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0:00 Union Radical Becomes UAW President
0:55 Treasury to Rule on EV Credits
1:51 Chinese Taking Over Russian Car Market
3:01 EU Formally Approves E-Fuels
4:09 Hyliion Range Extender Is 3D Printed
5:20 Hyundai Completely Redesigns Sonata
7:29 Li-Cycle Expanding into Europe
8:51 Aptera Adopts Comma.ai
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
UNION RADICAL BECOMES UAW PRESIDENT
Well, it’s official. The UAW has a new president. And it’s the dissident Shawn Fain, who vows to shake up the union and take a much more combative position with GM, Ford and Stellantis. He’s the first UAW president who was directly elected by union members, instead of by a slate of union officers. Fain barely won. He defeated the incumbent Ray Curry by 483 votes or 50.2% to 49.8%. The union is meeting today in downtown Detroit to lay out its bargaining strategy this fall over contract negotiations. And we say batten down the hatches because there’s going to be a strike.
TREASURY TO RULE ON EV CREDITS
We’re going to find out on Friday if lobbying efforts by Europe, Japan and South Korea to qualify for Inflation Reduction Act incentives paid off. That’s when the Treasury Department is going to announce the final rules for which vehicles qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit. The law says at least half of the battery components must be made in North America and that 40% of the battery materials must be sourced in the U.S. or from a free trade partner. And those percentages increase until 2030. Europe, Japan and South Korea want the Biden Administration to loosen the rules so they can qualify for the subsidies. But there’s been pushback from Senator Joe Manchin who is against any loopholes and says they would undermine the goal bringing more production to the U.S.
CHINESE TAKING OVER RUSSIAN CAR MARKET
China is taking over the Russian car market. After all the other foreign automakers abandoned the market after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese rushed in to fill the void. They’ve just about tripled their market share and now have 37% of the Russian market, up from just under 10% a year ago. But Reuters reports that Russian consumers have the perception that Chinese cars are not as good as the ones they were buying before. And while some analysts say that Chinese companies need to improve their reputation, their market share is soaring.
EU FORMALLY APPROVES E-FUELS
Ferrari, for one, heaved a sigh of relief. And Porsche must be ecstatic. That’s because the European Union formally agreed to allow new ICE cars to be sold after 2035 as long as they run on e-fuels. Those are carbon neutral liquid fuels that can be used in IC engines. But here’s the thing. Unless there’s a sensor on board that can detect fuels with carbon in them, who’s going to stop owners from using ordinary gasoline? And even if the EU mandates those kinds of sensors, e-fuels are going to be out of reach for ordinary consumers. For one thing, we’re only aware of one pilot refinery that Porsche is building in Chile. For another, powertrain experts tell Autoline that e-fuels require three times the energy to make compared to gasoline, and they project that a gallon of e-fuel will cost three times as much as a gallon of gasoline in 2030. So the bottom line is, e-fuels are for the rich. Don’t count on them to save the IC engine for everyone else.
HYLIION RANGE EXTENDER IS 3D PRINTED
But what if you came out with an IC engine that could run on any fuel? What if it could run on gasoline, diesel, hydrogen, natural gas, propane, ammonia or just about anything else that burns? That’s what the company Hyliion got its hands on. It acquired the technology from GE Additive, which is the unit at GE that makes 3D printing machines, and yes, this engine is 3D printed. Hyliion is going to use it as a range extender in electric Class 8 semis. They call it Karno and they say it’s 20% more efficient than any other generator, and could even be more efficient than a fuel cell. Here are some of the technical terms they use to describe it. It’s a linear generator that develops heat to move a piston that generates electricity. But it does not burn the fuel with a flame, like IC engines do. It uses flameless oxidation. So it’s clean. That’s about as much as Hyliion is saying about it now, but we hope to get the company’s CEO on Autoline After Hours later this year to talk more about it.
HYUNDAI COMPLETELY REDESIGNS SONATA
Hyundai dropped this little nugget last night. It completely redesigned the Sonata, both inside and out. We think that it’s riding on the same platform with the same powertrain as before, but Hyundai only released details of the styling changes. You’ll immediately notice how they cleaned up the front end, lowering the nose and using a thin light bar that runs along the leading edge of the hood and wraps into the headlamps. That theme picks up again at the rear, with the taillights delineated by another thin red lightbar that runs from one side of the car to the other. Those long horizontal lines are also used in the interior, where two 12.3” screens are butted together and sit atop the instrument panel. Designers use long horizontal lines like this when they want to make a car look wider. Those lines tend to make your eyes follow them all the way to the end. A couple of interesting details here. Note how the armrest on the center console extends out just a bit more on the driver side. Hyundai says that’s to support the palm of your right hand, instead of it just hanging over the edge. And though Hyundai didn’t supply any good pictures of it, there’s a small column-type shift lever behind the steering wheel. Hyundai says that opens up more space on the center console. The new Sonata makes its public debut this weekend at the Seoul auto show and maybe we’ll get more details about it then.
LI-CYCLE EXPANDING INTO EUROPE
A few years back, one of the objections to going to electric cars is that no one knew how to recycle the batteries, at least not profitably at volume. All that is changing today. And one of the leaders in the field, Canadian battery recycler Li-Cycle, is expanding into France. It signed a deal with the Kion Group, which makes forklifts and warehouse trucks, to recycle batteries for its vehicles at a facility in France starting in 2024. It will open the plant in an existing building and it will have the capacity to process 10,000 metric tons of lithium-ion material a year and has the option to scale that up to 25,000 tons per year. Li-Cycle will also recycle batteries for Kion at another plant in Germany. And in addition to its plants in France and Germany, Li-Cycle is also building ones in Norway and the U.S. in New York. Once those are all up and running, Li-Cycle says it will have a global capacity to recycle over 100,000 tons of batteries a year. The company can recover 95% of the materials in a battery. Their process is like taking a cake and breaking it down to all its ingredients–flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs and milk.
APTERA ADOPTS COMMA.AI
Have you heard of this company called comma.ai? It developed a semi-autonomous driving system that uses your smartphone, takes about half an hour to install and only costs $1,500 at retail. They call it openpilot because it’s based on open source code, and it works on over 200 models of cars, including ones from GM. Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen and Hyundai-Kia. Not only does it provide adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and forward collision warning, it will automatically stop at traffic lights and stop signs. So far, only Tesla’s FSD will do that, but it costs ten times as much. Anyway, Aptera is the first vehicle maker to integrate openpilot into its solar electric vehicle.
And that brings us to the end of today’s report. Thanks for watching.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.