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0:07 Ford Earnings Suggest More Cuts Coming
1:28 Rivian CEO Drops From List of Billionaires
2:09 NHTSA Takes Too Long to Set Rules
3:45 Polestar 2 Updates Add Range
4:37 Mach-E Owner Has Poor Dealer Experience
5:48 Stellantis Holds Hackathon to Find New Talent
7:17 Buyers Prefer Online Experience Over Dealer
8:12 VW Wants to Expand U.S. EV Manufacturing
9:32 Mahle Develops Tool to Check EV Battery Health
10:19 Toyota Supra Finally Gets a Manual
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FORD EARNINGS SUGGEST MORE CUTS COMING
Ford reported its first quarter earnings yesterday and the numbers don’t look too good. It sold 966,000 vehicles worldwide, down 9% from a year ago. That brought in $34.5 billion in revenue, down 5%, and it posted a net loss of $3.1 billion versus a profit of $3.3 billion last year. But that loss was completely caused by the big drop in the value of Rivian stock that Ford owns. Back in November, Rivian hit a high of $172 a share. Today it’s trading at $31. And that forced Ford to book a $4.8 billion loss. So, to get a better idea of how Ford’s basic automotive operations are doing we need to strip out the Rivian numbers. Doing that, we see that Ford managed to post an operating profit of $1.3 billion. But that’s a 45% drop from last year. And that means we can expect to see a lot more cost cutting at the company. Just this morning Ford announced it’s cutting headcount by 580 people, which we estimate will save about $100 million.
RIVIAN CEO DROPS FROM LIST OF BILLIONAIRES
By the way, that big drop in Rivian stock got CEO RJ Scaringe delisted from Forbes’ magazine list of billionaires. When Rivian’s stock was riding high, Scaringe had a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. Now he’s worth $700 million. Another automotive-related delisted billionaire was Didi’s founder Cheng Wei. He went from $1.2 billion to $300 million. In fact, 45% of all the billionaires who were delisted come from China.
NHTSA TAKING TOO LONG TO SET RULES
As we’ve reported before, it takes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration forever to get anything done. It typically takes NHTSA 7 years to write a new safety rule. And now the Government Accountability Office says that NHTSA has failed to complete 17 of 22 rulemaking requirements by their Congressional deadlines. You can’t completely blame NHTSA. Every time a new administration comes in, it sets new priorities for NHTSA. The issues it deals with are technically and legally complex and Congress hasn’t given the agency enough resources. Even so, several members of the House of Representatives are fed up with the slow progress and are calling on NHTSA to complete the safety directives. And if this goads the agency into action, we’ll let you know.
POLESTAR 2 UPDATES ADD MORE RANGE
The Polestar 2 is getting a few updates. But these are happening at the factory, not over-the-air. The cell chemistry in the battery was improved in the standard range single motor model, which boosts capacity to 69-kWh, up from 64-kWh. And range is now up to 474 kilometers or 294 miles based on the WLTP cycle, which is 4 miles more than before. Charging speed and the motor output are also improved. Its CO2 emission footprint has been reduced thanks to using aluminum sourced and produced with renewable energy. Other updates include new wheel designs and exterior colors and the interior trim gets some new design and spec updates.
