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0:07 GM Won’t Give Up on FCA Lawsuit
0:39 EV Battery Fires in The News
1:50 U.S. Heavy Duty Truck Sales Slowly Recovering
3:02 Ford Taking Orders for Mustang Mach 1
3:52 2021 U.S. Ford Transit Updates
4:33 VW Jumps into Compact CUV Segment
5:46 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Unveiled
6:37 Ferrari Could Make Fortune with EVs
7:39 Baidu Offering Autonomous Rides in Beijing
8:24 BMW Establishes AI Code of Ethics
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM WON’T GIVE UP ON FCA LAWSUIT
Like a bull dog with a t-bone steak, General Motors won’t let go of its racketeering lawsuit against FCA. GM accuses FCA of plotting with the UAW to financially damage GM and eventually take it over. Though a judge already dismissed the case, GM is appealing that decision after it found secret, off-shore bank accounts of UAW officers. GM says that’s how FCA funneled bribes to the union officials. The case now goes to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
EV BATTERY FIRES IN THE NEWS
Battery fires in EVs keep popping up in the news. Hyundai recalled Kona EVs in South Korea over concerns of potential battery fires and is now expanding that recall worldwide. Hyundai blames the battery cells, which are supplied by LG Chem, but LG Chem says it can’t be the cells. NHTSA is investigating and we’ll see who’s right. NHTSA is also investigating possible battery fires in Chevy Bolt EVs. There’s been three reported incidents with similar fire damage located around the compartment that stores the Bolt’s battery pack. And Ford is delaying production of the plug-in hybrid version of the Escape. The move is related to a recall for the Kuga PHEV in Europe, which was due to potential fires. Turns out the batteries were overheating and are located too close to the fuel tank. Full scale production and sales of the Escape plug-in will now kick off in 2021. Of course, vehicle fires are not just limited to EVs. Over 200,000 gasoline-related vehicle fires are reported every year in the U.S.
U.S. HEAVY DUTY TRUCK SALES SLOWLY RECOVERING
As we reported earlier this month, sales of new light vehicles in the U.S. were surprisingly strong last month. And on the commercial side, heavy-duty trucks hit their highest mark this year in September but the segment still has a ways to go to recover. According to Wards, a little more than 19,000 Class 8 semi-trucks were sold but that’s down nearly a third compared to a year ago.
FORD TAKING ORDERS FOR MUSTANG MACH 1
Ford is opening the order books for the new Mustang Mach 1, which will hit U.S. and Canadian dealerships next spring. In case you’ve forgotten, Ford says the new Mach 1 will be the most track capable 5.0L Mustang ever, slotting between other Mustang GTs and Shelby models. As I mentioned, there’s a 5.0L V8 engine under the hood, which has been specially tuned and now cranks out 480 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Other highlights include a newly designed front end, performance parts from the GT350 and GT500, aero improvements and an available handling package. With a starting price of just below $53,000, including destination charges, the Mach 1 slides right between the Bullett and GT350 in the Mustang lineup.
2021 U.S. FORD TRANSIT UPDATES
Speaking of Ford, it’s making some changes to the American Transit for the 2021 model year. Styling is pretty much the same, other than a new honeycomb design in the grille and new wheel and color options. Access to the rear is improved by equipping most models with an electronic parking brake and an optional center console with the shifter on the right side. Ford is also adding new trim packages for people who make deliveries or like converting their vans into RV or motorhomes. The most popular options someone might pick for these conversions is bundled into these packages. Production of the updated Transit kicks off in Missouri this fall.
VW JUMPS INTO COMPACT CUV SEGMENT
Volkswagen is finally jumping into the compact crossover segment with the introduction of the Taos, which slots below the Tiguan. The styling is a bit of a mixture of the other SUVs in its lineup. The Taos’ hood and LED light signature is similar to the Atlas Cross Sport, the character line that runs along the body is borrowed from the Tiguan and the squared-off wheel arches is a nod to the Atlas also. Under the hood, the U.S. version of the Taos is powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder turbo engine that produces 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive models come with an 8-speed automatic while all-wheel-drive versions are equipped with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Inside, the Taos features a simple looking layout and comes standard with two-tone seats as well as an 8-inch touchscreen. And like all new vehicles these days, it’s available with a number of driver assistance, connectivity and infotainment technology. North American versions of the Taos will be built at Volkswagen’s plant in Puebla, Mexico. It goes on sale in the summer of 2021 and pricing will be revealed closer to its on sale date.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI CLUBSPORT UNVEILED
And speaking of Volkswagen, the new Golf GTI Clubsport just made its world premiere. It features the same 2.0L turbo that powers the regular GTI but it’s been modified to crank out nearly 300 horsepower, making it the most powerful GTI in the lineup. The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The GTI Clubsport also features a slightly different driving setup than the regular GTI for better ride and handling. No word on pricing or when it will go on sale.
FERRARI COULD MAKE FORTUNE WITH EVs
Ferrari’s are famous for the scream of their V8 and V12 engines and former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne once told Autoline something along the lines of ‘Ferrari would do an EV over his dead body.’ But one Wall Street analyst says the future of Ferrari will be electric. Adam Jonas, with Morgan Stanley, says Ferrari needs to start the transition to an all-electric lineup and he says the payoff could be huge. He estimates that a powertrain in a Ferrari today costs $95,000. But an electric powertrain would cost fifty grand, meaning Ferrari could cut the manufacturing cost of its cars by $45,000. He says that would add half a billion dollars to Ferrari’s EBIT profits. Ferrari fanatics, known as the tifosi, will go ballistic at the idea of an electric Ferrari. But with so much money on the line, Ferrari is going to have to do it. And besides, all its competitors are going this way, too.
BAIDU OFFERING AUTONOMOUS RIDES IN BEIJING
Autonomous cars continue to make progress. Last week we reported that Waymo is offering autonomous rides to the public in Phoenix. Today we’re reporting that Baidu, the Chinese tech giant, is offering autonomous rides in Beijing. And as long as you hail one of the autonomous taxis between 10 AM and 4 PM, the ride is free. The taxis are hailed using a phone app, but they only travel between designated pick-up and drop-off zones. A safety driver is also required. Interestingly, Baidu is using Lincoln MKZ’s for its taxis. There must be something about that car that makes it easy to modify for autonomy. Several AV startups have used MKZ’s as their development cars.
BMW ESTABLISHES AI CODE OF ETHICS
Elon Musk, Prince Charles and even Stephen Hawking warned us that artificial intelligence could destroy the human race. But there are a lot of benefits from using AI, so BMW established a code of ethics for how to use it. This includes things like human oversight, data privacy, and accountability. Maybe you’ve heard the AI joke. A researcher develops an AI program to calculate the value of Pi. Before you know it, the program takes over the planet, eliminates the human race, conquers the galaxy, and transforms the universe into a giant supercomputer that for billions of years tries to calculate the value of Pi….so let’s hope BMW’s code of ethics doesn’t let that happen.
Be sure to join us for Autoline After Hours tomorrow when Thomas Mally, the Associate Chief Vehicle Engineer, from Nissan’s Technical Center, will be on the show. We’re going to learn a lot more about the all new Sentra and Rogue. So join John and Gary as we let you listen to some of the top talent in the automotive industry.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and have a great day.
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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.