Listen to “AD #3565 – GM Going Back to EU with EVs; Wuling Mini EV Now Only $2,850; McLaren Embraces IC Engines” on Spreaker.
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0:00 Greenpeace Warns of Idle ICE Plants
0:59 GM Forms New Commercial Vehicle Business Unit
1:44 GM Going Back to EU with EVs
2:21 Honda Expenses Rising Faster Than Sales
2:54 Nissan Earnings Looking Better
4:10 Lexus Teases New GX
4:38 McLaren Embraces IC Engines
5:20 Maserati Dumping V8s
5:50 Alpine Tweaks the R5
6:27 VW ID.7 GTX Gets In-House Motors
7:22 GM Cruise Heads for Houston, Dallas
7:49 Wuling Mini EV Now Only $2,850
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GREANPEACE WARNS OF IDLE ICE PLANTS
The ten largest automakers in China could see one third of their ICE assembly plants sitting idle by the end of the decade. That’s according to Greenpeace, which assumes New Energy Vehicles, or NEVs, will have 40% market share in 2030. But NEVs already have a 30% share, so that idle capacity could hit a lot sooner. Greenpeace is urging those automakers to convert ICE plants to EVs as fast as possible. But China already has a massive problem with overcapacity. Automakers have the capability to make over 40 million vehicles a year, however sales are currently running around 25 million. And this is a key reason why Chinese automakers are really ramping up exports.
GM FORMS NEW COMMERCIAL VEHICLE BUSINESS UNIT
General Motors is taking a page out of Ford’s book and is consolidating all its commercial vehicle operations into one business unit–just like Ford did with Ford Pro. Called GM Envolve, the goal is to make it easier for customers to purchase vehicles and sign up for services. Fleet buyers will only have to deal with a single sales representative, who will help them pick out a tailored set of services for both ICE and electric commercial vehicles. GM’s fleet business is going strong, with sales increasing for five straight quarters and it just posted its best sales for the first quarter since 2006.
GM GOING BACK TO EU WITH EVs
Speaking of GM, it’s getting back into the European market with electrics. At the moment, GM only sells high end ICE models in Europe, like Cadillacs and the Chevy Corvette. It pulled out of the mass market in 2017. But that will soon change. Automotive News reports that GM will first return this fall to Nordic countries, which makes sense because of Norway’s strong EV market. GM hasn’t confirmed which vehicles it will sell but it will include EVs across all of its brands.
HONDA EXPENSES RISING FASTER THAN SALES
Honda posted its financial earnings for its fiscal year, and the results are really mixed. It brought in $126 billion in revenue, which was up a solid 16%. But its expenses shot up 23%, which led to a 3.6% drop in operating profit of $6.2 billion. Fortunately for Honda, its net profit of $5.6 billion was virtually unchanged from last year, thanks to a big drop of income taxes.
NISSAN EARNINGS LOOKING BETTER
Nissan also posted its results for the end of its fiscal year. Even though its sales of 3.3 million vehicles was down 15%, revenue shot up nearly 26% to $79 billion. Its operating profit of $2.8 billion was up 52% but its net profit of $1.6 billion was only up 3%. Nissan expects to sell a lot more vehicles this year and is especially counting on the North American market to lead the way.
HOW LONG CAN LEGACIES LOSE MONEY ON EVs?
How long can legacy automakers afford to lose money on EVs? That’s one of the topics for Autoline After Hours this afternoon. John and Gary have Joe White from Reuters and David Welch from Bloomberg coming on the show and they are going to bring a treasure trove of info and insight. And you can join the action when the show goes live at 3 pm eastern time.
LEXUS TEASES NEW GX
The Lexus GX is getting some much needed upgrades. It’s been a while since it’s had truly significant changes, but Lexus is teasing the all-new model that it says is coming soon. The SUV is likely to retain its body-on-frame architecture and the design looks to be playing up its off-roadability with large bulges at the edges of the hood and fenders. And Toyota threw a little mud on the back end for good measure.
MCLAREN EMBRACES IC ENGINES
And next comes a tale of two sports car makers. One is embracing internal combustion, while the other is saying arrivederci. McLaren announced that it’s expanding its partnership with engine manufacturer Ricardo, a company that has built close to 34,000 McLaren powertrains since 2011 at its home in England. Ricardo is now going to make McLaren’s next-gen V8 that will power future hybrid supercars. And along with the V6s and V8s that Ricardo already supplies, McLaren says the agreement ensures it will have engines for both hybrid and non-hybrid applications.
MASERATI DUMPS V8s
And now we switch to Maserati who is getting rid of V8s from its lineup. It will stop making the Trofeo versions of the Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte at the end of this year. Those models featured a 572 horsepower twin-turbo V8. And the engine kill-off is only going to continue at Maserati. All models will have an electric version by 2025 and it will be fully electric by 2030.
ALPINE TWEAKS THE R5
Speaking of sporty electrics, Alpine will keep hot hatches alive in the EV era. It revealed it will get its own version of the new Renault 5, what it calls the A290 beta. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give any specs, but it has plenty of pictures that show rally car styling and a 3-seat layout like a McLaren F1; one central seat for the driver up front that is flanked by two seats for the passengers behind. Alpine says it will launch the production version of the A290 next year.
VW ID.7 GTX GETS IN-HOUSE MOTOR
And is Volkswagen going to finally have a truly sporty electric car? It touted its GTX models as such, but with a max of 220 kW or 295 horsepower, they’re really just all-wheel drive variants with black cladding. But the new ID.7 GTX has the potential to be something more. VW says it’s equipped with its latest drive generation. And the new, in-house developed electric motor in the rear-drive ID.7 has 210 kW or 281 horsepower. So, it’s nearly getting the same power out of one motor that the previous GTXs were getting out of two. Now, imagine if the ID.7 GTX gets two of those new motors? Not saying that it will, but like we said, it’s got potential.
GM CRUISE HEADS FOR HOUSTON, DALLAS
Plenty of people are skeptical that we’ll ever see autonomous vehicles becoming a reality, but Waymo recently expanded its self-driving ride hailing service and now GM Cruise is launching in more cities in Texas. It will start testing vehicles in Houston next week with a safety driver on board then will expand to Dallas. Cruise currently operates in Austin as well as San Francisco and Phoenix.
WULING MINI EV NOW ONLY $2,850
One of the most affordable models in China is about to become even cheaper. Wuling is going to offer a battery subscription for its Hongguang Mini EV and cut its price by nearly $2,000. That’s a huge price cut because a base model currently costs about $4,700 but if you opt for the battery subscription its price drops to $2,850. Customers will pay a monthly fee of $30 for 60 months for the battery, which means they can save nearly $300 after five years with the subscription. The Hongguang Mini EV is one of the best-selling EVs in China but sales have started to taper off with more competition coming into the market, so Wuling had to do something to try and boost sales.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.