually by 2026 instead of 5% gains previously required. But Ford, VW, BMW and Honda are actually asking for stricter standards. And that shows how much the auto industry has changed. Whoever thought we’d see car companies asking for stricter fuel economy standards?
CANOO JUMPS ON REVERSE MERGER BANDWAGON
Ever since Nikola announced it was doing a reverse merger that got it listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, other startups such as Lordstown Motors and Fisker rushed in to do the same thing. Now Canoo is jumping on the bandwagon. Canoo developed a 7-passenger EV based on a skateboard platform and has a deal with Magna to assemble its vehicles. Fisker is also in talks with Magna for final assembly. Canoo is also working with Hyundai to develop other EV models. Reuters reports that Canoo should be valued at $2.4 billion once it gets listed.
HOW POLESTAR IS LAUNCHING ITS LINEUP
Yesterday we gave you our driving impressions of the Polestar 2 EV. Now let’s get into some of the details of how Polestar is launching its lineup. It started with the Polestar 1, which is based on a modified version of the company’s dedicated EV platform, even though this $155,000 2-door is a plug-in hybrid. Now it’s coming out with the Polestar 2, which is actually based on the platform from the Volvo XC40 and explains why it looks so much like a Volvo. Then it’s going to come out with the Polestar 3, an all electric crossover that will use the full dedicated EV platform. Confusing, isn’t it? We think this shows how Volvo and its parent Geely changed their minds as they developed the Polestar brand. What started out as the performance trim line for Volvo evolved into the EV brand for Volvo, which then evolved into its own stand alone company. Don’t worry, there will not be a test to see if you can remember any of this.
GM WOULD GET MORE EV CREDITS WITH EV SPINOFF
General Motors is considering spinning off its EV operations with an eye on generating a stock market bonanza. Yesterday, mere speculation by Deutsche Bank that there could be a spinoff sent GM shares soaring higher than they’ve been in months. The stock market loves this talk of a spinoff, but here’s our Autoline Insight on why GM may be considering it. General Motors is out of EV credits in the U.S. market. While the government provides up to a $7,500 tax credit to people who buy EVs, it goes away once an automaker sells 200,000 electric vehicles, and GM has sold more than that. But if GM spun off its EV operations as a standalone company it would qualify for the credit. And with GM launching a lineup of EVs in the next couple of years they’d sell a whole lot better if customers knew they could knock seventy five hundred dollars off the price. Those incentives would be worth $1.5 billion in total, so if GM does not do a spinoff it would be leaving a lot of money on the table.
FUTURE MODEL INTEL
We’ve got some future model intel thanks to AutoForecast Solutions. It reports that Tesla will start making the Cybertruck at its Terafactory 1 in Austin, Texas in May of 2022. Meanwhile Nissan is finally going to start making the next generation Frontier pickup truck at its plant in Canton, Mississippi. That Frontier has got to be one of the oldest models in the market. And it looks like Chevrolet is going to have an all-new Equinox in the market at the same time it keeps the old one in production. The Equinox is made in three separate assembly plants. Two are in Mexico: Ramoz Arizpe and San Luis Potosi. They start making the new one in May and November of 2024. It’s also made in Ingersol, Ontario in Canada and the new one doesn’t start rolling down the line there until February, 2025.
BAOJUN LAUNCHES NEW SEDAN & WAGON
When China told foreign automakers to create new brands developed exclusively in China by Chinese, General Motors launched the Baojun brand. It specializes in low cost cars positioned below Chevrolet, and it just introduced two new models, the RC-5 sedan and RC-5W wagon. Both are offered with a 1.5L naturally aspirated engine or a 1.5L turbo. They’re equipped with cameras and radars which helps provide 17 advanced driver assistance functions. Other available features include wireless phone charging, seats with memory function and an intelligent air purification system. The wagon version also features reclining seats in the rear and extra headroom. Pricing for the sedan starts at about $8,600 while the wagon has a starting price of about $10,500.
FORD BRONCO FIRST RIDE IMPRESSIONS
We’re finally able to talk about our first ride in the new Ford Bronco. But I’d like to note a few things before we hop into that. First, as I said in my intro a week ago, this was my first vehicle event since the coronavirus shut everything down and that means the event was a little different than normal. Masks, temperature checks, social distancing as much as possible were all required and the most important note, no driving. So, I only got to ride in the vehicles with a Ford engineer. Second, I’m not an off-roader, so I’m going to focus on the things I thought were important and I’ll rely on all of you out in viewer land to provide comments and tell me what I missed. That said, I first rode in the Bronco Sport. None of what we put the Bronco Sport through on the off-road course really put it to the test, but what I did find impressive was the 245 horsepower 2.0L engine, which was surprisingly zippy through the sand and provided plenty of torque. We even stopped in the middle of a steep grade hill and took off with no problem. Other features that would aid a novice, like myself, is the forward facing camera that also has a wide angle view and the off-road cruise control-like setting, called Trail Control. The Ford engineer said these features would also help a more experienced off-roader by allowing them to concentrate on other things. Now let’s focus on the big Bronco. We put this vehicle to the test a little more, going over elements that really tested chassis flex, up steeper grade hills and going through deeper sections of water. With the manual transmission it really seemed to take advantage of the great gearing, which goes as high as 94.75:1. One of the features I found most interesting is the sway bar disconnect. It’s a hydraulic system in the Bronco, which allows you to disconnect the sway bar at any time even if the suspension is under load. The Ford engineer said some other vehicles, like Jeep, use a mechanical disconnect and you might get a warning on the dash if you try to disconnect under the same conditions. What I really noted from the Bronco and Bronco Sport rides was that the Bronco Sport seems more like a precision tool used to carve up an off-road course, which is why I think the 1-inch suspension lift and bigger off-road tires will be a popular modification, while the bigger Bronco was more brute-like, smashing its way through the course. We carried so much more speed in the Bronco compared to the Bronco Sport. I think Ford did a good job of separating these two vehicles from one another.
RAM SETS SIGHTS ON RAPTOR WITH NEW 1500 TRX
And while Ford looks to have a Jeep killer on its hands, FCA has its sights set on one of Ford’s off-road kings, the Raptor. Ram unveiled the new 1500 TRX, which is highlighted by a Hellcat engine stuffed under the hood. The 6.2L unit is tuned to 702 horsepower and is mated to an 8-speed automatic, which helps the TRX sprint from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds. It looks a lot meaner than other Rams, which is thanks to aggressive features, like a giant, functional hood scoop and a body that’s 8-inches wider compared to the rest of the lineup. Composite fender flares help cover that extra width and the 35-inch off-road tires. Ram also beefed up the frame, developed an all-new independent front suspension system as well as a new 5-link rear suspension setup and added a whole host of off-road goodies we just don’t have the time to highlight. The interior comes in three options, ranging from cloth and vinyl to premium leather and suede with carbon fiber accents. The one thing the Ford Raptor has going for it, and always has had, is price. A SuperCrew or 4-door Raptor starts around $57,000. The TRX only looks to be offered in a 4-door and starts at over $70,000.
If you’d like to learn more about the TRX, join us this Thursday for Autoline After Hours when our special guest will be Jeff Roselli from the TRX program. And if you have questions you’d like to ask Jeff, send an email to email@example.com or tweet us @Autoline. Then join John and Gary for some of the best insights as to what’s going on in the automotive industry.
And so we come to the end of 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.