Listen to “AD #2973 – Some Dealers Shun Cadillac's EV Shift; ICE Bans Better Than EV Incentives?; Mercedes E-Class Impressions” on Spreaker.
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0:38 Some Cadillac Dealers Pull Plug on Shift to EVs
1:20 Volvo CEO Says ICE Bans Better Than EV Incentives
2:08 The Hottest Automotive Stocks
3:12 The Boring Company Teases Underground Vegas Station
4:03 Audi Adds PHEV to A3 Sportback Lineup
4:57 Ford Delivering Food with AVs
5:40 Nissan Drops Support of Trump’s Fight with California
6:36 2021 Mercedes E-450 4-Matic Review
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
SOME CADILLAC DEALERS PULL PLUG ON SHIFT TO EVs
As part of its transition to an electric brand, Cadillac told its dealers they must invest $200,000 to install charging stations, train employees and buy other equipment to get ready for its upcoming electric vehicles. If dealers weren’t interested, Cadillac offered buyouts of up to $500,000 and they had until the end of November to decide. The Wall Street Journal reports around 150 of the brand’s 880 dealers in the U.S. took the buyout, that’s about 17% of its dealerships. And not surprisingly, most of those were smaller volume dealers, who it wouldn’t make sense for to make that kind of investment.
VOLVO CEO SAYS ICE BAN BETTER THAN EV INCENTIVES
And speaking of selling EVs, Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson says banning internal combustion engine vehicles is a more effective way to speed up EV adoption compared to offering subsidies. He argues that an ICE ban will help automakers plan accordingly and promote EV adoption, while incentives don’t help in creating sustainable and profitable businesses. Volvo is making a big bet on electrified vehicles. It expects half of its sales to be plug-ins by 2025 and the other half pure electrics. But what do you think? Should governments accelerate EV adoption through ICE bans or incentives? Let us know what you think in the comments.
THE HOTTEST AUTOMOTIVE STOCKS
Here are today’s hottest automotive stocks to keep an eye on. The Autoline Stock Index shows that American Axle is up $7.6%. Wall Street likes its earnings potential. In Europe, Renault, which has an ambitious revival plan is up 3.6%, while in Japan, Nissan is the biggest mover, up 3.3%. And in China, BYD, whose EV sales shot up 128% last month is moving the most, up 3%.
THE BORING COMPANY TEASES UNDERGROUND STATION
Self-driving Teslas running under the streets of Las Vegas is getting closer to reality. The Boring Company showed one of its underground stations on Twitter that’s a part of the loop for the Las Vegas Convention Center. The loop is being set up in place of a traditional light rail system to serve an expanding campus at the Center. The idea is to have two tunnels a little under a mile long that can carry up to 4,400 people an hour. While there are concerns over the actual number of people the system will be able to move, the initial phase of the project is expected to be done early next year, so we should know soon if it can live up to that 4,400 people an hour expectation. The hope was to have the loop done in time for CES, but the show has gone online due to the pandemic.
AUDI BRINGS PHEV TO A3 SPORTBACK LINEUP
We’ve seen automakers in Europe introducing plug-in hybrid versions of their standard models and the Audi A3 Sportback is the latest to be electrified. It’s powered by a 1.4L gasoline engine, an 80-kW electric motor that’s integrated into the housing of the six-speed dual clutch transmission and a 13.0 kWh lithium-ion battery. The system provides a total output of 295 lb-ft of torque and an all-electric range of 63 kilometers or about 40 miles based on the WLTP cycle. Unique to the A3 plug-in is a black styling package and it comes standard with red brake calipers, sport seats and tinted windows. It’s available to order now in Germany with a starting price of about 40,400 euros or just under $50,000.
FORD MAKING AV FOOD DELIVERIES
Ford is finding news ways to test its autonomous vehicles even during a pandemic. It’s expanding its partnership with The Education Fund to deliver food in Miami, Florida using the Fusion autonomous test vehicles it operates with ArgoAI. The cars will show up at schools where they’re loaded with bags of freshly harvested produce and then are taken to 50 students and their families each week. Not only is Ford helping out the community, but it says it’s learning things like the time it takes to pick up and deliver a package and exposing the system to new scenarios. If Ford sees a benefit from this test, we can expect to see more like them.
NISSAN STOPS BACKING TRUMP’S FIGHT WITH CALIFORNIA
Another automaker has joined the list of companies that no longer back the Trump Administration’s fight to prevent California from setting its own emission standards, Nissan. And it’s all got to do with automakers wanting one national standard, instead of a patchwork state by state. Automakers that still back the Trump Admin include Hyundai and Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru. But if Biden is indeed named president, we would expect those companies to follow the likes of GM and Nissan.
MERCEDES E-CLASS OUTSHINES OTHER LUXURY SEDANS
The latest test car to come through the Autoline Garage was the 2021 Mercedes E-Class. A E450 4Matic to be precise, with a $76,000 price tag, which included $14,000 worth of options. From a driving standpoint, it was a breath of fresh air to get into this sedan, compared to some of the other luxury sedans we’ve driven lately, including the Lexus LS and Genesis G80. What sets the E-class apart is how responsive and alive it feels. While the LS and G80 feel heavy, the E-Class feels light and responsive, almost nimble. The steering feels far more direct and connected to the road, making it much more inviting to drive. The E-450 is equipped with a turbocharged 3-liter inline 6 that puts out 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All that power is fed through a 9-speed automatic, and of course, this being a 4Matic, it has four wheel drive. Inside, the dashboard is dominated by two screens that are combined to look like they’re one. The left side is the instrument cluster while the right side has all the controls for entertainment, navigation, HVAC and more. But it was disappointing to see Mercedes get rid of the rotary knob it’s used for years and go with a scratch pad to interface with the screen. That rotary knob was easier to use without looking at it, making it easier to keep your eyes on the road. Speaking of looking at things, this car is not much of a looker. It’s nondescript, almost bland, especially from a rear ¾ view. Unfortunately, sales of luxury sedans are plummeting at the moment and the E-Class is not immune from the trend. Sales are down 40%. That’s got to hurt. There was a time in the not so distant past when the E-Class generated the most profit of any model from Mercedes-Benz.
We have a fun Autoline After Hours coming up on Thursday. Our guests will be Bill Warner and Ray Evernham. Bill is the founder of the Amelia Island Concours and Ray is one of the best known names in NASCAR and was even inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his work as a crew chief. Some of the topics we’ll be getting into: Will hypercars survive? And what’s the future of racing? It you’ve got any questions you’d like to ask Rill and Ray, send them our way.via Twitter, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
But that wraps up 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.