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0:07 Tesla Ramps Up Legal Battle with Rivian
0:54 Tesla Opens 1st Superchargers in Africa
1:28 GM Thinks Cruise Will Generate $50 Billion a Year
2:21 Tesla Gains Market Share Despite New EVs
3:46 U.S. Battery Shortage Could Last Until 2025
4:47 Mahle Develops Fast Charging Lithium-Carbon Battery
5:59 NASA Needs Help with New Astronaut Transportation Shuttle
7:19 New Ford Maverick Better Than Expected
9:07 India Could Ban Honking Horns for Musical Horns
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TESLA RAMPS UP LEGAL BATTLE WITH RIVIAN
It’s the battle of the EV startups. Tesla is ramping up its legal battle with Rivian. Last year, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Rivian claiming it stole employees and trade secrets. Now, Tesla is adding new allegations. It says Rivian is continuing to poach employees and that some of those workers were “caught red-handed” stealing proprietary technology of its next-gen batteries. Rivian denies the claims. But we do know Rivian isn’t shy about poaching workers. It also nabbed a number of its designers from the Jeep studio and other companies in the Detroit area have grumbled to us about Rivian poaching people, too.
TESLA OPENS FIRST SUPERCHARGERS IN AFRICA
But there’s no stopping Tesla. It just opened its first supercharger stations in Africa. Yes, Africa. They’re in Tangier and Casablanca, in Morocco. Inside EVs reports it’s not clear if Tesla is expanding there or if the chargers are there to support travelers along a popular tourist route. But Tesla does plan to expand to Africa in the future. And that probably leaves Antarctica as the last continent Tesla has to conquer.
GM SAYS CRUISE CAN MAKE $50 BILLION A YEAR
Can AVs make a lot of money? GM certainly thinks so. General Motors is making an investor presentation this week that says Cruise will hit $50 billion a year in revenue. Bloomberg reports that if the company gets regulatory approval, Cruise will start charging for rides next year in autonomous Chevy Bolts and offer shared rides in its Origin shuttle in 2023 in California and in Dubai. GM will also give an update on how its Super Cruise hands free driving technology can bring in ongoing subscription revenue and how it will use its new Ultifi software platform to generate revenue from app-based services in cars. As we’ve been saying, automakers see data monetization as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
TESLA GAINS MARKET SHARE DESPITE NEW EVs
Over the last year traditional automakers launched a number of competitive electric cars in the American market, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Audi e-tron Sport, the Volkswagen ID.4, the Volvo C-40 Recharge and the Polestar 2. Well guess what? Despite all those new EVs hitting the market, Tesla actually increased its market share. Last September it had 76% of the EV segment. This September it had 77%. One reason is that GM stopped selling the Bolt EV because of battery fires. But it’s also because, on a percentage basis, Tesla increased its sales more than any other automaker, including their ICE vehicles. Here’s our Autoline Insight. At some point Tesla is likely going to start losing market share. But that won’t matter as long as it keeps growing sales because that means revenue and profits will keep growing, too.
U.S. BATTERY SHORTAGE COULD LAST UNTIL 2025
Automakers have grand plans to electrify their lineups within the next 10 years, but right now there’s not enough batteries to power all those EVs. In fact SK Innovation, which is the battery manufacturer that Ford is partnering with, has an order backlog of 1,600 GWh. That’s enough to power 27 million EVs. So it’s no wonder we’re seeing so much investment in new battery plants and automakers are even thinking of producing their own cells. But the CEO of SK Innovation sees the battery shortage in the U.S. lasting at least until 2025. That’s because there’s not enough batteries being made in the U.S. and building a factory to meet demand takes 30 months. On the other hand, Europe’s supply is expected to meet market needs, while China will likely have a battery oversupply by the middle of the decade.
MAHLE DEVELOPS FAST CHARGING LITHIUM-CARBON BATTERY
And speaking of batteries, as we reported the other day, EV buyers are more concerned about charge time than they are about range. Remember, time anxiety is the new range anxiety? Well, the supplier Mahle developed a new battery that takes only 90 seconds to recharge. It’s a lithium-carbon battery that combines the advantages of supercapacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries. It features a battery-type anode and capacitor-style cathode that’s separated by an organic electrolyte. The advantages to this type of chemistry include no rare earth materials, stability at high temperatures, no thermal degradation, high current delivery, fast charging, lifetime of over 100,000 cycles and no need for complex cooling or elaborate battery management systems. Mahle envisions the battery being used in lightweight 2-wheeled and small vehicles with battery sizes of roughly 500 Wh that provide 25 km or 15.5 miles of range.
NASA NEEDS HELP WITH NEW ASTRONAUT TRANSPORT SHUTTLE
NASA is looking for a little help from the automotive community. It’s asking companies to submit proposals for a new shuttle to take astronauts to the launch pad for its upcoming Artemis II mission. It says proposals “should be unique, embrace new technology… and need to seat eight, including four fully suited crew members.” In the past, NASA has taken astronauts to the launch pad in an Airstream camper and says it would even be open to restoring and updating one of these vehicles. We think one of those new electric commercial operators, like Arrival or Volta Trucks, could also come up with something that’s pretty unique.
NEW FORD MAVERICK BETTER THAN EXPECTED
Ford stunned the auto industry when it announced that the new Maverick pickup truck would start around $20,000 and get 40 miles to the gallon. It’s cheaper than a Honda Civic and gets better fuel economy too. No one saw that coming. But it gets better than that. After an extensive test drive, we’d say that Ford nailed it. The truck drives beautifully. The steering is precise and direct. The throttle response on the 2-liter turbo is instantaneous. The ride is pleasantly comfortable, and the cabin is surprisingly quiet.
The hybrid version doesn’t have quite the throttle response of the turbo, but it makes up for that with stunningly good fuel economy. Ford still doesn’t have the official EPA numbers, but we got 42 MPG while driving on secondary roads in rush hour traffic. We got 38 miles to the gallon while hauling 1,000 pounds of mulch in the back, and 23 MPG while towing a 1,600 pound trailer. And we had no trouble at all accelerating onto the highway or keeping up with traffic.
Despite being a garden variety pickup, the all-wheel-drive version handled well off-road, able to clamber up relatively steep, rocky grades. The all-wheel-drive turbo costs around $30,000. And a fully loaded truck tops out around $38,000. But we think a lot of people will be interested in the base truck because it offers so much value for the money. The Maverick is on sale right now, but only the turbo version. Ford says it can’t sell the hybrid until it gets the official EPA numbers which should be out any day now.
INDIA COULD BAN HONKING HORNS IN FAVOR OF MUSICAL HORNS
The auto industry has done an amazing job over the last 40 years. It reduced tailpipe emissions by 99%. It boosted fuel efficiency by 50%. And it cut traffic fatalities by 66%. But noise pollution from cars and trucks is the same as it ever was. So in India, they’re looking at banning honking horns and replacing them with horns that play the sounds of musical instruments. Specifically they want the instruments used in Indian music, including the flute, tabla, violin, and the harmonium, which is like an accordion. Instead of a cacophony of honking horns blaring in traffic- jammed cities everyday, they want the pleasant sound of musical instruments. So that makes us wonder. If you had to choose what kind of instrument your horn should sound like, what would it be?
But that’s the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.