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0:07 So-Called “Freedom Convoy” Closes Car Plants
1:03 Volvo Investigating Structural Batteries
2:12 Where OEMs Will Get the Billions to Invest in EVs
3:30 Elon Musk Pads His Resume
4:02 U.S. to Prioritize Highway Charging Stations
5:16 Nissan Takes Attention Grabbing Frontiers to Chicago
6:24 Alfa Romeo Tonale Styling Lessons
7:41 Cadillac Returning to LeMans with Beautiful Race Car
8:08 Ford Bronco Everglades Gets Factory Snorkel
8:50 Ford Teases Next-Gen Ranger Raptor
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
SO-CALLED “FREEDOM CONVOY” CLOSES CAR PLANTS
You’ve probably heard about the protest that was started by Canadian truck drivers who are against Covid vaccine mandates. Well, as part of their protest they blockaded the Ambassador bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Canada and that’s starting to wreak havoc on the auto industry. That bridge is a major artery for car parts and the blockade has forced GM, Ford, Stellantis and Toyota to shut down assembly plants on both sides of the border. It’s also forcing suppliers to shut down. While this is presented as a truck driver protest, 90% of Canadian truck drivers are already vaccinated and the Canadian Teamsters union is completely against the protest. Here’s our Autoline Insight. While we’re all for freedom of speech, we don’t think you have the freedom to start shutting down car plants and hurting other people’s livelihoods. That’s our take and we welcome your comments.
VOLVO INVESTIGATING STRUCTURAL BATTERIES
As we reported earlier this week, Volvo is going to start using mega castings like Tesla in its next-gen EVs, but it doesn’t know who is going to make the machines yet. We reached out to Volvo after it made the announcement, wondering who will supply its casting machines. For example, Tesla’s supplier is the Idra Group. A spokesperson tells Autoline that it’s talking to leading machine manufacturers, but nothing has been finalized. We also asked about a line in the press release we found interesting, which says Volvo “… will integrate battery cells and modules in the floor structure of the car…” It sounded like a cell-to-pack design or what’s also called a structural pack. Volvo told us “Technology for structural batteries is currently being investigated and is therefore not part of what we are communicating now.” So, it sure sounds like a possibility. We highlighted some of the benefits of a cell-to-pack design in yesterday’s show, showing how Tesla is installing the and other components on top of the battery pack in Model Y’s at its Texas factory.
WHERE OEMs WILL GET THE BILLIONS TO INVEST IN EVs
Traditional automakers are going to spend a fortune this decade to develop electric vehicles. Billions and billions and billions. Ford is going to spend $30 billion developing electric vehicles by 2025. GM will spend $35 billion. Volkswagen will spend $83 billion. So where’s all that money going to come from? Don’t worry, they’ve got it covered. Even before electric cars ever showed up GM and Ford were spending about $7 billion a year in new product development and Volkswagen was spending twice that much. So they were going to spend about that much money developing ICE cars. The difference is now they’ve wrapped up those numbers with a real purty bow on top, and called it their EV investment. So when investors wring their hands and worry about how the car companies are ever going to come up with all that money we say, “Don’t worry, they were going to spend about that much anyway.”
ELON MUSK PADS HIS RESUME
Elon Musk just added another impressive item to his resume. The National Academy of Engineering elected him to become a new member along with 132 other engineers. It’s among the highest professional distinctions an engineer can earn. The academy is honoring Elon for his work at SpaceX as well as Tesla for “breakthroughs in the design, engineering, manufacturing and operation of reusable launch vehicles and sustainable transportation and energy systems.”
U.S. TO PRIORITIZE HIGHWAY CHARGING STATIONS
President Joe Biden says he wants to see 50% of all new cars be electric by 2030. And that’s going to take a lot of infrastructure improvements. So the Administration is planning to spend $5 billion over the next five years to install EV chargers all across the country. The money comes from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill Congress passed in November. States have to submit plans to get federal approval to get the funds, which will cover 80% of the cost. State or private funds will make up the rest. The priority will go to stations along interstate highways, installing them every 50 miles and having them located within one mile of the highway. It also wants the stations to be DC fast chargers with at least four charging ports.
Say, when are new car inventories going to get back to normal? Or are they ever going to come back? With car companies and dealers getting top dollar for the cars they’re selling now, we think inventory levels will never go back to where they were before. That’s the topic on Autoline After Hours this afternoon, when Jeff Shuster from LMC Automotive joins John and Gary. And we invite you to join them too.
NISSAN TAKING ATTENTION GRABBING FRONTIERS TO CHICAGO
Nissan is proving you don’t need a flashy concept to get people excited about an auto show. It’s going to have these three customized trucks at the Chicago auto show, which kicks off this weekend. They’re real attention grabbers and can show potential customers how they could trick out their rig. We like Project 72X, a customized Frontier that’s meant to be a modern take on the Datsun 720 that was first introduced in 1979 and the first vehicle produced by Nissan in the U.S.
ALFA ROMEO TONALE STYLING LESSONS
You’ve got to hand it to Alfa Romeo. Even though its sales are not very impressive, its cars are beautiful. And the new Tonale carries on with that tradition. Allesandro Maccolini, the chief of exterior design, explains that they start with what they call the GT Line. It runs from the headlights to the taillights, overlapping the beltline and sets the proportions of the crossover. Then the designers concentrate on sculpting the body side to give it a 3-dimensional look. On the front end, Alfa goes with three headlights on each side of the triangular shape of the grille, what they call the Tribolo, which has been part of Alfa design for over half a century. And the three-lamp cluster is picked up with the taillights as well. Then we come to the wheels, which have featured circular holes since the 1960’s, though the look has evolved over the years. Alfa calls this design feature the telephone dialer. Inside, everything is centered around the driver, with the instrument cluster and center screen easily visible in the driver’s line of sight. That’s especially true of the gauges, which mimic competition cars of the past. And there you have it, a quick design lesson on how Alfa came up with the look of the Tonale.
CADILLAC RETURNING TO LEMANS WITH BEAUTIFUL RACE CAR
Speaking of design, Cadillac unveiled its beautiful GTP race car that hits the tracks next year in the IMSA and ACO sports car series. While race cars always go with the form-follows-function school of design, Cadillac designers played a major role in how the car looks. The hybrid race car makes its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona and it will also race in the 24 Hours of LeMans.
FORD BRONCO EVERGLADES GETS FACTORY SNORKEL
Ford is making sure Bronco buyers can go right from the dealer parking lot to hitting off-road trails. It’s launching the Everglades edition, which comes with a number of factory-installed off-road components. That includes a new modular bumper with a 10,000 pound winch, safari bar, underbody protection, raised breather vents for the axles, transfer case and transmission and a snorkel. Unique fenders and graphics as well as easy to clean vinyl seats and rubberized floor round out the highlights of the Bronco Everglades. It goes on sale this summer with a starting price of about $54,500, including destination charges.
FORD TEASES NEXT-GEN RANGER RAPTOR
Speaking of Ford off-roaders, it revealed that the next-gen Ranger Raptor will debut 12 days from now. And to get us all excited it put out a short little video of the truck whipping through the sand, launching over jumps and it also sounds pretty good. We’re guessing a nicely tuned turbo 4.
And while that wraps up this Autoline Daily, thanks for joining us.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.