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0:08 Lordstown Motors’ CEO & CFO Resign
0:30 Hong Guang MINI EV #1 In China Again
1:14 Average Vehicle Age Increases
2:46 Lexus Unveils All-New NX
4:06 Toyota Introduces New Multimedia System
4:46 China’s NIO Expands into Europe
5:58 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Won’t Please Enthusiasts
7:41 Honda To Develop Technology to Sustain Human Life in Space
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
LORDSTOWN MOTORS’ CEO & CFO RESIGN
The situation at Lordstown Motors is going from bad to worse. Last week the EV startup warned investors that it did not have enough cash to get to the end of the year. This morning, the CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez, resigned from the company. Reuters reports that Lordstown is now looking for a new CEO.
HONG GUANG MINI EV #1 IN CHINA AGAIN
Meanwhile, in China, that Hong Guang MINI EV from Wuling keeps on rocking the sales charts. Last month, almost 30,000 customers snapped them up. In fact, it even outsold the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y combined. Wuling hit a home run with the little EV that only costs a little more than $4,000. And a smaller, 2-seat model will debut later this year. But it’s not just the cheap price that is propelling sales. It’s highly customizable with bright color accents and decals that’s become a favorite of young women in China. For them it’s almost become a fashion accessory, and that is a marketing dream for any car company.
AVERAGE VEHICLE AGE INCREASES
Automakers keep making better cars and trucks and customers keep holding onto them longer. IHS Markit reports that the average vehicle in the U.S. is now 12.1 years old, which is 2 months longer than before the pandemic hit. Interestingly, 15 million vehicles were scrapped last year, the highest rate in a couple of decades. That should have dragged down the average age, but sales were down last year, so fewer new vehicles came into the mix. Now the chip shortage is hurting new car sales. The average car is getting older because people are driving less and are holding onto the cars they have. IHS Markit says this is great news for the aftermarket, which should see good growth over the next 5 years. It also reports there are 279 million vehicles in operation in the U.S., including nearly 1 million electric vehicles.
LEXUS UNVEILS ALL-NEW NX
Compact crossovers are one of the hottest segments right now and Lexus premiered the all-new NX. It now rides on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, which not only provides a stiffer body and better handling, but also the benefit of new, advanced powertrains. There’s a new 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pairs to an 8-speed automatic and electronically-controlled AWD. The other available engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5L that is also used in hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, a first ever for Lexus. An 8-speed auto and AWD are available on those setups as well. The plug-in features an 18.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and while Lexus didn’t provide a range, it says the NX will have class-leading EV range. Automakers are always saying that concept vehicles hint at future design and you can see that on the interior of the NX. It was inspired by the driver-focused cockpit of the LF-30 Electrified Concept and also features a customizable head-up display. There’s a lot more info on the new NX and we’ll provide a link in the transcript and description box if you’d like to learn more.
TOYOTA INTRODUCES NEW MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
Sticking with Toyota for a moment, it’s introducing its new user experience system in North America. It’s 5-times faster than before and is connected, which allows for over-the-air updates. That also makes Navigation faster and more accurate. The infotainment screen, which will range in size from 8- to 14-inches, features new designs and functionality. A new Virtual Assistant, through voice commands, is meant to be the primary way the user interacts with the system. The new system will first be available on the all-new Lexus NX we just showed you, which launches in the 4th quarter of this year in North America.
CHINA’S NIO EXPANDS INTO EUROPE
Chinese EV maker NIO just got a big boost with its ES8 SUV officially approved for sale in Europe. The automaker’s flagship model goes on sale in Norway in September, its first overseas market. From there NIO will push into other European markets. It will offer the vehicle through a direct sales and service network and even plans to open battery swapping stations in Norway, like it has in China. NIO joins a growing list of Chinese automakers in Europe, including Xpeng, BYD and Aiways.
TOYOTA COROLLA HATCHBACK WON’T PLEASE ENTHUSIASTS
Almost every enthusiast loves a hot hatchback. We were thrilled when the Hyundai Veloster N rolled through the Autoline Garage a couple of weeks ago. Its hair-trigger acceleration, knife-edge handling, and rotor-biting brakes left us longing for a day at the track. A week after that we were in the superbly balanced Golf GTI, a masterpiece of hot hatch engineering, and a benchmark in the field. So we were eager to sample Toyota’s entry in the segment, the Corolla Hatchback XSE. With 18-inch blacked-out wheels, blacked out trim and rear roof spoiler, it certainly looks the part. Better still, we got the 6-speed manual instead of the CVT. But the instant you slide into the driver’s seat, it’s obvious there’s not a lot of hot in this hatch. The seats are soft and spongy, with minimally intrusive bolsters. The naturally aspirated, 2-liter engine starts quietly without a ripple or a pop. With only 168 horses on tap, acceleration is very mainstream, and it corners with comfort in mind, not lap times. The manual transmission must have the longest throw in the business, while heel-and-toe shifting is simply a study in frustration. In short, the XSE is not a car for hard core enthusiasts. But it is a decent vehicle. It’s quiet, comfortable, will deliver fuel economy in the low 30’s, and starts around $24,000. For those that like the look that will be enough to lure them in, while the hard core will just keep on looking.
HONDA TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGY TO SUSTAIN HUMAN LIFE IN SPACE
Honda and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are partnering to do a feasibility study on a “circular renewable energy system” in space. It’s designed to provide oxygen, hydrogen and electricity to human outposts and rovers. The technology combines a high differential pressure water electrolysis system and a fuel cell system. The electrolysis system uses solar energy and electrolyzes water to produce oxygen and hydrogen. The idea is to be able to explore a lunar or planetary surface without having to rely on supplies from earth. Honda and JAXA plan to release the results of the study in the next fiscal year.
Want to learn about the future plans for Alfa Romeo? So do we. That’s why we’ve got Larry Dominique, the head of Alfa Romeo North America coming on Autoline After Hours this Thursday afternoon. So join John and Gary as they let you listen in to the top executives in the automotive industry.
But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.