Listen to “AD #2962 – Honda Unveils Civic “Prototype”; GM Threatens to End Korea Production; Infiniti Reveals New QX55” on Spreaker.
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0:07 GM Speeds Up EV Plans
0:35 GM Threatens to End Production in Korea Over Strikes
1:11 Former GM Board Member Sentenced to Prison
1:32 GMC Makes the Canyon AT4 More Off-Road Capable
3:03 Honda Unveils Civic “Prototype”
4:01 Infiniti Reveals New QX55 Crossover
4:53 Renault Shows Off Kiger Concept
5:48 ZF Automated Coupling Assist Technology
6:24 Toyota Introduces PROACE Verso Electric Van
7:27 Morgan Stanley Says There’s a Huge Upside to Tesla
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
There’s a lot of GM in the news today.
GM SPEEDS UP EV PLANS
General Motors already has an ambitious $20 billion strategy to make electric vehicles, but apparently, it decided that’s not enough. Reuters reports that tomorrow Mary Barra will announce that GM is going to turn up the heat on its EV plans. Instead of making Cadillac an all-electric brand by 2030, that gets moved up to 2025. And it’s going to spend more money to bring other EVs to market faster.
GM THREATENS TO END PRODUCTION IN KOREA OVER STRIKES
In South Korea, GM warned its labor union that ongoing strikes are hurting the company financially and it may not be able to make cars there in the future. The union is holding short, daily strikes that already cost it 20,000 vehicles in lost production, on top of 60,000 that were lost earlier this year due to the pandemic. The union wants to get rid of a wage freeze that was put in place to prevent GM Korea from going bankrupt. GM is threatening to stop investing or allocating anymore new products to GM Korea unless the strikes stop.
FORMER GM BOARD MEMBER SENTENCED TO PRISON
Meanwhile, in the U.S., former GM board member and UAW vice president Joe Ashton was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for taking kickbacks and stealing money from the union. Two other UAW presidents, Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, are also going to spend time behind bars for the same reasons.
GMC MAKES THE CANYON AT4 MORE OFF-ROAD CAPABLE
OK, now for some GM product news. GMC is coming out with an off-road version of the Canyon AT4 pickup. It gets 31 inch tires for more ground clearance, and the front air dam is removed for a better approach angle. There are bars to protect the rocker panels as well as aluminum skid plates to protect the lower radiator, front differential, steering gear and oil pan. It also gets an Eaton G80 Rear Automatic Locking Differential. Hard core off-road vehicles are turning out to be one of the hottest segments in the industry right now, and the 2021 GMC Canyon AT4 Off-Road Performance Edition will join the club before the year is over.
HONDA UNVEILS CIVIC “PROTOTYPE”
Honda revealed a prototype version of the new Civic. It may call it a prototype but we don’t see much that’s likely to change with the production model. Styling is significantly changed over the current generation Civic. The headlamp shape is new, the lower front fascia is more aggressive, the kick-up behind the rear door is steeper and, perhaps most significant, the rear taillights are no longer big C-shapes that curl on top of the deck-lid. But the big changes don’t stop there. The infotainment screen now sits high on the dash, which allowed designers to clean up the overall look with a long horizontal bar that also incorporates the air vents. Honda says the body structure is more rigid, which improves driving dynamics and that the Civic will feature more powerful and fuel efficient powertrains. The new Civic sedan will launch in spring of next year, followed by the hatchback, Civic Si and Type R.
INFINITI REVEALS NEW QX55 CROSSOVER
Speaking of new reveals, Infiniti took the wraps off the QX55. You might think of this as just a QX50 with a much more raked roofline, but exterior styling is quite different. It’s hard to tell if the grille is actually bigger on the QX55 because that huge opening below it could be playing tricks with our eyes. But there’s no mistaking that the side air vents are massive compared to the ones on the QX50. They’re even large enough to house the fog lamps. Aside from the sweeping roofline at the rear, there’s also been changes to the lighting signature. You’ll notice a kind of double hockey stick effect, split by the cut line of the tailgate. Despite all the changes in the sheet metal, the interior looks identical. Like the Civic, the QX55 is expected to launch next spring.
RENAULT SHOWS OFF KIGER CONCEPT
Renault also showed off a new model, called the Kiger. It’s a concept that previews a future small crossover that will go into production. It’s a good-looking model that has a similar shape to the Volvo XC40. It sounds as if it will be powered by a range of gasoline and diesel engines, including a new turbocharged gasoline unit. If you’re wondering what that thing is on top, it’s a roof rail system. Although, it’s like one we’ve never seen before. The Kiger will first be introduced in India and then roll out to other global markets after that.
ZF AUTOMATED COUPLING ASSIST TECHNOLOGY
German supplier ZF developed new technology for semi-trucks, called Automated Coupling Assist. It enables trucks to automatically hook up to a trailer. The driver selects the trailer he or she wants to attach to and when the camera sees the correct trailer, the driver receives a signal. At that point, the driver pushes a button to start the automatic coupling process. The truck takes care of everything and once it’s complete, the operator can drive off. ZF says its technology can make this process up to 50% faster.
TOYOTA INTRODUCES PROACE VERSO ELECTRIC VAN
Earlier this year, Toyota introduced an electric medium-duty van in Europe called the PROACE Electric. And now the automaker is showing off the passenger version, the PROACE Verso Electric. It’s offered with 50 and 75-kWh batteries. The smaller pack provides 230 kilometers of range or about 143 miles based on the WLTP cycle. While the 75-kWh pack delivers 330 kilometers of range or 205 miles. The van is available in three body lengths, can seat up to nine people and it’s equipped with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of driver assistance technology. It goes on sale in Europe in March. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s a rebadged van from the PSA Group, which is part of a deal the automakers signed two years ago. This makes us wonder if Toyota will still work with PSA after it merges with FCA and becomes Stellantis.
MORGAN STANLEY SAYS THERE’S A HUGE UPSIDE TO TESLA
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas says we need to rethink how Tesla stock is valued. He argues it shouldn’t be based on car sales alone because that ignores the multiple businesses Tesla is involved in. Jonas says “Tesla is on the verge of a profound model shift from selling cars to generating high margin, recurring software and services revenue.” He also says Tesla’s “internet-of-cars” opportunity is real and has the potential to unlock even more value for the company. That refers to its ride sharing and connected car services. Because of that Morgan Stanley has set a new price target for Tesla at $530 a share, which is up from its earlier price target of $360. Yesterday, Tesla’s stock surged, closing at $441, adding about $40 billion to its value after the S&P 500 announced it will add Tesla to its index.
Tomorrow on Autoline After Hours we’re going to take a deep dive into where automotive suppliers are headed. They’re taking over more and more of the things that automakers used to do in-house, all the way to making entire cars. Don Walker, the outgoing CEO of Magna will be on the show. He’s probably the longest serving supplier CEO and he helped build Magna into the powerhouse it is today. So join John and Gary for some of the best insights into the automotive industry.
That brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for watching and we hope to see you 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.