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0:07 Tesla Adds Plant to Build 2 Million EVs in China
0:43 USPS Commits to Ugliest Truck Ever
1:54 3G Shutdown Affects Millions of Motorists
2:38 Audi to Pioneer 5G in Vehicles
3:20 Mercedes Wants L3 S-Class in U.S.
3:56 Polestar Maps Out Zero-Carbon Plan
4:47 Honda Dealers Slash Energy Use
5:27 Rivian Adds Surveillance System to Trucks
7:08 Stellantis Outperforms GM & Ford in North America
8:19 GM Promotes Shilpan Amin to International Operations
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TESLA ADDS PLANT TO BUILD 2 MILLION EVs IN CHINA
Tesla dropped a bombshell that it’s going to add enough capacity to make 2 million EVs a year in China. We already reported that it was expanding its existing plant in Shanghai. And this morning Reuters broke the story that Tesla is going to build a second plant nearby. It could break ground next month. Last year Tesla made 460,000 vehicles at its existing Shanghai plant, which is going to expand to 1 million units. And the new plant will give Tesla more EV capacity in China alone than GM, Toyota or Volkswagen have globally.
USPS COMMITS TO UGLIEST TRUCK EVER
Yuck, peeewww, blaaah. Those are just a few of our reactions to the news that The U.S. Postal Service says it’s going to stick with its original plan to build that hideous new postal truck. It’s bad enough it will only average about 8.6 miles to the gallon, but we also call it a crime against design. The Biden Administration tried to convince the Post Office to go electric, but the Post Office is sticking to its plan to buy up to 165,000 trucks over the next 10 years. And 90% of them will be gas powered. It’s a deal worth up to $6 billion with Oshkosh, the company that will make them. The Post Office claims it’s too expensive to add more EVs to its fleet, but others point out that the business case the USPS used assumed that gasoline would cost $2.19. And every penny above that adds $8 million a month to its operating costs. But the USPS did leave the door open to boosting the number of electric mail trucks if it gets more funding. Even so, we’re still stuck with the ugly duckling.
3G SHUTDOWN AFFECTS MILLIONS OF MOTORISTS
3G used to be bleeding edge telephone technology. But now it’s obsolete and getting shut down. And that’s going to affect millions of vehicles built between 2010 and 2022 that rely on 3G connectivity. AT&T shut down its 3G operations in the U.S. on Tuesday, T-Mobile plans to shut them down between March and July, and Verizon will shut them down by December 31st. So drivers may no longer be able to connect their smartphones, use voice assistance or emergency services. The good news is a number of automakers are offering software fixes but some vehicles won’t be able to be updated at all.
AUDI TO PIONEER 5G IN CARS
And in related news, Audi is partnering with Verizon to offer 5G connectivity by 2024. It will allow drivers to access more mobile services and driver assistance features. And it will make it easier for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Audi will likely charge for these services, but no word yet on how much it will cost.
MERCEDES-BENZ WANTS L3 S-CLASS IN US
Mercedes is expanding hands-free driving technology beyond Europe. CEO Ola Kaellenius says it hopes to get certification for its Level 3 assistance system in the U.S. this year, which would make it the first automaker to get that approval. It’s also talking to authorities in China. Mercedes already got permission to use the system in Germany, which is available on the new S-Class. It’s going to allow things like traffic jam assist and automated parking. We already went into more details when it came out in Germany and we’ve got a link to that show if you’d like to learn more about it.
POLESTAR MAPS OUT ZERO-CARBON PLAN
There’s a lot of talk in the industry right now about automakers going carbon neutral. But to do that, automakers have to look beyond their in-house operations. They also have to include their supply chain–meaning their suppliers, and their distribution networks–meaning their dealers. So, Polestar announced it’s teaming with suppliers to develop what it calls “a truly climate-neutral car.” It’s focusing on fossil-free steel, zero-carbon aluminum, climate-neutral electrical control systems and wiring, zero emission airbags and seatbelts. In other words, it goes well beyond just running the car on electricity. Polestar also has an open call out for anyone else who thinks they could help with the project and it hopes to create its “truly climate-neutral car” by 2030.
HONDA DEALERS SLASH ENERGY USE
Honda, on the other hand, is attacking the dealer side of the climate equation. It launched its Green Dealer program in 2011 that helps identify areas of improvement, like installing high-efficiency water fixtures or making upgrades to the HVAC system of a building. All that helped more than 600 Honda and Acura dealers reduce their energy use by 20%, which comes to an average savings of $20,000 a year. Honda is going to share what it’s learned from its Green Dealer program at the upcoming National Automobile Dealers Association Show in Las Vegas, in hopes that it provides a framework for other automakers to follow.
RIVIAN ADDS SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM TO TRUCKS
Nobody wants to have their stuff stolen out of their vehicle, so Rivian came up with a multi-pronged solution it calls Gear Guard. It’s a system that’s always on, even when you’re away from the vehicle. It uses five of the R1T’s eleven cameras to automatically detect motion around the vehicle when anyone or anything is within 4 feet of the truck. Those videos are then stored in the vehicle’s hard drive. It also pops up this cute little fuzzy character from the bottom of the display screen to show that it’s recording anyone that lingers around too long. And if someone does try to take something an alarm will sound and send an alert to the owner’s phone. Rivian also developed a special cable that’s resistant to cutting that snaps into its own location in the bed and locks when the truck is locked. The company expects a lot of outdoorsy people to buy its vehicles and it hopes solutions like these give them a better peace of mind when loading up their gear.
STELLANTIS OUTPERFORMS GM, FORD IN NORTH AMERICA
Stellantis surprised the auto industry when it posted extremely strong earnings earlier this week. And in the earnings call with analysts CEO Carlos Tavres praised his North American operations for making the biggest contribution to the bottom line. He’s referring, of course, to the Chrysler Group. It achieved higher profit margins than GM or Ford did, over 16%. It’s average transaction price was $47,000, up 20% year-over-year. And on the RAM pickup it was $51,000 which was also better than GM or Ford. The Wrangler 4xe was the best selling PHEV in the U.S. market, with over 29,000 units sold. And RAM achieved its highest commercial fleet market share ever of 18.7%. Tavares praised, and I quote here, “the expertise and the skills and the agility of our North American team, which has been doing a fantastic job in terms of taking the best out of the market.” All that is quite an accomplishment for Stellantis which officially only went into business in January last year.
GM PROMOTES SHILPAN AMIN TO INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
Big promotion today for GM’s vice president of purchasing, Shilpan Amin. Now he’s senior vice president of General Motors and president of GM International, which includes all of GM’s business outside of North America and China. He replaces Steve Kiefer who elected to retire after nearly 40 years in the auto industry.
We invite you to join us for Autoline After Hours today at 3PM eastern time. We’re going to take a deep dive into Ford’s E-Transit van and this whole new division in the company called Ford Pro. Tim Baughman, the general manager of Ford Pro in North America will be joining us. So will Chad Kirchner from EV Pulse. Some say that commercial vans and trucks will actually lead the EV revolution in the US market. Do you think that’s really going to happen? Join John and Gary to find out.
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.