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0:00 Ford & VW Drop AV Partner
1:30 Ford Still Expects to Meet Full Year Profit Goals
2:36 Ford Backs Off Russia
3:41 New F-Series Super Duty Nabs Top Marks
4:34 Ford Axing the Fiesta
5:24 GM Hits Renewables Goal 25 Years Early
6:01 Toyota Withholding Smart Keys to Speed Up Deliveries
7:12 Tesla Model Y Tops All Registrations in EU
7:54 Lordstown Starts Public Charging Tests
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FORD & VW DROP AV PARTNER
Big news in the world of autonomous cars today. And none of it is good. Both Ford and VW are throwing in the towel on developing AVs and Argo AI is going out of business. Both automakers had invested several billion dollars in the AI startup, but Argo is out of money and has been unable to attract any other investors. Ford and VW were not interested in investing more since autonomous cars are still years away from reaching mass production and turning a profit. And this raises serious issues for two other car companies: General Motors and Tesla. GM is continuing to invest in AVs through GM Cruise which continues to lose money although GM says Cruise is ready to start scaling up in multiple markets. And Tesla has been charging customers $15,000 for autonomous technology that really isn’t fully autonomous. We think investors are going to have some pointed questions for Mary Barra and Elon Musk as to when they expect to deliver truly autonomous cars that put significant money on the bottom line.
FORD STILL EXPECTS TO MEET FULL YEAR PROFIT GOALS
Meanwhile, Ford posted a third quarter loss as it took a $2.7 billion non-cash charge to write off its investment in Argo AI. Ford sold just over a million vehicles in the quarter, up 7% from last year. It brought in $39 billion in revenue, which was up 10% thanks to higher prices. But it posted a net loss of $827 million. Even so, the company expects to meet its profit goals for the full year, and says it will nearly double its cash flow from last year. Ford is going to absorb part of Argo AI’s people and pivot from developing Level 4 autonomy and use them to develop Level 2 and 3, instead, which includes Ford’s hands-free Blue Cruise driving system. Lincoln calls it Active Glide. The company says 83,000 customers have signed up for the system so far which includes a subscription fee.
FORD BACKS OFF RUSSIA
Just a day after Mercedes said it’s leaving the Russian market, Ford announced it is doing the same. The automaker suspended operations in the country back in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and now it’s selling its 49% joint venture stake to partner Sollers. But Ford isn’t completely walking away from the partnership and is retaining the option to repurchase its shares within a five-year period, if the situation changes.
NEW F-SERIES SUPER DUTY NABS TOP MARKS
Truck makers love to have bragging rights over their competition and Ford was aiming for best-in-class towing, payload, torque and horsepower when it introduced the new F-Series Super Duty about a month ago. And now it can claim those top honors. With the truck’s high-output version of the 6.7L diesel V8 it makes 500 horsepower and 1,200 lb-ft of torque and can haul 8,000 pounds in the bed or tow up to 40,000 pounds. Those are all best-in-class figures for heavy duty trucks. So, is the power output for its new 7.3L V8 gas engine, which makes 430 horsepower and 485 lb-ft of torque. The new F-Series Super Duty goes on sale early next year.
FORD AXING THE FIESTA
We knew there would be casualties in the transition to electric vehicles, but this one’s still a little bit surprising. There’s a little less celebrating going on at Ford today as it announced it’s getting rid of the Fiesta. The car was first introduced in 1976 and more than 22 million have been sold in its 7 generations, but production will end next summer. It doesn’t sound like there will be a direct replacement for the Fiesta, but a new mid-size electric crossover that’s based on Volkswagen’s MEB architecture will be made at the same plant as the Fiesta in Germany. Production of that model starts as soon as the Fiesta is gone. Ford says it plans to roll out 9 new EVs in Europe by 2024.
GM HITS RENEWABLE GOAL 25 YEARS AHEAD OF TIME
Back in 2016 General Motors set a goal of running all its plants in the U.S. on renewable energy by 2050. Then last year it moved that goal up to 2030. And yesterday GM announced it will accomplish it by 2025. GM says it’s been reducing how much energy it uses and has locked in agreements with 16 renewable energy plants in 10 different states. And it’s also getting clean energy through direct investment, on-site generation, green tariffs and power purchase agreements.
TOYOTA WITHHOLDING SMART KEYS TO SPEED UP DELIVERIES
The chip shortage has hurt production for all automakers but especially Toyota. Reuters reports that the automaker is telling suppliers it only expects to build 9.5 million vehicles for the year, which is down from its previous forecast of 9.7 million. And to help deliver vehicles to customers more quickly in Japan, the automaker is replacing one of its two electronic “smart” key fobs with a regular one. As soon as it has enough chip supplies it will provide customers with the electronic fob.
TESLA MODEL Y TOPS ALL REGISTRATIONS IN EU
European car buyers are embracing Tesla. Last week, we reported that Tesla is number one in BEV sales in Germany so far this year. And now market research firm JATO Dynamics reports, the Model Y had the most registrations of any vehicle in Europe in September. More than 29,000 Model Ys were registered last month, which is up a whopping 227% compared to last year. The boost in sales has been helped by Tesla ramping up production at its Berlin Gigafactory, which opened in March. The plant is now producing 2,000 units a week.
LORDSTOWN STARTS PUBLIC CHARGING TESTS
Lordstown Motors has been through a lot trying to bring its all-electric commercial pickup to market, but it appears to be making progress. While the truck is built in Ohio at a plant that is now owned by Foxconn, Lordstown has an R&D center in Michigan that’s located not too far from the Autoline studio. And for about the last week or so we’ve seen trucks parked and charging at a local spot that’s attached to a gas station. We went to ask a bunch of questions, like what’s the charging rate, how big is the battery, is this the version with four hub motors, how is the overall driving experience? You know, stuff like that. But, unfortunately, the driver said it was his very first day and that the company didn’t tell them anything about the truck’s specs. I’ll make a point to stop if I see them again next week and hopefully I can provide an update.
Toyota has been very skeptical of electric cars and has vigorously defended its strategy to put its emphasis on hybrids instead. But now the company is reportedly going to do a U-turn and go whole-hog into EVs. It may even scrap some electrics that are already under development. So what the heck is going on at the company? That’s going to be the topic on Autoline After Hours this afternoon. Jack Keebler and Todd Lassa will be on the show with John and Gary and we invite you to listen in on what they have to say when the show goes live at 3 pm estern time.
But that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.