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0:08 Has the Bubble Burst for EV Startups?
0:49 New EV Startup Shows Off Electric Pickup
1:40 Arrival Unveils New Commercial Van
2:40 Tesla Expands Number of FSD Beta Users
4:21 Mercedes Repurposes Another Engine Plant
4:54 Nissan Updates Rogue After Poor Crash Rating
5:19 Ford & Argo AI Share AV Update
6:10 Harley-Davidson Launches CPO Program
7:05 Phillips 66 Says EV Charging Not Cost Competitive at Stations
8:31 Classifying Plug-In Hybrids as EVs Is Misleading
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HAS THE BUBBLE BURST FOR EV STARTUPS?
Like they say, what goes up must come down. A month ago, EV startups were the darlings of Wall Street. Now? Not so much. They’ve all taken a big hit. Tesla’s stock is down more than $300 a share. But on a percentage basis, Tesla is doing better than everyone else except for Fisker. All the EV makers are down by double digits, and most of them have lost about half their value. Now the question is: are we just in a correction after a big run-up in price? Or is this a sign that the bubble has burst? We’ll have to wait to see what the market is telling us.
|EV STOCK PRICE CHANGE SINCE 2021 PEAK|
NEW EV STARTUP SHOWS OFF ELECTRIC PICKUP
Speaking of EV startups, we have another one to add to the list. It’s called Mazibuko Motors, and while it may sound Japanese, it’s actually from South Africa. So far it’s only in the concept phase, but it’s got a good looking skateboard and the specs aren’t bad. A 500-kW motor. That’s just over 600 horsepower. A 120-kWh battery pack with 400 kilometers of range. That’s about 250 miles. 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. Mazibuko is looking for help. It’s kicking off a crowdfunding campaign. And, oh by the way, while we would call this a pick-up, they call it a bakkie, which is the South African term for a small van or truck.
ARRIVAL UNVEILS NEW COMMERCIAL VAN
And the EV startups just keep on rolling. Arrival, which has a 10,000 unit order from UPS, unveiled a new commercial van. Simply called the Van, it’s built on an aluminum platform and made with proprietary composite body panels to save weight. It’s available in four lengths and three heights. Four battery options are also offered, which vary between 67 kWh to 133 kWh. That translates to a range between 112 miles and 211 miles based on the WLTP cycle. Other features include, heated seating, independent front and rear suspension, a 15.6-inch touchscreen on the inside, plus a number of active safety systems. Arrival will perform public road tests with customers this summer while full production of the Van won’t kick off until the third quarter of 2022.
TESLA EXPANDS NUMBER OF FSD BETA USERS
Tesla is giving more owners access to its Full Self-Driving beta package. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that it’s doubling the number of users for its new 8.2 software and will “probably” expand the number by 10 times, when it introduces the 8.3 version. The company rolled out FSD last October but only to about 1,000 select customers. Last week, Musk confirmed that it will launch a subscription service for FSD sometime in the second quarter of the year.
MERCEDES REPURPOSES ANOTHER ENGINE PLANT
Last week, Mercedes announced plans to convert an engine plant in Berlin to a site that will test new production methods to use in the future. And now it’s repurposing a different powertrain plant in Germany to research, develop and produce electric drive and battery technology, including lithium-ion cells. It’s interesting that Mercedes wants to find a second life for plants that might not be needed in the future. And we wouldn’t be surprised to see more automakers do the same thing.
NISSAN UPDATES ROGUE AFTER POOR CRASH RATING
We’ve got a quick update to the recent story about how the new Nissan Rogue got a 2-star rating from NHTSA in the front passenger-side crash test. Nissan confirmed it’s aware of the issue, which affects models made in Japan before January 28th, and has updated the vehicle’s front passenger restraint system. It says the Rogue will be tested again in May.
FORD & ARGO AI SHARE AV UPDATE
Ford and Argo AI revealed some of the progress they’ve made testing self-driving services in the Miami area over the last three years. At first, they were using simulated self-driving vehicles that were manually driven to deliver goods, food and other products. Now, they’re making deliveries autonomously in test vehicles. They’ve established a network of facilities to make sure its fleet is fueled, serviced, cleaned, sanitized, and calibrated. And finally, Ford and Argo have expanded the areas in Miami where they’re testing vehicles. The next phase is to integrate Escape Hybrids into the self-driving fleet. Currently they’re using Fusion Hybrids. The goal is to launch a ride hailing and delivery service in the area sometime in the near future.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON LAUNCHES CPO PROGRAM
For the last six years in a row, Harley-Davidson lost market share in North America, but it plans to bring fresh, new buyers to the brand by selling them used bikes. It’s launching a CPO program, called H-D Certified in April and over 300 dealers have already expressed interest to participate. The bikes would be no more than 5 years old with up to 25,000 miles and after going through an inspection are backed by a 12-month limited warranty. Not only can selling used vehicles help build brand loyalty and attract new customers, they also tend to get purchased faster and dealers don’t have to focus as much on new entry-level, lower priced models. It’s a move that should work out for Harley. According to JD Power, it was the most sought after brand in the used bike market last year.
PHILLIPS 66 SAYS EV CHARGING NOT COST COMPETITIVE AT STATIONS
Putting EV charging at gas stations seems to make a lot of sense, but not all companies are behind that idea. Less than 2% of U.S. refiner Phillips 66’s locations in the U.S. and Europe have the capability and its chief economist says one of the reasons is that it’s “awfully expensive” compared to what a customer would pay, charging at home. Here’s what we have to say to that. Well, no duh. I think anyone would understand that they have to pay more for electricity using someone else’s facility and equipment. So, that seems like a bit of a lame excuse. But here’s a quote that’s more telling. The economist said, “There’s not a fleet out there today to keep the chargers running at a rate that would support economically putting it in more of the facilities.” That we buy. Add in that EVs still make up a small percentage of the overall market and refiners, like Phillips 66, aren’t willing to make the investment yet.
Coming up next, John has something to say about plug-in hybrids being classified as EVs.
CLASSIFYING PLUG-IN HYBRIDS AS EVs IS MISLEADING
Many electric car proponents classify plug-in hybrids as EVs I think they do that to make it look like more EVs are getting sold than what’s actually happening.
Plug-in hybrids have an internal combustion engine. They have a gas tank, they have an exhaust pipe. They have everything an internal combustion engine car has, except they also have a battery that you can plug in. And you have some limited range when you can drive in electric mode.
But there’s a reason why the industry calls them plug-in hybrids. It’s because they’re hybrids. And any attempt to classify them as EVs is misleading. There’s nothing wrong with plug-in hybrids. Just don’t call them electric cars.
We’re going to have a great show about how car companies do product planning. Our special guest will be Mike O’Brien who worked at both Toyota and Hyundai. So join Gary and me on Autoline After Hours this Thursday for some of the best insights into how the auto industry works.
That’s it for today, see you 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.