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0:07 U.S. Traffic Deaths Up, Despite Less Congestion
0:38 NTSB Calls for EV Fire Guidelines
1:28 Kia Sedona Being Renamed Carnival
4:17 Renault Reveals Its Future Plans
6:12 Foxconn & Geely Join to Make EVs
7:16 Geely & Baidu Will Make Smart EVs
7:57 Detecting Road Conditions with Existing Sensors
8:42 The Toyota Land Cruiser is Puzzling
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. TRAFFIC DEATHS UP, DESPITE LESS CONGESTION
Traffic is down, but traffic deaths are up. According to NHTSA, more than 28,000 people died in accidents from January to September last year. That’s 4.6% higher than in 2019. NHTSA blames risky driving, including speeding, fewer people wearing seatbelts and more people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. With less traffic around, NHTSA says drivers are taking more risks and are paying the price for it.
NTSB CALLS FOR EV FIRE GUIDELINES
Speaking of car accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report saying battery fires caused by high-speed EV crashes pose a safety risk to firefighters and medics because the battery might reignite after the fire is put out the first time. It’s urging automakers to create guidelines for first responders on how to fight battery fires, especially how to prevent them from reigniting and how to safely store the battery after it’s damaged. The NTSB is calling on NHTSA to consider whether an automaker has created a guide when it determines the safety rating of a vehicle. The Alliance of Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers, released a statement saying its members “will carefully review the board’s recommendations.”
KIA SEDONA BEING RENAMED CARNIVAL
Kia is no longer going to offer the Sedona in the American market. Well, sort of. The minivan will actually no longer carry the Sedona name and according to documents on NHTSA’s website it will instead adopt the name Carnival, which is what it’s called in other markets. Kia revealed the next-generation version back in June of last year and it features much more SUV-like styling. The new model is expected to go on sale this summer, so it’s a little surprising that this is the first we’re hearing of it.
What in the world is Sandy Munro going to say on Autoline After Hours this afternoon? He told us he has a big surprise to announce, and that everyone will like it. But he won’t even tell us what he wants to talk about. By the way, he also has the latest Tesla Model 3 in his shop and that will be one of the topics we get into. So join John and Gary and Autoline’s West Coast correspondent Chase Drum for some of the best insights into the automotive industry.
Autoline supports the automotive industry.…because it’s such a job creation machine. From the shop floor to the boardroom the auto industry generates tens of thousands of jobs on every social economic level: designers, engineers, technicians, machinists, accountants, programmers—you name it. No other industry employs so many people in so many different jobs. And that’s why we’re proud to say that Autoline is an advocate for the automotive industry.
RENAULT REVEALS ITS FUTURE PLANS
Renault revealed its strategic plan for the next several years and it’s shaking things up quite a bit. It’s focusing on value rather than volume, so it’s cutting volume from a high of 4 million units in 2019 down to 3.1 million by 2025. It’s also going to cut its platforms from 6 to 3 and powertrains from 8 to 4. It’s all about cutting cost and investment. Now to its future product. By 2025, Renault will launch 14 core models; 7 will be fully electric and 7 will be in the C/D segment. It showed the Renault 5 prototype, which is a small electric vehicle whose design is inspired by the old R5. The Dacia brand and Lada, which is manufactured by AutoVAZ in Russia, are coming together under one business unit and while they’ll remain separate companies they will share a platform together. One of the many vehicles that will be spawned from that platform is the all-new Lada Niva, which will launch in 2024. At Dacia, it will focus on making affordable vehicles, like this concept, called the Bigster, a C-segment vehicle that is said to be as affordable as a vehicle in the segment below it by offering no bells or whistles. Alpine will continue to be the performance arm of the company. Not only is its name going to be plastered on Renault’s Formula 1 car, but it’s also going to develop a next-gen EV sports car with Lotus. And finally we get to Mobilize, another new business unit that, you guessed it, will provide mobility services. It will have vehicles designed for carsharing, ride-hailing and for last mile delivery that can be paid for through a subscription, leased or pay-as-you-go.
FOXCONN & GEELY WANT TO MAKE EVs FOR OTHER COMPANIES
A number of EV startups are turning to contract manufacturers. Here’s the latest. Foxconn, the company that makes most of Apple’s products, and Geely are forming a new joint venture that will make entire vehicles, including sub-systems as well as provide consulting services to automakers and mobility companies. Both Foxconn and Geely have developed open source EV platforms, but we guess the Geely one will win out. Foxconn doesn’t have any automotive experience, while Geely already invested $2.3 billion in its platform, which will be able to support A- through E-class-sized vehicles, and everything from sports cars to vans. Byton and Foxconn recently announced a partnership to build an electric SUV sometime next year, but it’s unclear if that vehicle will be made under this new partnership. But Geely could use the manufacturing capacity. It has the ability to build about 2 million vehicles a year but sold a little more than 1.3 million in 2020.
GEELY & BAIDU JOIN FORCES FOR EVs
And speaking of Geely and partnerships, it’s creating a new company with the Chinese tech company, Baidu, to build smart electric vehicles. The vehicles will be based on the same EV platform from Geely that we just mentioned, while Baidu will provide the vehicle’s autonomous and internet capabilities. Baidu will hold a majority stake in the company, which will be an independent subsidiary of the tech giant.
DETECTING ROAD CONDITIONS WITH EXISTING SENSORS
Nexteer announced it invested in Israeli-based startup Tactile Mobility, a software and data company. Tactile Mobility developed technology that’s able to detect road conditions in real-time using a vehicle’s existing sensors instead of adding on cameras or lidar. The software collects data, including wheel speed, wheel angle, RPM and gear positions, which allows it to detect potholes, loose gravel, slippery surfaces or other issues on the road. By detecting these conditions, the companies can use the information to help with adaptive cruise control, pre-conditioning the ABS and more. It’s meant for use in smart, connected or autonomous vehicles.
THE TOYOTA LAND CRUISER IS PUZZLING
We love test driving all the vehicles that are out there in the marketplace, like the Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s a cool SUV, but also something of a puzzle. It’s been around since 1951, making it the longest serving nameplate for Toyota. And it’s the second oldest SUV nameplate in the market, only behind the Chevrolet Suburban. There is a small cult of followers who love Land Cruisers, but it sure is a small cult. Despite full-size SUVs being red hot, Toyota only managed to sell a little over 3,000 last year in the US market. Part of that may be related to price. The Heritage Edition we drove cost just a shade under $90,000. And the design is definitely old school. This is a V8 powered, rear drive, body-on-frame SUV. The engine cranks out 381 horsepower and 401 foot pounds, but it also has to push 5,800 pounds of mass around. And you really feel that weight. It’s rated at only 14 miles to the gallon. It’s a very comfortable vehicle, with lots of room inside. And it has a robust reputation for off road driving. But it sure is a puzzle why such a long-lived nameplate is nearly invisible to people who are looking for a full-size SUV.
You can catch the interviews we’re doing with Magna’s executives about what they’re unveiling at CES, like how the company is positioning itself to be a full-line EV supplier. Just look for that in the Autoline on the Road section of our website or on our YouTube channel.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for watching and we’ll be right back here 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.