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0:00 EV Leasing About to Get Red Hot
1:05 Lucid Customers Cancelling Orders
1:55 U.S. Company Develops Synthetic Graphite
3:13 VW EVs Going Vegan
4:18 High Demand Saves Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition
5:16 EU Offers ICE Loophole
5:59 Mercedes Coming Out with New OS
7:52 Wuling MINI EV Makes Only $22 Profit
8:33 GM Develops Self Cleaning Touchscreen
9:17 Toyota Makes Finding EV Incentives Easier
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
EV LEASING ABOUT TO GET RED HOT
Look for automakers that export electric vehicles to the US to start throwing a lot more marketing money at leasing. If you didn’t know, that’s because EVs that are leased will qualify for IRA subsidies even if they are not made in North America, and even if they have batteries that are made in China. As of right now the U.S. Treasury is counting leases as commercial transactions, not retail sales. And it says commercial transactions qualify for tax deductions. Currently, leasing accounts for about 19% of all U.S. car sales, but for EVs it’s only 12%. So, that’s why it’s easy to predict that we’re going to see European, Japanese and South Korean automakers pour their EV marketing dollars into leasing. The Treasury Department is going to announce further details on its ruling next month.
LUCID CUSTOMERS CANCELING ORDERS
Lucid Motors is struggling to get cars rolling down the assembly line and it warned investors it’s going to miss its production target again. Analysts were expecting Lucid to build a bit over 21,000 cars this year, but it says at most it will build 14,000. Not only did that disappoint investors who sent the stock price down 10% in early trading, it looks like several thousand Lucid customers who have not received their cars ran out of patience and canceled their orders. Even so, the Saudi Arabian government has a commitment to buy 100,000 Lucid Airs. Last year Lucid lost $1.3 billion, but that’s much better than the $2.5 billion it lost in 2021.
U.S. COMPANY DEVELOPS SYNTHETIC GRAPHITE
Everyone wants to know if automakers will be able to get enough raw materials to build electric cars and batteries. But never underestimate the auto industry’s ability to innovate when it confronts a problem, like getting enough graphite for battery anodes. Today most of it comes from China and Mozambique. But U.S. supplier Anovion has developed synthetic graphite. And it’s partnering with a company called Forge Nano, to produce lithium-ion battery cells with synthetic graphite anodes. Anovion is currently building its first large scale facility, which will produce 35,000 metric tons of the synthetic graphite anode material annually.
VW EVS GOING VEGAN
Volkswagen’s electrics are going vegan. This year all of its ID models will be available with an animal-leather-free interior option, which includes more widespread use of recycled materials. Those materials are typically made from recycled plastic bottles or bottles collected as ocean debris along with other plastics like fishing nets. These are then turned into small plastic pellets, which can be turned into or used in a number of products, including seat covers, headliners, floor mats, insulation, underbody covers and wheel arch liners. Volkswagen also says it’s getting rid of chrome because production of parts is harmful to the environment and instead will use a paint that has a chrome finish. With all these efforts it hopes to cut carbon emissions 40% per vehicle by the end of the decade.
HIGH DEMAND SAVES TOYOTA GR COROLLA
Fans of Toyota’s hot hatch, the GR Corolla, will be happy to know that it’s extending the limited Circuit Edition into the 2024 model year for the U.S. This was supposed to be a launch-year-exclusive car, only for 2023, but it says it’s bringing it back due to popular demand. Just for a little refresher, the GR Corolla is a 4-door hatchback powered by a 300 horsepower 1.6L turbo 3-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed manual and AWD. Yeah, not the typical car you expect from Toyota. And the Circuit Edition builds on that basic formula with a unique vented hood, carbon fiber roof, rear spoiler, front and rear limited slip diffs, red painted calipers and leather trimmed seats and shift knob. Toyota says it expects to build around 1,500 examples for the U.S.
EU OFFERS ICE LOOPHOLE
I know that may disappoint some of our fans outside the U.S. so here’s some good news for piston heads in Europe. While ICEs are on their way to being banned in 2035, there’s a provision in the rules that will allow small volume manufacturers to keep churning out cars. Any company that makes between 1,000 – 10,000 vehicles a year will be exempt until the end of 2035 and those that make less than 1,000 will still be exempt after 2035. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the UK, but it means the sound of a beautiful V12 won’t be a distant memory so soon.
MERCEDES COMING OUT WITH NEW OS
Yesterday, Mercedes announced it’s going to come out with an all-new electronic architecture for its entire range of vehicles, but it will not be in production until 2025. They continue to call it the Mercedes-Benz Operating System or MB.OS. But the new edition finally gets Mercedes to a fully software defined vehicle. While most of it was developed in-house, Mercedes partnered with NVIDIA for chips, Google for software and mapping and Luminar for lidar. Some of the features it will offer include 3D graphics with Google Maps, video conferencing and the ability to watch YouTube videos in the car while it’s parked, and Level 3 autonomy capable of hands-free, eyes-off driving on the highway at speeds up to 90 kilometers an hour, or about 55 miles an hour. Later that will rise to 130 kilometers an hour or 80 mph. Mercedes will also use the new operating system to sell software services and upgrades. It expects to earn an EBIT profit of €1 billion a year by 2025, with that rising to around €8 billion or so by the end of the decade.
WULING MINI EV MAKES ONLY $22 PROFIT
Henry Ford II famously said “Small cars, small profits.” And that sure is true of Wuling and its Hong Guang Mini EV. Even though it was the best selling EV in China last year, the small car made small profits. Last year Wuling made a profit of 85 million yuan. That’s a little over $12 million. And it sold 550,000 Mini EVs, which works out to about $22 in profit per car. So what Hank The Deuce said half a century ago still holds true today, small cars, small profits.
GM DEVELOPS SELF-CLEANING TOUCH SCREEN
Touchscreens in vehicle’s are popular with customers but one of their biggest drawbacks is they get easily smudged up with fingerprints. So, instead of having to wipe the screen, GM patented a touchscreen that cleans itself. In addition to red, green and blue pixels, the screen features violet pixels, similar to ultraviolet light. And it has a photocatalyst coating, which activates when the violet pixels turn on when the car is parked. That starts a chemical reaction that uses moisture in the air to break down the fingerprints, leaving the screen clean. But so far GM hasn’t announced plans to put this technology into production.
TOYOTA MAKES FINDING EV INCENTIVES EASIER
In the U.S., the federal government offers EV incentives. But so do many states and municipalities. But who knows what’s available? To make it easier to find out, Toyota created an EV Incentive Finder. You can find it at Toyota.com and it will also find other benefits like HOV carpool decals that BEVs or PHEVs qualify for.
AAH ABOUT TOYOTA EV STRATEGY
Speaking of Toyota, is it crazy like a fox for pushing hybrids over EVs, or has the company lost its mind? That’s one of the topics we’ll get into on Autoline After Hours this afternoon. Dan Neil from the Wall Street Journal and Sam Fiorani from Autoforecast Solutions will be on the show, and we invite you to join us when the debate gets going at 3 pm eastern time.
But that brings us to the end of this show. Thanks for tuning in and we hope to see you again tomorrow.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.