Listen to “AD #3542 – Has Toyota Been Studying Tesla’s Assembly Process?; Used EV Sales Soar; Cruise Vehicles Updated After Crash” on Spreaker.
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0:08 Has Toyota Been Studying Tesla’s New Assembly Process?
1:35 VW Aims to Double U.S. Market Share with EVs
2:34 Indonesia Proposes Free Trade Deal with U.S.
3:55 Hyundai Accelerates Software Defined Vehicle Development
4:43 JB Straubel Re-Joins Tesla
5:11 GM Cruise Vehicles Updated After Bus Crash
5:47 U.S. Used EV Sales Soar
7:03 Scooter Battery Swapping Takes Off in Asia
8:29 Hongqi Engine Tops Geely In Thermal Efficiency
9:37 Mini Creates Digital Dog Assistant
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HAS TOYOTA BEEN STUDYING TESLA’S NEW ASSEMBLY PROCESS?
We’ve got more information on Toyota’s new pivot to electric vehicles and it’s pretty significant. Like Ford and Renault have done, Toyota is creating a completely new organization within the company dedicated to designing and manufacturing BEVs. It will be staffed by 1,000 people who will handle all product development, production and business functions, including supply chain management. They will all be reporting to one executive who has already been chosen but Toyota didn’t say who that is. The goal is to cut development time and inhouse investment by 50% and get an all-new BEV architecture to the market by 2026, with twice the driving range that the company now offers by using batteries with new materials. Toyota says this will involve a completely different way of making cars, with half the assembly steps and autonomous inspections and unmanned transport in the plant. That sure makes us think Toyota has been studying Tesla’s new assembly process that it’s developing for the $25,000 car that will begin production in Mexico. Toyota says we’ll learn more about this new business unit at its upcoming annual shareholder meeting.
VW AIMS TO DOUBLE U.S. MARKET SHARE WITH EVs
VW plans to significantly boost its market share in the U.S. and it believes it can do it with electric vehicles. The head of the Volkswagen Group of America, Pablo Di Si, says the automaker is aiming for 10% market share in the U.S. by the end of the decade, up from 4% today. And that number includes Audi and Porsche. It hopes to reach that mark with an onslaught of EVs. The Group plans to sell 25 EV models in the U.S. by 2030, all of which should qualify for the full $7,500 EV tax credit. The automaker is investing $7 billion in the U.S. to build electric vehicles. It already builds the ID.4 in Tennessee and next year it will produce the ID. Buzz van in the U.S. And it’s also planning to build a mid-size and large SUV in the next few years as well.
INDONESIA PROPOSES FREE TRADE DEAL WITH U.S.
Indonesia wants to get in on U.S. EV tax incentives. A senior minister said the country will propose a free trade agreement with the U.S. for minerals needed to produce EV batteries. That way companies in the country supplying those minerals can benefit from the U.S. tax credit. The Inflation Reduction Act requires that a certain percentage of minerals must be sourced in the U.S. or with a free trade partner. Indonesia says the free trade proposal will be similar to the deal the U.S. and Japan negotiated last month for EV battery minerals. Indonesia has large amounts of nickel and it’s using it to try and attract EV investments.
HYUNDAI ACCELERATES SOFTWARE DEFINED VEHICLE DEVELOPMENT
Legacy automakers are scrambling to develop electronic architectures to catch up to Tesla. The so-called software defined vehicle is where pretty much every part of the car is controlled by software and run from a more centralized computing system. Last month Honda partnered with an Indian company to develop software defined vehicles. And now Hyundai and Kia have formed a consortium with 17 other companies to do the same. The companies plan to standardize software development and virtual validation through technology sharing and collaboration on joint projects. The Hyundai Group plans to transform all of its cars to software defined vehicles by 2025.
JB STRAUBEL RE-JOINS TESLA
Tesla is adding an important member to its board. JB Straubel, he’s one of the co-founders of the company and served as chief technology officer. He left Tesla in 2019 to start a battery recycling company called Redwood which now counts Ford and Volvo as its clients. Since he already knows so much about Tesla he should be a great addition to the board.
GM CRUISE VEHICLES RECALLED AFTER BUS CRASH
General Motors had to recall 300 of its Cruise autonomous vehicles operating in San Francisco for a software update after one of its vehicles crashed into an articulated bus because it didn’t accurately predict its movement. After the bus pulled in front of it and came to a stop, the Cruise applied the brakes too late and rear-ended the bus at 10 MPH. No one was injured in the accident. Cruise says the software update will prevent this type of accident from occurring again.
U.S. USED EV SALES SOAR
Sales of used EVs are soaring in the U.S. According to Cox Automotive they were up nearly a third in the first quarter of the year thanks to falling prices. The average used EV costs $43,400, down 4% from last year. Cox says the price drop was likely caused by Tesla cutting prices for new vehicles, because “As the market leader pushes down prices for new EVs, used-vehicle prices follow suit.” We’d also guess there’s a lot more EVs starting to hit the used market than ever before.
SCOOTER BATTERY SWAPPING TAKES OFF IN ASIA
NIO is about the only company that has seemed to have any success with battery swapping for cars, but the technology is appearing more attractive to riders of 2- and 3-wheeled vehicles. One reason is that it’s relatively easy. A scooter might only hold 1 or 2 packs, so it can take as little as a minute to do a swap and each pack adds about 20 miles or 32 kilometers of range. Another reason for the growing success is that there’s really only two options. Gogoro is the top swapper, who claims to have 500,000 active users and says it does 260 swaps every minute. The other is a group of 21 small vehicle manufacturers that have come together to share a common battery design, which includes Honda, Kawasaki, Piaggio, Suzuki and Yamaha. Battery swapping for scooters and the like is well suited for countries like India where 80% of vehicles sold are two-wheelers. And BloombergNEF predicts electric 2-wheel vehicles will make up 20% of sales in Southeast Asia by the end of the decade. Battery swappers are also testing the stations to be used like mini power plants to help offset spikes in energy demand.
HONGQI ENGINE TOPS GEELY IN THERMAL EFFICIENCY
Back in February we praised Geely for coming out with what we thought was the world’s most thermally efficient car engine. But now Hongqi, which is a brand owned by Chinese automaker FAW, is cranking the efficiency dial even higher. The Geely Raytheon Hybrid engine achieves a thermal efficiency of 44.26%. But Hongqi has one 2.0L naturally aspirated engine that goes to 44.3% and another 1.5L turbocharged unit that is said to be 45.2% thermally efficient. Both setups will be used in a plug-in hybrid version of a 4-door SUV, called the HS6. If you’re wondering about that other 55%, it’s wasted energy, mostly heat that goes out the tailpipe. And doesn’t come close to the typical electric motor, which is 85-90% thermally efficient.
MINI CREATES DIGITAL DOG ASSISTANT
MINI’s future models are going to come with an interactive personal assistant. Spike, inspired by an English Bulldog, will follow users as they travel through the different menus on the center screen and can help guide people through how to use certain functions. Spike will make its debut in the Concept Aceman at the Shanghai auto show, which kicks off later this month. And expect to see Spike show up in future MINI cars.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.