Listen to “AD #3167 – Volvo Dropping Leather from Interiors; Time Anxiety the New Range Anxiety; ELMS Gets Big Order for EV Vans” on Spreaker.
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0:07 GM Hires Former NHTSA Administrator
0:46 GM Invests in Chinese AV Startup
1:14 Volvo Dropping Leather from EV Interiors
2:07 Skoda Creates New Sustainable Material
3:36 Mahle Develops Portable Emission Tester
4:20 Time Anxiety the New Range Anxiety
6:38 ELMS Gets Big Order for EV Vans
7:15 Ford Helps Identify Unsafe Roads
7:52 Ford Teams Up for Battery Recycling & Materials
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM HIRES FORMER NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR
General Motors hired former NHTSA administrator David Strickland as its Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs. Strickland served as NHTSA administrator from 2010 to 2014 during the Obama Administration. Obviously David Strickland knows a ton about transportation policy. Even so, this will undoubtedly cause critics to protest that it’s just another example of the revolving door of corporations hiring the officials who used to regulate them. But it’s important to note that Strickland last served in that position 7 years ago.
GM INVESTS IN CHINESE AV STARTUP
In other GM news, it’s investing $300 million in a self-driving startup from China called Momenta. Even though GM has its own AV efforts going with GM Cruise, China is very leery about foreign companies mapping roads and is deeply concerned about where they will store customer data. So if you want to do AVs in China, you have to do it with Chinese companies.
VOLVO DROPPING LEATHER FROM EV INTERIORS
Don’t you just love the smell of a leather interior in a car? Well if you don’t, most people do. And automakers use it to give an interior a more premium feel. But Volvo is turning its back to leather. It announced all of its new electric vehicles, starting with the C40 Recharge, will be leather free. Volvo says it’s taking an ethical stand for animal welfare, and because of the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming, like deforestation. It’s developing new luxury materials that are sustainable, like Nordico, which is a material made from recycled plastic bottles, bio-material from sustainable forests, and corks recycled from the wine industry. By 2025, Volvo wants a quarter of the materials in its new vehicles to consist of recycled and bio-based content.
SKODA CREATES NEW SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL
And it’s not just Volvo. Skoda, which is part of the VW Group, created a new sustainable material that’s made from sugar beet pulp and is researching another material, which is made from the fibers of a reed plant. Skoda says both could be used in the interiors of future models. For example, for the door trim or decorative inlays on the dashboard. Sustainability is a real hot topic across the entire global automotive industry. No doubt we’re going to hear a lot more about this from other automakers.
MAHLE DEVELOPS PORTABLE EMISSION TESTER
Here’s a heads up for all you powertrain and calibration engineers. The EU is really tightening its standards for particulate emissions from internal combustion engines. Those are the microscopic bits of unburned hydrocarbons that can embed themselves deep in your lungs and can cause cancer. Starting in 2023, the EU mandates that automakers have to measure particulate emissions at the tailpipe with cars driving on the open road, not running on a chassis dyno in a lab. So the supplier Mahle developed a portable measuring unit that minimizes how much dirt and particulates accumulate on the sensitive measuring parts so it does not need much maintenance.
TIME ANXIETY IS THE NEW RANGE ANXIETY
Automakers believe that the cost of electric cars and range anxiety are the main reasons why the general public is not buying EVs. But the latest consumer research shows that charging speed is the Number One issue for EV intenders. 85% of the general public is more worried about how long it takes to charge an EV at a public charging station. And people are not that interested in getting a cup of coffee or doing their email while their vehicle charges. They just want to charge up and go. “Time anxiety is the new range anxiety,” is what the research says. That’s one of the things we learned at the SAE’s North American International Propulsion Conference. And that conference follows Chatham House rules, where we can freely report on what was said, but we cannot report on who said it or what company they work for. But we know who did the research and we’re going to try and get them on Autoline After Hours to talk about it.
Speaking of Autoline After Hours, we invite you to join us this afternoon, when we’ll have Angus Pacala, the CEO of a lidar startup called Ouster. Other topics we’ll be getting into include a potential battery breakthrough from a company called Lyten, Mike Manley’s Move from Stellantis to AutoNation, the latest investigations into Tesla FSD, and how the capabilities of today’s vehicles are far exceeding what anyone learned in Driver’s Training. Pete Bigelow from Automotive News will also be on the show. So join John and Gary for some of the best insights into what’s going on in the automotive industry.
ELMS GETS ORDER FOR 1,000 EV VANS
Electric Last Mile Solutions or ELMS, the commercial van startup, hit a major milestone. It got a purchase order for 1,000 vans from its distribution partner, Randy Marion Automotive Group. It started producing the electric van at its factory in Mishawaka, Indiana earlier this week and will deliver the first vehicles next week. That will make ELMS the first to market in the U.S. with a Class 1 electric vehicle. The van costs about $25,000 after the federal tax credit and has a range of 125 miles.
FORD HELPS IDENTIFY UNSAFE ROADS
Some places are just more dangerous to drive than others, so Ford developed a new tool to help customers identify them. Its Roadside Safe concept uses data from connected vehicles, roadside sensors and accident reports to pinpoint areas where there’s more likely to be a traffic incident. Customers can then use this information to avoid those areas or make sure they’re paying closer attention. Ford also thinks this would be useful to city authorities who can then address the hotspots or fleet operators to optimise driver routes.
FORD TEAMS UP FOR BATTERY RECYCLING & MATERIALS
In other Ford news, it’s teaming up with Redwood Materials, the battery materials company that was established by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel. The two are working together to build battery recycling and a domestic battery supply chain for electric vehicles. Ford invested $50 million to help Redwood expand its manufacturing footprint. By using locally produced, recycled battery materials, Ford can reduce costs, increase its supply of battery materials and reduce how much raw material needs to be mined and imported.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us and we’ll be right back here again tomorrow.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.