Listen to “AD #3277 – NIO ET7 Getting Rave Reviews; Russian Invasion Sends Metals Prices Sky High; Rental Agencies Want Chinese EVs” on Spreaker.
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0:08 Russian Invasion Sending Metals Prices Sky High
1:04 Rental Agencies Want Chinese EVs
1:47 NIO ET7 Getting Rave Reviews
3:37 Ford Pro Offers 6 EV Charging Solutions
4:26 GM Testing Car-To-Home Power
5:03 Hino Readies E-Axle
5:42 Uber & Lyft Drivers Slammed by Gas Prices
6:11 Renault Austral SUV Debuts
8:00 Continental Cuts Tire Weight 40%
8:50 Australia Lifts Potato Law
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
RUSSIAN INVASION SENDING METALS PRICES SKY HIGH
Car prices were already at ridiculous levels, but now they’re about to go even higher. The Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t only sending oil prices sky-high, now the price of metals is soaring, too. While there aren’t any sanctions on metals now, suppliers are avoiding Russian sources like the plague. And that’s making supplies even tighter. Russia is a major source of palladium, aluminum and nickel, and palladium prices just hit an all-time high of $3,440 an ounce. That’s 70% higher than the price of gold. A European die-parts maker complains it’s seen a 60% increase in the price of aluminum over the last four months. And while EVs don’t need palladium, most of them use nickel. And the price of nickel just shot to its highest price ever, over $100,000 a metric tonne.
RENTAL AGENCIES WANT CHINESE EVs
Daily rental car companies in the U.S. and Europe could start equipping their fleets with electric cars made in China. That’s according to an executive from Europcar, who says the quality of those Chinese EVs is quite good and they’re cheaper than EVs made in Europe or the U.S. Europcar wants to have 20% of its fleet be electric or hybrid by 2024, meaning it will have to buy 70,000 of those kinds of cars in the next two years. Right now it’s buying cars from Great Wall, SAIC and Polestar. But Reuters reports that Volkswagen wants to buy Europcar, and says that would put an end to it buying Chinese brands.
NIO ET7 GETTING RAVE REVIEWS
Speaking of Chinese electrics, the NIO ET7 is generating a lot of buzz in the auto industry. Tu Le, of Sino Auto Insights, and who’s based in Beijing, says “there’s a new sheriff in town – at least in China anyway – and it’s NOT coming from the company whose CEO also makes rockets.” When Ford CEO Jim Farley explained why he’s splitting the company into separate BEV and ICE business units, he cited Tesla and NIO as the two companies Ford has to catch up to. And Michael Dunne from ZoZo Go, another China expert, says a retired Mercedes executive told him the ET7 may be the finest luxury sedan in the world, not just the best electric. You know, when a new company breaks into the auto industry it better bring something new to the party if it wants to thrive and survive. And NIO is pioneering the concept of battery swapping in China, where it only takes a couple of minutes to put a freshly charged battery in a car. It’s even building battery swapping stations in Europe. And that’s the kind of game changer that could propel NIO to the top of the EV sales charts.
FORD PRO OFFERS 6 EV CHARGING SOLUTIONS
Charging EVs is a big concern for buyers, especially for fleets. So to make the transition to electric as smooth as possible, Ford’s new commercial division, Ford Pro, is offering fleets six types of chargers, for home use all the way up to large-scale depot systems. They’re capable of power outputs of 11.5 kW up to 180 kW. Ford Pro will provide installation, software, services and financing. Better still, the hardware and software will work with other automaker’s electric vehicles as well. And even if fleets don’t want their own chargers, they’ll still have access to Ford’s BlueOval Charge Network, which has over 20,000 public locations in North America.
GM TESTING CAR-TO-HOME POWER
Meanwhile, GM is working on a way for its EVs to provide power on demand. It’s collaborating with Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E, to test bidirectional charging, so an electric vehicle can be used as a backup power source for a home. The first pilots kick off this summer using EVs and a charger with vehicle-to-home charging capability, and they plan to expand to larger customer trials before the end of the year. Since all of GM’s upcoming EVs are based on its Ultium platforms, all of them could all have this capability.
HINO READIES E-AXLE
Hino, which is Toyota’s truck company, is also getting on the EV bandwagon. It just started real world tests with an electric axle on its XL heavy-duty electric truck. The electric axle is made by Allison Transmission and features two electric motors, which have a peak combined power of 652-kW. That’s about 860 horsepower. The e-Axle even integrates a two-speed gearbox and a differential lock within the central housing. Put it all together and it can support a 23,000-pound gross axle weight rating.
UBER & LYFT DRIVERS SLAMMED BY GAS PRICES
Uber and Lyft drivers are getting slammed by soaring gasoline prices. And they’re venting on social media. Some have quit and others are thinking about it. Others signed a petition to pass the extra cost of gas onto passengers. Uber and Lyft put out statements saying they care about their drivers and are monitoring the situation. But it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen. Those costs are going to have to get passed along to consumers.
RENAULT AUSTRAL SUV DEBUTS
Renault is expanding its utility lineup with an all-new vehicle, called the Austral. The front end is dominated by large C-shaped lighting with large air curtains below in the lower bumper. Two character lines that fade into the doors help accentuate the fenders. And the same C-shape lighting is picked up in the rear and connected by a long light bar. The interior is flush with flat surfaces and horizontal lines, which really makes the large display screens for the instrument cluster and infotainment stand out. Power comes from a range of hybrid and mild-hybrid setups with 3- to 4-cylinder engines and as much as 200 horsepower combined. A number of ADAS features as well as option 4-wheel steering round out our list of highlights. The new Austral will go on sale in the 4th quarter of this year.
OLIVER SCHMIDT BACK ON AUTOLINE
Oliver Schmidt was right smack in the middle of Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal. He played a major role in the coverup and paid the price for it. He was arrested in the US and sent to a federal penitentiary in Milan, Michigan for 5 years. But now he’s out of jail and back in Germany. He’s also going to be our guest on Autoline After Hours this Thursday, and he’s ready to talk about everything he went through. So we invite you to pull up a chair and hear it all first hand. Brett Smith from the Center for Auto Research will also be on the show, so join John and Gary for what will undoubtedly be a very memorable show.
CONTINENTAL CUTS TIRE WEIGHT 40%
German supplier Continental is developing a tire for future use that’s made with a lot of recycled and renewable materials. 17% of the tire comes from recycled plastic bottles. 35% comes from renewable materials such as natural rubber from dandelions, silicate from rice husks, as well as vegetable oils and resins. Conti’s goal is to grow dandelions right next to its tire plants to eliminate carbon emissions from long-distance transportation. It’s even recycling steel and carbon black from used tires. Better still, these tires are 40% lighter than conventional tires, which improves ride and handling and the overall efficiency of a car, whether it’s a battery electric or has an IC engine.
AUSTRALIA LIFTS POTATO LAW
Whoa, stop the presses! Here’s a story that slipped right under our noses and we only got word of it right now. Did you know it was illegal in Australia to carry 50 kilos of potatoes in the trunk of your car? That’s about 100 pounds. And if you were caught, you faced a $2,000 fine. That was for the first offense. If they caught you again, it was a $5,000 fine. And even though that’s 5,000 Australian dollars, it’s still a lot of money. That law, the Marketing of Potatoes Act, went on the books in 1946. Most states gradually repealed it, but it was still on the books until last year, when Western Australia, the state at the far western end of the great Down Under, was the last to lift the law. We here at Autoline apologize from the bottom of our hearts for not getting the news to you sooner. And we thank our Aussie viewer, Warwick Dundas, for bringing this to our attention.
But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.