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0:08 Honda To Make Fuel Cell CR-V in U.S. In 2024
0:47 UAW Rank & File Ignore Election
1:36 NEVs Hit 31% Market Share in China
2:21 Scout Talking to Foxconn & Magna for Assembly
3:27 Opel’s First BEV Wagon
4:23 VW Delays Major EV Project
5:17 Hyundai & CATL Become Battery Partners
6:02 Hyundai Names Top Designer as President
6:55 U.S. November Sales Could Be Good
7:54 Corvette to Become Standalone Brand
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HONDA TO MAKE FUEL CELL CR-V IN U.S. IN 2024
Honda is forging ahead with fuel cell cars. In fact, it’s going to start making a fuel-cell CR-V in 2024 at the same assembly plant in Marysville, Ohio where it made the Acura NSX. In addition to the fuel cell, it will even have a big enough battery for plug-in driving. That’s so drivers don’t have to rely solely on hydrogen fuel. The assembly plant, called the Performance Manufacturing Center, is a very low-volume facility. So Honda is making sure it doesn’t overcommit to making fuel cell cars until they establish themselves in the marketplace.
UAW RANK & FILE IGNORE ELECTION
Well this is totally shocking. Federal prosecutors forced the UAW to change the way it elects officers because of rampant corruption in the union. Union members used to elect delegates who would then select the officers. But the Feds forced the union to go to direct election of offices. You’d think that would energize the rank and file, but just the opposite happened. Only 11% of UAW members voted for their new officers. Nearly 90% didn’t even bother. One union member said that’s because they don’t see any value in voting because they don’t think anything is going to change.
NEVs HIT 31% MARKET SHARE IN CHINA
China is running into problems with Covid lockdowns and nationwide protests against the government’s policies. But sales of New Energy Vehicles continue to grow at a rapid pace. LMC Automotive says that last month, sales of BEVs and PHEVs were up 67% and 150%, respectively. BEVs accounted for 22% of total car sales while PHEVs accounted for 9%. The top three BEVs by production were the BYD Song, the Wuling Hongguang Mini BEV and the Tesla Model Y. Through October Chinese customers bought almost 5.3 million BEVs and PHEVs.
SCOUT TALKING TO FOXCONN & MAGNA FOR ASSEMBLY
Reports out of Germany say Volkswagen is in talks with Foxconn to possibly make the electric Scout pickup and SUV at its plant in Lordstown, Ohio. No surprise there. We reported two months ago that Scout was considering using a contract assembler, or even building its own greenfield plant. We’re also pretty sure that Scout is talking to Magna because our sources tell us that Magna is soon going to announce that it will build an assembly plant somewhere in North America.
OPEL’S FIRST BEV WAGON
For the first time ever, the Opel Astra will be available with an all-electric powertrain. One reason for that is that Opel is now part of Stellantis after being sold off by GM. And the Astra was transferred to Stellantis’ modular EMP2 platform, which can accommodate multiple propulsion types and is also used for vehicles like the Peugeot 408 and Citroen C5 X. The Astra Electric is driven by a single electric motor that puts out 115 kW or 156 horsepower. The battery pack has 54 kWh of space and provides up to 416 kilometers or roughly 260 miles of range according to the WLTP cycle. However, that underbody mounted battery pack does chop down on luggage space a bit. Look for the new Astra Electric to start reaching dealers in the spring of next year.
VW DELAYS MAJOR EV PROJECT
Volkswagen is delaying Project Trinity. This was meant to completely transform the way it manufactures EVs and slash the time it takes to build them. And it was going to spawn a new premium electric vehicle. A new factory near its main plant in Wolfsburg was going to be built next year and vehicles were supposed to start rolling off the line in 2026. But that’s now getting pushed back until at least 2028. Now under new management, VW says that by waiting, ICE production will decline at the main plant, clearing up room for Trinity. So it won’t have to spend $200 million for a new plant. Another reason for the delay is that VW’s moon-shot software program called Cariad, which is going to be used by Trinity, ran into monumental problems and wasn’t going to be ready.
HYUNDAI & CATL BECOME BATTERY PARTNERS
Hyundai is making a flurry of moves to source more EV batteries. Earlier this week, it signed a deal with SK On to open a battery factory in the U.S. and it’s also reportedly in talks with LG Energy to build two more battery plants in the U.S. And now over in China, Hyundai has signed a deal with battery maker CATL to use its cell-to-pack batteries. CATL could start supplying the batteries as early as next year, which is expected to be enough to power 70,000 EVs. CATL’s cell-to-pack batteries integrate the cells into packs without modules. The design improves energy density and simplifies manufacturing, which ultimately reduces cost.
HYUNDAI NAMES TOP DESIGNER AS PRESIDENT
And in other Hyundai news, the head of Group design, Luc Donckerwolke, has been promoted to a president from an executive vice president. He will still hold his other title as Chief Creative Officer and continue to oversee design for the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands.
U.S. NOVEMBER SALES COULD BE GOOD
Since today is the last day of the month, automakers will be in a mad scramble to close as many sales as they can by the end of the day. Tomorrow, they’ll count up everything they sold, and on Friday they’ll report what they counted up. Wards Intelligence is forecasting that sales in the US market will be up 9% compared to a year ago. General Motors is expected to post the biggest gain, up a whopping 39%. Remember, GM came into the quarter with 95,000 fully-assembled unsold trucks because of the chip shortage. But late in the summer it got the chips it needed. Ward’s also predicts that Hyundai-Kia will see a 25% increase in sales, with Nissan and Toyota both up 10%. But Stellantis is expected to see a 16% drop, with Honda down 7% and Ford down 5%. And on Friday we’ll be able to compare notes and see if that’s how the sales turned out.
CORVETTE TO BECOME STANDALONE BRAND
It was just over a month ago that we reported the electric Corvette was going to go into production in 2026, but not at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Rather at GM’s Grand River plant in Lansing, Michigan alongside an electric Buick SUV and an electric Cadillac sedan. So, we speculated that the electric Corvette would be an SUV. But Car and Driver reports that GM is scheduled to announce Corvette as its own sub-brand for 2025 and it will not only offer an SUV but also a 4-door coupe. This is a bit shocking to think of, but let us know how you feel in the comments.
Don’t miss Autoline After Hours tomorrow. Our guest is Jim Morrison, the head of Jeep in North America. How is he going to fight off suitors to the throne, like Bronco and Scout? And how’s he going to handle the transition to electric Jeeps? Maybe the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 4xe are a sign of what Jeep can do. Tune in tomorrow when John and Gary go live at 3 pm eastern time, right here on the Autoline 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.