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0:00 GM Faces Dual-Front Labor War
1:22 Chinese OEMs Take EVs to Developing Markets
2:28 China EV Startup Files for Bankruptcy
3:22 BMW EV Sales Jump 80%
5:08 ZF Expands AV Business
5:47 Schaeffler Bids on Vitesco
6:56 Nissan Using AI for New Materials
7:37 Nissan’s Wild Hyper Adventure Concept
8:16 Honda Develops Self-Driving Lawn Mower
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM FACES TWO-FRONT LABOR WAR
General Motors is now facing a two-front labor war. In the U.S., the UAW is striking at two of GM’s assembly plants and 22 parts depots. Those strikes forced GM to shut down another assembly plant and a stamping plant. Then, last night, in Canada, Unifor announced it’s striking one of GM’s full size truck plants, one of its engine plants and a parts depot. All told, GM now has over 15,900 workers who are on strike or are laid off. While the Canadian union reached an agreement with Ford, Unifor accuses GM of not agreeing to the same issues that Ford did. And it’s demanding that GM follow the traditional pattern agreement. Here’s where it gets interesting. GM’s St. Catherines plant ships engines and transmissions to assembly plants in the U.S. and Mexico, which means Unifor’s strike in Canada is going to cause UAW members in the U.S. to get laid off. That’s going to put even more pressure on General Motors, but it’s also going to test just how much solidarity there is between the two unions.
CHINESE OEMs TAKE EVs TO DEVELOPING MARKETS
Chinese automakers are making major inroads with EVs in developing markets that legacy automakers are completely ignoring. For example, last month in Thailand consumers bought 6,875 EVs and 5,880 of them were Chinese, or 86%. Tesla got the other 14%. In Brazil, EV sales are running between 5,000 and 6,000 a month, and China dominates that market too. Legacy automakers say that developing countries don’t have the infrastructure to support EVs. But it looks like a lot of consumers in those countries don’t care what the legacy automakers have to say. By getting into those markets now, Chinese automakers like BYD, Great Wall and SAIC are going to have an enormous advantage, as well as get more manufacturing scale that will help drive down their costs. As the old saying goes, victory goes to the firstest with the mostest.
CHINA EV STARTUP FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
But while developing markets look promising for Chinese EV makers, things look tougher on the home front. Chinese EV startup WM Motor just filed for bankruptcy. It was founded in 2015 and had major backers including Chinese tech company Baidu and Shanghai’s state-owned asset regulator. But the company struggled to turn a profit, which it blames on pandemic setbacks, rising raw material costs and securing the money needed to produce and develop vehicles. We would add that the price war which Tesla kicked off this year was a major issue. Besides, China has too many brands, too many models, too many car companies, and tens of millions of units of overcapacity. So, WM may not be the last one to go bankrupt.
BMW EV SALES JUMP 80%
Say what you will about its grilles, car buyers continue to flock to BMWs. It delivered nearly 622,000 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce models around the world in the third quarter, which is up almost 6% from last year. It’s also doing pretty well selling electrics. The Group sold about 94,000 BEVs in Q3, a jump of close to 80%. That’s significantly more than its German luxury rival Mercedes, who sold 61,600 EVs worldwide in Q3, which is a 66% increase. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. BMW’s sales in China were down roughly 2% to more than 210,000 units, while Mercedes was even worse at 196,000 units, down 12%. It blames supply chain issues and model changeovers, but competition from domestic brands in China is the toughest it’s ever been and right now BMW and Mercedes aren’t offering products that Chinese consumers feel like they have to have.
ZF EXPANDS AV BUSINESS
Autonomous vehicles just took another step forward. The giant German supplier ZF is expanding a partnership with Texas based Oceaneering International to produce and sell its autonomous shuttles. They didn’t reveal exactly how many shuttles will be built but say it will be in the four-digits over the next several years. The autonomous shuttles are designed to operate in specialty vehicle lanes and they’re being marketed at airports and theme parks. ZF and Oceaneering have worked together for more than 30 years to design and develop transport shuttles through ZF’s 2getthere subsidiary.
SCHAEFFLER BIDS ON VITESCO
The supplier company Schaeffler is putting in a bid to buy the supplier Vitesco. Schaeffler, which is a sponsor of Autoline Daily, wants the electric motors and power electronics that Vitesco makes for EVs and hybrids. You may remember that Vitesco was carved out of the supplier Continental, because Continental wanted to get out of powertrains and concentrate on electronics, ADAS systems and tires. But now Continental is even thinking of selling off all its electronics and ADAS business and just concentrating on tires. And here’s an interesting twist. The Schaeffler family, which is one of the richest in Germany, has major holdings in Schaeffler the company, as well as in Vitesco and Continental. You got all that? It sure is complicated. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re going to see massive upheaval in the supplier sector as the auto industry transitions to software defined electric vehicles. And by the end of this decade the industry is going to look very different than it does today.
NISSAN USING AI FOR NEW MATERIALS
Nissan is using artificial intelligence at its tech lab in Silicon Valley to help it research new automotive materials and says it has significantly cut the time to test them. It says it normally takes 20 years to research and test new materials because of all the trial and error. But thanks to AI, that’s been cut to just two years. AI allows Nissan to sample millions of materials and help predict which have the ideal characteristics for a given application. Nissan says AI has helped speed up the development of its solid-state batteries, too, which it plans to bring to market in 2028.
NISSAN’S WILD HYPER ADVENTURE CONCEPT
Nissan is also showing off another one of its Hyper concepts. The first was the Hyper Urban and this is the Hyper Adventure. As its name implies, this concept is meant for exploring and features all-wheel drive to take users off the beaten path as well as a big battery pack that can power up a campsite or even recharge an electric jet ski. The Hyper Adventure is even more wild looking than the first, especially that rear end. And I can’t wait to see what Nissan has in store for the next one. There will be four Hyper concepts in all.
HONDA DEVELOPS AUTONOMOUS LAWN MOWER
I don’t know about you, but mowing my lawn doesn’t make me want to jump out of bed in the morning. If you’re like me then we need to start supporting this idea from Honda. It developed a ride-on mower that can be taught how to mow a lawn. First, a human has to show the mower the path, but then it can repeat that same route on its own. So, the mower could cut grass while someone else takes care of another area and even if they cross paths, the mower has 4 lidar and 4 radar to detect objects around it. Right now this is just a prototype, but this is one piece of tech I hope goes mainstream.
But that’s the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us.
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