MACH-E OWNER HAS POOR DEALER EXPERIENCE
Do you own a Mustang Mach-E? Then we want to hear from you. What’s your experience been with your dealer? Here’s why we’re asking. Autoline viewer Brad Mike wanted a Mach-E. But the local dealers in Nashville, Tennessee wanted too much of a markup, so he traveled to Mississippi where he could buy one at MSRP. That was last year. Then, this month, he got a “stop safely now” warning, and took it to a local Ford dealer, where he was told they had no EV techs. The Mach-E sat there for a week until he complained to Ford directly, which fixed his car with an over-the-air update. That was good for a couple of weeks until his car started experiencing charge faults due to an overheating problem. He went back to the dealer which again told him they had no available EV techs to work on it. So if you’re a Mach-E owner, we want to know what your dealership experience has been. You can post in the comments section, or send an email to email@example.com
STELLANTIS HOLDS HACKATHON TO LOOK FOR NEW TALENT
Cyber security is a real issue in the auto industry. Automakers and suppliers have to constantly be on the lookout for cyber attacks, and they need to hire new talent that knows how to do this. That’s why Stellantis just held its first Hackathon in Detroit this week for college software engineers. Using a cloud-based software development kit, Stellantis asked students to create apps that “gamify” driving to encourage safer and more fuel-efficient driving. The apps used data including braking force, acceleration rate, engine rpm, vehicle speed, fuel economy and seat belt status. The hackathon is really about Stellantis finding the kind of talent it wants to hire. It handed out $22,000 in prizes, and the top team received $15,000.
BUYERS PREFER ONLINE EXPERIENCE OVER DEALER
The insurance company Progressive makes those funny commercials about how we end up turning into our parents. Well, soon it’s going to have to do one about going into the dealership to buy a car. It did a survey of 501 car buyers to see what they prefer, buying a car at a dealership, or buying it online. Half of the buyers it surveyed did the entire process online, the other half did it face-to-face at the dealer. Less than 30% of the buyers that went into the dealer were under the age of 40. And the vast majority of them, 78%, were highly satisfied with online buying. Only 58% of the people who went to a dealer were highly satisfied. The same was true of the trade-in and financing process. Bottom line? Buyers prefer the online experience over going to a dealer.
VW WANTS MORE U.S. EV MANUFACTURING
Volkswagen wants to expand its manufacturing footprint in the U.S. Currently it only has a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which makes the Atlas and recently started pre-production of the ID.4. But according to reports it’s considering either expanding the current plant or building a new one next door to produce the ID. BUZZ van and a new electric pickup. And remember, it would avoid a 25% import tariff by making the truck in the U.S. The extra capacity could increase its manufacturing capacity to 600,000 units a year and it’s also considering building a battery cell plant in the U.S. As you probably know, VW’s current EVs are coming off its MEB platform, which gives it the ability to produce a number of different body styles from one plant. But the van and truck could be very closely related judging by this rendering shown by the VW Group’s head of design who asks, “Shall we bring it to the next level?” He also showed a sketch of what definitely looks like an Up, but with some ID flare thrown in. Let us know what you think of both.
MAHLE DEVELOPS TOOL TO CHECK BATTERY HEALTH
You can get some information on an electric vehicle’s battery through the OBD II port, but the supplier Mahle has developed a way to get an even more detailed report on the health of the battery. It’s a tool that plugs right into the charging port and takes about 10 minutes to download battery data, which then gets uploaded to the cloud for analysis. Mahle says these diagnostics can prevent two million tons of batteries from being discarded prematurely by extending their useful life by 5 years, for a savings of 50 billion euros. Mahle also says this tool helps independent repair shops future-proof themselves beyond working only on vehicles with internal combustion engines.
SUPRA FINALLY GETS A MANUAL
It should have had it from the jump, but the Toyota Supra is finally getting a manual transmission. For the 2023 model year it will gain the option of three pedals that give the driver the ability to shift through all six gears. But for now, this is only for 6-cylinder versions. Other updates include retuned suspension and braking systems. And it will be available at dealers later this year. Even though the take-rate on manual transmissions is very low–generally in the 3% range–the people who want them are passionate enthusiasts who can be very loyal to a brand. And in their eyes, a car company that offers a manual gets instant street cred.
Speaking of hard-core car enthusiasts, that’s the topic on Autoline After Hours today. Or, instead of topic, maybe I should say that’s the debate: will enthusiasts really go for electric cars? Mike Musto from Hemmings and Henry Payne, the car critic from the Detroit News will be on board, so join John and Gary for what could turn into a really good argument.
But that’s all we’ve got for today. Thanks for joining us.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.