Listen to “AD #3570 – Tesla Being Forced Into Advertising; AM Could Be Mandated in Cars; 1938 Mercedes 540 K Streamliner” on Spreaker.
Follow us on social media:
0:00 U.S. Charges Chinese National w/ Stealing Apple AV Data
0:52 Chevy, Nissan, Ram, VW Have More Subprime Customers
1:26 Tesla Being Forced Into Advertising
2:21 Geely Buys Bigger Stake in Aston Martin
3:25 Panasonic Boosting Battery Production 4X
3:58 AM Radio Could Be Mandated in Cars
5:08 BMW Integrates AR & VR Into Cars
5:57 Range Rover Becomes More Bespoke
6:34 Lexus Boosts LC 500 Bespoke Options
7:11 Automakers Want Brexit Rules Delayed
8:00 1938 Mercedes 540 K Streamliner
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
U.S. CHARGES CHINESE NATIONAL WITH STEALING APPLE AV DATA
The U.S. Justice Department charged a former Apple employee with stealing the company’s autonomous vehicle secrets and then fleeing to China. According to the indictment, the former 35-year-old engineer was hired by Apple in 2016. But he also accepted a U.S. based job with a Chinese company to work on AVs and then waited four months to inform Apple he accepted a new job. Apple says it discovered he accessed proprietary data days before he left the company in 2018, and federal agents say they found “large quantities” of data from Apple after they searched his home. Shortly after that, he fled to China.
NISSAN, RAM, CHEVY, VW HAVE MORE SUBPRIME CUSTOMERS
As U.S. interest rates shot up, that forced many subprime car buyers or people with low credit scores out of the market. But some brands have been hurt more than others. Cox Automotive says brands like Nissan, Chevrolet, Ram and Volkswagen probably have a larger number of subprime buyers because they charge higher interest rates for financing cars. Subprime buyers can still get loans, but they have to pay higher interest rates which raises their monthly payments for both new and used cars.
TESLA BEING FORCED INTO ADVERTISING
Last year General Motors spent $1.3 billion on advertising and promotion in the U.S. Toyota spent $1.1 billion and Ford spent $370 million. Meanwhile, Tesla spent about $152,000 on web banners and billboards. That’s according to Vivvix, which tracks advertising data. But Elon Musk says Tesla will start experimenting with more advertising, so its ad spend will go up. Reuters quotes one advertising expert as saying that Musk can’t criticize advertising anymore since he owns Twitter that gets most of its revenue from advertising. Yesterday on CNBC, former Ford CEO Mark Fields said that Musk wants to start advertising because he’s seeing demand for Tesla’s cars starting to soften up.
GEELY BUYS BIGGER STAKE OF ASTON MARTIN
Not only is Aston Martin having a breakout season in Formula 1, it just got a big financial boost. Geely is buying an additional 10% stake in Aston for nearly $300 million, which means that Geely now owns 17% of the iconic British brand. Geely also gets a seat on Aston’s board, but it agreed not to increase its stake beyond 22% until at least August of next year. Geely leapfrogged past Mercedes as the 3rd largest investor in Aston, only behind chairman Lawrence Stroll and the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Wall Street loved the news. Aston’s stock was up nearly 25% this morning.
PANASONIC BOOSTING BATTERY PRODUCTION 4X
Panasonic is going to significantly ramp up EV battery production. It’s currently one of the top 5 EV battery makers in the world, producing around 50 GWh annually. But the company announced it’s going to build at least two new battery plants in North America by 2030, to help it reach a capacity of 200 GWh or 4 times what it currently produces. Panasonic hasn’t chosen a location for the plants but it did say they’ll produce 4680 batteries.
AM RADIO COULD BE MANDATED IN CARS
There’s a big battle brewing over AM radio of all things. At least eight automakers got rid of AM in their EVs because they claim the electric motors interfere with the AM signals. Even though they can shield the radio to prevent that from happening, they’re using this as an excuse to cut the cost of an AM radio. But several former heads of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, called on the Transportation Department and members of Congress to prevent automakers from ditching AM. They claim it’s necessary because it’s far more reliable to broadcast warnings during an emergency than streaming. You may remember this from past reporting and now a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers just introduced a new bill to force automakers to keep AM. Automakers aren’t happy and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, their lobbying group, issued a statement saying the bill is unnecessary because warnings can still be broadcast through FM, internet or satellite based radio and over cellular networks.
BMW INTEGRATES AR & VR INTO CARS
BMW’s longtime tagline was the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine,’ but now it’s working on making that the ‘Ultimate Driving Experience.’ By combining vehicle and sensor data with augmented and virtual reality technology, BMW and Meta say they are the first to be able to display stable virtual content inside a moving vehicle. The automaker and Meta teamed up in 2021 and had to come up with a way to match the virtual device’s motion in the car with the car’s movement in the world. They say they’ve figured that out and will now work on use cases for the tech, which could teach student drivers how to drive, conduct a yoga lesson or allow passengers to play games, and do all that without them getting car sick.
RANGE ROVER BECOMES MORE BESPOKE
There’s good money to be made customizing cars and JLR and Lexus are ramping up their efforts. Range Rover is launching a new division, called SV Bespoke, that provides a wide range of options to owners of Autobiography and SV models. Customers will have nearly 400 interior material and color options, 230 paint choices as well as custom badging and stitching. It’s not going to come cheap, but the base prices alone for these models are roughly $160,000 and $190,000.
LEXUS BOOSTS LC 500 BESPOKE OPTIONS
Now over to Lexus which is expanding its Bespoke Build option from the coupe to the convertible version of the LC 500. Customers will have more options for wheels, spoilers, roof material as well as interior/exterior colors and trim. The sports car also gets a few new upgrades, the biggest being a new digital display. Both the LC 500 Coupe and Convertible go on sale this June. The Coupe starts at nearly $99,000, while the Convertible starts at $106,000, including destination.
AUTOMAKERS WANT BREXIT RULES FROZEN
Automakers in Europe are calling on the UK and the EU to delay trade rules created after Brexit that go into effect next year. In order to avoid tariffs, 45% of the value of an electric vehicle sold in the EU must come from the UK or the EU. Stellantis, Ford and a group representing German automakers want to postpone that rule until 2027. They claim it will delay the transition to EVs and that the extra costs will be pushed on to consumers. By postponing the requirement, automakers say it will allow time for the battery supply chain in Europe to develop and meet demand. Stellantis even warned that it will be forced to close plants in the UK if it’s not delayed.
1938 MERCEDES 540 K STREAMLINER
Aerodynamics has been on the mind of car designers and engineers for over 100 years. In the 1930’s automakers started integrating headlights into the fenders and body shapes became more tear-dropped. But Mercedes was really pushing the limits with the 540 K Streamliner. It’s a one-off car that was delivered to Dunlop in 1938 for high-speed tire testing and added aero tricks like a wraparound windshield and flush-mounted door handles. A supercharged 5.4L V8 making 180 horsepower propelled the 540 to its top speed of 185 km/h or 115 MPH. Mercedes rebuilt the vehicle in 2014 and put it through its wind tunnel. It got a drag coefficient of 0.36, which is a little less efficient than a Rivian R1T. Many of the newest EV sedans have a CD approaching 0.20.
Don’t forget to check out Autoline After Hours later today as we get an insider’s look into the world of EV battery recycling. But that’s a wrap for today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website: WardsAuto.com
Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.