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0:16 BMW Helps Add ePower to Wingsuit
1:15 Virgin Hyperloop Completes 1st Passenger Test
2:06 Tesla Taxis Hit NYC Streets
3:38 GM Battery Plant Ahead of Schedule
4:08 GM Plant Reopening to Make Room for EVs?
5:24 Honda Consolidating North American Operations
6:24 Mopar Adds Redeye Crate Engine to Catalog
7:13 Dodge Durango Hellcat Order Books Open
7:47 How Lucid Improved Aerodynamics
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
We sure have been talking a lot lately about new types of mobility. And we start off the show today with one of the zaniest ways of getting around.
BMW SLAPS E-POWER ON A WINGSUIT
BMW and its Designworks subsidiary, along with professional skydiver Peter Salzmann, created a wingsuit with electric assist. You heard that right. Just about everything is going electric these days, including wingsuits which are used by base jumpers and skydivers. It features two encased carbon propellers that spin at 25,000 RPM and deliver a power output of 7.5 kW each. The power is available for five minutes and allows jumpers to glide farther and cover longer distances. The wingsuit took about three years to develop, which included wind tunnel tests at BMW’s test center in Germany. Divers wearing normal wingsuits can hit speeds of 100 km/h but with electric drive, BMW’s suit can hit speeds of 300 km/h when activated. And this is the kind of e-mobility we can get behind.
VIRGIN HYPERLOOP COMPLETES 1ST PASSENGER TEST
And this one too. Yesterday, Virgin Hyperloop successfully tested passengers in a hyperloop pod for the first time. Transporting people at high speeds in pods through low-pressure tubes seems like science fiction but it just took one step closer to reality. The test took place at Virgin’s 500-meter DevLoop test site in Las Vegas, where the company has previously run 400 unoccupied tests. For the test, a two-passenger pod was used but the production version will hold 28 passengers. While it may seem far off, hyperloop is gaining momentum. Back in July, the U.S. Department of Transportation introduced a guidance document for regulatory framework for hyperloop in the U.S. And now this test shows travelling in a hyperloop can be safe.
NYC TESLA TAXIS HIT THE STREETS
And we’ll stick with the topic of mobility for a moment, thought this one is a bit more conventional. A year ago, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved the Tesla Model 3 to become a yellow cab, making it the first electric vehicle in its fleet. And now Electrek reports the first one has been spotted on the road in the city. More taxis operators are adding EVs, mostly Tesla’s, to their fleets because of the fuel and maintenance savings those vehicles provide. You may remember the Commission ran a pilot test several years ago using Nissan Leafs, but that failed miserably because drivers had to significantly alter their routes due to the low range of the Leaf. That’s obviously not an issue with the Tesla.
GM BATTERY PLANT AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Mary Barra says General Motors is running ahead of schedule building its new battery plant in Ohio. That’s the place that’s going to make GM’s battery cells that it calls Ultium. But we don’t know if that means it can bring its EVs to the market sooner, which includes the GMC Hummer, the Cadillac Lyriq and several EV models that GM will build for Honda. Just because a battery plant is running ahead of schedule doesn’t mean you can bring the entire program forward, but it does open the door to that possibility.
GM PLANT REOPENING TO MAKE ROOM FOR EVs?
And here’s another GM development that caught our eye. Two years ago GM announced it was closing its assembly plant in Oshawa, Canada, as part of a restructuring program to cut costs by $6 billion. But now GM is going to reopen that plant, because it says it needs more manufacturing capacity for full size pickups. We think there’s something else going on. Last year GM sold just over 800,000 pickups, Ford sold about 830,000. But Oshawa will be able to build about 240,000 pickups. Does GM really believe it can sell that many more pickups? We think that’s highly unlikely. But if GM wanted to convert one of its pickup plants to make electric trucks, it sure would be handy to have Oshawa making conventional trucks while it made that conversion. The Oshawa plant will reopen in early 2022 and we’ll have a clearer idea at that point.
HONDA CONSOLIDATING NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS
Honda is consolidating its operations in North America. Its R&D and manufacturing operations are now run as separate companies, with their own corporate structure and financials. But under the new plan, they’re all merging together. Honda’s manufacturing operations, including engineering and purchasing, and its product development operations will come together into one new company, called Honda Development & Manufacturing of America. Under the previous system, R&D would do what was best for R&D and manufacturing would do what was best for manufacturing. But that wasn’t necessarily what was best for Honda. The new operation should improve communication within the company and cut costs by reducing redundancies. On top of that, its South Carolina manufacturing plant, which makes motorcycle, ATV and side-by-side products will become part of Honda’s Powersports division within American Honda.
MOPAR ADDS REDEYE ENGINE TO CATALOG
We know that a lot of you are sick and tired of all the electric coverage we’re providing. So here’s some good news for all of you who love piston power. Mopar is expanding its crate engine offerings. With the introduction of the 807 horsepower Hellcat Redeye engine to its catalog, Mopar now offers five HEMI crate engines with power ratings between 375 and 1,000 horsepower. The supercharged 6.2L is intended for pre-1976 street and off-road machines, where its 717 lb-ft of torque would be particularly useful. I’m sure some of you are saying, “that’s cool, but what does it cost?” MSRP comes in a shade under $22,000.
DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT ORDER BOOKS OPEN
And if that price tag didn’t phase you, you either understand the value, are a very wealthy person or maybe you already slapped down the $81,000 needed, not including destination charges, for the new Durango SRT Hellcat. Orders for the 710 horsepower SUV, which will do 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, just opened up last week. If ever there was a need for a 3-row family vehicle capable of doing mind-bending burnouts, it’s no surprise it’s coming from Dodge.
HOW LUCID IMPROVED AERODYNAMICS
Lucid Motors claims its sedan, called the Air, is more efficient than a Tesla Model S. One of the reasons why it makes this claim is that the Air is more aerodynamic than a Model S. And one way it’s more aerodynamic is because it designed the front air-opening to generate a vortex. Peter Rawlinson, the CTO of Lucid, explains.
“And then the third thing is we have these really efficient ducts, which means that our real-world range is enhanced. And if you think of this vortex system that we’ve got–a lot of people are familiar with the vortex in this certain brand of British vacuum cleaner that has got this clear plastic so you can see the vortex–so if you imagine two of those vortexes laying flat, and that’s behind that narrow air intake at the front of the car, and it just speeds the air up into a vortex rotating this way and it fires over the area of the radiator. So what we get is a more even distribution of air across the radiator. So what we can have is more cooling, or we can have the same amount of cooling with smaller radiators, which gives us a smaller nose which gives us better aerodynamics which means we don’t need so much cooling in the first place which gives us a beneficial circle.”
Peter Rawlinson was our guest on Autoline After Hours along with his chief designer Derek Jenkins and that show is chock full of great information about their electric car. You can watch the entire show on our website or our YouTube channel.
But that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching and we’ll be right back 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.