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0:00 China Can Build EVs $10K Cheaper
1:03 Subsidy Cuts Will Impact China’s EV Sales
2:04 Fiat Takes Shopping to the Metaverse
3:14 ZF Develops Heated Seat Belt
4:04 Stellantis Will Build VTOLs
5:44 Sony & Honda Reveal New AFEELA Brand
7:06 BMW Going to Shrink Grilles?
8:12 BYD Moving Upscale
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHINA HAS HUGE EV MANUFACTURING ADVANTAGE
As we reported yesterday, China is dominating the global EV race. Of the 10.5 million EVs built and sold worldwide last year, China accounted for 6.7 million of them. And here’s a big reason it has such an advantage: China can build EVs much cheaper than other regions. According to the CEO of supplier Forvia, the Chinese auto industry can build EVs for 10,000 euros less than European OEMs. That’s because Chinese companies have lower R&D costs, lower levels of capital spending and lower labor costs. And unlike the U.S. and Europe, EV prices are dropping in China. According to JATO Dynamics, the average EV now costs a little over 31,000 euros in China, which is below the cost of an average ICE vehicle.
SUBSIDY CUTS WILL IMPACT CHINA’S EV SALES
But analysts expect EV sales will be impacted early in the year by China’s decision to end subsidies for EVs, which were phased out at the end of 2022. That caused car buyers to rush out and buy an EV before they ended. And because of that J.P. Morgan expects sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids in January and February to drop anywhere between 40-60%, compared to year-end levels. Automakers are taking a different approach now that subsidies are no longer available. Companies like Tesla, Xpeng and SAIC-GM-Wuling aren’t making any price changes to their EVs, while BYD and SAIC-Volkswagen have raised prices. And while EV sales will be impacted early on in the year, China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers, expects EV and plug-in hybrid sales to grow 35% this year.
FIAT TAKES SHOPPING TO THE METAVERSE
Car buyers generally don’t like going to the dealer to purchase a vehicle. That’s why many automakers are moving towards online sales. But Fiat is taking it a step further and is launching a store in the Metaverse. First launched in Italy in December, it’s now making its way to North America, where car buyers will be able to shop for the new 500e, which will launch in the first quarter of 2024. Fiat’s Metaverse Store can be accessed with a tablet, smartphone or computer and does not require a virtual reality headset.
ZF DEVELOPS HEATED SEAT BELT
Heated seats and steering wheel are nice luxuries to have on a cold day and a new interior heating option from the supplier ZF might become just as loved. It’s showing off a new heated seat belt that weaves small, heat conducting wires right into the belt. But it’s still the same thickness as a regular belt and provides the same level of safety. And like heated seats and steering wheels, it heats up much faster than the HVAC system. Because of that, ZF thinks people might forgo using the regular heater, which it estimates could improve an EVs range by up to 15% in the winter. It also thinks the heated seat belt could improve safety because it might encourage passengers to take off bulky coats, so the belt fits closer to the body.
STELLANTIS WILL BUILD VTOLs
Many automakers see a big opportunity with VTOLs or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. That’s why so many have made investments or formed partnerships to develop them. And now Stellantis is expanding its VTOL development with Archer Aviation, which it partnered with in 2020. Stellantis will help build its electric VTOL, called Midnight at Archer’s plant in Georgia starting in 2024, with the goal of Stellantis becoming Archer’s exclusive contract manufacturer. The Midnight will have a payload of over 1,000 pounds, be able to carry four passengers plus a pilot and have a range of 100 miles.
And hey be sure to join us for Autoline After Hours this afternoon, for a look at what could happen in the auto industry in 2023. Joining Gary Vasilash for the show is Sam Fiorani from AutoForecast Solutions, Bret Smith from the Center for Automotive Research and Jennifer Newman from Cars.com. So join us at 3PM eastern time for what ought to be a fun show.
SONY & HONDA REVEAL NEW AFEELA BRAND
The joint venture between Sony and Honda, called Sony Honda Mobility, revealed a prototype of their upcoming electric sedan along with a new brand name for their vehicles, which is AFEELA. I’d say the design is fairly basic and is highlighted by thin lighting and a fastback rear end. The interior has a modern look with a yoke steering wheel and a large display that stretches from pillar to pillar. That display will run off of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform, which they say will help provide a more personalized in-car experience. The platform will also power AFEELA’s self-driving capability. With the help of 45 cameras and sensors it will have Level 2+ capability in a number of urban driving scenarios and Level 3 capability under limited conditions. Based on previous reports, the EV will have a dual motor AWD system that makes 400 kW or 536 horsepower and will do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. Sony and Honda say they’ll start taking pre-orders in the first half of 2025, kick off sales by the end of that year and then deliver models in the spring of 2026 in North America, which is also where the vehicles are supposed to be built.
BMW GOING TO SHRINK GRILLES?
Could BMW be moving away from its ever-growing twin kidney grille? At least it did with the i Vision Dee concept it just pulled the wraps off of. It’s a mid-size sedan that BMW says features a “new and pared-down design language.” We like the grille compared to massive ones we’ve seen lately and we’d love to hear your feedback too. Now back to the car. The “D” in i Vision Dee is spelled D-E-E and stands for Digital Emotional Experience. And we’d say that’s a pretty accurate description. Not only can the body panels change colors and patterns, a new head-up display system can cover the entire windshield. It’s controlled via a Mixed Reality Slider that allows the user to control the amount of digital content they want, from analog to a full virtual world. Dimmable windows add to the experience. But this is no pipedream, BMW says it will launch the full width HUD in 2025.
BYD MOVING UPSCALE
Chinese automaker BYD is launching a new premium brand, called Yangwang and here’s its first two models. The first is a large 4-door SUV, called the U8. It’s powered by 4 electric motors that generate between 220 and 240 kW, which combine for 1,180 to 1,287 horsepower and allow for a tank turn. 0-100 km/h is said to take just 3 seconds. If that’s not enough, the U8 features motor and body waterproofing, which it claims allows the SUV to float. BYD also unveiled a slick-looking hypercar, called the U9. It didn’t provide many details, but says it will do 0-100 km/h in 2 seconds. Both vehicles are expected to cost in the $110,00 to $205,000 price range.
And 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.