Listen to “AD #3037 – Chip Shortage Hurts GM's Fuel Economy; BMW Reveals New iDrive System; Review of Lincoln's Nautilus” on Spreaker.
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0:07 Chip Shortage Hurts GM’s Fuel Economy
0:50 Chip Shortage Costs VW 100,000 Units in Production
1:15 Details of VW’s Power Day
2:17 Investors Liked VW’s Battery & EV Announcements
3:11 Ford Adds More Family Members to Board
4:32 Ford Reveals New F-150 Police Truck
5:14 BMW Details New iDrive System
7:41 Lincoln Nautilus Impressions
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHIP SHORTAGE IMPACTS GM’S FUEL ECONOMY
The global semiconductor shortage is now putting a slight dent in GM’s fuel economy. The automaker is building full-size pickups equipped with its 5.3L EcoTec V8 engine without a fuel management module due to the shortage of chips. Because of that, the fuel economy for those trucks will drop by one mile per gallon. However, GM says that it won’t have a major impact on its corporate average fuel economy but it did not reveal how many models will be affected. This shows just how important pickups are to GM, if it’s willing to sacrifice fuel economy to keep them rolling down the line.
CHIPS SHORTAGE COSTS VW 100,000 UNITS OF PRODUCTION
And speaking of that chip shortage, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said the automaker has built 100,000 fewer vehicles due to the shortage and that it won’t be able to make up that lost production this year. Most experts believe the supply of semiconductors will return to normal by the second half of the year but it will be tough in the short term for automakers to weather the storm.
DETAILS OF VW’S POWER DAY
And in other VW news, the company held its first Power Day yesterday, an event where it laid out its roadmap for batteries and electrification. By 2030, it plans to have six gigafactories in Europe, with a total production capacity of 240 GWh per year. It’s developing a new battery cell it plans to launch in 2023, that it says will help drive down the cost of battery systems to below 100 euros per kWh. It plans to install that cell in 80% of all EVs in the VW Group by 2030. It’s also planning to operate about 18,000 public fast charging stations in Europe by 2025, with several partners, which is five times larger than its network today. Those are some of the highlights of its Power Day. With this new plan in place, VW says its goal is to become the number one EV maker in the world by 2025.
INVESTORS LIKE VW’S BATTERY & EV ANNOUNCEMENTS
Investors liked what Volkswagen had to say about the future of EV batteries. But they didn’t exactly go crazy over the news. VW was up 7%, and Quantumscape, the California startup that VW is working with to develop solid state batteries, posted a similar gain.
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FORD BRINGS MORE FAMILY MEMBERS ON BOARD
The Ford Motor Company is adding two Ford family members to the board: Alexandra Ford English who is 33 years old and the daughter of Bill Ford, and Henry Ford III, who is 40 and the son of Edsel Ford. That generated some snarky comments online having family members run the company, but you have to remember that Ford is not the only car company where families play a big role. The Volkswagen Group is controlled by the Porsche and Piech families. BMW is controlled by the Quandts. The Agnellis hold a major interest in Stellantis, and so does the Peugeot family. The Toyoda and Suzuki families are still involved in the auto industry. The Chung family controls the Hyundai Group and Tata, which owns Jaguar Land Rover, is also family owned. Pity the poor Honda family. Founder Soichiro Honda banned family members from ever joining the company. And the Renault family would love to get back in the action, but they lost control after World War II because Louis Renault collaborated a little too much with the Nazis. Even so, can you think of any other major industry that has so much family control? We can’t think of one.
FORD INTRODUCES NEW F-150 POLICE TRUCK
Speaking of Ford, with an all-new F-150 coming out it was only a matter of time before we saw a new Police truck and today is that day. Here’s what’s new. Top speed increases to 120 miles-per-hour and it features an automatic 4-wheel drive mode that improves performance and handling. It’s available with a Police Engine Idle feature that allows the key to be removed but without losing power to the lights and siren. Rounding out the list of improvements is something all F-150s get, Ford’s new SYNC 4 infotainment system. Orders for the new F-150 Police Responder open tomorrow.
BMW DETAILS ALL-NEW iDRIVE SYSTEM
BMW revealed the all-new version of iDrive operating system. Let’s start with the basics. The system will first be offered in the all-electric iX, which comes out later this year. That vehicle features a curved display that pairs together a 12.3 inch instrument cluster and 14.9 inch infotainment screen. Current owners will probably be quick to notice a new user interface design within the displays. BMW said it cut down the number of buttons and switches by half and expanded the role of its Personal Assistant. More functions can be controlled by voice command and the Assistant can communicate with the driver via light spheres of different sizes and brightnesses. Actually, lighting is going to play a larger role going forward. BMW even uses a lighting sequence when approaching the vehicle, which includes a light carpet that leads the way to the door. Once inside, BMW says customers will rarely have to adjust the climate control setting. Vehicles will now feature climate zones for each passenger that once set are automatically adjusted by the Intelligent Climate Control system. It’s able to detect how many passengers in the vehicle and then change temp and fan speed, turn on or off the seat heater or ventilator as well as the heated steering wheel. What’s great is many of these settings can be stored in a personal ID then transferred to other BMWs. Lastly, we’ll talk about OTA capabilities. It already has them, but they’re expanding too and will include the ability to update driver assistant and self driving features.
NAUTILUS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF LINCOLN’S STRATEGY
Lincoln has essentially completed its transition to a brand that only sells luxury SUVs. And the Nautilus is a good example of how Lincoln’s strategy is rolling out. It’s a 4-door, 5-passenger vehicle that, at $42,000, comes standard with a 2-liter turbo four, which generates 250 horsepower. But the $65,000 Black Label version we tested had the optional 2.7 liter V6 that produces 335 horses with 380 pound feet of torque. Those are impressive numbers, but Lincoln is not trying to attract customers with dazzling performance. Instead, it wants to entice them with the allure of luxury.
The cabin is very well appointed, with rich looking materials that accent and compliment each other, and are soothing on the eyes. It has the requisite center screen that is not the largest in the market but is easy to navigate and responsive to your touch. It offers decent levels of connectivity, including the 4th generation of Sync which does not require you to plug your phone in to use Android Auto or Apple Car Play. And it lets you use your phone to unlock and start the car.
Out on the open road the Nautilus is quiet and responsive. Power comes on at the slightest touch to the pedal and thanks to all that torque, there’s almost never a need to tax the engine. The suspension is reasonably soft without being mushy, and it’s reasonably maneuverable for a vehicle of this size.
All these attributes tie in Lincoln’s new tagline: Quiet Luxury. Rather than try to out German the Germans, Lincoln is offering vehicles to customers who would rather be isolated from the road rather than trying to feel it.
So is it working? To a degree, yes. Lincoln has not lost any market share in the last year, but it hasn’t gained any either. To be fair, that’s the same story for almost every other luxury brand. And in this competitive segment, just holding onto what you’ve got is something of a victory.
And don’t forget to join us for Autoline After Hours this Thursday when our guest will be Rob Mantinan, the program manager for the new Chevy Bolt EUV. If you have any questions about that vehicle send them to email@example.com.
But that’s a wrap for today, thanks for watching and we’ll 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.