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0:07 Texas the Front Runner for 2nd Rivian Plant
0:40 Elon Musk Tries to Speed Up German Plant Assembly
1:16 Foxconn Wants Several U.S. EV Manufacturing Plants
1:42 NIO Plans New Mass-Market Brand
2:59 Toyota Helps Take Stress Out of Accidents
3:44 Pininfarina Shows Off Production Battista
4:27 Ford GT Heritage Edition Pays Homage to Original Prototype
6:08 New Frontier Moves to Head of the Class
8:45 Electric Silverado Getting 4-Wheel Steering
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
We start out today covering all the action involving the rapid growth of EV manufacturing with new assembly plants in the works.
TEXAS THE FRONT RUNNER FOR 2ND RIVIAN PLANT
It looks like EV startup Rivian is closing in on a location for its second plant in the U.S. According to Bloomberg, it’s in talks to invest $5 billion to build a factory near Fort Worth, Texas. Other locations are still under consideration but Texas is the front runner. The plant will have a capacity to build 200,000 vehicles a year.
ELON MUSK WANTS TO SPEED UP GERMAN PLANT CONSTRUCTION
Meanwhile Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited Germany yesterday and met with local leaders to jolt them into action. He wants them to speed up the approval of Tesla’s assembly plant near Berlin. That production schedule is falling behind thanks to red tape and resistance from environmental activists. Tesla already delayed the opening until the end of the year but that could get delayed further. Tesla is spending nearly $7 billion to build the plant and Elon Musk must be fuming that it’s not ready yet.
FOXCONN PLANNING SEVERAL U.S. PLANTS
We know that Hon Hai, better known at Foxconn, is going to build cars for Fisker. We’ve been expecting Foxconn to announce its going to build an assembly plant in Wisconsin. But it looks like the contract manufacturer has bigger plans. It says it’s going to build several EV assembly plants in the U.S. And that suggests that it’s going to build cars for other EV startups and not just Fisker.
NIO PLANS NEW MASS-MARKET BRAND
Chinese EV startup NIO plans on launching an all-new brand to sell mass-market vehicles. The company’s chairman and CEO says the relationship between the two brands will be similar to Audi-Volkswagen and Lexus-Toyota. While the new brand will sell more affordable EVs, it won’t compete with the Wuling Hong Guang MINI EV that’s tearing up the sales charts in China. But it does say it will price the EVs lower than what Tesla charges.
TOYOTA HELPS TAKE STRESS OUT OF ACCIDENTS
It’s no fun getting into an accident, but Toyota is trying to take a little stress out of the situation. It’s launching a new Collision Assistance tool within its mobile app that helps customers figure out what to do after an accident. After the driver confirms they’re safe and not hurt, the app will guide them through gathering relevant accident data, connect them with insurers and help locate a repair facility. Collision Assistance is part of the Safety Connect suite of features in the Toyota and Lexus apps, which is free for a trial period, but requires a subscription after that. And Toyota hopes services like these are useful enough to customers that it compels them to sign up.
PININFARINA SHOWS PRODUCTION BATTISTA
Pininfarina is showing off the production version of its new electric supercar, the Battista. It’s powered by four electric motors that generate 1,900 horsepower and rocket this car to 60 miles-per-hour in under 2 seconds. It’s also estimated to have a range of 280 miles. The Battista is making its public debut at the Monterey Car Week, which is going on right now in California, where it also plans to reveal a special-edition Battista that will just be limited to 5 examples. It’s said to have aerodynamic enhancements and special detailing to set it apart from the other car.
FORD GT HERITAGE EDITION PAYS HOMAGE TO ORIGINAL PROTOTYPE
And speaking of special-edition supercars being shown off in Monterey, Ford is launching a version of the GT that pays homage to the original Ford GT prototype from 1964. Most notably it wears Wimbledon White paint with Antimatter Blue graphics, including a triple racing stripe over the roof. Beyond that it features a ton of exposed carbon fiber from the blue-painted wheels to the mirror stalks and even the A-pillars and center console. And the interior is wrapped in Alcantara as far as the eye can see. The GT Heritage Edition is the beginning of the send off for the supercar, which is entering its final year of production. It can be ordered now and production is scheduled to start in January.
NEW FRONTIER MOVES TO HEAD OF CLASS
Nissan used to sell around 80,000 Frontier pickups in the US every year. But that was then. Now it’s selling less than half of that. Nissan was penny wise, but pound foolish. It did not significantly redesign the Frontier for 17 years, and while it saved a ton of money by not investing in the truck, it lost half of its customers. Now it hopes to get them back. It totally redesigned the Frontier and the results are really impressive. Two weeks ago we reported on the basic engineering of the truck, now we can give you our driving impressions. It rides superbly on the open road, better than its competitors like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado. While it still feels like a truck, Nissan’s engineers got rid of most of the jiggle and shake you get in a body on frame vehicle thanks to hydraulic mounts between the cab and the frame. They dampen out a tremendous amount of road input. Urethane jounce bumpers in the springs help to cushion big bumps and potholes. And a dynamic damper on the steering wheel minimizes jarring inputs. But this truck is not just about good on-road manners. It has excellent off-road capabilities. With 310 horsepower and 281 pound feet of torque on tap, the 3.8 liter V6 lets this truck claw its way up some of the roughest, rockiest trails you can find. Just switch from the rear drive to the available 4-wheel high for the hard parts, or go to 4-wheel low and lock the electronically controlled transfer case for the steepest parts. A 32.3° approach angle lets you get right up against big rocks and steep ramps. That’s all for fun, but pickups are expected to work and the Frontier does a superb job with a 1,610 pound payload and a very impressive 6,720 pound towing capability. Put it all together and we think that the Nissan Frontier has gone to the head of the class in the mid-size pickup segment. Prices range from about $29,000 all the way up to $38,000 and each step of the way is priced just under the Toyota Tacoma. The Frontier will go on sale in about another month, and we’ll have to see if Nissan can start to get back the customers that it lost.
ELECTRIC SILVERADO WILL HAVE 4-WHEEL STEERING
In other pickup truck news, Chevy revealed the electric version of the Silverado will have 4-wheel steering. Other than to say it will have available 24-inch wheels, it didn’t provide many more details. But the Hummer SUV also has the feature and like the Silverado, it’s based on the Ultium platform. And that system provides a rear steering angle of up to 10-degrees, which reduces the SUVs turning radius to 35.4 feet, 3 feet less than a Mustang Mach-E. On top of being more agile, 4-wheel steering also makes it easier to control anything you’re towing because you don’t have to turn the opposite direction when backing up.
Before we go, remember that Autoline After Hours is coming on later this afternoon. We’ve got Jim Bardia, the CEO of Change Wind Corporation, who has a radical idea to quickly build a charging infrastructure for electric cars using solar and wind power. That could help the U.S. achieve the Biden Administration’s goal of 50% EV sales by 2030. But IHS Markit forecasts that EVs will only account for 32% of sales by then. That’s one of the other topics we’ll get into, as well as looking at Geely. Is the Chinese automaker becoming the most interesting car company in the world? And is Kia changing buyers’ expectations forever with its Kia@Home project? Join us for all that when we go live at 3 pm eastern time right here at Autoline.
And that wraps up 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.