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0:08 GM to Slash $2 Billion Worth of Employees
0:58 Nissan Ariya Production Stumbles
2:02 Stellantis Uses Flexible Work Hours to Retain Female Execs
3:21 Attention Gamers, BMW Wants You!
3:51 7th-Gen Mustang Goes Graphics Crazy
5:30 Ford Launches E-Transit School Buses
6:02 Alfa & Maserati Get Stella Large
7:37 BMW Profits Jump
8:33 CATL Profits Soar
9:21 Tesla Dropping Ultrasonic Sensors
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM TO SLASH $2 BILLION WORTH OF EMPLOYEES
On Tuesday Jerome Powell, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, announced he may have to raise interest rates even higher than they already are to try and slow the economy down. And Mary Barra heard the warning loud and clear. Yesterday, General Motors announced it’s offering buyouts to nearly all of its white-collar workforce. The offer is completely voluntary and goes to salaried workers who have been with the company for at least five years and all global executives who have worked at GM for two years. GM will take a pre-tax charge of $1.5 billion to pay for the buyouts, but it expects to save $2 billion a year after that. GM says the cost cuts will help it “remain nimble in an increasingly competitive market.”
NISSAN ARIYA PRODUCTION STUMBLES
Not only does it look like there are tough economic times ahead, automakers are still struggling to launch their EVs. Nissan tooled up a plant in Japan to make 400 Ariya EVs a day, but it only sold 201 of them in the U.S. market last year. One problem is that Nissan is trying to build EV, PHEV and ICE vehicles on the same line in a new high-tech plant, but it seems to be choking on the complexity. And it’s not just Nissan. Reuters reports that Tesla is struggling to ramp up production of its 4680 batteries and it says this is a key reason why the Cybertruck has been delayed. Tesla considered using 2170 batteries or even 4680 iron phosphate batteries as a back-up plan, but it decided to wait until the 4680 NMC batteries were ready. Even so, analysts expect Tesla to overcome its problems, while Nissan just had its credit rating reduced to junk status.
STELLANTIS USES FLEXIBLE WORK HOURS TO RETAIN FEMALE EXECS
Ever since pandemic lockdowns ended, there’s been a big debate in corporate boardrooms over whether to allow employees to continue working from home, or demanding they come back to the office. But Stellantis says there’s one big benefit to remote and hybrid options…it helps attract and retain female talent, especially in leadership positions. In an interview with Bloomberg, Stellantis’ head of Human Resources says women now account for 27% of its top jobs, up from 24% the year before. And it’s aiming to increase that to 30% by 2025. Four of Stellantis’ 14 brands are run by women.
ATTENTION GAMERS, BMW WANTS YOU!
As vehicles become more automated, entertaining passengers will become more important. BMW is partnering with a company called AirConsole to launch a competition to develop in-car games. The two companies will pick four winners, who will receive 5,000 euros each to develop a prototype. If they like the prototype, AirConsole will fully fund the development of the game. Developers can submit their ideas now until the beginning of June through an official website.
7TH GEN MUSTANG GOES GRAPHICS CRAZY
Ford tapped into the video game world for the all-new 7th-gen Mustang. Its digital displays run on Ford’s Sync 4 system, but it uses a real-time 3D creation tool, called Unreal Engine, which is typically used in video games, to make some of the graphics more dynamic. For example, when making changes to the vehicle settings, rather than a static image, a picture of the Mustang pops up that not only can you move around in all directions, the system you’re making a change to is highlighted and will change color when moving through the different modes. Ford also wanted to make improvements for owners that like to go to the track and drag strip. All the extra gauge settings, like battery voltage, oil pressure, engine temp and more, have been broken out from the instrument cluster and moved to the driver-facing center screen. And not only can owners record laps times, but also 0-30, 0-60, 0-100, 8-th mile and quarter-mile times as well as have staging lights, like you’re at the drag strip, that appear in the instrument cluster. But perhaps the feature that most people are interested in is the ability to make the gauges look like the old Fox Body Mustang that ran from 1987 until 1993. There’s also a “Normal” look, “Sport,” “Track,” and “Calm,” but there’s nothing quite like the nostalgic green glow you get when you turn on the headlights. Ford said it made these changes to attract a younger customer to the Mustang.
FORD LAUNCHES E-TRANSIT SCHOOL BUSES
Speaking of Ford, it wants kids to ride to school on electric power. It revealed a short, school bus version of the E-Transit at a trade show for work trucks. Ford claims that it’s the first full line manufacturer to offer a Type A school bus package on an electric platform. It will also use the E-Transit platform to provide delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service, so, like the ICE version, we expect to see a number of vehicle types off the E-Transit.
ALFA & MASERATI GET STELLA LARGE
Stellantis says it’s going to start building EVs in Italy. Its Cassino plant, which currently makes SUVs for Alfa Romeo and Maserati, “will add production of vehicles, to be shared at a later date, based on the flexible, BEV-centric STLA Large platform.” The reason we quoted that is because we think there’s a couple of things to unpackage. It says the plant will be “shared.” That to us means it could build both EV and ICE vehicles at the same time. Also, that’s the first time we’ve seen its STLA Large referred to as “BEV-centric.” Does that mean the platform could handle other powertrain types, like PHEV? And that would make a lot of sense if the plant is going to make both EVs and ICEs. Oh, in case you’re wondering, Stellantis has already shown a couple of vehicles that use the STLA Large platform. That includes the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT and Peugeot Inception Concept.
BMW PROFITS JUMP
BMW reported its earnings for last year and while its numbers are pretty good, some analysts were disappointed that it didn’t do as well as Mercedes-Benz. BMW sold about 2.4 million cars, down nearly 5%, even though Rolls Royce was up almost 8%, and motorcycles were up 4%. Total revenues for the company jumped 28% to €142 billion and profits exploded. Earnings before interest and taxes from selling BMWs, Minis and Rolls Royce’s shot up 60%. Motorcycle EBIT jumped 18%. Put it all together and the total net profit for the company shot up 49% to €18.5 billion. It sure makes me scratch my head why analysts are disappointed in these numbers. Most anyone else would say these results are spectacular.
CATL PROFITS SOAR
But CATL also reported last year’s earnings and they sure show that the EV side of the industry is where the real growth is. Its revenue shot up 152% to $47 billion and its net profit jumped 93% to $4.4 billion. It also generated a net cash flow of nearly $9 billion, which will provide it with plenty of money for future expansion. CATL has enough capacity to make 390 gigawatt hours of batteries right now and has another 152 GWh under construction. Put it all together and that’s about enough capacity for 5.4 million EVs with 100 kWh battery packs.
TESLA DROPPING ULTRASONIC SENSORS
Last year, Tesla announced it would stop equipping Model 3 and Ys with ultrasonic sensors and would only rely on cameras or what it calls Tesla Vision for all of its advanced driver assistance functions. Tesla plans to do the same with the Model S and X this year. Car News China reports that a Chinese regulator just revealed that made-in-China Model Ys are not equipped with any ultrasonic sensors. Some functions will be temporarily unavailable without the sensors, including Park Assist, Autopark, Summon and Smart Summon. But Tesla says once those features meet performance standards with just cameras, it will restore them with over-the-air updates. We’d like to hear from the Tesla community. What happens when it’s snowing outside? How are those cameras going to work when there’s snow on the lens?
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day 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.