Listen to “AD #2934 – Suppliers Struggle to Fill Jobs; New Ridgeline Finally Looks Like a Truck; Exclusive Mustang Mach-E Updates” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Suppliers Struggling to Fill Jobs
1:03 Official XC40 Recharge Range Also Disappoints
1:31 Scania Slaps Solar Panels on Truck Trailer
3:20 New Ridgeline Finally Looks Like a Truck
4:15 Chevrolet Silverado HD Updates
5:09 Audi Taking Unique Approach with e-tron GT
6:35 Auto Industry Needs to Consolidate
8:24 Exclusive Mustang Mach-E Updates
9:28 BEVs Hit U.S. Market Share Milestone
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
SUPPLIERS STRUGGLING TO FILL JOBS
As we reported earlier in the week, automakers are struggling with low inventory in the U.S. because car sales are running stronger than expected. But Reuters reports another reason inventory is low is because suppliers are having a hard time filling jobs. Many companies are dealing with absentee rates between 10 and 15% over worker fears of catching COVID or parents having to stay home to take care of children. To help lure workers in, suppliers are boosting pay, offering rewards for good attendance and one company even hired a teacher to help worker’s children with schoolwork. Overtime at supplier plants is also higher than before the pandemic. While this is good for workers’ pocket books, it’s hurting the bottom line at suppliers. Companies profits are down because of the pandemic but they’re taking a further hit over being forced to raise pay and run overtime to meet demand.
OFFICIAL XC40 RECHARGE RANGE ALSO DISAPPOINTS
Yesterday, we reported about the Polestar 2 having a disappointing EPA range of 233 miles. But the Volvo XC40 Recharge, which shares the same 78-kWh battery pack and drivetrain as the Polestar 2, is even worse. It just received an EPA rating of 208 miles. While the Polestar and Volvo are more geared more toward performance, these numbers are still underwhelming.
SCANIA SLAPS SOLAR PANELS ON TRUCK TRAILER
We’ve seen automakers experiment with solar panels on cars in the past and Hyundai even offers them on the Sonata Hybrid to help charge the batteries. And now truck maker Scania, which is owned by Volkswagen, plans to test them on truck trailers. The sides and roof of the 18-meter long trailer will be fitted with solar panels to help power a plug-in hybrid truck. The truck will be operated daily in Sweden by Ernst Express. The panels are expected to generate 14,000 kWh of electricity annually, which will cut fuel consumption by 5 to 10%. But in countries that get even more sunlight, Scania says the fuel savings will be even better.
Join us this afternoon as we take a deep dive into the development of the new Acura TLX. We’ll have the team leader Ken Sheridan and the performance development leader Jason Ray on Autoline After Hours. Jason Fogelson will also be on the show, so join John and Gary when we go live today at 3 pm eastern time.
HONDA RIDGELINE FINALLY LOOKS LIKE A TRUCK
Check it out. The Honda Ridgeline finally looks like a truck. This is the new 2021 model, which goes on sale early next year. Not only is the front end more squared off, including the grille, but there’s now large blocky flares over the wheel arches. In fact, everything from the A-pillar forward is new. The track was also increased for a better stance and the rear bumper got massaged to accommodate new dual exhaust tips. The truck seen here is part of a new HPD Package that includes unique grille treatment, black fender flares, bronze-colored wheels, and special HPD graphics on the bed. All interiors feature a new audio display, which now includes a volume knob, while select trims get new materials and accents. Those are the big changes for 2021. Pricing will be revealed closer to its on-sale date.
CHEVY GIVES SILVERADO HD MORE TOWING CAPACITY
In other truck news, Chevrolet introduced an updated Silverado HD. Unlike Honda, Chevy didn’t touch the styling, instead it will offer 4 unique trim options to freshen up the look. There’s the Midnight, Z71 Sport and Sport Chrome packages as well as the Carhartt Special Edition. They each offer their own unique touches, which would take too long to detail here, but I think you can make a pretty good guess of what they include just based on the name. Hardware updates to the suspension and packaging changes to the wheels helped increase the max tow rating by 500 pounds, which now tops out at 36,000 pounds. Enhanced trailering technology that debuted on the Silverado 1500 are now available on the HD trucks as well. Production already kicked off last month and trucks will arrive at dealerships throughout the fall.
