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0:08 Car Sales Tumble in Europe
0:42 Fiat Rewards New 500 Owners with Cryptocurrency
1:44 Kia Reveals More Stinger Details
3:14 Foxconn Looks to Build EVs In Wisconsin Or Mexico
3:53 Ford Opens Robotics Lab at University of Michigan
4:36 Magna Develops Electric Axle for Trucks
5:16 BMW Shows Off Production i4
6:28 Most of China’s EV Chargers Are Unusable
7:58 Ram Responds to Frustrated Viewer
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CAR SALES TUMBLE IN EUROPE
Car sales in Europe took another big tumble in February. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, new car registrations dropped 20% compared to a year ago. In January, sales plunged 26%, which was the worst January on record. Sales continue to fall in the region due to COVID lockdowns but this drop is alarming. The region will likely post big increases in the coming months compared to last year but only because of the sharp drop in sales at the outset of COVID lockdowns a year ago.
FIAT REWARDS NEW 500 OWNERS WITH CRYPTOCURRENCY
Tesla is not the only automaker getting involved in cryptocurrency. So, is Fiat. But rather than investing in it, Fiat teamed up with Kiri Technologies to reward customers for the New 500 in select European countries with its cryptocurrency, called KiriCoins. They’re earned based on driving style, including things like speed and distance. Remember the New 500 is electric only. It says when driving normally in the city, one kilometer is roughly equal to one KiriCoin, which is worth two euro cents. So, 10,000 kilometers a year is said to net the owner about 150 euros. The KiriCoin, which is viewed on the Fiat app can then be used in an exclusive marketplace to purchase products and services. Kiri in the future hopes to incentivize other green purchases, like renewable energy or products and create a whole community of people living a more sustainable lifestyle.
KIA REVEALS MORE STINGER DETAILS
The updated Kia Stinger debuted back in August but here’s a few fresh tidbits we didn’t have then. The base 2.0L turbo is being replaced by a 2.5L turbo that makes 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic and either rear- or all-wheel drive. That setup is capable of doing 0-60 MPH in 5.2 seconds. The 3.3L turbo V6 does the same sprint in 4.7 seconds. It sees a minor bump in horsepower and a new electronic variable exhaust system. There’s a number of technology and interior updates as well, which is highlighted by the new standard 10.25-inch center display screen. The 2022 Stinger arrives at dealers in the U.S. this spring.
FOXCONN LOOKS TO BUILD EVs IN WISCONSIN OR MEXICO
Bloomberg reports that Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, is looking at building an assembly plant for electric cars in either Wisconsin or Mexico. It dismissed reports that it will build EVs for Apple as “a rumor.” But the company confirmed it is talking with U.S. startups, although it didn’t name any. Foxconn previously announced deals to make electric cars with Fisker, Byton and Geely, probably in China. Foxconn also set a goal to assemble 10% of all EVs in the world, and says it could have a solid-state battery ready before 2024.
FORD OPENS ROBOTICS LAB AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Ford is opening a robotics lab at the University of Michigan. It’s going to embed 100 scientists and engineers there who will work on robotics technology for air, land, sea, space and for the human body. The goal is to create a “brain belt in robotics” and provide Ford with future talent. And the company wants that talent to be more diverse. There aren’t a lot of African Americans or women in the field. Ford also wants to make robots less scary for people. Pointing to sci-fi literature and movies that go back more than a century, Ken Washington, Ford’s CTO, said, “We’ve been afraid of robots before robots even existed.”
MAGNA DEVELOPS ELECTRIC AXLE FOR TRUCKS
The supplier Magna developed new technology to electrify trucks without having to modify current platforms. Called eBeam technology, it’s available in three variants with power ranging from 120 kW to 250 kW and can be integrated into existing trucks without the need for new suspension, chassis or brake systems. The electric axle is combined with a battery electric or hybrid powertrain system and is designed to maintain the towing and payload capability of pickups. It’s a relatively simple solution to get electrified trucks to market faster.
BMW SHOWS OFF PRODUCTION i4
Here’s a look at the production version of BMW’s all-new electric sedan that will launch sometime this year, the i4. There’s still not a whole lot of info to go on, BMW says more details are coming, but here’s what we can tell you. There will be a number of versions with ranges up to 590 kilometers (WLTP) and 300 miles (EPA). An M performance model will also be offered, which has 390 kW or 530 horsepower and does 0-100 km/h in around 4 seconds. Like we said, more to come soon.
MOST OF CHINA’S EV CHARGERS ARE UNUSABLE
China is way out in front of everyone when it comes to building a charging infrastructure for plug-ins. It brags about having 800,000 charging stations, compared to roughly 250,000 in Europe and 26,000 in the U.S. But during Volkswagen’s Power Day this week, when we learned about its global EV strategy, the head of VW’s R&D in China, Xu Peng said there are plenty of problems with China’s charging stations. Of the 800,000, fewer than 300,000 are actually usable. He said over 30% are usually blocked by ICE cars. And about 30% are defective. Moreover 81% of them are slower Level II AC chargers. Charging at home is not an option for almost half of all Chinese. Most of them live in apartments and don’t even have their own parking spot. But VW sees a huge opportunity with this. It’s opening its own fast charging network, called CAMS, and by 2025 it will have stations in most major Chinese cities.
Speaking of electric cars, we have Rob Mantinan, the program engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EUV coming on Autoline After Hours tomorrow. And if you’ve got any questions you’d like us to ask him, send them our way. You can tweet them to @Autoline, or send it firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAM RESPONDS TO FRUSTRATED VIEWER
Here’s a story that highlights how dealers need to do a better job educating their customers and why customers should take the time to learn about new features they might not be aware of. A viewer sent us a letter about a friend and neighbor who bought a new RAM 1500 4X4 with the off-road package and driver assist technology. This person attempted to back into some high grass and the system stopped the truck. They didn’t think there was a way to disable it and it ended up taking some time to maneuver out of the spot. We reached out to RAM and there’s a couple of fairly simple ways to shut off the Parksense Braking Assist feature. Not only is there a button right on the instrument panel, but a sub-menu in the infotainment screen that allows either just the braking to be turned off, or both it and the audio/visual warnings. Maybe the owner just thought those “P Off Back” and “P Off Front” buttons were some crazy new privacy feature that keeps you from getting arrested while using the bathroom around your truck?
And with that lame joke, we come to the end of today’s show. Thanks for watching and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
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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.