Listen to “AD #3474 – GM Giving Away Dealer Inventory; Magna Develops Active Aero that Morphs; BMW Helps Speed Up Solid-State Battery Development” on Spreaker.
Follow us on social media:
0:00 High Prices Curb U.S. Sales
0:51 Tesla Discounts a Sign of Slowing Demand?
1:49 GM Giving Away Dealer Inventory
3:42 Magna Makes Active Aero That Morphs Into Shape
4:35 ZF Launches Improved Radar
5:33 BWM Helps Speed Up Solid-State Battery Development
6:58 Citroen Expands Ami Buggy Due to Popularity
7:31 EV Startup Previews Moving Display Screen
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HIGH PRICES CURB U.S. SALES
As we reported yesterday, global car sales are expected to fall this year. And now JD Power-LMC Automotive reports that December car sales in the U.S. will also drop. New car sales are expected to hit just over a million units, which is down nearly 3% compared to last year. High vehicle prices and rising loan costs led consumers to cut back on spending, which helps account for the drop in sales. The average monthly payment for a new car loan in December was $718. But the good news is, the analysts expect sales in the U.S. to improve next year because of increasing inventory and pent-up demand.
TESLA DISCOUNTS A SIGN OF SLOWING DEMAND?
Tesla is offering a discount on its most popular EVs in North America. Anyone who buys a Model 3 or Y before the end of the year will get a $7,500 discount in the U.S., a $5,000 Canadian dollar discount in Canada and an equivalent amount in pesos in Mexico. Some say this is an indicator that demand for Tesla’s vehicles is slowing. I’ll say I’m a little concerned, but I don’t buy into that fully yet. Tesla’s sales can fluctuate widely from month to month, so trying to read into anything short term can be foolish and we’ve never really seen sustained decline from Tesla. Consumers might just be waiting until the beginning of the new year when Tesla again qualifies for the full tax credit in the U.S. But if discounts continue and sales taper, the alarm bells will start to sound.
GM GIVING AWAY DEALER INVENTORY
GM is offering up the inventory of dealerships that don’t want to sell EVs to the ones that do. Let’s backtrack for a moment. GM has offered buyouts to Buick and Cadillac dealers that don’t want to make the EV investment, which reportedly costs between $300-$500K. Depending on the size and number of brands a dealer sells it could be more or less. But about a third of Cadillac dealers did take the buyout and once they did they were no longer affiliated with the brand and had to stop selling their vehicles. GM has about 2,000 Buick dealers in the U.S. and while we don’t know how many are taking the buyout, the Detroit Free Press reports they’re expected to invest between $300-$400K if they want to sell EVs. And getting back to the top of the story, one Buick dealer said he was offered inventory from other Buick dealers in his state who didn’t want to make the switch to electric. But this doesn’t mean those dealers will have to leave GM altogether. Chevy has said it won’t offer dealer buyouts, so any Buick, GMC or Cadillac dealer that doesn’t make the investment, could immediately make the switch to Chevrolet, if they don’t already sell the brand.
MAGNA MAKES ACTIVE AERO THAT MORPHS INTO SHAPE
As you know, making a vehicle more aerodynamic improves a vehicle’s efficiency. And active aerodynamic technology can improve it even further. That’s where body components, like grilles, panels and shutters automatically deploy while the vehicle is in motion to improve aerodynamics. Now the supplier Magna is introducing its next-gen active aero tech, what it calls Morphing Surfaces technology. It’s a thermoplastic material that can actively bend its surface and can open and close its aero elements when required. This makes it easier to integrate these components into a vehicle’s design. Magna says its Morphing Surfaces technology is especially useful for electric vehicles. It can reduce drag up to 10%, improving an EVs range by up to 5%.
ZF LAUNCHES IMPROVED RADAR
German supplier ZF is launching new and improved radar technology for automated driving. Called Imaging Radar, it can detect surroundings in four dimensions, providing a more detailed view of the environment. It has much higher resolution than current radars, which typically have 12 channels. ZF’s radar has 192 channels. This helps it detect objects as far as 350 meters or about 1,150 feet away. And it’s five times better than today’s radars at recognizing objects in the road. This technology can be paired with safety systems to trigger warnings or activate systems like Automatic Emergency Braking if the driver isn’t responding. Chinese automaker SAIC is the first automaker to adopt Imaging Radar and will equip it in its R-series electric vehicles.
BMW HELPS SPEED UP SOLID-STATE BATTERY DEVELOPMENT
Solid-state batteries are supposed to be the next big break in battery technology; cheaper, safer, more range and faster charging. And BMW is taking a unique approach to bring solid-state batteries to the market quicker. It previously formed a partnership with Solid Power, so it could supply BMW with solid-state batteries, but now BMW will play a bigger role. It is gaining access to Solid Power’s R&D, cell design and manufacturing know-how, so BMW can duplicate Solid Power’s production line at its own facility in Germany and make prototype cells all on its own. BMW will have to pay $20 million through 2024 to get access to this tech, but it’s all about speeding up the development of solid-state batteries.
CITROEN EXPANDS AMI BUGGY DUE TO POPULARITY
Remember the Citroen Ami Buggy? It started out as a concept, but was so popular it decided to make a limited edition model to sell to the public. Well, it was so popular that the 50 examples sold out in just 18 minutes. And now based on its popularity, Citroen is going to put another 1,000 examples on sale. You can purchase one at the end of the first quarter next year, but you’d better act quick if you want one. I have a feeling these will be quite popular as well.
EV STARTUP PREVIEWS MOVING DISPLAY SCREEN
Last month, Italian EV startup AEHRA unveiled its first model, a vehicle they’re simply calling the SUV. It has a fast sloping roof, which gives it an interesting silhouette and it has wild butterfly and gullwing doors. Now, the company is giving us a look at the interior, which is just as unique. It features a huge display screen that covers the full width of the dashboard. When the vehicle is in motion, the screen sits in a lowered position. But when it is parked, the screen can extend upwards to transform the vehicle into a home theater or office space. It also features a smaller secondary screen that controls the vehicle’s functions and it has a yoke-like steering wheel. The SUV is offered with four or five seats and the company claims there’s enough interior space to comfortably fit four full-size NBA players. AEHRA plans to unveil a Sedan next April and deliveries of both models will start in 2025. It will be sold in North America, Europe, China and the Gulf States.
And be sure to join John and Gary for Autoline After Hours this afternoon. They’ll be discussing the top automotive news stories from this year, both good and bad, as well as predicting what will happen next year. Also joining them for the show is Jamie Butters from Automotive News and David Welch from Bloomberg. So join us at 3PM eastern time at our website or YouTube channel for what’s going to be a lively show.
And before I go, this is the last Autoline Daily for 2022. We’re taking time off for the holidays, but we’ll be back in 2023 and immediately take off for CES in Las Vegas. So, we’ll hit the ground running with a ton of content coming your way. Have a safe and happy holidays and we’ll see you again next year.
Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website: WardsAuto.com
Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.