AUDI TAKING UNIQUE APPROACH TO MANUFACTURE E-TRON GT
Audi is taking a little bit of a unique approach to manufacture its upcoming all-electric sedan, the e-tron GT. It will be made alongside the high-performance R8 at one of its sites in Germany. The bodies of the two models are constructed separately from each other but then come together on a joint assembly line. Audi says this required the plant to be expanded, upgraded and converted, so it could handle the EVs structure, which is made from high-strength steel and aluminum. e-tron GTs will start rolling off the line before the end of the year. Audi also announced that the e-tron GT will emit a futuristic sound while driving that is separate from the sound that all electric vehicles are required to make for the blind and pedestrians. The optional package includes an additional loud speaker at the rear of the car and two more on the inside. Two control units adapt the sound to vehicle speed and accelerator pedal position. I think anything beyond the required sound is dumb because I think there’s much better, easier and cheaper ways to set yourself apart from the crowd.
AUTO INDUSTRY NEEDS TO CONSOLIDATE
With electrification, connectivity and autonomy, the auto industry is going through its most transformative change in the last 100 years. But what is it going to take for the large automakers to make their way through all the change happening, when the investor community is more interested in startups? On last week’s Autoline After Hours, auto industry veteran, Simon Sproule, shared his opinion on what will happen.
“We’re in a really interesting time. And I’ve seen this in my advisory work with Fisker, conventional wisdom has it that we have too many car brands, we’ve got too much capacity and therefore the industry needs to consolidate and we need to lose brands and so on and so forth. But we saw in China, five or so years ago, an absolute explosion of EV brands and now we’re seeing the same, I think, in North America and Europe, obviously with a number of startup EV brands. Making cars is really difficult, I think that’s what everyone finds out when they go into it. But actually the barriers to entry now, to go in and create a car brand, oddly have never been lower. And everyone’s taking a different approach. You’re seeing Nikola’s approach, you’re seeing what Tesla has done. Henrik and what Fisker is doing, is another approach more like coach building, where you’re taking platforms and working with partners, working with people to make the car for you but you’re providing unique IP through design and software and service. You’re right, the market does not award the big players but the inevitability of our industry is that more consolidation is going to be necessary. The question is then is which bits of the industry are carved out to make way for these new EV players? So, it’s watch this space right?”
FORD MUSTANG MACH-E UPDATES
Speaking of electric cars, we got some updates about the Mustang Mach-E. Despite reports the program ran into delays, Ford told Autoline that sales in the US will start before the end of the year, while sales in Europe and China will start about three months after that. Ford told us the assembly plant in Mexico where the Mach-E will be made was shut down for weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which slowed the program down. We also learned that Ford’s hands-free driving system, which it calls Active Drive Assist, will not be available until three to four months after sales begin. All the hardware and software will already be embedded in the car, but customers will have to pay a one-time fee of about $1,400 to unlock it with an over-the-air update. Drivers will be able to drive hands free on highways and surface streets that have been mapped with lidar. Active Drive Assist will also be available on the new F-150, and Ford will undoubtedly want to roll it out on as many models as possible.
BEVs HIT 2% MARKET SHARE IN THE U.S.
Sales of battery electric cars hit something of a milestone in the U.S. market last month. They reached 2% market share. That may not sound like a lot but that number is going to ramp up quickly as more BEVs hit the market over the next three years. But for now, almost all the credit goes to Tesla, which accounts for 75% of all BEVs sold in the U.S. And almost all of Tesla’s growth came from the Model Y.
And with that we wrap up today’s show, 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.