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0:08 Lordstown Motors Struggling to Survive
1:07 GM Cuts Stop/Start from Some Models
1:51 U.S. Senate Passes Big Bill to Boost Chip Production
2:20 VW Gets Huge Settlement from Former Top Executives
3:52 BMW Introduces New X3 & X4
5:19 Opel Reveals New Grandland CUV
6:06 Ferrari Hires New CEO
7:42 Nissan Makes Big Improvements to The Pathfinder
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
LORDSTOWN MOTORS STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE
Uh-oh, it sure looks like Lordstown Motors is not going to survive. Yesterday, it announced that it did not have enough money to go into production, even though it has $587 million in cash. It also has about $260 million in debt. The stock plunged 16% on the news. A couple of weeks ago, Lordstown said it would cut production to only 1,000 electric pickup trucks this year, so the fact it doesn’t even have enough cash to do that shows the desperate straits the company is in. Here’s our Autoline Insight. This is a warning to investors who bought into startups that have gone public through SPACs. Though SPACs allow a company quick access to equity markets, it also means unproven companies are now publicly traded. Lordstown looks like it’s going to be the first EV startup to fail. We’re pretty confident it will not be the last.
GM CUTS STOP/START FROM SOME MODELS
Last week, GM announced its increasing production and deliveries of some models affected by the chip shortage. But the automaker is still making sacrifices to keep production lines of its more popular vehicles running. It won’t equip some full-size trucks and SUVs with the stop/start function. It only affects vehicles with a 5.3L or 6.2L engine mated to 10-speed automatics. The models include the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado; the GMC Yukon and Sierra and the Cadillac Escalade. GM says the vehicles will suffer a slight decrease in fuel economy and customers will receive a $50 credit on the MSRP.
U.S. SENATE PASSES BIG BILL TO BOOST CHIP PRODUCTION
And speaking of the chip shortage, the U.S. Senate passed a bill yesterday aiming to bolster semiconductor manufacturing in the country. The legislation allocates $52 billion in emergency spending to incentivize domestic chip production. It’s part of a broader $250 billion bill to boost high-tech competitiveness with China. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for approval.
VW GETS HUGE SETTLEMENT FROM FORMER TOP EXECUTIVES
Last week, Volkswagen reached a settlement with its former CEO Martin Winterkorn over his role in the company’s diesel emission cheating scandal. Winterkorn agreed to pay about $13.6 million in damages. But the automaker is in line to get a lot more compensation from other former executives involved in the scandal. The company is set to receive 288 million euros or $351 million in a deal with former top execs and a consortium of insurance companies. That includes 4.1 million euros in damages from former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. The payments are related to an investigation launched by VW’s Supervisory Board back in 2015 to look into the causes of the diesel cheating. The scandal has cost VW more than 30 billion euros.
BMW INTRODUCES NEW X3 & X4
Production of the refreshed versions of the BMW X3 and X4 kick off in the U.S. this August. The updates are highlighted by fresh exterior styling. This includes a larger grille, thinner headlamps, massaged front and rear bumpers and new exhaust trim and rear taillamps. The headlamps and grilles are the same between both models, but different treatment around the grilles helps set them apart. Completely different taillamps even further set them apart. The one’s on the X4 look like a hockey stick laid on its side, while the X3’s kind of look like chopsticks for beginners. The interiors get some fresh treatment as well. The center console is right from the current 4 Series and display sizes range from 10.25 inches up to an optional 12.3-inch screen. Power will still come from a range of turbocharge 4- and 6-cylinder engines, but the 6-cylinders also add 48-volt hybrid technology. The performance M and M Competition versions of these crossovers will see an increase in torque, which lowers the 0-60 time by a few tenths of a second to 3.7 seconds for the Competition models. Starting price for the new X3 is about $45,000, including destination and the X4 starts at nearly $53,000.
OPEL REVEALS NEW GRANDLAND CUV
And BMW is not the only automaker with fresh product. Opel and Vauxhall revealed the new Grandland. While it very much looks like an evolution from the previous vehicle, it’s also heavily influenced by Opel and Vauxhall’s new design language, which was first shown off on the new Mokka. The interior of the Grandland is dominated by a large display that features two screens, of up to 10-inches, married together under one piece of glass. Opel calls this Pure Panel. There’s not a lot of detail about the powertrains, but it did say there will be more than one plug-in hybrid variant that can choose between front- and electric all-wheel drive. Deliveries of the new Grandland start this fall.
FERRARI HIRES NEW CEO
Ferrari has a new leader. It hired 52-year old Benedetto Vigna as its new chief executive, who will join the automaker on September 1st. Vigna is currently the head of the Sensor Group at the semiconductor firm STMicroelectronics. He replaces Louis Camilleri, who stepped down from the position in December due to personal reasons.
Automotive suppliers need to make the transition from ICE to EV, and even to AV. It doesn’t matter if they’re not involved in powertrains. They need to figure out how to take advantage of this transition. That’s what we’ll be talking about tomorrow on Autoline After Hours. Phil Eyler, the CEO of Gentherm and Martin Fischer, one of the board members at ZF are coming on the show. John and Gary invite you to join them as they get a first-hand report of all the turmoil going on in the industry from two executives who are going through it first-hand.
NISSAN MAKES BIG IMPROVEMENTS TO THE PATHFINDER
Nissan is making up for lost time with the Pathfinder. The outgoing model was outdated by today’s standards and needed a complete make-over. The new look starts with sleeker styling at the front end and carries down the sides with muscular accents added to the fenders. Inside, a 9-inch touch screen and a head up display help bring the Pathfinder into the digital age. Dimensionally, this 3-row SUV is almost the same size as the outgoing model. But the rear doors open wider, and the middle row seats can be slid and tipped forward even with child seats in them. That makes getting into the 3rd row much easier. Pop up the liftgate and you can slide 4-foot wide sections of plywood or drywall flat onto the floor. The 3.5 liter V6 is one of the few carry-over components but Nissan dropped the continuously variable transmission, or CVT, in favor of a 9-speed automatic. That increased the towing capacity to 6,000 pounds which is more than most of its competitors. The optional all-wheel-drive system now uses predictive coupling to the rear. In other words, it predicts wheel slip instead of waiting for wheel-slip to engage all four wheels. Out on the open road the Pathfinder is easy to drive. Though it’s big and wide, visibility is excellent. It accelerates lively, the brake pedal feels reassuring, and the steering is responsive for a big SUV. Nissan added more isolation materials and thicker glass, which makes the Pathfinder noticeably quieter. Pricing starts around $34,500 for the front wheel drive version and tops out around $47,200 for a fully loaded one. Add about $2,000 more for all-wheel-drive. That means the Pathfinder is priced under the Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, the Ford Explorer and the Kia Telluride. Nissan needs this kind of aggressive pricing. The company has been wandering aimlessly ever since the Carlos Ghosn debacle when Nissan turned on its own CEO. Since then sales and market share have been steadily dropping. But the new Pathfinder is the opening salvo in the turnaround plan they’re calling “Nissan Next.” We’ll soon know if things are going to plan because the Pathfinder hits the showrooms in the U.S. market at the end of July.
But that’s the end of today’s report, thanks for watching.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.