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0:07 GM & Ford Convert More Temps to Full-Time Employees
0:46 December Sales Forecast Shows Market Still Recovering
1:13 Most Active Automotive Stocks
3:55 VW Forms New Division for Energy & Charging
5:11 Foxconn to Make EVs with Byton
6:04 Honda ‘Car Mask’ Removes Viruses from Cars
7:23 New Lidar Company Announces Solid State Lidar
7:53 Bridgestone Using Drones to Detect Rubber Tree Disease
8:39 Ford Branding Self as Social Do-Gooder
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM & FORD CONVERTING MORE TEMPS TO FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES
During contract negotiations in 2019, the UAW fought for a pathway for temporary workers to become full time employees, so they can earn better wages and benefits. And now GM and Ford are converting hundreds of temps to permanent employees this month, 650 at GM and 400 at Ford. Last year, GM converted more than 900 employees, while Ford converted nearly 600. FCA’s contract with the union doesn’t include conversion dates like with GM and Ford. Most of the temps being converted work at GM and Ford’s truck and SUV plants.
DECEMBER SALES FORECAST SHOWS SALES CONTINUE TO RECOVER
Automakers in the U.S. market will be reporting their sales later today and we’ll find out if it was a December to remember or a time to forget. Ward’s Intelligence forecasts that the SAAR will come in at 15.8 million, down from 16.8 million a year ago. But that’s up slightly from November, which shows the market continues to recover. We’ll report the final figures in tomorrow’s show.
MOST ACTIVE AUTOMOTIVE STOCKS
It was a brutal day on Wall Street for some of the new tech auto suppliers. Quantumscape, which is working on solid state batteries and counts Volkswagen as an investor, saw its stock price plummet more than 40%. We don’t know exactly why, but Bloomberg reports that certain shareholders who held restricted shares were able to sell them starting yesterday. But for Chinese EV startups it was a very good day, as sales reports out of China show good growth for electric cars. NIO, the Chinese EV startup, was the most actively traded automotive stock, with over 200 million shares trading hands. Chang’an, which is not a startup but is growing fast, was the second most active with a volume of 136 million shares. Ford, which announced it was dropping its joint venture with Mahindra in India, came in at 63 million shares, followed by Li Auto, another Chinese EV startup at 45 million. And Tesla rounded out the top 5 most active stocks with 40 million shares being bought and sold.
|Most Active Auto Stocks|
|Li Auto||45 Million|
VW CREATES NEW DIVISION FOR ENERGY & CHARGING
To help support its EV offensive, Volkswagen has created a new division for energy and electric vehicle charging, called Charging & Energy. It will manage the services, equipment and infrastructure required for all of VW’s brands and will be headed up by a former executive from Germany’s top utility company. As part of its plan, the automaker will install an additional 750 charging stations, including its first high power units with up to 300 kW of power, at ten VW factories in its home market by the end of the year. That will bring its total to about 2,000 and by the end of 2025, Volkswagen wants to increase that to 4,000 points across all its brands. The automaker is also looking into autonomous charging robots. Meant for areas like underground parking, an owner would first request the service through their smartphone, a robot then goes and picks up a charging pod, which is then maneuvered close to the vehicle where the robot opens the plug door and plugs in the charging pod. When complete the robot comes back, unplugs the pods and then hauls it back so it can be charged back up.
FOXCONN TO MAKE EVs WITH BYTON
We recently reported that Apple wants to come out with an electric vehicle by 2024 and now Foxconn, the company that actually assembles the iPhone, wants to get in on the EV game too. But like more EV startups are doing, Foxconn is turning to contract manufacturing. It agreed to invest $200 million in Byton, the Chinese EV startup that launched in 2017, and will start building an electric SUV sometime next year. In October, Foxconn said it wants to provide components or services to 10% of the world’s EV somewhere between 2025 and 2027. And this partnership will be a key part of that strategy. Foxconn had previously announced a joint venture partnership to do the same thing with FCA in China, but we’ve heard nothing about it since the news dropped last year.
HONDA ‘CAR MASK’ WILL REMOVE VIRUSES FROM CARS
Honda fast-tracked a device that can remove viruses from inside of a car. The Kurumask, which is a mashup of the Japanese word for car and mask or car mask, is a thin cover that goes over an existing cabin filter. Millions of nanometer-sized barbs that stick out from the Kurumask help remove 99.8% of airborne virus droplets, including coronavirus, in about 15 minutes. It lasts for 15,000 kilometers or a little over 9,300 miles and costs about $70. It’s only available on the Honda N-Box in Japan but the company hopes to ramp up production so it can be used on more models.
On Autoline After Hours we’ll be diving into some of the biggest issues facing the auto industry. We’ll have Jeff Stout from Yanfeng and Pete Bigelow from Automotive News joining John and Gary, and we invite you to join them on our website or YouTube channel.
NEW LIDAR COMPANY ANNOUNCES SOLID STATE LIDAR
Another day, another new lidar company. This time it’s Israeli startup Opsys Tech, which introduced its next-gen solid state lidar that it says combines the advantages of flash lidar with the range and resolution of scanning lidar. It has a range of 200 meters or over 650 feet and can scan its full field of view at 1,000 frames per second. The company says the lidar is customizable for a variety of uses.
BRIDGESTONE USING DRONES TO DETECT DISEASED RUBBER TREES
Natural rubber that comes from Para rubber trees is a very important raw material used to manufacture tires and maintaining a sustainable supply chain is critically important for tire companies. That’s why Bridgestone is using drones to help detect diseased rubber trees. It features diagnostic technology that combines aerial images with artificial intelligence that can distinguish between healthy trees and ones with white root disease. The disease, which is on the rise, is hard to detect and can cause trees to rot if not treated. Bridgestone is currently testing the technology and says the trials have been able to successfully diagnose diseased trees with about 90% accuracy.
FORD BRANDING SELF AS SOCIAL DO-GOODER
Ford is doing something that no other automaker is doing. It’s branding the company as a force for social good. Last year it launched an advertising campaign called We Do Our Part, where it highlighted how the company started manufacturing ventilators, masks and even mobile testing stations to fight Covid. Later, as the country became more politically divided it launched a campaign called Built For America in which it made clear Ford is building vehicles for all Americans, no matter what their political affiliation. And it just launched a new campaign called Finish Strong, where it’s encouraging people to follow Covid prevention protocols until there’s enough vaccinations for everyone. Keep in mind that right now Ford is launching the new F-150, the Mustang Mach-E and the Bronco Sport. So it’s diverting advertising space away from those launches and directing it for corporate branding. It’s an intriguing marketing strategy but maybe it’s already paying off. You know how earlier in the show we reported that Ford was one of the most heavily traded automotive stocks with 63 million shares trading hands? Compare that to General Motors, where only 13 million shares were traded. GM has four well known car brands, but as a corporation, General Motors is practically invisible to the public.
But that’s the end of today’s show, thanks for watching.
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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.