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0:38 Hyundai Buys Stake in Boston Dynamics
1:27 Hyundai Creates New Fuel Cell Brand
1:55 Toyota Set to Deliver 1st Fuel-Cell Semi-Trucks
2:18 Mercedes To Offer CPO Trucks
3:29 Hottest & Coldest Automotive Stocks
4:20 BMW Steps Up 3D Printing Efforts
5:16 Ford Practically Giving Away Fusions
6:19 Porsche Using AI to Detect Noise During Development
7:16 Ram TRX Is a Serious Off-Road Machine
9:29 Cadillac Is #savingthemanual
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HYUNDAI BUYS STAKE IN BOSTON DYNAMICS
Hyundai just made a stunning acquisition. It’s buying an 80% stake in Boston Dynamics, the robotics company that makes some of the most advanced robots in the world. While financial numbers weren’t disclosed, Hyundai values Boston Dynamics at $1.1 billion, which suggests it paid around $880 million. Hyundai’s chairman, Euisun Chung is even buying 20% just for himself, while Hyundai and its affiliates will control the remaining 60%. Chung, who was recently appointed chairman of Hyundai, says robotics will account for 20% of its business in the future. This makes Hyundai the latest automaker to get into robotics. Toyota, General Motors and Ford are all developing robots for a variety of purposes as well.
HYUNDAI CREATES NEW FUEL CELL BRAND
And speaking of Hyundai, the company created a dedicated fuel cell brand called HTWO. It says the new brand will help it step up development of its next-gen hydrogen fuel cell system, which will not only be used for automotive applications, but also to power VTOLs, boats and trains. HTWO will initially focus on the U.S., Chinese, Korean and European markets.
TOYOTA SET TO DELIVER 1ST FUEL-CELL SEMI-TRUCKS
And in other fuel cell news, Toyota is set to deliver its first two fuel cell Class 8 semi-trucks to fleet customers in California this month. The trucks were developed in a project sponsored by the state and will be used for drayage operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Another 8 trucks will be delivered next year for the pilot program.
MERCEDES TO OFFER CPO TRUCKS
And speaking of big trucks, Mercedes created a certified program for used trucks in Europe. Trucks that are no more than five years old and have a maximum of 500,000 kilometers will receive the label and they’ll be inspected by Mercedes-Benz outlets to assure quality. The company guarantees the trucks won’t need maintenance for at least three months or 20,000 to 30,000 kilometers, depending on weight. And the trucks receive a 12- or 24-month drivetrain warranty depending on the model. The service kicks off in the first quarter of next year.
HOTTEST & COLDEST AUTOMOTIVE STOCKS
The hottest automotive stock yesterday was Car Gurus, the car shopping website for new and used vehicles. It closed at $26.86, up a solid 10.5%. The biggest drops came from Luminar, the lidar company, which was down 7.4%. That’s probably because Velodyne was listed yesterday and is a significant competitor. Fisker was down 10.4% after a research firm set a price target of $15 a share. Fisker closed at $15.03.
Ferrari’s stock fell slightly after the company’s CEO Louis Camillieri announced he was stepping down for personal reasons. Even so, Ferrari’s stock price is up 27% so far this year.
BMW STEPS UP 3D PRINTING EFFORTS
BMW is ramping up its 3D printing efforts and says it wants to integrate additive manufacturing into vehicle development and production. Earlier in the year, the automaker began 3D printing metal and polymer parts for Rolls-Royce vehicles. And another BMW plant in Germany, is producing 3D printed metal components. To engineer the parts, the company is using generative design, which uses computer algorithms to design the components. This results in parts with complex forms and structures that it wouldn’t be able to produce using conventional tools. While the components can be more complex, they’re lighter and maximize the space available. BMW is very bullish on 3D printing because it can help save costs as well as allow for faster development, more flexibility and the ability to make parts without complex tools.
FORD PRACTICALLY GIVING AWAY FUSIONS
If you’re in the market for a new sedan in the U.S., check out the Ford Fusion. Ford is practically giving them away. It stopped building the sedan in August but there’s still over 11,000 sitting on dealer lots and they’re being heavily discounted. Zero percent financing for up to 84 months can be had on all remaining examples and if you’re not down with that, you can get $5,000 off with a trade in. And dealers that really want to get Fusions off their lot, are slashing prices even more. Discounts of $10-grand or more are not uncommon and one dealer in Oklahoma City is listing a Fusion for under $16,000.
PORSCHE USING AI TO DETECT NOISE DURING DEVELOPMENT
Trying to find and isolate an unwanted noise in a moving vehicle is a very difficult task, so Porsche is helping out. It developed Sounce, an artificial intelligence program that is able to reliably and precisely detect noise. Based on the principle of anomaly detection, Porsche uses the system during tests to check noise development of load-bearing components. The big benefits are the ability to run the system around the clock, find the route cause of a problem and make improvements earlier on in the testing phase. It also frees up engineers who normally have to be physically present during the tests. We think this would be great for EVs as well, which are much quieter than ICE vehicles and where unwanted noises come through more clearly. Porsche says Sounce increases quality and reduces costs and will make it available to other companies too.
RAM TRX IS A SERIOUS OFF-ROAD MACHINE
The surging popularity of hard-core off-road vehicles is one of the most intriguing developments of late. As you know, Ram just came out with its answer to the Ford Raptor. The TRX, which they pronounce as T-Rex, is a serious off-road machine, and we recently got to drive one. The conversion from light duty pickup to TRX was significant. The frame was significantly beefed up to handle high speed off-road running. The front suspension gets forged upper and lower control arms and Bilstein Black Hawk shocks with separate reservoirs mounted to the frame. In the rear, there are 5 links to hold the Dana 60 solid axle in place. Put it all together and you get more than 11 inches of ground clearance and over 13 inches of suspension travel. Under the hood a supercharged 6.2 liter Hemi cranks out 702 horsepower and 650 pound feet of torque, all fed through an 8-speed automatic. You need that kind of power because this is an extremely heavy truck: 6,350 pounds. Even so, it shoots out of the blocks like an Olympic sprinter. But it also guzzles gasoline as if it were at the Munich Oktoberfest. The EPA rates it at only 12 miles to the gallon, which has got to be the worst rating of any vehicle we’ve ever tested. But as we all know, that’s not going to stop anyone who’s looking for this kind of off-road performance. Inside, you get that beautiful Ram pickup interior, which is still the best looking in the business. And it rides surprisingly well for being such a beefy hunk, so you can easily live with it on an everyday basis. Low volume, specialty vehicles like this don’t come cheap. The base price of the TRX is just over seventy grand, and the one we drove cost over $87,000. There’s got to be massive profits baked into that price and it makes us wonder when the Chevrolet Silverado is going to get in on the game.
CADILLAC IS #SAVINGTHEMANUAL
Cadillac is #savingthemanual. When the high-performance Blackwing edition of the CT4- and CT5-V hit the market next summer they’ll be available with a 6-speed manual transmission, which it says is quieter and more durable than the previous generation. Along with the manual will come GM’s first 3D printed components in a production vehicle. Two of the HVAC ducts, an electrical harness bracket and the medallion that sits on top of the shifter knob are all 3D printed. The Blackwing models will also offer an optional 10-speed automatic.
But that’s all we got for this week. Thanks for joining us and we hope you have a great weekend.
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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.