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0:08 U.S. OEMs Slowly Build Back Inventory
0:50 Commercial Vehicles Sales Slow in China
1:34 Tesla Sales Record Spells Trouble for China EV Makers
3:18 VW Had New Phaeton Ready
4:25 Bentley Adopts Airline Seat Specs
5:26 Opel Converts EV Van to Flatbed
6:48 Biden Wants States to Track Vehicle Emissions
7:34 BMW Doubles EV Sales
8:15 Volvo Drops Out of ACEA
9:03 Pete Brock on AAH
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. OEMs SLOWLY BUILD BACK INVENTORY
Automakers in the US are slowly building back inventory, though they’re still at extremely low levels. Ward’s Intelligence reports that automakers finished up last month with 28 days’ of inventory, up from only 25 days’ in May. They now have 1.2 million vehicles at dealerships, rail yards and at ports. That’s nearly 90,000 more than they had in May. But it represents only about two days of sales. And here’s a great little factoid for you. Automakers are selling 43,333 cars and trucks a day.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLES SALES SLOW IN CHINA
Meanwhile, over in China, car sales are really picking up. Chinese automakers sold 2.5 million passenger vehicles in June, up 34% from a year ago. That was largely thanks to the government cutting the sales tax in half to boost sales, and expanding subsidies for New Energy Vehicles. But on the commercial side of the business it was a different story. Sales of trucks and buses were down, as Covid lockdowns in parts of the country have upset logistics and supply chains. Commercial vehicle sales are often considered a leading indicator of the economy, and they are expected to be down 16% for the full year.
TESLA SALES RECORD SPELLS TROUBLE FOR CHINA EV MAKERS
Tesla set an all-time record in China, selling nearly 79,000 EVs in June. In fact, it sold over 52,000 Model Ys, which put it ahead of the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV that starts at only $4,200. One reason why Tesla’s sales were so high was that it exported fewer than 1,000 vehicles from China, and devoted all that production to the Chinese market instead. And that makes us think that the June sales indicate demand for Tesla in China is a lot higher than we thought. We need to keep an eye on this. As Tesla ramps up its assembly plants in Berlin and Texas, it will not have to export as many vehicles out of China, and that could spell trouble for other Chinese EV makers if Tesla grabs more of the market.
VW HAD NEW PHAETON READY
If it wasn’t for Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal there almost assuredly would have been another generation of the Phaeton sedan. Or at least, that’s how VW is spinning the story. The car, which was the brainchild of former CEO Ferdinand Piech, was a sales flop. And when Piech retired in 2015 no one else was in favor of keeping the car. Even so, these images show VW came close to coming out with a new version of the luxury sedan. I mean, there was even a prototype, called D2, that actually could run and drive. But Dieselgate finally forced the company’s hand and it completely shifted its focus to EVs. The Phaeton was officially discontinued in 2016. But take a moment and soak in this prototype. I’m impressed with how modern the interior and exterior design look, even though it was probably done in 2014 and 2015, 7-8 years ago. I almost feel like designers have the ability to see into the future.
BENTLEY ADOPTS AIRLINE SEAT SPECS
Speaking of luxury vehicles, Bentley is taking customers to new heights of comfort with its Airline Seat Specification. Available in the new long-wheelbase version of the Bentayga, these are said to be the most advanced seats ever fitted in a vehicle. Not only are there 22-ways of adjustment, but they have selectable temperature settings. The seat can determine whether to apply heat, ventilation or both at the same time. What’s more, it automatically makes micro adjustments to the passenger’s seating position, so pressure is spread more evenly across the body, making trips more comfortable. The whole ‘Airline Seat Specification’ seems a bit like a marketing ploy, like ‘Military-Grade Steel or Aluminum,’ but comfortable seats really do make a big difference. And half of Bentayga long wheelbase customers have opted for the Airline seats.
OPEL CONVERTS EV VAN TO FLATBED
Vans offer a lot of versatility and electric vans are no different. Opel is launching a version of its Vivaro-e van with a flatbed on the back. The bed is a little over 2.4 by 1.8 meters or 8-feet long by 6-feet wide and features folding aluminum sides. There’s two battery sizes available; 50 kWh and 75 kWh, which provides up to 328 kilometers or just over 200 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle. With the 50-kWh battery, it’s capable of a payload up to 960 kilograms or over 2,100 pounds. The conversions are done by a specialist company in Germany.
BIDEN WANTS STATES TO TRACK VEHICLE EMISSIONS
The Biden Administration has a novel proposal. It wants to let the states set their own standards to reduce vehicle emissions. The White House wants at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030 from 2005 levels. And it wants net-zero emissions by 2050. The Department of Transportation wants to give states the flexibility to set their own targets as long as “they are in line with the net zero goals by 2050.” States would also have to report on their progress and set two and four year targets. Right now about half of the 50 states already track their vehicle emissions, but this would force all of them to do it.
BMW DOUBLES EV SALES
BMW more than doubled its BEV sales in the first half of the year. The automaker sold nearly 76,000 fully electric cars, including MINI, not a large amount but a 110% gain compared to a year ago. While its BEV sales soared, sales of its ICE vehicles tumbled. Overall, BMW sold 1.16 million vehicles in the first six months of 2022, a drop of 13.3%. The company blames the war in Ukraine, Covid lockdowns in China and a shortage of semiconductor chips for the sales drop.
VOLVO DROPS OUT OF ACEA
Volvo announced it’s leaving the European Automobile Manufacturers Association or ACEA, which is the lobbying group for the European auto industry. Volvo is unhappy with the group’s decision to not back the EUs goal of banning ICE sales by 2035. The automaker plans to go all-electric by 2030. This is the second time in a month an automaker has left the organization with Stellantis dropping out in June. But it did so for the opposite reason. Volvo dropped out because it wants a more aggressive approach. Stellantis thinks the ACEA is moving too quickly to ban ICE vehicles. It prefers to use more hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
PETE BROCK ON AAH
We’ve got a great Autoline After Hours with the legendary Peter Brock coming up this Thursday. When he was only 19 years old he was hired by General Motors Design and essentially did the original Corvette StingRay. Later he designed the Shelby Daytona Coupe. And his BRE, or Brock Racing Enterprises, became a formidable force racing Datsuns in the 1970s. He has an amazing life story and you can learn all about it later this week on Autoline After Hours.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll be right back here again tomorrow.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.