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0:07 Ford to Double F-150 Lightning Production
1:06 GM Could Lose 90-Year Sales Crown
2:01 Low Inventory Keeps Pushing Prices Up
3:24 Mercedes Aims for New Levels of Efficiency with EQXX
4:59 Volvo Completes Test of New EV Truck
6:16 Volta Partners with HERE to Improve Navigation
7:23 TuSimple Taps NVIDIA for AV Computer
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FORD TO DOUBLE LIGHTNING PRODUCTION
It looks like Ford could have a hit on its hands with the all-electric F-150 Lightning. The automaker announced it plans to nearly double production of the pickup to 150,000 units annually due to high demand. Ford says it has nearly 200,000 reservations and the first group of holders can place their orders for the truck on Thursday. Ford will take orders on a wave-by-wave basis over the next few months because of the high-demand. Production of the F-150 Lightning starts in the spring at Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford also recently announced that it’s tripling production of the Mustang Mach-E to 200,000 units by 2023. And within the next 24 months, Ford plans to boost EV production capacity to 600,000 vehicles with the goal of becoming the number 2 EV maker in North America behind Tesla.
GM COULD LOSE 90-YEAR SALES CROWN
The numbers for car sales in 2021 will start rolling in later today and for the first time in decades, it looks like the U.S. could have a new leader in sales. Reuters reports that Toyota will likely top General Motors, which would make it the first time since 1931 that GM wasn’t number 1 in the U.S. Through the first nine months of the year, Toyota sold 1.86 million vehicles in the U.S. compared to 1.78 million for GM. And unless something drastic happens, analysts expect Toyota will hold on to that lead for the full year. However, Toyota’s place at number 1 will likely be short lived. GM’s sales took a big hit over lost production due to the chip shortage and once supplies improve, it will likely take its crown back.
LOW INVENTORY CONTINUES TO PUSH PRICES UP
And those low inventories caused by the chip shortage are pushing car prices higher and higher. According to Edmunds, the average transaction price for a new vehicle in November was just under $46,000, which is a record. But prices for used cars are also skyrocketing. Edmunds says the average used car price in November was just over $29,000, that’s about 40% higher than a year ago. And it’s forecasting that used vehicle prices will top $30,000 for the first time in 2022. So, until inventory levels improve, car prices will likely continue to soar higher.
MERCEDES TARGETS NEW LEVELS OF EFFICIENCY
Mercedes revealed the VisionEQXX concept electric vehicle, which it says is the most efficient car it’s ever built. It was developed with help from Mercedes’ Formula 1 team and the chassis features a lightweight F1 subframe. Based on simulated tests, Mercedes says it has a range of 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles and its energy consumption is up to 10 kWh per 100 kilometers or 6 miles per kWh. Solar panels on the roof provide an extra 25 kilometers of range. The battery pack in the concept is roughly 100 kWh, but has 50% less volume and is 30% lighter than the one used in the EQS. Aerodynamics also plays a role in the VisonEQXX’s efficiency with a coefficient of drag of just 0.17. And the use of sustainable materials throughout further improves its carbon footprint. It’s also fairly lightweight for an EV, weighing about 3,860 pounds or 1750 kilograms. By comparison the EQS weighs up to nearly 5,900 pounds or 2675 kilograms. While it’s unlikely this concept will go on sale, Mercedes says it’s features and developments are already being implemented into its other production vehicles.
VOLVO COMPLETES TEST OF NEW EV TRUCK
But most electric commercial trucks are currently at the other end of the efficiency spectrum right now. Volvo trucks recently completed a 343 kilometer or 213 mile test on a road in Germany with changing terrain. That truck features a total of 540 kWh of battery capacity and 490 kW of power. Even with a total weight of 40 tonnes it still uses 50% less energy compared to the same diesel truck on the same route. But that also means its efficiency comes out to 1.1 kWh per km, which is close to 10-times less than the EQXX concept. Volvo already has electric commercial vehicles on sale and production of this particular truck, the FH Electric and a few others, starts in the middle of this year.
VOLTA & HERE PARTNER ON NAVIGATION
The electric commercial vehicle startup, Volta Trucks, announced that it has partnered with HERE Technologies to improve its navigation system. Benefits for drivers include HERE’s EV Range Assistant, which allows the planning of multiple delivery stops, range prediction and turn-by-turn guidance. The system can also be customized, updated over-the-air and it features what3words. That’s where the entire world has been divided into 3-meter squares and each square has a unique 3-word combination. So, if you need to drop off a package at say a large shipping center you can plug in the 3-word combination to get a much more accurate location. Mercedes once did package delivery tests comparing what3words to its standard navigation system and found using what3words cut 15% off its total delivery time. Volta will implement HERE’s Navigation system in its upcoming Zero truck, which is scheduled to come out by the end of the year.
TUSIMPLE TAPS NVIDIA FOR AV COMPUTER
In other commercial trucking news, TuSimple, which we reported on yesterday as completing the first road test in a Class 8 semi without any human intervention, announced that its partnered with NVIDIA to improve its autonomous system. Specifically, it will use NVIDIA’s computer or domain controller, called Drive Orin, which is specially made for AV systems. It allows multiple components, like cameras, radars and lidars, which use a lot of computing power, to be controlled by one computer. TuSimple will own usage rights to the controller’s design and plans to work with a third party manufacturer to produce it. The company says the move to NVIDIA will speed up its time to market, which it’s currently targeting production in 2024.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.