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0:08 Autonomy Moves Forward in China
1:20 VW Investing in Mines
1:55 VW Slashing Prices in China
2:48 Nissan Skilled Trades Reject Union
4:00 Latest $4,200 EV In China
5:10 More Details on VW’s $25,000 EV
6:29 Alpine A110 Goes Retro
8:13 BYD Denza EV Has 2 Charging Ports
9:04 Tesla Owners Sue Over Service Parts
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
AUTONOMY MOVES FORWARD IN CHINA
Autonomous cars are controversial but they keep making progress. Over in China, self-driving startup Pony.ai and tech giant Baidu just received permits from the city of Beijing to operate fully autonomous, ride hailing services without a safety driver on board. Each company can deploy up to 10 vehicles, which can be summoned by users with an app. While that is a big step forward for AVs, for now they’re limited to operating in a technology park. Meanwhile in the U.S., progress is slow. GM CEO Mary Barra met with Democratic senators Gary Peters and Maria Cantwell to push Congress to speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Last year, GM petitioned NHTSA to allow it to operate up to 2,500 of its Cruise Origin shuttles. But legislation in Congress has been bottled up for the past six years. One reason is a genuine concern over safety. Another reason is that plaintiff attorneys who handle lawsuits over car crashes are opposed to autonomous technology.
VW INVESTING IN MINES
Tesla and GM recently announced plans to invest directly in mines to make sure they can get the raw materials they need to make batteries. Now, Reuters reports that Volkswagen is going to do the same thing. And we wouldn’t be surprised to see other automakers do it too. They learned the hard way during the chip crisis that they better firm up their supply chains by dealing directly with the sources of raw materials and critical components, rather than rely on their suppliers to do it. Automakers don’t want to get caught short handed again.
VW SLASHING PRICES IN CHINA
That price war in China shows no signs of letting up. Now Volkswagen is slashing prices. VW and its Chinese partner SAIC are offering subsidies between $2,100 and $7,200 for their entire lineup until the end of April. And they really need to move the metal. China has stricter emission rules that go into effect on July 1st and automakers are trying to clear out all their inventory of vehicles that don’t meet those standards. More than 40 brands have slashed prices in anticipation of the new rules. VW used to dominate the market in China but sales are down by over a million vehicles since 2019. And BYD outsold VW twice in the past four months.
NISSAN SKILLED TRADES REJECT UNION
Yesterday we reported that a small group of tool and die workers at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant were voting on joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Well, they didn’t join. The skilled trades people overwhelmingly rejected the union by a 62-9 vote. The results aren’t too surprising, the UAW has tried to organize all employees at that plant twice and failed. And hasn’t organized any plants belonging to foreign automakers in over 40 years.
LATEST $4,200 EV IN CHINA
We love the cute, little vans that you see in Japan and China and, like everything else, they’re going electric. Chinese EV startup Matrix Motors is launching an updated version of its all-electric microvan, the 01. But instead of giving it more features, it’s getting less. The option for a larger 20.7 kWh battery has been removed, so only a 10.3 kWh pack is available. And it’s going from a nickel, manganese, cobalt or NMC to an LFP or lithium, iron, phosphate chemistry. With a carryover 15 kW or 20 horsepower electric motor, the setup is capable of providing 120 km or 74 miles of range on the Chinese test cycle. The changes allowed Matrix to lower the price of the electric van. When the 01 launched in 2021 it was priced around $6,800, but the new version starts at $4,200. Interestingly, Matrix Motors is backed by Alibaba, which is like the Amazon of China.
MORE DETAILS ON VW’S $25,000 EV
Speaking of affordable EVs, let’s dive into some more details on Volkswagen’s sub 25,000-euro concept, the ID. 2all. It rides on an updated version of the MEB platform, which, for the first time, is front-wheel-drive-based. It’s powered by a 166 kW or 220 horsepower electric motor that provides performance of 0-100 km/h in less than 7 seconds and a top speed of 160 km/h or 99 MPH. While VW didn’t reveal too many details on the battery, it says it will provide 450 kilometers or about 280 miles of range and the ability to charge from 10-80% in 20 minutes. The ID. 2all seems like a step in the right direction for Volkswagen and its EVs, but as it was pointed out on yesterday’s Autoline After Hours, automakers can set the price of a vehicle wherever they want, but the real test will be if they can make a profit on it. And if you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend you check out that show. There’s a lot of great insight from our guests Sandy Munro and Cory Steuben of Munro Live.
ALPINE A110 GOES RETRO
Renault’s performance brand, Alpine, has its plans to move into the electric era, but today it’s still celebrating the internal combustion engine. It’s coming out with a special edition of the A110 that honors the rallying past of classic versions of the car. The A110 San Remo 73 comes standard with a host of upgraded equipment and then builds on that with custom features. That includes a unique blue paint job with black A-pillars and a carbon fiber roof impregnated with a red weave. Black and white graphics, 18-inch white wheels and Brembo brakes round out the highlights of the exterior styling. The interior features racing seats, microfiber-wrapped surfaces, sport pedals and door panel graphics to match the outside. Only 200 examples will be built and prices start at 89,000 euros. For comparison, a base A110, which won’t come standard with the same upgraded equipment, starts at about 60,000 euros.
BYD DENZA EV HAS 2 CHARGING PORTS
Here’s an interesting solution to cut charging time that BYD came up with. It makes an electric van in China called the Denza that has two charging ports, one on each side of the vehicle. Since it has a large 103 kWh battery, and since most fast chargers in China are rated around 120 kilowatts, it will take over an hour to charge if the battery is almost empty. So the Denza has an AC and DC port on the right side, and a DC port on the left side. The idea is to back up between two DC chargers and plug in both sides in at the same time. The ports are connected in parallel and allow maximum charging. BYD already does this for buses and trucks, but this is the first time it’s done it with a passenger vehicle.
TESLA OWNERS SUE OVER SERVICE PARTS
A couple of Tesla owners in California are suing the company because they claim it has a monopoly over service and service parts for its cars. As you all know, Tesla operates most of its own service centers, and because it’s so vertically integrated it pretty much makes most of its own parts. But these owners say Tesla is violating antitrust laws because they can only get their cars serviced at Tesla-approved facilities and that those facilities only use Tesla parts. They claim they’re paying exorbitant prices and have long waits to get their cars serviced. One problem is that Tesla makes it really hard for independent techs to get scan tools to work on its cars. And we would love to hear from any Tesla owners in the audience. What’s been your service experience?
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in, have a Happy St. Patrick’s 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.