Listen to “AD #3247 – Shorts Made a Killing on SPACs; GM Makes Big EV Investment in Michigan; Toyota Reveals All-New Sequoia” on Spreaker.
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0:08 Chips Shortage Not Improving
1:02 Shorts Made a Killing on SPACs
1:48 GM Makes Big EV Investment in Michigan
3:09 Kia Reveals U.S. Pricing for EV6
4:11 All-New Toyota Sequoia Debuts
5:45 BMW 8-Series Refresh
6:34 Ford Puts All Commercial Services on One Interface
7:24 Firestone to Start EV Service
8:03 Jeep Wrangler 4Xe Sales Clarification
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHIP SHORTAGE IS GETTING WORSER
Wasn’t it about now that the chip shortage was supposed to ease up? Well, guess what? It’s actually getting worse. The U.S. Commerce Department warned that chip inventories are down to only 5 days’ supply. And the shortage is worse for older technology chips, which are primarily used by automakers. The Commerce Department says the supply lines are so thin that a Covid outbreak in Malaysia could shut down almost all manufacturing in America. Legislation to boost chip production in the U.S. passed in the Senate last year. It just got introduced in the House where it will also likely pass. But that doesn’t help in the short term. For example, Intel announced it will invest $20 billion to build two new fab plants in Ohio, but they won’t go into production until 2025.
SHORTS MAKE A KILLING ON SPACS
A lot of EV startups raised a bunch of money by going public with a SPAC. But guess who also made a bunch of money? The shorts who bet against those companies. Short sellers are investors who bet a company’s stock will go down. It’s a risky kind of investment, but the payoff can be huge. Shorts are now sitting on more than a billion dollars in profits. Bloomberg reports that one of the most lucrative stocks to short was Chargepoint, the EV charging company, whose stock is down 34% from last year, and that generated $165 million in profits for shorts. SPACs that have not yet posted a profit are getting hammered in the stock market right now.
GM INSTALLING 1 MILLION EV CAPACITY
We reported on GM’s $7 billion investment in Michigan to make electric trucks and batteries. Now we’ve got more details. GM’s two EV plants in Michigan will be able to make 600,000 electric pickups a year by late 2024. Combine that with its EV plants in Tennessee, Canada and Mexico, and it will be able to make one million EVs by late 2025. One of those Michigan plants, in Orion, makes the Chevrolet Bolt EV. And while GM did not confirm that the Bolt is going away, it said production would continue until that plant is converted to make pickups. And that strongly suggests the Bolt is on its way out.
WHAT IT COSTS TO BUY A KIA EV6
What’s it going to cost you to buy a Kia EV6 in the U.S.? Get ready to shell out just over $42,000, including destination charges. But that’s before any incentives. That gets you RWD and a 58 kWh battery pack, which returns an EPA rated 232 miles of range. There’s another rear-drive version with a larger 77 kWh battery that provides 310 miles of range and costs an additional $6,100. The top-of-the-line EV6 features a dual motor setup with AWD, 320 horsepower, the larger battery and 274 miles of range. That version starts a little over $57,000, again with destination but before incentives. The all-new EV is available in all 50 states and Kia says it’s just weeks away from arriving at dealerships.
TOYOTA REDESIGNS SEQUOIA FOR FIRST TIME IN 15 YEARS
American consumers love big SUVs and another behemoth will soon be lurking on the streets. Toyota completely redesigned the Sequoia for the first time in 15 years. And, no surprise here, it shares a lot of parts with the Tundra pickup, since they share the same platform and are built at the same plant in Texas. The interiors of both vehicles look exactly the same. Well, other than the 3rd row. But the overall theme is rather blocky and the star of the show is a big display screen in the middle of the dash; either 12.3- or 14-inches. The powertrain will sound similar too. All Sequoias come with a twin-turbo V6 hybrid that makes nearly 440 horsepower and over 580 lb-ft of torque. Combined with a 10-speed automatic and 4-wheel drive, the setup is capable of towing up to 9,000 pounds. Styling-wise it shares some design cues with Tundra, like the character lines on the fenders as well as the headlamp and grille shape. But the lower section of the Sequoia’s grille has been lopped off to make room for a more stylized lower fascia. And the rear end is highlighted by a set of long, thin taillights and the SEQUOIA name spelled out at the bottom of the hatch. No word on pricing yet, but the old one started around $50,000. No doubt the new one will carry a higher price tag when it comes out this summer.
BMW TWEAKS THE 8-SERIES
BMW is making some minor updates to the 8-Series, including the Cabriolet and M8 versions. The biggest difference is the center display screen has grown from 10 and a quarter inches to 12.3-inches. But there’s also a number of new colors and 20-inch wheels, seats wrapped in Alcantara are standard and an optional headlamp design, called Shadow Line, is a new addition. The updated 8-Series will first arrive in Europe this spring.
FORD PRO SEES HUGE GROWTH COMING
Ford’s commercial division, Ford Pro, wants to make it easier for operators to handle their fleets. So it’s launching a new service, called Ford Pro Intelligence. It’s a cloud-based platform that combines vehicle data – gas or electric, Ford or not-Ford – as well as Ford Pro’s entire suite of services into a single interface. So, operators can track vehicles, including vehicle health and available range as well as manage charging and drivers. Ford says it can help any business, no matter the size, optimize their operations. Ford sees a lot of opportunity with commercial vehicles and services. It currently earns about $27 billion a year with that business and expects to boost that to $45 billion by the end of the decade.
FIRESTONE STORES TO SERVICE EVS
As sales of electric cars grow faster than the rest of the market, Bridgestone is getting ready to service them. It’s going to offer inspections, diagnostics, maintenance and repairs for high-voltage components, as well as health checks and troubleshooting for batteries, electric motors and electrical systems. Austin and San Francisco are the first markets where it will launch these services through its Firestone Service Centers. It’s also installing Level 2 chargers at stores in various cities. In the U.S. the company has 1,700 Firestone service centers all across the country.
JEEP 4XE OUTSELLS PRIUS AND RAV4 PRIME
We’ve got some clarification of sales of the plug-in version of the Jeep Wrangler, the 4Xe. Jeep says those PHEVs accounted for 25% of Wrangler sales in the U.S. What we now know is that this applies to sales in the fourth quarter. Even so, that’s a very impressive number. We’re guessing Jeep sold nearly 10,000 Wrangler 4Xe’s, which means it not only outsold PRIME versions of the Toyota Prius and RAV-4. It sold nearly as much as both of them put together.
BOLLINGER COMING ON AFTER HOURS
Bollinger showed off a series of electric off road vehicles for upscale retail customers that attracted all kinds of attention. But now it’s giving up on those plans. Instead, it’s going to develop commercial vans and trucks. Why the change? Well, let’s ask Robert Bollinger himself. He’s going to join us on Autoline After Hours this Thursday. You know, Autoline is one of the few places where you can actually listen to the top executives in the auto industry. So join me and Gary, and Greg Migliore from Autoblog, as we learn why Robert Bollinger decided he needed to go in a new direction.
But that brings us to 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.