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0:07 France Considers Huge Tax on Gas Guzzlers
0:38 Another Startup Accused of Misleading Investors
1:25 Amazon & Rivian Show Off Delivery Truck
2:07 Mazda Confirms Rotary Range Extender for MX-30
3:37 GM Using 3D Printed Parts in Motor Racing
4:46 Waymo Resumes Service in Arizona
5:34 Ford Buys Velodyne Stock
5:59 Acura Shows Off New MDX Interior
7:14 You Said It!
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FRANCE CONSIDERS HUGE TAX ON GAS GUZZLERS
Yowza, looks like sales of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Rolls Royce’s, AMG Mercedes’ and Porsche’s with internal combustion engines could come to a screeching halt in France. Bloomberg reports the French government is considering a law that would impose a €50,000 carbon tax on cars that emit more than 225 grams of CO2 per kilometer. France already charges a €20,000 tax on those cars, the highest tax of its kind in the world.
ANOTHER STARTUP ACCUSED OF MISLEADING INVESTORS
And while taxes like that could speed up sales of EVs, it isn’t easy being an EV startup. Now, a short seller is going after Workhorse, the startup that is developing an electric delivery truck for the U.S. Post Office. A company called Fuzzy Panda Research accuses Workhorse of misleading investors. It says Workhorse’s prototype Post Office trucks are plagued with problems. Something very similar happened to Nikola, the startup that wants to make fuel cell powered semis and pickup trucks. It was attacked by Hindenburg Research which clobbered Nikola’s stock. But the attack by Fuzzy Panda didn’t seem to affect Workhorse’s stock. In fact, that stock was up in early morning trading.
AMAZON & RIVIAN SHOW OFF DELIVERY TRUCK
A little over a year after Amazon announced it’s ordering 100,000 custom electric delivery trucks from EV startup Rivian, the companies unveiled the first of three models Rivian will build for the tech giant. Some features include, driver assistance technology, cameras mounted on the exterior that give a 360-degree view of the truck through its display screen and taillights that wrap around over the roof of the rear to make it more noticeable while braking. And it has a range of 150 miles. The first trucks will start hitting roads in 2021, 10,000 will be rolled out by 2022 and by 2030 all 100,00 trucks will be making deliveries.
MAZDA CONFIRMS ROTARY RANGE EXTENDER FOR MX-30
And while most everyone’s attention is on EVs these days, there’s still love for vehicles that burn fossil fuels, especially for vehicles with rotary engines. If you find yourself in that camp, then today is a good day. In a video on its official YouTube channel, Mazda’s CEO confirmed the MX-30 crossover will have a rotary range extender. The plan is to test prototypes next year and have them go on sale in Japan by 2022. The all-electric version of the MX-30 will have a 35.5 kWh battery pack that supplies power to a front-mounted electric motor. No word if the range extender will use that same setup.
GM USING 3D PRINTED PARTS IN MOTOR RACING
3D printed parts are becoming more and more common in the auto industry. And now General Motors is sharing details about how it’s using those components in motor racing. The new Corvette C8.R, which debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona at the beginning of the year, is equipped with 75 3D printed parts, including the oil tank, tank inlet and cap, AC housing, power steering pump bracket and the headlight assemblies. Fifty of those parts were designed or printed in-house by GM. The Silverado off-road race truck features three 3D printed parts, including a rear damper shield made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Over in IndyCar, components in its V6 exhaust system are 3D printed. And finally, the NASCAR Camaro is equipped with a 3D printed gear cooling duct and during its development, over 500 3D printed prototype parts were used during tests. All in all, GM’s race teams have racked up more than 80,000 miles this year with race cars equipped with 3D printed parts.
WAYMO RESUMES SERVICE IN ARIZONA
A couple of years ago the buzz was all about autonomous cars. And while the hype has simmered down, AVs keep making progress. Waymo announced yesterday it’s going to resume public taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona with autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no safety driver. The service will cover 50 square miles, but in a few weeks, it’s going to expand that to a 100-square mile area. Before the pandemic hit, Waymo was providing 1,000 to 2,000 rides a week, but mostly with minivans that had a safety driver on board. Going forward it will not have safety drivers on board, meaning its fully confident of its AV technology. Waymo’s goal is to turn the taxi service into a profitable business.
FORD BUYS VELODYNE STOCK
In related AV news, Ford bought over 7% of the stock in Velodyne, one of the leaders in LIDAR technology. Velodyne recently went public through a reverse merger. Ford invested $150 million in Velodyne four years ago, as did Baidu, the Chinese tech company. Velodyne says it has nearly a billion dollars in orders for LIDAR units through 2024.
ACURA SHOWS OFF NEW MDX INTERIOR
Acura showed off the interior of the new MDX, which the company is transforming into its flagship model. The instrument panel is wider and lower than before, and is surrounded by wood and leather with French stitching. The center display is mounted on top of the dash, like so many vehicles nowadays. It’s also available with a 25-speaker audio system from ELS that’s integrated with LED ambient lighting. The front seats are wider and come with a massage function. And seats in all three rows, feature high contrast stitching and piping. Acura says the new MDX, which launches early next year, will be the most premium and performance focused MDX in the company’s history. Acura will reveal the prototype version next Wednesday, the 14th but since it’s going on sale not long after, we expect it to look pretty production ready.
YOU SAID IT!
I think I was wrong in easily dismissing Audi’s and other automaker’s sounds for EVs as dumb. Some of you, like Aurora Jones, had great comments. “THIS is what I’ve been saying for years. Do the noise, make it unique, make it GOOD, that noise then sings your brand or the models brand anytime people hear it. No one gets this yet but just like jingles, you associate those sounds with brands, cars can do this by the main brand or drive down further model specific. Oh that’s a Mustang. Oh that’s a Porsche… just like with ICE it’s another thing those of us can count on hearing. Electrics need this as they are quiet as standard.” I had never thought to associate these sounds with brand jingles, like you might hear on a commercial. Just think of all the brands you remember because of a catchy tune. But to your point, it would have to be a GOOD noise and, in my opinion, that means it would have to be something different than all these futuristic sounds that automakers keep picking. Commenter CC would be on board with that, “Agree it’s a dumb idea, unless they give owners an option to customize the sound… I’d be all in for that!” Or Steve Johnson who says, “Ha! I want my car’s front grille speaker to play Surfaris Wipeout on continuous loop.” Funny idea, but I’d never want to be stuck in a traffic jam with Steve around.
Speaking of great comments, here’s an email we got after running the story on Monday about Magna’s new EZ Entry Seat. Scott Stephenson wrote in to say, “In this age of computerized everything, why can’t I select my height, inseam, and arm length and the car will automatically position my power seats in the ergonomically correct position for my dimensions? Which of course I could then adjust. Or heck, with a car that has internal cameras, why can’t it measure me and do the same with no typing. Or if that requires too many sensors in the seat, why isn’t there at least a computer program to tell me how far away my chest should be from the steering wheel, etc?” Hmm.. not sure. But we do have a lot of people from the supplier community that watch this show and maybe one of them has an answer for you. And Scott, we think you might have just given suppliers a new project to look into. Do you ever have any thoughts like this? I think it’d be great if you shared them with us. As I said, there’s a lot of people watching out there that are in the right positions. And who knows, maybe your idea could show up in a future automobile?
But that’s it for today and this week’s worth of shows, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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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.