Listen to “AD #3497 – New HVAC Adds 33% EV Range in Cold; BYD Cracks Fortress Japan; Nissan's Way-Out Max-Out Concept” on Spreaker.
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0:00 Honda All-In On Fuel Cells
1:09 ZF, Wolfspeed Make Big Investment in EV Chips
2:01 BYD Cracks Fortress Japan
3:26 Armored Trucks Go Electric
4:22 Nissan’s Way-Out Max-Out Concept
5:00 Polestar Offers Lidar
6:04 New HVAC System Adds 33% EV Range in the Cold
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HONDA ALL-IN ON FUEL CELLS
Will hydrogen cars and trucks ever catch on? Honda certainly thinks so. It says it can double the durability and chop the costs of fuel cells by one-third, compared to one in the 2019 Honda Clarity. Once it achieves that, Honda wants to double the durability again and chop the cost in half. Then it will start selling fuel cell powered pass cars and trucks, stationary power stations and construction machinery. In 2024, it will launch a hydrogen powered version of the CR-V in North America and Japan. It will test a heavy-duty truck prototype with Isuzu in Japan sometime in the next year. And in China, Honda partnered with Dongfeng to test commercial fuel cell trucks. Even so, Honda plans to go slow. By the middle of the decade it thinks it can sell 2,000 fuel cell modules, and bump that up to 60,000 in 2030. Then it plans to sell a few hundred thousand units per year by the second half of the 2030s.
ZF, WOLFSPEED MAKE BIG INVESTMENT IN EV CHIPS
There was a hugely symbolic event in Germany yesterday. Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, even showed up. ZF is teaming up with Wolfspeed, an American chip company, to take a closed down coal-fired generating plant and convert it into a chip plant and R&D center. Wolfspeed makes silicon carbide chips that are used for power electronics in electric vehicles, as well as other industrial applications like wind generators. The plant is located in the Saarland, the traditional smokestack heart of Germany’s industrial sector. ZF will buy several hundred million dollars worth of Wolfspeed stock that will give it part ownership of the new plant, which will make 200 millimeter chips. And ZF will integrate those chips into complete systems for automotive and industrial applications.
BYD CRACKS FORTRESS JAPAN
Foreign automakers don’t sell a lot of cars in Japan. So it’s fascinating to see that Chinese automaker BYD is breaking into the Japanese market with electric cars. BYD will open 20 dealerships this year, and wants 100 of them by 2025. It will start with three EVs this year, starting with the ATTO 3, an SUV which costs just over $34,000. That will be followed by the Seal, a Model 3 sized sedan that starts at $42,000 in China, and the Dolphin which is priced under $20,000. Japanese automakers don’t offer many electric cars, so BYD doesn’t face a lot of competition. And if BYD is successful in selling EVs in Japan it’s a real threat to the entire Japanese auto industry.
ARMORED TRUCKS GO ELECTRIC
The next time you see an armored truck you might not actually hear it. Loomis, one of the biggest transporters of cash and high-end items, announced it’s expanding its fleet of electric armored trucks. It’s buying another 150 trucks on top of the 20 it already had from U.S. supplier Xos, which makes heavy duty electric commercial vehicles. The Class 6 armored trucks are built on Xos’ own proprietary chassis and feature an eAxle that generates between 401-469 horsepower as well as enough battery juice to travel 130-240 miles, depending on the application. We’re guessing a big, heavy armored truck is probably on the lower end of that scale. The expanded EV order is all part of Loomis’ sustainability efforts and says it will start putting the new trucks into operation in the second half of the year.
NISSAN’S WAY-OUT MAX-OUT EV
Is Nissan going away from boring EVs, like the Leaf? It revealed a physical version of the Max-Out Concept, which was first shown in 2021 as a digital only rendering. It’s a two-seat convertible that is designed to provide a dynamic driving experience. We like the simplicity of the arching body line and how the rectangular opening and lighting elements are picked up on the front and rear. Nissan says, “the Max-Out Concept displays (it’s) innovation to develop a diverse range of advanced and striking vehicles.” We hope that translates to more exciting EVs.
POLESTAR OFFERS LIDAR
Elon Musk says lidar is not needed for self-driving vehicles but he seems to be the only one who believes that. Here’s yet another example of an automaker using lidar. Polestar is putting Lidar units from Luminar in its Polestar 3 and 5 models. The Polestar 3 with lidar is available for order now, with deliveries expected in late 2024. And the Polestar 5, which is based on its Precept concept, will launch sometime next year.
NEW HVAC ADDS 33% EV RANGE IN COLD WEATHER
EVs lose a lot of range in cold weather, but the supplier company Gentherm developed a new climate control system that added 33% more range in cold temperatures to a retrofitted Chevrolet Bolt. It uses 70% less energy than the standard HVAC system that comes in the Bolt. Gentherm calls it Climate Sense and what makes it so innovative is that it’s based on an algorithm, not some new kind of heating system. It’s all based on human physiology. Passengers use an app to enter their height, weight, sex and age and set the temperature they want, and the algorithm calculates how to heat or cool their body. It does not use a thermometer or sensors. It uses the car’s existing HVAC elements, though Gentherm adds a neck scarf, which is a vent at the base of the headrest, and another element for passengers’ feet. The system uses about 1 kilowatt to get passengers comfy, then drops to only 400 watts to maintain that. Autoline got a chance to test it in an Audi e-Tron and while the outside temperature was only 16 degrees Fahrenheit and the cabin temperature was only 40 degrees, we felt perfectly warm and comfortable. That’s -9 degrees and 4 degrees Celsius. Climate Sense will debut on the Cadillac Celestiq and will undoubtedly spread to a lot of other electric cars.
TESLA’S PRICE WAR ARMAGEDDON
Tesla kicked off a price war that could be financially crippling for everyone else that is selling EVs. We’re calling it an EV Armageddon and that’s the topic on Autoline After Hours today. Some automakers say they can ignore what Tesla is doing and will follow a business-as-usual model. But can they? Charlie Chesborough, the senior economist at Cox Automotive and Joe White from Reuters will be on the show with their insights and analysis. And we invite you to join John and Gary when the show goes live at 3 pm eastern time today.
But that’s a wrap for this episode. Thanks for joining us.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.