Listen to “AD #2931 – Piech Auto Shows Off EV Sports Car; Another Takata Airbag Death; Tesla Adds More Capability to Autopilot” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Honda Confirms Another Takata Airbag Death
0:55 Ford Announces Active Version of The EcoSport
1:44 Automakers Still Struggling with Inventory
3:02 Tesla Adds More Capability to Autopilot
3:22 Tesla Acquires German Battery Company
3:49 EV West to Offer Tesla Motor Conversion Kit
4:30 Porsche Taycan Sales Strong In U.S.
5:13 Magna Makes Getting into Third Row Easier
6:20 Piech Automotive Shows Off New EV Sports Car
7:18 Land Rover Defender U.S. Specs
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HONDA CONFIRMS ANOTHER TAKATA AIRBAG DEATH
Another death involving a defective Takata airbag has been confirmed. The accident occurred towards the end of August in Mesa, Arizona involving a 2002 Honda Civic. The automaker and NHTSA jointly inspected the vehicle and confirmed that a faulty bag inflator was to blame for the death. That model has been under recall since December 2011 to replace the driver’s side front airbag inflator and 2014 to replace the passenger side inflator. But the driver killed was not the registered owner and the company is unaware if the driver knew about the recall. This is the 17th death in the U.S. caused by a defective Takata airbag, 15 of which involved a Honda and the other two were Ford vehicles.
FORD ANNOUNCES ACTIVE VERSION OF THE ECOSPORT
Specialty models usually require little investment from an automaker, but return better-than-average profits. And Ford seems to have had better success with these specialty models than other automakers. Just look at what it’s done with its ST line of performance vehicles. And now it’s doing the same with its Active trim. These are vehicles that are meant to look more rugged with black trim over the wheel arches and slightly raised suspension heights. Ford says one in five Focuses sold this year has been an Active model. It even offers the setup on all of its vans and just announced an Active version of the EcoSport will be revealed in November. People are doing more things outdoors due to the coronavirus and Ford likely wants to snag some of those people who are also looking for a new car.
AUTOMAKERS STILL STRUGGLING WITH INVENTORY
Automakers in the U.S. market are still struggling to boost their inventory levels. They’re making some progress, but not enough. In September, they were able to boost overall inventory by 92,000 vehicles. But because sales are running stronger than expected, the days’ supply dropped from 51 days in August to 50 in September. That’s probably holding back sales, but the good news is that they don’t need to offer sales incentives to move the metal off the lot.
TESLA ADDS MORE CAPABILITY TO AUTOPILOT
Tesla is allowing owners to unlock more capability from their Autopilot system. As long as a properly equipped vehicle is on a clear, straight path, it no longer requires a lead vehicle to drive through a green light. In some cases, the system may ask the driver to confirm that it’s ok to go through the light, but otherwise it will do it automatically.
TESLA ACQUIRES GERMAN BATTERY COMPANY
In other Tesla news, the EV maker is buying a German company, named ATW Automation that assembles battery modules and packs. According to reports, ATW was on the brink of liquidation due to a slump in orders. As we know, Tesla is building a new manufacturing center in Germany, and ATW Automation, which has 120 employees, should help its expansion efforts.
EV WEST TO OFFER TESLA MOTOR CONVERSION KIT
Chevy is probably the most popular go to for crate engines, but could Tesla take that title for EV swaps? EV conversion specialist EV West announced on Facebook that it will offer a Tesla crate motor kit in a month or two. Since Tesla doesn’t sell new motors to non-approved sources, this is a rebuilt unit from EV West. It features mounting brackets that are the same as any Chevy LS or small-block V8 and is meant to bolt right to the driveshaft. So, no transmission. Cost isn’t way out of line from other crate engines. It’s $30,000. But remember that doesn’t include the batteries.
PORSCHE TAYCAN SALES STRONG IN U.S.
Speaking of electric cars, the Porsche Taycan is setting the sales charts on fire. Last month it was Porsche’s third best-selling model in the U.S. market, only behind the Macan and Cayenne. The Taycan also outsold the Audi e-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. But just for comparison purposes, it was far behind Tesla’s Model S and X.
|September 2020 US Sales|
|Tesla Model X||1,393|
|Tesla Model S||1,021|
|Source: Wards Intelligence|
MAGNA MAKES GETTING INTO THIRD ROW EASIER
Getting in and out of the third row of a vehicle can be a pain in the butt sometimes. So to make that easier for passengers, the supplier Magna has developed a new second row seat it calls the Next Gen EZ Entry Seat. It reduced the number of linkages in the seat from nine to five, which reduced weight by up to 2.9 kilograms or a little over six pounds. By removing the striker and latch from the seat track, foot clearance to the third row is increased by up to 4 inches, which Magna claims is industry leading. It also features a new locking mechanism underneath the seat cushion and requires less time to assemble. The seat design is sleeker and provides up to 75 millimeters of additional cushion width. And to help load cargo in the vehicle, the new second row seats have a fold and dive function that repositions them lower to the ground, allowing the seat back to fold completely flat. You also don’t have to remove a child seat for third row access. And for even more convenience, you can control seat functions with a smartphone app.
PIECH AUTOMOTIVE SHOWS OFF NEW EV SPORTS CAR
There’s an interesting new startup called Piech Automotive. The Piech family, as you probably know, is the largest shareholder in the Volkswagen Group. But this startup is separate from VW. It is working on a modular, 2-seat sports car that boasts a revolutionary battery and charging technology. Piech Automotive claims 80% of the battery can be charged in just 4 minutes and 40 seconds, delivering a range of 400 kilometers, which is about 250 miles. Maximum range is expected to be 500 kilometers (WLTP), or over 300 miles. And it will go from 0-100 kilometers an hour in less than 3 seconds. Of course, that’s what the company is claiming. We’ll wait and see. But there is an interesting collection of automotive executives working at the company, including chairman Matthias Mueller, the former CEO of the Volkswagen Group.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER U.S. SPECS
We’ve got new details on the U.S. specs of the Land Rover Defender. The base engine, which Land Rover refers to as the P300, is a 2-liter four that generates 296 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque. The optional engine, the P400, is a 3-liter, in-line 6 that develops 395 horsepower and 406 foot-pounds and uses an electric supercharger. It pushes the Defender from 0 to 60 miles an hour in a claimed 5.8 seconds. Base price of the Defender is just a tick under 50-grand. For now, if you want the P400 engine, the price is just over $62,000. But there’s a new model coming out next year, the X-Dynamics that will be priced just under $58,000. Even though Land Rover offers a plug-in hybrid in Europe, that is not offered in North America, at least not for now.
On Autoline After Hours this Thursday we’re going to take a deep dive into the new Acura TLX. We’ll have the team leader Ken Sheridan and chief engineer Marc Ernst coming on the show. So join John and Gary as we bring you inside the development effort on Acura’s new sport sedan that is getting rave reviews.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.
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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.