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0:07 GM’s Q3 Earnings Look Impressive
1:04 ZF Helps Improve Semi Truck Fuel Economy
2:10 Tesla Gets Big Semi Truck Order
3:51 New Nissan Navara/Frontier Revealed
5:11 Audi Finalizing Performance e-tron GT
6:02 New Subaru BRZ to Debut Soon
7:28 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM’S Q3 EARNINGS LOOK IMPRESSIVE
General Motors presented its third quarter earnings, and the numbers are really impressive. GM sold nearly 1.8 million vehicles worldwide over the last three months. That’s 75,000 fewer vehicles than it sold a year ago. And yet it raked in more revenue, which means GM sold a richer mix of vehicles, which is just industry jargon that means it sold more vehicles that cost more money. And it was able to significantly reduce sales incentives. Here’s where the numbers get really interesting. GM posted $5.2 billion in adjusted EBIT profit, up nearly 80%, and a net profit of $4 billion, up 72%. That’s a spectacular achievement considering we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And here’s the icing on the cake. GM generated over $9 billion in free cash flow and is now sitting on a $37 billion pile of money.
|GM Q3, 2020 Earnings|
|EBIT (Adj.)||$5.2 Billion||+78%|
|Net Profit||$4.0 Billion||+72%|
ZF HELPING TO IMPROVE SEMI TRUCK FUEL ECONOMY
To help improve the fuel economy of big trucks, German supplier ZF has developed a lightweight semi-truck with an aerodynamic trailer. To cut weight from the tractor, the company focused on the suspension and steering systems. It features an integrated independent front suspension, which offers better packaging of battery packs and high-voltage electronics. The ride and handling has been optimized to allow for a smaller steering actuator to be integrated at the front axle. The truck is also equipped with a lightweight crosslink and suspension strut, which means it can be equipped with bigger battery packs or allows for a larger payload. Thanks to its lightweight construction, weight can be reduced by 150 kilograms or about 330 pounds. And to help improve aerodynamics, it’s equipped with an air suspension that automatically controls ride height. And when combined with its OptiFlow trailer, which has flaps on the side and ones that automatically deploy at the rear, it’s 7% more fuel efficient.
TESLA GETS BIG SEMI TRUCK ORDER
And in other big truck news, Tesla just received one of its biggest, if not the biggest, order for its electric semi-truck. Pride Group Enterprises, which is a holding company mainly focused on truck leasing, just placed a reservation for 150 trucks with the option to increase that to 500. Not bad for a truck that’s not even in production yet. Electrek reports that the deal could be worth between $22 million and $100 million, depending on how many trucks Pride Group orders and how it configures them. The Group operates around a dozen locations in the U.S. and Canada. As mentioned before, the electric truck isn’t in production yet, so it’s not known when Pride Group will start receiving them. But production is expected to start soon. Tesla also recently received a 130 truck order from Walmart in Canada.
NEW NISSAN NAVARA PICKUP REVEALED
When we reported on the Nissan Magnite we noted that it lacked a V-motion grille. Well, it was later brought to our attention that it wears that grille because it was originally planned to be a Datsun model. However, with the introduction of the new Navara pickup, which is sold as the Frontier in other markets, we wonder if Nissan is starting to back away from its signature grille? We’ll have to wait and see. But what we can see is that the styling of the truck is much more modern. I almost thought it was an electric truck. But Nissan did more than change its looks. The rear axle is stronger, payload increased, there’s more room in the bed, a step was added to the rear bumper and a new steering rack improves low-speed turns. The interior is also a definite improvement over the current model. But I wouldn’t say it’s great, I wouldn’t say it’s bad, it’s just kind of there. For the first time the Navara/Frontier can be purchased in Nissan’s PRO-4X trim, which is just a style package with a number of unique elements. While Nissan didn’t talk about powertrains in the press release, it did provide this picture of a twin turbo engine that will be available in the PRO-4X model. But I’m sure we’ll learn more real soon. The Navara first goes on sale in Thailand this December with other markets to follow after that.
AUDI FINALIZING PERFORMANCE E-TRON GT
Audi is coming out with its own electric sedan based on the same platform as the Porsche Taycan, called the e-tron GT. There will also be an RS performance variant of that car and Audi is wrapping up tests of the production based version. It says to expect at least 640 horsepower, 610 lb-ft of torque and 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds. For ultra quick reaction times and superb handling the RS e-tron GT pairs controlled damping with air suspension and all-wheel steering. To make sure all the power electronics and battery stay cool even while turning hot laps, four heating and cooling circuits are required. It also allows for strong, repeatable acceleration. The e-tron GT is expected to go on sale sometime early next year.
NEW SUBARU BRZ TO DEBUT SOON
And here’s a quick announcement for sports car enthusiasts. The 2022 Subaru BRZ will make its official debut on November 18th.
If you were in the market for a luxury-class electric car, would you go out and buy a Tesla Model S or would you wait for the Lucid Air? That’s one of the topics we’ll tackle later today on Autoline After Hours. Our guests for the show will be Peter Rawlinson, the CEO and CTO of Lucid. By the way, he was also a chief engineer on the Model S when he was at Tesla. And we’ll have Derek Jenkins, the head of design for Lucid, who spent most of his career at Audi, Volkswagen and Mazda before taking over design at Lucid. If you’ve got questions for Derek and Peter, you can tweet it to us @Autoline or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re going to dedicate a part of the show to just your questions. Also joining us will be Rain Noe, the senior editor at Core77, an online magazine dedicated to industrial design. So join John and Gary to learn more about the latest EV startup that’s about to hit the market.
VOLKSWAGEN JETTA GLI FUN-TO-DRIVE
We had the VW Jetta GLI come through the Autoline Garage this week. There’s not a lot that’s new to report about the 2021 model. It gets all the standard safety equipment that the auto industry volunteered to install from 2021 onwards–things like automated emergency braking and forward collision warning. And it gets VW’s latest infotainment system, called MIB3, which is offered as an option. It has an 8-inch display, which is not very big by today’s standards. But it’s bigger than the 6-inch screen that comes standard. The big screen uses capacitive touch, which means you just have to barely touch the screen instead of having to press on it. And you can pinch and zoom the screen. The new safety equipment and bigger screen are nice to have but we’re pretty sure that’s not what gets people excited about buying a GLI. They buy them because they’re fun to drive. The GLI is essentially a GTI with a trunk. You get a 2-liter turbo that is impressively responsive. It cranks out 288 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque, but you have to fill the tank with premium fuel to hit that output. Power is fed through a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT. Fortunately, we got to test drive the manual and loved it except that the pedals are a bit awkward to use for easy heel-and-toe driving. Even so, this car encourages you to find your innermost enthusiast. The base price is about $27,300 and if you want the dual-clutch automatic, add another $800. So here’s our bottom line. If you’re into all the latest connectivity and infotainment systems, there are other cars that offer more. But if you want a solid, fun-to-drive car with a familiar layout and conventional controls you won’t go wrong with the GLI.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for watching and we hope to see you right here 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.