Listen to “AD #3293 – VW Going To Use Gigacastings; UAW Pres. Responds To Elon Musk; Seatbelt Chimes to Become More Annoying” on Spreaker.
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0:07 VW Is Going to Use Gigacastings
0:59 Porsche & Audi May Be Headed to F1
1:37 Seatbelt Chimes to Become More Annoying
3:04 U.S. To Boost Domestic Raw Material Mining for Batteries
3:44 Tesla Signs Secret Nickel Contract
4:13 Japanese Motorcycle Makers Agree to Battery Swapping
5:20 UAW President Responds to Elon Musk
6:42 Lincoln Sells More Cars in China Than U.S.
7:22 Waymo To Offer AV Rides In San Francisco
8:08 Mark Reuss Coming to Autoline After Hours
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
VW IS GOING TO USE GIGACASTINGS
Volkswagen is going to use gigacastings, too. Just like Tesla. VW’s CEO Herbert Diess is trying to light a fire under his people to catch up to Tesla in manufacturing productivity. Tesla reportedly uses 10 labor hours to make its car, while VW needs about 30 labor hours. One of the ways to reduce labor hours is to use fewer parts to make a car, and gigacastings that form part of the front and rear structure of a car can eliminate up to 140 body panels. It’s all part of Volkswagen’s Trinity project, which is an all-out effort to catch up to Tesla on a number of fronts including software. VW is going to build a $2 billion plant in Wolfsburg, Germany that’s dedicated to making EVs that come out of the Trinity project.
PORSCHE & AUDI MAY BE HEADED TO F1
Speaking of Volkswagen, it’s likely going to give the green light for Porsche and Audi to get into Formula One racing. Reuters reports that Audi will invest over half a billion dollars in McLaren’s Formula one team, while Porsche is going to team up with Red Bull racing. One stipulation, though. Formula One has to commit to using synthetic fuels that are carbon neutral, or VW will not allow its subsidiaries to compete. And while F1 has talked about doing that anyway, this will make sure that only syn fuels will be used by 2026.
SEATBELT CHIMES TO BECOME MORE ANNOYING
Seat belt chimes can be pretty annoying, even for those of us who always buckle up. And those chimes are about to get a lot worse. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants the warnings to last longer and chime louder. Right now the chimes have to last 4 to 8 seconds and there has to be a visual reminder that lasts at least 60 seconds when the driver’s belt is unbuckled. But the IIHS says the warnings need to be more noticeable and more persistent. The IIHS just evaluated 26 SUVs and only two, the Subaru Forester and Ascent, earned a Good rating. And I can tell you from personal experience that they are the most annoying chimes of all.
U.S. TO BOOST DOMESTIC RAW MATERIAL MINING FOR BATTERIES
The U.S. is getting more serious about securing domestic sources for the raw materials needed to make EV batteries. President Biden is planning to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost mining of those raw materials. Right now the U.S. relies heavily on foreign sources. And in a related move the Administration is looking at tapping into the nation’s Strategic Oil Reserves to boost supply and make up for the shortfall from cutting off Russia. The administration is considering releasing a million barrels a day, or up to 180 million barrels over the next several months, which would be the largest in U.S. history.
TESLA SIGNS SECRET NICKEL CONTRACT
Speaking of raw materials supplies, Bloomberg reports that Tesla signed an undisclosed multi-year deal with Brazilian mining company Vale to supply it with nickel from Canada. The price of the metal has soared recently and all automakers are scrambling to lock up supplies. Earlier this week, Japan’s Sumitomo Metal said it expects global nickel demand to jump nearly a quarter this year for EV batteries.
JAPANESE MOTORCYCLE MAKERS AGREE TO BATTERY SWAPPING
China is really pushing the idea of swappable batteries for electric cars. And now Japanese motorcycle makers are embracing the idea. Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, along with Japanese oil company ENEOS, are forming a new company called Gachaco for battery swapping for electric motorcycles. Here’s the really important part. Those motorcycle companies have agreed to standardize their battery packs so they can be used in any motorcycle. It all starts this fall in Tokyo. In the future, Gachaco will also use standard swappable batteries for other applications, like storage batteries for commercial and home use. And ENEOS will reuse batteries for second-life applications and eventually recycle them.
UAW PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO ELON MUSK
Earlier this month, Elon Musk sent out a tweet supposedly “inviting” the UAW to try and organize Tesla’s workers at its plant in Fremont, California. During an Automotive Press Association interview, UAW President Ray Curry was asked about that tweet and here’s what he had to say.
(Ray Curry soundbite is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
Sure sounds like the UAW really isn’t going to try and organize those Tesla workers. After all, Elon didn’t invite the union to try an organizing effort. He dared them to try. And that’s because he’s pretty confident his workers will reject the union. And that’s why we think the UAW is not going to even try.
LINCOLN SELLS MORE CARS IN CHINA THAN U.S.
Lincoln now officially sells more cars in China than in the United States and Canada. 91,000 versus 83,000 to be precise. While mass-market foreign brands, like Chevrolet and Ford, are seeing sales slide in China, foreign luxury brands are still doing very well. Lincoln has really concentrated on providing superior customer sales and service in China as a way to differentiate itself, and the effort is paying off. It just placed Number One in JD Power’s Customer Satisfaction Index in China, ahead of Audi and Porsche.
WAYMO TO OFFER AV RIDES IN SAN FRANCISCO
Fully autonomous robotaxis keep inching closer towards reality. GM Cruise is providing rides without a safety driver in the car in San Francisco, and now it’s Waymo’s turn. Right now Waymo is only providing rides for employees. The next step is to offer rides to people who agree to join a waitlist and sign a non-disclosure agreement. But that’s in San Francisco. Waymo has 500 robotaxis in the Phoenix area providing rides without a safety driver. It’s even expanding the service to include downtown Phoenix. And back in California, Waymo racked up more than 2 million miles of autonomous driving on public roads last year, the most of any AV company.
MARK REUSS COMING TO AUTOLINE AFTER HOURS
A programming note here. There will not be an Autoline After Hours this afternoon. But two weeks from today we’re going to have Mark Reuss, the president of General Motors on the show, and it’s going to be all about GM’s EV strategy. And we’re going to devote the last segment of the show to your questions. So if you’ve got questions you’d like to pose to the president of General Motors about their electric car strategy, send them our way. But we’re only going to ask a handful of viewer questions and we’re only going to ask the best ones. So you’ve got two weeks to figure out some really good questions.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.