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0:08 U.S. New Car Sales Running Strong
0:42 Most OEMs Post Double-Digit Gains
1:18 Consumers Shrug Off High Interest Rates
2:16 Bosch Speeds Up Battery Recycling Process
3:14 VW ID.7 Has Impressive Range
4:34 Mini Countryman Goes All Electric
5:28 Driving in Singapore Costs a Small Fortune
7:06 Sila Anode Adds 20% Range to Mercedes G-Wagon EV
8:32 Lambo Revuelto Gets Custom-Made Tires
9:18 Ford Adds AI To Trailer Hitch
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. NEW CAR SALES RUNNING STRONG
Almost every automaker reported its sales for the first quarter in the US market and the numbers came in stronger than almost everyone expected. Automakers sold nearly 3.4 million vehicles, up a strong 24% compared to last year. Even so, on an annualized basis, that would put sales at only 13.5 million vehicles for the year. However, analysts expect them to hit between 14 million and 15 million, so that suggests the sales pace should pick up in the months to come.
MOST OEMs POST DOUBLE-DIGIT GAINS
Some automakers had a blowout quarter. Audi’s sales were up nearly 50%. Kia, General Motors, Nissan, Volvo, Hyundai, BMW and Ford all posted double digit gains. But it wasn’t good news for everyone. Mitsubishi, Stellantis and Toyota all saw their sales drop. And in some cases we’re not sure what the numbers are. Genesis, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover still have not reported their sales. Neither have Lucid or Rivian.
CONSUMERS SHRUG OFF HIGH INTEREST RATES
Even so, the strong upswing in overall sales suggests there’s a lot of pent-up demand out there, despite a sharp rise in interest rates, and talk of a possible recession. These numbers show that despite all this economic uncertainty there are still a lot of consumers and fleets who want to buy a new car, truck or van.
BOSCH SPEEDS UP BATTERY RECYCLING PROCESS
Recycling batteries is going to be a key way to make EVs sustainable which is why Bosch developed a fully automated system to discharge and disassemble battery modules. Right now it can take up to 24 hours to manually deep-discharge a battery. But Bosch says it can automatically discharge 8 lithium-ion batteries in less than 15 minutes. And the leftover energy in the batteries is used to power the recycling station. It’s safer because the system can recognize different battery designs, which minimizes short circuits and fires. The technology will be used by the Battery Lifecycle Company which is building the first automated battery recycling plant in Europe. Located in Germany, it opens this summer and will have the capacity to recycle 15,000 metric tons of battery material a year.
VW ID.7 HAS IMPRESSIVE RANGE
Volkswagen is making little improvements to its MEB platform for electric vehicles. For example, the new ID.7 sedan will feature a new, in-house developed electric motor and improved charging system. The motor drives the rear wheels and generates 282 horsepower and 402 lb-ft of torque. Two battery packs are available; either a 77 kWh or 86 kWh. Based on the WLTP cycle, the smaller pack provides 382 miles of range, while the larger is rated up to 435 miles, which is pretty impressive even though the EPA rating will be somewhat lower than that. Current MEB vehicles are able to charge at a rate up to 135 kW, but VW believes the ID.7 will eventually be able to do 200 kW. It’s also giving the electric sedan an updated interior, which is highlighted by a larger 15-inch infotainment screen. That’s up from 12-inches. The ID.7 will make its debut later this month. It will go on sale in Europe before the end of the year and is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in 2024.
MINI COUNTRYMAN GOES ALL ELECTRIC
Speaking of new EVs, MINI is getting ready to release the first all-electric version of the Countryman, which will be the first MINI model completely produced in Germany. That’s because it will only be electric and shares its platform with the BMW iX1, so mechanically the two are the same. There’s two drive setups; a single motor option that provides 191 horsepower or an AWD system that combines for 313 horsepower. One 64.7 kWh battery pack is available, which provides up to 450 kilometers or 279 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle. The electric Countryman is undergoing testing right now and production starts in November.
DRIVING IN SINGAPORE COSTS A SMALL FORTUNE
People always complain about high insurance rates, but stop your complaining–unless you live in Singapore. If you want the privilege of driving a car there, you have to bid on a COE or Certificate of Entitlement. That gives you the right to register, own and use a vehicle in Singapore for 10 years. Because there’s only a limited amount handed out each year, prices are sky high, even for a base car. A certificate for a car with a 1,600cc engine and only 130 horsepower costs roughly $73,000. Same for an EV with a 110-kW motor. Anything bigger than that it’s about $90,000. Oh, there’s also about 28% in excise and sales taxes added to the price of a car. So, next time your insurance bill comes in, just smile and relax and pity the poor people in Singapore.
SILA ANODE ADDS 20% RANGE TO MERCEDES G-WAGON EV
We’re starting to see new battery technology for EVs making its way to the market–batteries that cost less and provide more range. Mercedes Benz’s electric G-Wagon, which comes out in 2025, will use a silicon-based anode from a California battery materials company called Sila, that will boost EV range by 20%. Sila says by 2026, the company will be able to produce enough material for 200,000 EVs annually and 1 million by the end of the decade. Currently, batteries use graphite for the anodes but they add weight and volume. Silicon anodes can help batteries charge faster and store more energy but there’s one major drawback. When charging, silicon can expand up to three times in size and that swelling degrades the battery. Sila says its silicon anode technology limits expansion to just 6%, about the equivalent of graphite. And after 1,100 discharges, which is around 300,000 miles of driving, the battery still retains 80% of its charge, also about the same as graphite. Sila says it expects a third of all EVs will have silicon-based anodes by 2030 and by 2035 it will be in all EVs.
LAMBO REVUELTO GETS CUSTOM-MADE TIRES
Lamborghini’s Revuelto is the company’s first V-12 powered hybrid and we’ve learned from our sponsor that it also features tires that are exclusively custom-built for the car. Actually, we should say it’s a family of tires, because the sizes are staggered from front to rear. There’s also a performance and a run-flat version and they’re all available in 20, 21 and 22-inch diameters. The tires, which are made by Bridgestone, feature extremely thin sidewalls, which car designers love to use. And for Lambo owners who want to take their Revuelto out into the snow, they can be fitted with Blizzak winter tires with 20s on the front and 21s on the rear.
FORD ADDS AI TO TRAILER HITCH
AI is making its way into everything. In fact it’s growing so fast that Elon Musk and other tech leaders say we need to pause AI development until we know what’s safe. But Ford is using artificial intelligence to make hitching your vehicle to a trailer as easy as pushing a button. The system uses AI, a rear camera and radars to automatically align the hitch with the trailer. All the driver has to do is hold down a button while the system controls the speed, steering and braking. They call it Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, it was developed in-house by Ford and it’s available now on the F-150, F-150 Lightning and Super Duty trucks.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.