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0:08 Oil Prices Hit 13-Month High
1:02 Nissan Shoots Down Apple Partnership
2:11 Tesla to Open Manufacturing Plant in India
4:24 Mercedes Issues Huge Recall Over Software Problem
5:13 Peugeot Launches New Pickup
6:32 Chevrolet Unveils New Bolt EV & EUV
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
OIL PRICES HIT 13-MONTH HIGH
Have you noticed higher prices at the pump? That’s because the price of oil just hit a 13-month high. Global prices, or what they call Brent crude, are $63 a barrel, while U.S. oil is $60 a barrel. U.S. oil is referred to as WTI or West Texas Intermediary. There’s a number of reasons for why prices are going up. Investors believe a U.S. stimulus package could boost demand. There’s tensions in the Middle East. And Saudi Arabia is cutting production by a million barrels a day. So how high could prices go? Well, the U.S. Energy Information Agency actually expects them to go down a bit. It estimates Brent oil to average $53 a barrel for the year, and WTI to average $50.
NISSAN SHOOTS DOWN APPLE PARTNERSHIP
First it was Hyundai, now it’s Nissan. According to a report from the Financial Times, Apple and the Japanese automaker had discussions about collaborating on the tech giant’s electric, autonomous car. However, Nissan says it is not in talks with Apple. The deal reportedly fell through over Nissan’s reluctance to become a contract manufacturer for Apple. Earlier this month, Hyundai also backed out of a potential deal with Apple over the same concerns. It’s clear that Apple doesn’t want to build the vehicle on its own but it likely won’t be an automaker that will produce it. We think Apple will choose either Magna or Valmet in Finland. We also think Apple is trying to get other automakers interested as a bargaining chip to negotiate a better price. But if the car ever does come to market, VW CEO Herbert Diess says he’s not concerned about the competition from Apple. He says the auto industry is different from the tech-sector and that Apple won’t be able make an immediate impact.
TESLA TO OPEN MANUFACTURING PLANT IN INDIA
Tell that to Tesla. It’s going to build a manufacturing plant in India according to a government document. No timeframe was given but it’s no secret the company is interested in the country. Back in December, Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla will launch vehicles in India sometime this year. And last month the company incorporated Tesla Motors India. Even though India has a huge population, car sales there are well behind other major markets. And its EV market is in worse shape due to a lack of a charging infrastructure. But we don’t think it will build a gigafactory. Instead, look for a CKD assembly plant to avoid import duties, much like Tesla did in the Netherlands.
MERCEDES ISSUES HUGE RECALL OVER SOFTWARE PROBLEM
If you need any more evidence of the benefits of over-the-air updates, look no further than the problem Mercedes-Benz is facing. It announced it’s recalling nearly 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. over a software issue that could report the incorrect location of the vehicle when it’s in an accident. This covers practically all of its passenger vehicles from model years 2016 to 2021. While some of the vehicles with the automaker’s newest MBUX system will get an OTA update, most will have the software fix installed at the dealer. No doubt customers would prefer to have the car basically fix itself while they sleep with an OTA rather than have to set up an appointment and take their vehicle to the dealer.
PEUGEOT LAUNCHES NEW PICKUP
Peugeot launched a new pickup truck in the Africa and Middle East region, called the Landtrek. While it would likely be considered a mid-size truck in the U.S. it fits their definition of a 1-ton pickup and comes in single-, double- and chassis-cab variants. Under the hood is the choice of a 1.9L diesel or a 2.4L turbo gas engine, both of which can be mated to a manual or the gas version can also be paired to an automatic. Despite being a pretty basic truck, it’s actually quite interesting too. The Landtrek was co-developed with Chinese automaker Changan, which also sells its own version of the truck, called Kaicheng F70. Even so, in April of this year, Peugeot will start making the truck in Tunisia with a local partner.
CHEVROLET UNVEILS NEW BOLT EV & EUV
General Motors unveiled the redesign of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and addressed almost all the things that owners complained about. And it added a second, longer model called the Bolt EUV, or electric utility vehicle. From a styling standpoint the Bolt takes a major step forward. It now just has the vestiges of a grille, like Ford did with the Mustang Mach E. As we’ve been saying for a couple of years, electric cars with traditional-looking grilles are going to look outdated very quickly, and we’re glad Chevy avoided that.
You can quickly tell the Bolt EV and EUV apart from two styling cues. On the EV, the projector beams and air intake below the Daytime Running Lamps flow up into the fenders. On the EUV they do not. Also, the sail panel at the rear of the EV is the same as before, while the EUV has a more angular kick-up. Even though these models look very similar, they don’t share any external sheetmetal.
Inside, both electrics have noticeably better looking interiors, which was one of the biggest complaints from customers. The materials look richer, there’s bright trim to accent items such as the air vents, the instrument panel and the console, and the seats feature French seams with contrast stitching.
Mechanically speaking there’s nothing new under the vehicle. Both models have the same powertrain as before, with a 65 kWh battery pack. The EV continues to offer a 259 mile range, while the slightly heavier EUV has 250 miles of range. DC fast charging capability is now standard equipment, and Chevrolet says it will provide 100 miles of range with 30 minutes of charging.
Now for the best news. Chevy cut the price of the Bolt EV by $5,000. It now has a base price of $32,000. The EUV comes in at $34,000. General Motors has run out of tax credits for EVs, but if the Biden Administration adds more credits, which we think is very likely, these prices could come down by up to another $7,500. Chevy is also offering a completely loaded EUV Launch Edition, including Super Cruise for $43,500. It will offer Super Cruise as a separate option for other models, but did not say what it will cost.
Sales of the Bolt EV were up 26% last year, with 20,000 being sold in the U.S. market. With this redesign, a lower price and a second model, Chevy hopes to sell a lot more. It has nearly 1,700 dealers who are already qualified to sell electric cars. In total, Chevrolet has about 3,000 dealers around the country and it expects more of them to sign up to sell electrics as it expands its EV lineup.
Speaking of electric vehicles, we have Jim Taylor, the CEO of ELMS, or Electric Last Mile Delivery, coming on Autoline After Hours this week. Jim has a tremendous automotive background, including time at Hummer, Cadillac, Workhorse and Karma. So join John and Gary to learn about one of the newest EV startups in the industry.
But that’s a wrap 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.