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0:00 Ford Reaches Tentative Agreement with Unifor
1:04 UK to Delay ICE Sales Ban
1:45 UK Auto Industry Not on Board with ICE Ban Delay
2:15 Lexus Details Future Lineup Plans
4:05 Volvo Ditches Diesel Engines
4:31 IIHS Says Minivans Need Better 2nd Row Protection
5:27 Toyota Claims Breakthrough in Teaching Robots New Tasks
6:26 Russia Bans Government Foreign Car Purchases
7:17 Fiat Topolino On Sale Now in Italy
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FORD REACHES TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH UNIFOR
A day after extending the deadline for its expiring contract with the Canadian union, Unifor and Ford announced they have reached a tentative deal. However, no details were given and the new 3-year contract still needs to be ratified by Ford’s 5,600 Unifor members. But if the deal does go through, it’s a big victory for Ford and will pave the way for new contracts for union members at GM and Stellantis in Canada. So, does this have any impact on the UAW’s negotiations with the Detroit Three? We think it would have no matter what way it went with Unifor. If there was a strike at Ford in Canada, it would have impacted parts supplies in the U.S., which could have caused shutdowns the UAW wasn’t ready for. But now with that avoided and a tentative deal on the table, it puts pressure on the UAW to get its own deal done.
UK PLANS TO DELAY ICE SALES BAN
Are most countries rushing too quickly into EVs? The current British Prime Minister seems to think so. According to the BBC, Rishi Sunak will soon announce that the UK is delaying plans to ban ICE sales by 2035, which were put in place by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020. Sunak says people haven’t been honest about the costs and other tradeoffs needed in the EV transition and that delaying the plans doesn’t mean that the UK “losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments” but that they should get there in a “more proportionate way.”
UK AUTO INDUSTRY NOT ON BOARD WITH ICE BAN DELAY
But not everyone is receiving the news with open arms. Reuters reports that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which is the association that represents the UK auto industry, is worried this will hold back incentives, a charging infrastructure and any sort of push to get consumers to switch to EVs. Ford also said that it undermines the transition to electric vehicles and could put future investments at risk as well.
LEXUS DETAILS FUTURE LINEUP PLANS
As I said yesterday, Toyota takes a long time to make up its mind, but once it does it moves pretty quickly. Now we know the modular body structure for EVs that was also part of yesterday’s Toyota news will be out no later than 2026. Lexus revealed that’s when it’s going to introduce a next-gen EV, which will feature the new structure as well as a new software platform. It also wants to “inspire the love of driving and cars, even with battery EVs,” by injecting the spirit of recent concepts like the AE86, RZ Sports and Electrified Sport into future models. Its near-term lineup will include vehicles like the LM luxury van, LBX small crossover, the GX large SUV and TX 3-row SUV for North America. Lexus is also launching customer experience programs where people can go off-roading in a ROV or side-by-side concept, which features a hydrogen-powered ICE. We can expect to see more of Lexus’ electric future starting in October at the Japan Mobility Show.
VOLVO DITCHES DIESEL ENGINES
Volvo is ditching diesel engines. The automaker announced it will end production of all diesel-powered models by early next year. And it has ended all R&D spending on developing new internal combustion engines. Just four years ago, the majority of Volvo cars sold in Europe were diesel powered. But by 2030, it only plans on selling pure electrics.
IIHS SAYS MINIVANS NEED BETTER 2ND ROW PROTECTION
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS says minivans need better second-row protection. It just performed updated moderate overlap front crash tests on four models and none of them received good or acceptable ratings. The Chrysler Pacifica, Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna all earned marginal scores and the Honda Odyssey was rated poor. However, these ratings don’t apply to kids that are properly secured in child safety seats. The IIHS launched the updated test last year because research showed the risk of a fatal injury is now higher for belted second row occupants than it is for those in the front. The IIHS says this is because second row seats lack the same safety technology as front seats and it’s calling on automakers to make the change.
TOYOTA CLAIMS BREAKTHROUGH IN TEACHING ROBOTS NEW TASKS
Toyota says it developed a breakthrough to teach robots using generative AI that can be done faster and more accurately than current methods. Previously, engineers had to spend many hours writing sophisticated code and/or perform many tests to program behavior. But Toyota says its method doesn’t require writing a single line of new code. It uses camera images, demos from a human, tactile sensing and a description of the goal. It has already taught robots 60 skills this way, including pouring liquids, using tools and manipulating objects. It wants to add hundreds of new skills by the end of the year and 1,000 by the end of 2024. The company says its technique will one day allow robots to support people in everyday situations, in different environments instead of specific tasks in a constrained environment.
RUSSIA BANS GOVERNMENT FOREIGN CAR PURCHASES
Russian government officials and heads of state-run corporations prefer to ride in foreign cars, especially BMWs, Mercedes’ and Audis. But now Russia is banning government purchases of foreign made cars to help domestic production. It’s estimated that federal and state government agencies purchased 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles annually valued at $300 to $400 million. Most Western brands have ceased operations in the country after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and car production has plummeted from 1.3 million units in 2021 to under 450,000 last year. So, now the Russian government is looking to Russian made vehicles to help fill out its fleet. And it’s even considering Chinese made vehicles
FIAT TOPOLINO ON SALE NOW IN ITALY
Fiat is now taking orders in Italy for the cute, little Topolino, which is its version of the Citroen Ami. The small EV sells for between roughly 7,500 and 10,000 euros or $8,000-$10,700 depending on the model. Or customers can get a 4-year lease for 39 euros a month with about 2,600 euros down. Fiat says it already has 10,000 orders for the Topolino, which we think makes it quite a bit more popular than the Citroen.
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.