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0:07 EU Car Sales Plummet to Lowest Level Ever
0:38 Dongfeng 1st State-Owned Chinese OEM in EU
1:05 VW to Buy Huawei AV Unit
1:55 Average Porsche Taycan Buyer in China Only 30 Years Old
2:41 Porsche Unveils Macan T
3:27 NHTSA Opens Another Investigation Into Tesla’s Autopilot System
4:08 Why We Haven’t Covered Tesla’s Discrimination Lawsuit
5:08 Ford of Europe Experiments with New Sounds for Safety Warnings
5:50 Bentley Off and Running with 3D Printing
6:30 Volvo Not Going All BEV Just Yet
8:02 Mahle Gets U.S. Government Contract to Cut Methane Emissions
8:40 GM Wants to Make Tanks
9:47 Buick Teases 1st BEV
9:59 BMW Paint Job Goes Color Crazy
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
EU CAR SALES PLUMMET TO LOWEST LEVEL EVER
We start out today with a disturbing statistic out of Europe. New car sales fell to the lowest ever on record for the month of January. Automakers sold only 682,600 new vehicles. In good times that number would be well over a million. The chip shortage is mainly to blame, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. But it did have some good news. Sales were up in Germany, Spain, Slovakia and Romania.
DONGFENG IS FIRST STATE-OWNED CHINESE OEM IN EU
Meanwhile, Dongfeng will become the first state-owned Chinese company to sell electric cars in Europe. VOYAH, the premium EV brand from Dongfeng, will go on sale in Norway this June. It will offer one model, called the Free, which starts at about 47,000 euros or $53,400. VOYAH plans to expand to other European markets in the near future.
VW TO BUY HUAWEI AV UNIT
Volkswagen is going to buy the autonomous tech unit from Huawei. The deal could be worth billions of euros. There aren’t many details but VW apparently wants to acquire self-driving technology from Huawei. VW declined to comment on the report. This makes us wonder if VW needs Chinese technology specifically for the Chinese market, since it already invested $2.6 billion in the US autonomous company called Argo AI. Autonomous vehicles collect a ton of data, and China has very strict regulations that data has to reside on servers based in China. During a Q&A session on Reddit yesterday, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said he believes autonomous driving will become widespread within the next 25 years.
AVERAGE PORSCHE TAYCAN BUYERS IN CHINA ONLY 30 YEARS OLD
Speaking of German automakers in China, the all electric Porsche Taycan is selling way better than probably anyone expected. It accounted for 18% of Porsche’s total sales. Car News China reports that sales grew thanks to the Taycan 4S and Rear Wheel Drive models being added to the lineup. They are lower priced versions of the car, but still cost over $100,000 in China. The Taycan also qualified for an exemption to the 10% sales tax for cars, which is designed to help sell more BEVs. Most interesting is that the average age of Taycan buyers in China is only 30 years old. And the average age for other Porsches is only 35.
PORSCHE UNVEILS MACAN T
Meanwhile, back in Germany, Porsche unveiled a performance version of the Macan called the T, for touring. It gets a 2-liter turbo with about 261 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque. That’s not as much as the 375 horsepower that the 2.9-litre biturbo V6 engine in the Macan S and GTS deliver. But the 2-liter four is nearly 130 pounds lighter than the V6, so Porsche says its quick off the line and handles better. It’ll do 0-100 km in 6.2 seconds, but the V6 will do it in about 4.3. It’s priced over €69,000 in Europe, or nearly $79,000.
NHTSA OPENS ANOTHER INVESTIGATION INTO TESLA
Another day, another investigation into Tesla. NHTSA is opening an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system. Last year, it looked into Tesla’s crashing into parked emergency vehicles on the road because Autopilot didn’t react to the vehicles. Now, it’s investigating complaints of unexpected braking with Autopilot and says it can happen “without warning, at random and repeatedly in a single drive cycle.” The investigation involves 416,000 Model Ys and 3s from 2021-2022. NHTSA has received 354 complaints about the issue over the last nine months.
WHY WE HAVEN’T COVERED TESLA’S DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT
And speaking of Tesla, we had a viewer ask why we haven’t reported on Tesla being sued by the state of California over alleged racial discrimination at its Fremont Factory. Well, all automakers get sued almost every day of the week. And so far this latest lawsuit is an accusation. If Tesla is found guilty we will definitely report on it.
