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0:08 China EVs Gain in EU
1:03 NHTSA Investigates GM Cruise
1:46 Ford F-150 Lightning Price Goes Up Again
3:12 Cadillac CT4 Gets 1.5L Engine
4:05 Buick LaCrosse Refresh in China
4:42 Bentley 3D Printing with Gold
5:29 Renault Austral Gets 4WS
6:39 NCAP Says E85 Cuts GHG’s In Half
7:27 JLR Signs Up With I-CAR
8:11 Citroen Asteric Uses Fireflies in Headlamps
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHINA EVs GAIN IN EU
Chinese automakers are gobbling up EV market share in Europe. Even though they’re just getting started there they are already making a big dent in sales. Bloomberg reports that 11% of the EVs sold in Europe this year were from Chinese automakers. That’s up from just 2% in 2020. And overall, Chinese exports are surging around the globe. Through September, 2.2 million passenger cars, trucks and buses have been exported out of China, up 54% compared to a year ago and double the average from 2012 to 2020. And EVs were a big part of that, totaling more than 655,000 units. But not all of those are from Chinese OEMs, foreign automakers like Tesla, BMW and Renault also export EVs out of China.
NHTSA INVESTIGATES GM CRUISE
NHTSA is opening an investigation into the autonomous vehicles that GM Cruise operates in San Francisco. It says some of the AVs slammed on the brakes when another car was approaching quickly from the rear, which caused a rear end collision in at least three cases. In several other cases, the AVs became immobilized and just stopped in the road. GM Cruise says it updated the software in its cars three months ago, but it’s unclear if that solved the problems that NHTSA is investigating. If not, that could lead to a recall, which could disrupt Cruise’s plans to expand to many markets next year with thousands of autonomous vehicles.
FORD LIGHTNING PRICE GOES UP AGAIN
Ford keeps raising the price of the F-150 Lightning. The base Pro model for commercial buyers, which debuted at $40,000, now starts around $56,000. And the standard range XLT now starts at over $63,000. Other models are not affected by the increase. Ford started raising prices in chunks at a time. In August, it raised prices for all models anywhere between $5,000 to $8,000. And in October, it raised the base price to $52,000. Ford blames inflation and rising commodity costs, but we think it’s also raising prices because it knows it can get away with it. At a media event earlier this week, Ford said it hasn’t seen a drop-in demand for the Lightning despite the higher prices.
CADILLAC CT4 GETS 1.5L
Whoever thought we’d see a Cadillac powered by a 1.5-liter turbo? It’s happening in China, where a new version of the Cadillac CT4 that is not offered in the U.S. gets a turbocharged 1.5L four, versus the U.S. version which comes standard with a 2-liter. Cars with engines less than 2 liters pay half the sales tax in China, only 5% versus 10% for cars with bigger engines. The new engine is mounted lengthwise rather than sideways, or longitudinal instead of transverse, and only drives the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The setup powers the car from 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds. Pricing for this version of the CT4 will start around $31,500.
BUICK LACROSSE REFRESH IN CHINA
Speaking of GM in China, it hasn’t given up on sedans there yet and Buick is coming out with an updated version of the LaCrosse. Its front-end design is clearly inspired by Buick’s EV concepts, but it also gets a new rear end treatment and the body accent that flowed from the rear door into the rear fender is gone. It’s said the new LaCrosse will retain its 2.0L turbocharged engine, but there’s no plans for electrification at the moment. I don’t know about you, but that front end sure reminds me of a Toyota Camry XLE.
BENTLEY 3D PRINTING WITH GOLD
Bentley is bringing the bling. The luxury brand believes it’s the first to install 3D printed gold parts into an automobile. The limited edition Mulliner Batur features the pieces at key driver touchpoints, including the dial around the stop/start button that changes drive modes, the vent controls on the dashboard and even a thin insert in the steering wheel. Bentley doesn’t say what the option costs, but it uses about 210 grams of 18ct gold, which has a raw material value of roughly $9,000. That’s just a drop in the bucket of the Mulliner Batur’s 1.65-million-pound price tag.
RENAULT AUSTRAL GETS 4WS
Renault is coming out with a new crossover with a piece of tech you don’t normally see in this segment. The all-new Austral is a C-sized crossover that rides on the Group’s CMF platform and replaces the Kadjar in its lineup. And that piece of tech we’re talking about is 4-wheel steering. A brand new multi-link rear axle allowed for the addition of a rear steering mechanism, which can turn the rear wheels up to 5-degrees. This makes parking the vehicle much easier and makes high speed maneuvers feel more precise.
NCAP SAYS E85 CUTS GHG’S IN HALF
Several years ago, NCAP, which crash tests vehicles for safety, introduced Green NCAP, an initiative that evaluates vehicles on how environmentally friendly they are. And it just released its latest round of results. The one that caught our eye was the Ford Puma, which is a flexfuel model. Green NCAP evaluated the Puma with both standard E10 gasoline as well as E85 fuel. And when it came to greenhouse gas emissions, the Puma with E85 had a score nearly 2 times better than the one it evaluated with regular gasoline. And overall, the E85 Puma earned a three-star rating compared to the 2.5-star rating the Puma with standard fuel earned.
JLR SIGNS UP WITH I-CAR
Making cars lighter with aluminum or a mix of materials is great, but do body shops really have the know-how to fix them when they get damaged in an accident? Most do not. That’s why I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, offers training and certification for repair shops and their techs. But it takes money to do that and Jaguar Land Rover just became the latest company to join I-CAR’s Sustaining Partner Program to fund training programs. So here’s a tip for you. If your car gets in an accident you’re probably better off getting it repaired at a body shop that has a gold or platinum certification from I-CAR.
CITROEN ASTERIC USES FIREFLIES IN HEADLAMPS
Citroen came up with one of the coolest concept cars of all time. They call it the Asteric. The body is made from solid oak. The roll-back roof is made of rugged Lutece canvas. The wheels are recycled from warrior shields. The air suspension uses bladders made from the guts of boars. The headlamps are powered by fireflies. The trunk lid is forged steel. And the overall design was inspired by the Citroen Deux Chevaux or 2CV. Note how far back the axle is mounted, which archeologists now know improved the ride of ancient chariots. It was made for a French comedy called “Astérix & Obélix: The Middle Kingdom” which comes out next year.
And that’s a wrap for today’s show. Thanks for joining us and I hope you have a great weekend.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.