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0:08 Tesla’s China Sales Disputed
1:14 Former UAW President Sentenced to Prison
1:48 Marelli Develops Integrated EV Powertrain
3:18 China Pushes Battery Swapping Stations
4:13 Volkswagen Updates the Tiguan
5:42 Genesis Unveils Wagon Version of The G70
6:54 Daimler Bus Tests Mobile 3D Printing Stations
7:25 Ford Ranger Tremor Impressions
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TESLA’S CHINA SALES DISPUTED
Yesterday we reported that Tesla delivered 25,845 cars in China last month, down 27% from March. A bunch of you rushed to point out that the company exported over 14,000 cars from China to other markets. So some of you said that means Tesla’s total production figure in China was actually 40,000 cars. But we don’t know if that’s true because other reports say the figures we reported yesterday do include the export numbers. If that’s the case, Tesla only delivered about 11,600 cars to Chinese customers. But no one knows for sure, because the data out of China is ambiguous and Tesla isn’t saying anything. One reason for the drop may be that Tesla’s assembly plant in Shanghai was reportedly down for two weeks. But again, no one knows for sure. Whatever the case, investors did not like the uncertainty. Tesla stock dropped 2% on the news and is down 13% this month.
FORMER UAW PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO PRISON
Former UAW President Dennis Williams was sentenced to 21 months in prison for his role in the union’s corruption scandal. He also has to pay a $10,000 fine and $132,000 in restitution to the UAW. Williams was convicted of stealing union funds to pay for lavish gifts and vacations. The four-year investigation has resulted in 15 convictions along with the government installing a watchdog at the UAW for the next 6 years.
MARELLI DEVELOPS INTEGRATED EV POWERTRAIN
The supplier Marelli developed an integrated EV powertrain unit with Punch Motive International. This animation gives you a good idea of how the electric motor, the inverter, transmission and oil pump are integrated into a compact unit. Marelli says it’s scalable so it can be used in anything from sports cars to mid-size cars and it’s going to use it to manufacture e-axles for Europe and the Americas. These compact EV powertrains show why electric cars offer packaging efficiencies over cars with conventional IC engines and transmissions.
CHINA PUSHES BATTERY SWAPPING STATIONS
Better Place was the company that pioneered the idea of swapping batteries for electric cars and went bankrupt in 2013. But maybe it was just ahead of its time. In China, the national government, as well as municipal and provincial governments, are subsidizing swapping stations. Most Chinese live in apartments and don’t have a place to plug in overnight. That’s a deterrent to buying an EV. So swapping, which only takes a couple of minutes, helps overcome that reluctance. NIO even lets customers lease their batteries for $142 a month instead of paying for the entire thing up front. That lowers the cost of buying an EV. BAIC has deployed 20,000 taxis that have swappable battery packs, and SAIC, FAW, Geely and Changan are all involved in developing battery swapping stations.
VOLKSWAGEN UPDATES THE TIGUAN
Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the American market just got refreshed. The 2022 Tiguan features massaged front and rear bumpers, standard LED lighting as well as new wheel and paint options. It also comes with more modern materials, including cloth seats that are even available on higher trim levels, contrast stitching is an option, which extends into the 2nd row, and a digital cockpit is now standard. Other new technology includes the ability to adjust the radio volume or temperature control via a touch and/or slide motion. Just slide your finger up or down or tap on the icon to make a change. Haptic feedback is provided so you know when you push it and VW scalloped out the slider for the temperature control so your finger has a place to rest. We’ll be interested to test these features out while bouncing down the road to see if they really operate the way they should. But if the Tiguan seems more upscale to you, that’s exactly what VW is going for. The Taos, which is hitting the market soon, is a small crossover that will slot right below the Tiguan and VW wanted to create some separation between the two models. It also cut trim levels down to four because pricing of the Tiguan was creeping into Atlas territory as well. The new Tiguan is expected to hit dealers in Q3 of this year.
GENESIS UNVEILS WAGON VERSION OF THE G70
Earlier this month, Genesis announced it will begin selling vehicles in Europe for the first time this summer. And it’s already launching a model specifically for that market, a wagon version of the G70. Officially called the G70 Shooting Brake, it’s the same size as the sedan, except it has 40% more luggage space and the rear seats can split-fold into a 4:2:4 configuration. The company didn’t mention what powertrains are available for the wagon but we think it will likely be the same as the sedan. No word on pricing or launch date either.
DAIMLER BUS TESTS MOBILE 3D PRINTING STATIONS
Here’s something interesting. Daimler Bus is running a pilot test for mobile 3D printing. It fitted a storage container with all the necessary machines that are required to make 3D printed spare parts for its buses. The container can be transported on the back of a truck to any location, where all it needs is electricity and an internet connection. It will first be used at a bus service center in Germany with the hope that it reduces the time to get parts into customer hands.
FORD RANGER TREMOR IMPRESSIONS
Have you noticed what the ST trim line has done for Ford? Not only does it have more performance cred, the models also seem to sell quite well and Ford can charge more money for them. But now that consumers are switching from sedans to trucks and utilities, Ford is turning its attention to off-road performance. The Raptor has been the gold standard of factory off-roaders for some years now, it launched the new Timberline Explorer just the other day and offers the Tremor trim line as well. The latter was first offered on Ford’s Super Duty trucks but was adapted to the Ranger too and that’s the latest vehicle to roll through the Autoline Garage. It’s easy to see right off the bat why this vehicle would appeal to potential customers. It’s got the right look. Suspension height is up thanks, in part, to FOX shocks, the extra space in the wheel wells are filled up with unique 17-inch wheels with aggressive-looking tires and options like beefy side steps, red accents in the grille and bright orange paint like our tester had, makes the truck stick out even more. Other off-road goodies include skid plates, locking rear differential and a terrain management system. While all that stuff is good for off-roading, it translates to a bouncy, old-school-truck-like driving experience on the road. Although, I think if you’re buying a truck like this you’d already understand that. And speaking of the on-road driving experience, we find ourselves falling in love with Ford’s 2.3L EcoBoost engine. It’s got great power delivery with 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and puts out this nice guttural, almost aggressive, sound when you put your foot into it. I just wish we could have seen how the powertrain setup performed off-road as well. Oh well, something for another day. Ford charges nearly $4,300 for the Tremor package on the Ranger, which pushed the price of our top-of-the-line Lariat model to about $48,000.
What are the most anticipated new cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs for 2021? That’s going to be the topic on Autoline After Hours on Thursday. Not every new model has been introduced yet, but we’ve got a good idea of what’s on the way. So join John and Gary for a deep dive into a review of what’s new for 2021.
But that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching and we’ll be right back here again 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.