FORD EUROPE EXPERIMENTS W/ NEW SOUNDS FOR SAFETY WARNINGS
Many drivers will shut off safety related systems because they find the warnings intrusive or annoying. But what if those alerts were more intuitive? Ford is trialing a system in Europe that uses the same suite of sensors it currently has to identify things like pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles, but rather than chimes, lights or a vibrating seat, drivers would hear the sounds of footsteps, a bicycle bell or the sound of tires rolling on the pavement. And it uses the in-car audio system to project where the object is coming from. Ford says in tests that drivers have been more accurate in identifying where a potential hazard is at.
BENTLEY OFF AND RUNNING WITH 3D PRINTING
Bentley is going all-in on 3D printing. Last year it says it produced 15,000 components using the method to make things like lightweight sanding blocks for the woodshop, historically accurate tooling for its continuation cars, full-scale powertrain models and even parts for its Pikes Peak racecar. It’s able to make pieces in 25 different materials and because it doesn’t have to outsource the parts and the machines can run all day, the 3D printed components cost 50% less. Bentley also says it will start using additive manufacturing for low-volume manufacturing and customer personalization.
VOLVO NOT GOING ALL BEV JUST YET
Outgoing Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson says the current generation XC90 will be sold alongside its successor. The new model is expected to be all-electric and will be made at Volvo’s plant in South Carolina. The current model is made in Sweden. So, Samuelsson says why close down the old plant when there’s still a market for hybrids, especially in America and China? Not only does it give customers more options, it keeps money flowing in off its original investment in the XC90 and continued flow down the production line in Sweden. And this is one way Volvo is handling the transition from internal combustion to electric.
AFTER HOURS & THE FINAL STAGES OF THE ICE AGE
And along the same lines, we’ll be talking all about internal combustion engines on Autoline After Hours this afternoon. How long can automakers hold onto them? What can they do to cut emissions and boost fuel economy? How will automakers handle the transition? We’ll have engine expert James Martin from IHS Markit on the show and you can join the action live at 3PM eastern time. So join John, Gary and Lindsey Brooke from SAE Engineering for a deep dive into the final stages of the ICE Age.
MAHLE GETS US GOVERNMENT CONTRACT TO CUT METHANE EMISSIONS
Methane is one of the worst greenhouse gasses. It’s 80 times worse than carbon dioxide. That’s why the U.S. government awarded the supplier Mahle $3.2 million for a project to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. The goal is to create an advanced exhaust gas aftertreatment solution for industrial natural gas engines that are typically used to power compressors, ships and to generate electricity. The State University of New York and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are also part of the project Mahle to develop a system that will be ready in 2025.
GM WANTS TO MAKE TANKS
The U.S. Army has been using the M-2 Bradley tank since 1981 and it’s survived two previous attempts to replace it through a series of upgrades. But third times a charm, I guess. Officials say the M-2 Bradley has reached its technological limits and can no longer accommodate new electronics, armor and defense systems for modern military operations. So, The Army is launching a competition to develop the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle or OMFV. Five teams have entered and some of the requirements include the ability to hold at least six soldiers, but operate with no more than two and the ability to be controlled remotely. And the way it talks about power requirements, fuel cells sound like the perfect application. That and autonomous capabilities are likely why General Dynamics Ground Systems, one of the 5 teams, announced it’s partnering with GM Defense to help it develop an OMFV. The winner should be picked in 2027 and the vehicles are expected to be in operation before the end of the decade.
BUICK TEASES BEV
Speaking of GM, Buicked teased its first electric vehicle, which it says it will show off this summer. Unfortunately, all we get to see is the headlight design. Oh well, more to come.
BMW PAINT JOB GOES COLOR CRAZY
Here’s a car that’s sure to get people talking. It’s based on the M version of BMW’s AWD 8 Series, but features paint and interior inspired by artist Jeff Koons. It looks like something right out of an old comic book with bright colors and snappy graphics. We even think the seats look like Spider Man’s suit. BMW will make a total of 99 of these cars, but it’s only able to produce 4 a week because it takes over 200 hours just to paint the car. Love it or hate it, this car is a real head turner.
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.