Listen to “AD #3040 – Toyota Unveils Aygo X prologue Concept; Lordstown Under SEC Investigation; Hyundai Reveals STARIA Van” on Spreaker.
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0:08 China Bans Tesla Cars from Military Facilities
0:55 Lordstown Under SEC Investigation
1:45 Foxconn In Talks with VinFast About EV Partnership
3:03 Toyota Unveils Aygo X prologue Concept
3:55 Hyundai Reveals STARIA Van
4:57 Shell & Hyundai Expand Clean Energy Partnership
5:26 Wuling Launches 1st Pickup Truck
6:39 Acura MDX A-Spec Impressions
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHINA BANS TESLA CARS FROM MILITARY FACILITIES
Tesla cars are now banned from Chinese military bases over concerns about the vehicle’s built-in cameras collecting sensitive data. Bloomberg reports that owners now have to park their cars outside of military property. The military is worried that they can’t see or control the data being collected and that the cameras may “expose locations.” It’s also concerned about the company’s Full-Self Driving beta program, which contributed to the ban. However, none of the cameras on Teslas sold in China are turned on or being used for the FSD beta trial. Tesla isn’t the only automaker that equips cameras in its vehicles, so it’s curious to see that it’s being singled out.
LORDSTOWN UNDER SEC INVESTIGATION
It didn’t take long for the U.S. SEC to catch wind of Hindenburg’s claims against Lordstown. The commercial EV startup confirmed the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into allegations it misled investors. Hindenburg Research, the same company that made similar claims against Nikola, calls Lordstown Motors’ 100,000 pre-orders, which it used to raise capital, “mostly fictitious” and claims it has manufacturing issues that will push the start of production back by years. Lordstown’s stock took another hit with the revelation of the SEC probe. But it denies the allegations and even released a video on its YouTube channel a few days after the Hindenburg report showing robots welding Beta truck bodies and making batteries.
FOXCONN IN TALKS WITH VINFAST ABOUT EV PARTNERSHIP
Foxconn is on a tear through the automotive industry. It recently inked deals to make EVs with Fisker, Geely, Byton and now it’s trying to reel in Vietnamese automaker VinFast. Reuters reports the companies are in early talks about developing batteries and EV parts. No final decision has been made yet. But VinFast sold about 30,000 vehicles last year. It plans to deliver its first EVs by the end of the year and also produces electric bikes and buses. For its part, Foxconn hopes to provide components or services to 10% of the world’s EV makers by 2025.
TOYOTA UNVEILS AYGO X PROLOGUE CONCEPT
Toyota unveiled a funky looking concept of its Aygo compact car. Called the Aygo X prologue, it was created by the company’s European design studio for the European market. This is a design concept, so no details about its powertrain or any technology. As you can see it features pretty expressive styling. The front-end looks like it has a big grin, thanks to the shape of its headlights. It’s equipped with larger wheels than the current model to give the driver a better view of the road. It has a couple of neat features like a bicycle-holder mount, that’s housed with the rear skid plate. And GoPro like cameras are integrated into the door mirrors, so owners can record their driving experience. It’s a cool looking concept but if this does make it into production, the styling will likely be toned down a bit.
HYUNDAI REVEALS STARIA VAN
We’ve got more info on that wild STARIA van we showed the other day from Hyundai. As you can see, without the pictures blacked out, body-color extends almost around the entire vehicle. Hyundai thinks that makes its style look more modern and pure. It will also distinguish higher-end models with unique touches, like the grille pattern, 18-inch diamond graphic wheels and the rear taillamps seen on this light-colored model. The instrument cluster is mounted high on the dash, while a 10.25-inch screen floats in the center and the driver shifts gears with a button-type selector. The STARIA will be available in 2-, 7-, 9- and 11-seat configurations, which includes 180-degree swivel functions in 9-seat models and “high-end relaxation” captain chairs in some 7-seat vans. Hyundai says this is just a preview of the kinds of space innovations we will see with its future Purpose Built Vehicles.
HYUNDAI & SHELL EXPAND CLEAN ENERGY PARTNERSHIP
In other Hyundai news, it’s expanding a partnership its had with Shell since 2005 to now include clean mobility solutions. The 5-year deal plans to provide specialized service for mobility companies, primarily in Asia as well as EV charging. The two could also look into developing eFluids, which would be unique to EVs. It’s all about reducing emissions while responding to market changes.
WULING LAUNCHES 1ST PICKUP TRUCK
Chinese automaker Wuling launched its first pickup truck, the Zhengtu. It’s kind of a goofy-looking truck with largely flat body panels and teeny-tiny 14-inch wheels, but has a lot of versatility with bed sides that fold down. For a size comparison, its wheelbase is about 4-inches shorter than a standard Chevy Colorado, but it’s nearly 10-inches narrower. The truck features a 99-horsepower 1.5L gas engine that only drives the rear wheels. Prices for the Zhengtu start just over $9,000 or about 7,500 euros.
ACURA MDX A-SPEC IMPRESSIONS
One of Acura’s most important vehicles, the MDX, recently came through the Autoline garage. We drove the A-Spec version, which carries a starting price just under $60,000 including destination charges. Some of the things that make the A-Spec unique are a black grille surround, black headlight and taillight trim and black mirror housings. Inside, it comes with red-stitching and metal paddle shifters and pedals. Plus, there is A-Spec badging all around.
Powering the SUV is the company’s tried and true 3.5L V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. This is a fairly big vehicle, which is one reason its fuel economy is rated 21 MPG combined, but the engine provides enough power to get up and move when you need it. The ride is comfortable and it handles Michigan’s bumpy roads just fine. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, click into the sport driving mode, which makes the vehicle more responsive to throttle inputs. But we also felt like the ride was bouncier. It’s a fun mode to use every once in a while, but not something you’ll likely use every day. One thing we did not like is the touchpad interface that’s used to control the infotainment system. It takes some getting used to and while a palm pad improves ergonomics, we prefer a rotary dial.
The new MDX just went on sale at the beginning of February. And while it’s early, customers seem to like it, sales were up 40% last month. And it was the only model in Acura’s lineup to post a gain.
But with that we wrap up today’s show, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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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.