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0:08 Renault Develops Solutions to Help Put Out EV Fires Quickly
1:29 GM Launches Charging Service for Fleet Operators
2:08 Lordstown Now Being Investigated by The Feds
3:55 Lamborghini Sets Sales Record
4:47 Tesla’s Sales Soar in California
5:12 GM & Honda Making Progress on Slashing Fuel Cell Costs
7:47 Honda Open to EV Alliances
8:16 VW Beetle Replacements That Never Were
9:09 Aston Martin Introduces Valhalla Supercar
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
RENAULT DEVELOPS SOLUTIONS TO HELP PUT OUT EV FIRES QUICKLY
Did you hear about that Tesla that got in an accident in Texas and caught fire? It took firefighters 7 hours and 28,000 gallons of water to put it out. It’s not just Tesla. GM warned Bolt EV owners not to park their cars indoors, or to charge them unattended, because they could catch fire. If the auto industry doesn’t solve this problem with batteries catching fire, people are not going to want to buy an EV. While it doesn’t solve the problem, Renault is working with rescue workers to get people out of burning EVs quickly, and put out the flames fast. It came up with a couple of unique solutions that it’s designing into its cars. One is called the “Fireman Access,” which is a special access port where first responders can pump water directly into the heart of the battery. It says it can cut the time to extinguish a battery fire from 3 hours, down to just 5 minutes. It’s also placing QR code stickers on the windshield that, when scanned, will tell rescue workers if it’s a hybrid or battery electric, where the battery is located or what areas of the vehicle are safe to cut. Renault says this alone can cut 15 minutes from the time it takes to remove someone from a wreck. And that could save a life.
GM LAUNCHES CHARGING SERVICE FOR FLEET OPERATORS
Battery fires are not the only thing that will hold back EV adoption. So is the lack of a charging infrastructure. So, GM is launching a new charging service, called Ultium Charge 360, that’s designed specifically for fleets. It will help customers identify what energy providers are available, where they have charging stations, as well as other tools and resources needed to operate a fleet of electrics. Since most commercial vehicles travel the same daily routes and park in the same yard every night, it’s going to be easier for them to convert to electric than it will be for retail customers.
LORDSTOWN NOW BEING INVESTIGATED BY THE FEDS
Speaking of electrics, things are looking bleak for Lordstown Motors. First the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the EV startup. Now it’s the Feds. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating its vehicle pre-order claims and its merger with DiamondPeak Holdings. Back in March, the SEC launched a probe into the company after Hindenburg Research, an investment research firm, accused it of misleading investors about its pre-orders. In June, Lordstown warned investors it did not have enough cash to last to the end of the year. Then its CEO and CFO resigned. And now with this. Makes you wonder if this company can even survive.
LAMBORGHINI SETS SALES RECORD
Looks like somebody forgot to tell Lamborghini that there’s a chip shortage going on. It just reported its best sales ever for the first half of the year. 6% higher than the same period in 2019. It sold 4,582 vehicles, and over half were the Urus SUV. Production is sold out for the next 10 months and more new products are on the way. The Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae just launched. That’s the last naturally aspirated V-12 Lambo is going to build. In a couple of months, it’s coming out with the Huracán STO, a road-legal supercar, and Huracán GT3 EVO. And then–very mysteriously–Lamborghini says another new product will be unveiled.
TESLA’S SALES SOAR IN CALIFORNIA
Talk to anyone in California and they’ll tell you the state is saturated with Teslas. They’re everywhere. And yet, sales keep on soaring. Reuters reports that Tesla saw its sales jump 85% in the Golden State in the second quarter. That’s thanks to the Model Y hitting the market, which accounted for half of all the Teslas sold.
GM & HONDA MAKING PROGRESS ON SLASHING FUEL CELL COSTS
Fuel cells could provide a great alternative to batteries to power electric vehicles. But they’re too expensive. For now, at least. On Autoline After Hours yesterday, Charlie Freese, the head of GM Hydrotec, talked about the progress they’re making with Honda to slash the cost of making fuel cells. Take a look.
“Some examples are, the precious metal that went into making that stack work in the Equinox, there were 80 grams of platinum in that system. So that’s expensive. And we brought that down in the Gen One system that came after that, we took that down to about 27 grams of platinum. Still too expensive, but that’s a dramatic reduction. And this was for a system that would produce about the same amount of power but the system also got a lot smaller, it got to about half the size, half the mass. So now you’re sitting with something that doesn’t need a big Equinox to haul it around, you can get it into a passenger car if you want to with something that small. And then we went one more step beyond that with the Gen Two system, that’s the one we’re actually commercializing with Honda, and that system actually gets us down below 20 grams of platinum. And we’re testing systems in the lab that get down to 7.”
“Also things like taking the bipolar plates that were a composite, graphite material. They were thick, expensive, brittle. Instead we went to a stamped metal design. So you can think about making that as something very thin, so the whole stack gets smaller. And that looks like a head gasket. So we know how to do head gaskets.”
There’s a lot of skepticism online about fuel cells. But that mainly comes from videos of opinionated, self-appointed experts. Autoline is one of the few sources you’ll find online that actually gets industry executives to come on the show to talk about what they’re working on.
HONDA OPEN TO EV ALLIANCES
Honda, a company known for doing things on its own, formed a partnership with GM on EVs, AVs and fuel cells. And now the company’s CEO says they’re open to forming alliances with anyone who can help them cut the cost of EVs and get them on the road. While Honda is still a leader in hybrids, it sure looks to us that it realized it was behind other automakers in the battery electric game and has to catch up fast.
VW BEETLE REPLACEMENTS THAT NEVER WERE
The original Volkswagen Beetle stayed pretty much the same for over half a century. But did you know that VW toyed with the idea of replacements for the wildly popular bug? In a neat little Throw Back Thursday post, VW highlighted the vehicles that were considered as replacements, but for a number of reasons didn’t make it to production. The first attempts started in 1955 and interestingly a good deal of the prototypes were designed by Ghia, so you’ll see some resemblance to the Karmann Ghia in a few. One concept, called the EA276 that was designed in 1969 turned out to be the inspiration for the original Golf/Rabbit. It’s kind of cool to see what could have been and if you’d like to see the whole story we’ll provide a link in the transcript and description box below.
ASTON MARTIN INTRODUCES VALHALLA SUPERCAR
Aston Martin revealed its newest supercar, a plug-in hybrid, called the Valhalla. Weight is respectable for a PHEV. Under 3,500 pounds. That’s thanks to a lot of carbon fiber. Aston also tipped its hat to its partnership with Daimler. The Valhalla was originally supposed to have an in-house turbocharged 3.0L V6, but instead it features a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 from AMG that makes about 740 horsepower. Two electric motors bump total output to nearly 940 horsepower. All that is fed through an 8-speed DCT. The Valhalla is capable of doing 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. And while it is a plug-in, its EV-only range is a paltry 9 miles, so it’s really all about performance. Aston calls this a series production car, but we’re guessing that series is pretty limited.
That brings us to an end for this week. Thanks for watching and I hope you have a great weekend.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.