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0:00 VW Could Push Back New EV Plant
0:59 Stellantis Buys an AV Company
1:25 JLR CEO Abruptly Resigns
1:50 Genesis Gets 1,000 KM from Solar Roof
2:36 New Prius Prime Gets Solar Roof
3:29 Fiat 500e Making U.S. Return
4:26 Toyota Reveals All-Electric bZ Concept
5:32 Final NSX Rolls Off the Assembly Line
6:06 Fisker Ocean Starts Production
7:32 Waymo & ZEEKR Debut AV Taxi
8:41 Audi Trying New Mobility Model
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
VW COULD PUSH BACK NEW EV PLANT
More than a year ago, Volkswagen launched its Trinity project which is an all-out effort to catch up to Tesla on a number of fronts, including software. The electric vehicles developed as part of the project will be based on the company’s new SSP platform. VW planned to build the models at a new 2-billion-euro plant in Wolfsburg, Germany starting in 2026. But Reuters reports that CEO Oliver Blume is reviewing plans to build that plant and could push it back until 2030. The automaker still plans to launch models based on the SSP platform but it may build them at its main factory in Wolfsburg instead. VW is facing pressure to ramp up EV production but this shows how tough it is for the legacy automakers.
STELLANTIS BUYS AV COMPANY
To help accelerate its autonomous driving efforts, Stellantis is acquiring aiMotive, a company based in Hungary that’s developing artificial intelligence and autonomous driving software. The financial details weren’t revealed. The acquisition is part of the automaker’s goal to generate around 20 billion euros in revenue a year from software enabled products and subscriptions.
JLR CEO ABRUPTLY RESIGNS
Jaguar Land Rover CEO, Thierry Bollore, is resigning from the company at the end of the year due to “personal reasons.” Bollore became CEO of JLR in 2020, after previously holding the same position at Renault. Adrian Mardell, who has worked at the company for 32 years and is a member of the board, will take over on an interim basis.
GENESIS GETS 1,000 KM FROM SOLAR ROOF
Genesis is sharing details about the solar roof that’s available on the electric version of the G80 in Europe. The panel can add around 1,000 kilometers or 715 miles of range a year based on an average of six hours of sunlight a day. That works out to 3 kilometers or just under 2 miles a day. The solar roof is also able to charge the car’s 12-volt battery, providing extra power for things like air conditioning. The electric G80 has a starting price of 65,000 pounds in the UK or about $76,600 and the solar panel roof costs an additional 1,360 pounds or $1,600.
PRIUS PRIME FEATURES SOLAR ROOF
The all-new Prius Prime (PHEV) will also have a solar roof. Toyota says it will use the system to provide energy to the battery while it’s stationary and to assist things like the HVAC system when it’s in motion.
FIAT 500e MAKING U.S. RETURN
The electric version of the Fiat 500 is making its return to North America. The model has been absent from the U.S. market since 2019 but in 2020 Fiat launched an all-new version of the electric 500, which is called the 500e, for Europe. And now that model will go on sale in North America in the first quarter of 2024. Fiat didn’t reveal any specs for the U.S. version but over in Europe the 500e is available with a 42-kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides a range of 320 kilometers based on the WLTP cycle, that’s just under 200 miles. If it offers the same setup, that number will be lower in the EPA test but it could be some time before we learn the details. The North American 500e won’t make its official debut until next year’s LA Auto Show.
TOYOTA REVEALS NEW ALL-ELECTRIC bZ CONCEPT
Speaking of LA reveals, Toyota is giving us a hint of what its future all-electric bZ lineup could look like. The bZ Compact SUV Concept has a similar hard-edged styling like the bZ4x, but to us the design also appears more flowy without the blocky cladding slapped on over the wheel arches and smoother sections over the tops of the fenders. We told you yesterday that the all-new Prius would likely fit in with Toyota’s future EVs and you can certainly see the family resemblance in the front end treatment, especially the lighting. While the interior still looks very much like a concept to me, its style is very spartan with only a few visible controls and a large, thick bar that wraps around the dash and onto the doors. It’s also highlighted by a rectangular steering wheel and two curved display screens. But not curved like you’d expect. They curve up from the bottom like someone glued the end down and then tried to pull them up.
FINAL NSX ROLLS OFF ASSEMBLY LINE
It’s a little bit of a sad day for sports car enthusiasts. The Acura NSX is no more. #350 of 350 rolled off the assembly line yesterday. The iconic car made its comeback in 2016 as a hybrid supercar, but its place on the factory floor is being swapped for a limited run of the TLX Type S. However, we shouldn’t shed too many tears. There’s strong rumors the NSX will return as a BEV.
FISKER OCEAN STARTS PRODUCTION
Fisker’s all-electric Ocean SUV has officially started production. The model is being built in Austria by the supplier Magna. More than 300 will be produced in the first quarter of 2023. That will increase to 8,000 in Q2, then 15,000 in the third quarter and by Q4 of next year a total of 42,400 will be built. Fisker has received 63,000 reservations for the Ocean and two trim levels are sold out in the U.S. for 2023. It took a little over two years to develop the EV, which contains more than 50 kilos or about 110 pounds of recycled and biodegradable materials. The top trim features a 350 mile range and has a starting price just under $69,000.
WAYMO & ZEEKR DEBUT AUTONOMOUS TAXI
Waymo famously uses a fleet of Chrysler Pacificas and Jaguar I-Paces for its autonomous ride-hailing services. But eventually it’s going to incorporate its own purpose-built AVs. Well, I shouldn’t say its own. About a year ago it announced a partnership with Geely’s premium EV brand ZEEKR to develop an autonomous taxi and now that vehicle is making its debut. It looks like a futuristic minivan. It’s built on ZEEKR’s SEA-M platform and features sensor packages from Waymo on the roof, corners and bumpers of the vehicle. To make it easier for passengers to get in, both the front and rear doors slide out and away from each other. But once they are inside it might look a little weird with no steering wheel or pedals. ZEEKR will also get its own version of the vehicle, called the M-Vision, which is said to offer both a version with a steering wheel and one without. While we don’t know when Waymo will start incorporating the vehicle into its fleet, the M-Vision is supposed to go into production in 2024.
AUDI TRYING NEW MOBILITY MODEL
Back in 2012 a couple of entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas started a car rental service using only silver Audi A4s. They called the company Silver Car. It was successful enough that Audi bought the company in 2017 and called it Silver Car by Audi. Now it’s changing the name to Audi on Demand and adding the e-Tron Sportback to the fleet. There are 38 Audi dealers in the U.S. that offer the service and more are on the way. Audi on Demand is also offering long term rentals up to a year. That sure sounds like a subscription service to us. So maybe this new mobility model has a chance of catching on.
And be sure to join us for Autoline After Hours this afternoon. Our special guest for the show is Martin Fischer, a member of the board of management at the supplier ZF. Also joining John and Gary is Lindsay Brooke, from SAE. It will be a fun show and it all kicks off at 3PM eastern time on our website or our YouTube channel.
But that brings us to the end of 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.