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0:08 Tesla Looking For China Design Chief
0:54 Chip Shortage Forces Production Cuts
1:27 More Hyundai & Apple Partnership Details
3:10 NIO Unveils eT7 Electric Sedan
4:33 NHTSA Clears Tesla of Sudden Unintended Acceleration
5:22 Pandemic Ripped Huge Hole In U.S. Auto Industry
6:46 GM Reveals New Logo
7:27 Barra To Give CES Keynote Speech
7:49 BMW Introduces New iDrive System
8:38 Magna Shows Off Electric Truck
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TESLA LOOKING FOR CHINA DESIGN CHIEF
Tesla is searching for a design director for China, who will be the head of a design studio in Shanghai or Beijing that will create cars for Chinese customers. Reuters reports the company has been looking for a candidate for the last four months and wants to hire someone that’s “bi-cultural” and has at least 20 years’ experience and is familiar with Chinese tastes. Some candidates have already been interviewed by Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen. One vehicle the studio is likely to work on is the $25,000 EV Elon Musk referred to during the company’s Battery Day in September. The plan for the studio isn’t finalized and the company plans to wait to make a decision due to tensions between the U.S. and China.
CHIP SHORTAGE FORCE PRODUCTION CUTS
Last month, we reported that there’s a global chip shortage, which will cause manufacturing delays for the auto industry. And now, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen and FCA are cutting production as the shortage really hits home. The problem started when production shut down during the pandemic, which led chip manufacturers to look to other markets, like consumer electronics. But now that auto production is up and running again, the semiconductor industry can’t keep up with demand.
MORE HYUNDAI & APPLE PARTNERSHIP DETAILS
Last week, Hyundai confirmed it’s in talks with Apple about an electric vehicle partnership and now there’s more details about the deal. Korea IT News reports that the two companies will sign a deal in March to make autonomous electric cars and will start production in the U.S. around 2024. This is a stunning development. With $90 billion in cash and securities, Apple has far deeper pockets than any automaker. It is going to be a formidable competitor and Hyundai must have decided, if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em.
NIO UNVEILS ET7 ELECTRIC SEDAN
Chinese EV startup NIO revealed a new sedan, called the eT7. It’s similar in size to a Tesla Model S, although a bit longer overall and slightly wider. NIO boasts a range of 1,000 kilometers or roughly 621 miles, which is really good, but that’s based on the NEDC test. The eT7 would likely get around 435 EPA miles. And that’s from a 150 kWh battery pack. Do some quick math and that’s not even quite 3 miles per kWh, which is not as efficient as other EVs. But with a 0 to 100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds, some customers will likely say ‘efficiency be darned.’ It also offers the benefit of automated driving. NIO doesn’t say what level it’s capable of, but with a lidar unit, 11 cameras, 5 radar and 12 ultrasonic sensors, it should be able to handle at least Level 2. And note how NIO has tried to integrate the technology with its design. Speaking of design, there’s not much going on in the interior, which is by design, but we do like how the air vents are hidden between the gap in the two-tone dash. The eT7 is expected to go on sale in China sometime next year.
NHTSA CLEARS TESLA OF SUDDEN UNINTENDED ACCELERATION
Back in January of last year, Tesla was accused that some of its vehicles would accelerate out of control all on their own. As we pointed out then, it was a short seller who accused Tesla. We said it was obvious that drivers were hitting the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. And now NHTSA is backing that up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will not seek a formal review because the incidents were caused by pedal misapplication. Here’s our Autoline Insight. Problems with sudden unintended acceleration first started appearing in the 1950’s when automatic transmissions started becoming popular. To this day, NHTSA has never found any cases related to cars with manual transmissions.
PANDEMIC RIPPED HUGE HOLE IN U.S. AUTO INDUSTRY
While new car sales in the U.S. market are running far stronger than anyone expected, make no mistake about it: the pandemic ripped a gaping hole in the auto industry last year. Total sales came in at 14.4 million vehicles. That’s nearly two and a half million less than in 2019. It’s about a 15% drop, which doesn’t sound that bad. But let’s put that in perspective. That means tire makers made 10 million fewer tires. It means steel producers sold 6 billion fewer pounds of steel. Piston companies made 12 million fewer pistons, and the list goes on and on. In the next couple of weeks, as automakers and suppliers report their earnings, we’re going to see the impact of this and it’s going to be ugly.
|U.S. 2020 SALES
|Source: Ward’s Intelligence
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GM REVEALS NEW LOGO
General Motors redesigned its corporate logo and judging by the public reaction, most people hate it. Some say it looks like an elephant, others say it throws the company’s heritage right out the window. Here’s our Autoline Insight. The logo, which reportedly was done in-house by GM’s design staff, is clearly designed to provide a break with the past. The sans serif, lower case script, looks simple, fresh and modern. It signals that this is a new GM, and part of that signal is clearly directed at Wall Street. GM released the new look just in time for CES, which is taking place virtually this week.
BARRA TO GIVE CES KEYNOTE SPEECH
In fact, GM CEO Mary Barra, is giving a keynote speech at CES tomorrow, including a virtual tour of GM’s future EV technology, in what they’re calling Exhibit Zero. That speech takes place at 9 am eastern time and you can click on the link in today’s transcript or the description box below if you’d like to watch it yourself.
BMW INTRODUCES NEW iDRIVE SYSTEM
BMW is revealing its next-generation iDrive system at this year’s virtual CES show. But that’s not the news we’re going to focus on here. In what surprised us, BMW used swear words in a video promoting the new system. It features an old BMW 7 Series, the first vehicle to use iDrive and the all-new, upcoming iX, the first vehicle to use the all-new iDrive. While the iX is exclaiming the virtues of the new system, smarter, better and more emotional connection, the 7 Series calls BS and marketing BS on the claims. However, it doesn’t mince words in the video. It’s not that we’re offended to hear the language, it’s just shocking to see an automaker not censor it.
MAGNA SHOWS OFF ELECTRIC TRUCK
Magna is also making big news at CES. It’s unveiling a virtual electric pickup truck which shows off the company’s capabilities at doing entire vehicle programs, including assembly. Electric pickups are one of the hottest commodities in the industry right now, and maybe Magna is sending a signal to any startup that it’s ready for action. If you’d like to learn more details, check out the interview we have with Sherif Marakby, the head of R&D at Magna which we have posted on our YouTube channel and in the Autoline On The Road section of the Autoline website.
But that’s it for today, 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.