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0:07 Nissan Posts Surprising Quarterly Profit
0:41 Tesla Reacts Differently to Issues in China
1:35 Tesla Makes Big Bitcoin Purchase
2:05 Tax Credit for eBikes Extended
3:54 SmartGlass Can Help Cut Emissions
5:52 Jeep Will Reveal Electric Wrangler Concept
6:43 Kia Announces Big Electrification Push
8:16 Hybrids Post Strong Sales Results
9:10 Toyota & Kenworth Test Fuel Cell on Pikes Peak
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
NISSAN POSTS SURPRISING QUARTERLY GAIN
Nissan has been in a tailspin ever since it accused former CEO Carlos Ghosn of stealing and booted him out of the company. And while Nissan is still in trouble, it’s starting to show a glimmer of hope. It just posted an operating profit for the most recent quarter, something that surprised the analyst community. It’s cutting its manufacturing capacity by 20% and is counting on new models like the Sentra and Rogue to get sales going again. Even so, Nissan expects to lose $5 billion for the year.
TESLA REACTS TO ISSUES DIFFERENTLY IN CHINA
There’s a very interesting article in Bloomberg that reports on how Elon Musk kowtows to the Chinese government at the same time he defies the American government. Musk attacked the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission on Twitter when it sued him over claims he was going to take the company private–which he never did. He hung up on the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board about an investigation into a fatal accident involving Autopilot. And he called California health officials fascists when they shut down Tesla’s plant in Fremont because of the pandemic. But when Chinese officials called Tesla on the carpet for quality and safety problems, it was a completely different story. Tesla quickly apologized, promised to strictly obey Chinese laws and agreed to strengthen its internal management procedures.
TESLA MAKES BIG BITCOIN PURCHASE
And speaking of Tesla, the EV maker announced it purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, which sent the price of the cryptocurrency to an all-time high of $44,000. And in an SEC filing, Tesla said it plans to start accepting bitcoin as payment for its vehicles and other products. This is not too surprising, Elon Musk has tweeted a number of times about his admiration for cryptocurrency, including bitcoin.
TAX CREDIT FOR E-BIKES EXTENDED
Good news if you’re in the market for an electric motorcycle in the U.S. The federal tax credit for e-motorcycles was supposed to phase out at the end of 2020, however it’s been extended to the end of this year. The tax credit is 10% of the purchase price of an electric motorcycle, however it’s limited to a maximum of $2,500. And to qualify, a bike must be capable of hitting at least 45 MPH.
HOW SMARTGLASS CAN HELP CUT EMISSIONS
A month ago, Cadillac revealed details about its future flagship electric sedan the Celestiq. As we talked about, it will have an all-glass roof that features SmartGlass nanotechnology, which can automatically tint or untint glass with the push of a button. Mercedes and McLaren also equipped it in a number of their vehicles several years back. I recently talked with Joe Harary, the CEO of Research Frontiers, the company that developed Smart Glass and he says not only does it make the vehicle more stable but it can also help cut emissions.
“One of the interesting things about putting it in the roof, like both Mercedes, McLaren and now Cadillac has done, is that you’re taking weight out of the roof too. So, you’re actually lowering the center of gravity of the car and making it more stable. So you actually get more head room without raising the roofline because of that. And it makes it more comfortable but it also promotes stability. And because you’re also reducing the heat coming in and using the air conditioner less, in an internal combustion engine vehicle, you’re also reducing CO2 emissions by about 4 grams per kilometer. So if you look at what’s happening in Europe especially where regulations will penalize the company 95 euros per gram per kilometer if they don’t meet the emissions targets, 4 grams per kilometer is huge. It’s 380 euros or $410 per car in avoided penalties. So it’s a very interesting technology that’s not only cool, literally and figuratively, it’s also environmentally friendly and can save money as well for the automaker.”
If you’d like to watch that full interview, just check out the Autoline Exclusives section of our website or you can watch it on our YouTube channel.
JEEP WILL REVEAL ELECTRIC WRANGLER CONCEPT
Jeep’s electrification efforts are going way beyond the plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler and the Gladiator, which was only recently announced. For those that want to do some electric off-roading, Jeep is going to install solar-powered charging stations at iconic Jeep locations, like Moab and the Rubicon Trail. While there’s not a lot of details to report, we can also tell you the automaker is going to put its plug-in hybrid technology, called 4Xe into the all-new Grand Cherokee. And it’s going to show off an all-electric Wrangler concept at the Easter Jeep Safari. One last bit of Jeep news. It’s not related to electrification, but the brand is coming out with a hands-free driver assistance system later this year, which looks like its debuting in the new Grand Cherokee.
KIA HAS BIG EV PLANS
Speaking of future electrification plans, Kia says it wants 40% of its global sales, which translates to roughly 1.6 million vehicles to be hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric by 2030. To support that, by 2026 Kia will come out with 7 new BEVs based on its E-GMP platform. The first of which will launch later this year. It will also come out with four new EV models based on existing ICE vehicles in that same timeframe. The automaker has ambitious goals for its purpose-built vehicles or PBVs as well. These are just specialized vehicles, like for delivery services that will ride on a PBV-dedicated skateboard platform. Kia is targeting sales of a million units by 2030. It’s other main pillar for expansion is mobility services, which includes a new concept where vehicles could be used for businesses during the week and rented to individuals on the weekend. Kia plans to invest $26 billion to reach its goals.
HYBRIDS OUTSELL BEVs, GROWING FASTER
While battery electric vehicles are getting all the headlines these days, sales of hybrids are doing much better. BEV sales went up 30% over the last 3 months in the U.S., but sales of hybrids, including plug-in hybrids shot up 58%. Hybrids outsell BEVs two-and-a-half-to-one. Toyota, including Lexus, dominate the segment. Honda and Acura are far behind, but they’re ahead of Ford and Lincoln. Hyundai and Kia are 4th on the list, but their sales are down significantly. And Volvo’s hybrid sales shoot up dramatically thanks to the XC-90 plug-in. Many news outlets count plug-in hybrids as part of EV sales but we don’t because, well, they’re hybrids, with piston engines and all the other stuff you will never find in a battery electric.
|U.S. Hybrid Sales
Nov., 2020 – Jan., 2021
TOYOTA & KENWORTH TEST FUEL CELL ON PIKES PEAK
To show off the capability of its fuel cell system, Toyota partnered with Kenworth to drive a Class 8 semi-truck to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The companies replaced the diesel powertrain in Kenworth’s T680 truck with a modified version of Toyota’s fuel cell system equipped in the Mirai. In the truck, it provides 470 horsepower and 350 miles of range. The drive to the 14,115-foot summit is 12.3 miles long and features more than 150 turns. The companies successfully drove the prototype to the top of the peak, multiple times over the course of two days to test its limits. Toyota and Kenworth are using the data and feedback from the test to help refine the fuel cell system.
Don’t forget to join us for Autoline After Hours this Thursday when our guest will be Tony Greco, the program manager at Ford for the Raptor. We got a bunch of questions from you last week when we had Tony Roma, the chief engineer on the Cadillac V-Series Blackwing cars. And if you’ve got questions about the new Raptor, send an email to email@example.com or send a tweet to @Autoline.
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.