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0:00 Ford Dealers Fight EV Mandate
0:43 ONE Lays Off 25% of Workforce
1:22 Toyota Shrinks Its Keiretsu
2:10 NLRB Rules in Favor & Against Tesla
3:06 Sweden Backs Tesla Lawsuit
4:00 New EV Benchmark: 5 Mi/kWh
5:41 Toyota Unleashes New Tacoma
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
FORD DEALERS FIGHT EV MANDATE
Some dealers are ripping up their tickets to join Ford on its EV journey. About a year ago it said over two thirds or 1,920 dealers had opted into its EV program that included mandatory chargers and training. But since that time Ford has lost about 400 of those dealers. Last week the automaker cut back on its requirements for that EV program, which it said was due to changes in the market. And maybe more dealers backing out is one of the changes it was talking about?
ONE LAYS OFF 25% OF WORKFORCE
We keep hearing about battery plants getting delayed or scaled back and now Our Next Energy, or ONE, is feeling the pain of trying to scale up its battery making operations. It announced that it was forced to lay off a quarter of its workforce due to market conditions, but said that it was necessary for its future growth. ONE continues to establish its battery factory in Michigan, which just started production at the beginning this month. It’s eventually supposed to make 20 GWh of LFP battery cells that are suited for energy storage systems and commercial trucks.
TOYOTA SHRINKS ITS KEIRETSU
To help fund its transition to EVs, Reuters reports that Toyota and other companies’ part of the Toyota Group plan to sell a 10% stake in supplier Denso by the end of the year, which is estimated to be worth $4.7 billion. Denso is the second largest automotive supplier in the world. Toyota, which has a 24% stake in Denso, is expected to remain the number one shareholder even after the sale. This move seems to be a push from the Japanese government to have companies use capital more efficiently because Toyota certainly doesn’t need the money. As of September, it had $76 billion in cash on hand and cash equivalents.
NLRB RULES IN FAVOR, AGAINST TESLA
Tesla got good and bad news from the National Labor Relations Board. The board dismissed claims from the Workers United union that the company illegally fired workers over organizing efforts. The union said Tesla fired Autopilot workers at its Gigafactory in New York, just days after the union announced an organizing campaign. But Tesla said it fired the workers due to performance. The NLRB agreed with Tesla on that claim, however it found merit to two other complaints that the company maintained an unlawful rule on the acceptable use of technology in the workplace and that it tried to obtain grievances from workers to try and block support for the union. If Tesla doesn’t settle those claims, the NLRB will issue a complaint against it that will be heard by a judge.
SWEDEN BACKS TESLA LAWSUIT
Meanwhile, over in Sweden, a court ruled that the country’s transit authority must deliver license plates to Tesla that are being blocked by postal workers. Tesla sued the agency and the state-run PostNord because the workers stopped delivering the plates for its new cars. The court said the agency must deliver the plates in the next seven days or it will be fined $95,000. The postal workers are backing Tesla mechanics that are trying to get the company to sign a collective bargaining agreement. The mechanics, which are part of the IF Metall union, went on strike at the end of October and are refusing to service Tesla vehicles until it signs a deal. And members of other unions in Sweden, including the postal workers, are backing the mechanics in their fight.
NEW EV BENCHMARK: 5MI/KWH
We’re about to see another jump in EV efficiency. Right now the best EVs get about 4 miles per kWh or roughly 15 kWh per 100 kilometers. The two best are the Hyundai IONIQ 6 and Lucid Air, which are both rated at 4.17 miles per kWh or 14.3 kWh per 100 kilometers. But Luxeed, a division of Chinese tech giant Huawei, launched a new sedan called the S7 that sets a new standard at just over 5 miles per kWh or 12.4 kWh per 100 kilometers. And the one thing that all three of these EVs have in common is a higher voltage electronic architecture. Many EVs today use a 400 volt architecture, but Hyundai and Luxeed use an 800 volt system and Lucid’s is over 900 volts. These systems have less resistance and smaller wires and components, which boosts efficiency and lowers weight.
TOYOTA UNLEASHES NEW TACOMA
Toyota dominates the mid-size pickup segment in the U.S. market and its all-new redesign of the Tacoma is sure to keep it at the top of the sales charts. It now sits on Toyota’s TNGA-F platform, the same one that’s used for the Tundra full-size pickup as well as the Sequoia and Land Cruiser SUVs. And for the first time ever, the Tacoma gets an optional hybrid powertrain. The standard engine is a turbo-2.4 liter four. It comes in four versions. The base SR version with an 8-speed automatic delivers 228 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. When equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, it delivers 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. By the way, if you stall the engine on steep grades or technical off-road sections, you can start the engine while it’s still in gear without using the clutch. But most versions of the truck will get a version of the engine that delivers 278 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. And then there’s the hybrid, which Toyota calls the i-Force Max. It adds a 48-horsepower electric motor in the 8-speed transmission powered by a 1.87-kWh NiMH battery pack. That brings the total power output to 326 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft., which is double the torque of the outgoing V6. Even more impressively, full-time all-wheel-drive is available with the hybrid. The frame is completely boxed and for the first time, rear coil springs are available on most trim levels. Maximum towing is 6,500 pounds, while maximum payload is 1,710 pounds. And a wireless trailer camera is sold as an accessory. The truck bed comes in 5 or 6-foot lengths, it provides 7% more volume, it’s deeper and made from SMC, or sheet molding compound, while the tailgate is aluminum, and can be raised automatically just by pushing up on it with your knee. There’s an optional 400W AC inverter outlet in the bed and on the rear of the center console. The hybrid comes standard with a 2400W AC inverter. This truck was designed with off-roading in mind. Besides the TRD Pre-runner version, there’s a TRD off-road, a TRD Pro and an all-new trim line called the Trailhunter. The TRD off-road model comes with monotube Bilstein shocks that have remote reservoirs to prevent them from overheating. The TRD Pro takes that to another level. It comes with FOX QS3 three-way adjustable internal bypass shocks with remote reservoirs. And hard-core off-roaders will love that the front stabilizer bar can be quickly disconnected at the push of a button for more articulation in the front suspension. Disc brakes are now standard at all four wheels and skid plates are available for the engine, transfer case, fuel tank and rear differential. Inside, the chunky interior comes with a standard 8-inch screen or an optional 14-inch one. Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard. And you don’t get a key or a key fob. Instead, you can use your phone or a smart card, like Tesla pioneered years ago. To ensure that the Tacoma continues to dominate the mid-size pickup segment, Toyota offers an amazing model line. The truck comes in 2-door and 4-door versions and there seems to be a trim line for just about any truck customer. There’s the SR, the SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter. That’s a lot! And this overview is just a small sampling of all the features on the Tacoma. We’ve also posted three videos that show some of the coolest features. Check out the crazy, off-road seat that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any vehicle. This was a top secret development project. Then take a look at the removable Blue-tooth speaker that’s mounted on the top of the instrument panel. And check out all the features that went into the Trailhunter model. (Toyota Tacoma Trailhunter pictured)
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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