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0:00 GM Undecided on Hybrids
1:38 Ford’s EVs Post Strong Sales Gains
2:40 German Car Sales Down, Chinese Imports Too
3:15 Nordic Unions Target Tesla
4:27 1st Fiat 500e Priced at $34K in the U.S.
5:27 Jeep Drops Renegade from U.S. & Canada
6:03 Stellantis Cranks Up Fuel Cell Production
6:51 BMW Builds Fleet of Fuel Cell X5s
7:37 Ford & Xcel to Install 30,000 EV Chargers
8:18 GM & Partners to Open More Public EV Chargers
8:50 Daimler to Use EV Logistics Trucks Globally
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM UNDECIDED ON HYBRIDS
Mary Barra gave a debrief to reporters at an Automotive Press Association meeting last night in Detroit. Here are some of the highlights.
– The Chevrolet Bolt EV will be back in production in 2025 using an Ultium battery pack.
– She said GM has not decided to bring back hybrids to the U.S. market. They’re still studying it. She pointed out that GM offers hybrids in China, and Autoline already reported that GM is developing hybrids for the South American market, so it would be easy for GM to put them back in its U.S. lineup.
– But Barra is clearly focused on EVs and pointed out the industry is still in the early phase of electrification. She said, “We’re in the first turn of the first lap, maybe the second turn. EVs are the end game and you want to get there as fast as possible.”
– Barra wouldn’t say anything about Cruise, except to point out that GM has two assessments of the business going on and they won’t announce anything until those assessments are done. But Barra admitted GM needs to be more transparent with regulators and needs to build a better relationship with first responders and the communities where AVs get deployed. Even so, she said AVs are safer than human drivers, and we expect GM to expand the number of cities where Cruise operates once those assessments are over.
FORD EVs POST STRONG SALES GAINS
At the same time that Barra seems to be unsure whether they should bring back hybrids, Ford reported that its hybrid sales shot up 75% in the U.S. market in November. It sold over 12,000 hybrids for the month. And it posted some good numbers with its EVs, too. Sales of the F-150 Lightning shot up 113% with nearly 4,400 units delivered to customers. So far this year, Lightning sales are up nearly 54%. Mustang Mach-E sales were up more than 21% in November, with nearly 4,300 of them going to customers in the U.S. Globally, Ford is on track to sell over 100,000 Mach-Es this year, which would be twice as much as the ICE Mustang. As for electric vans, sales of the e-Transit fell 58% last month to only 271 units, but are up 6.5% for the year.
GERMAN CAR SALES DOWN, CHINESE IMPORTS TOO
Car sales in Germany fell nearly 6% last month. Sales of BEVs were down 22%, while PHEVs were down nearly 60% compared to a year ago, so they lost market share. Automakers sold almost 45,000 BEVs, and 9% of them were Chinese imports. But almost all the Chinese saw their sales drop, so while there’s a lot of consternation in Europe over Chinese BEVs flooding the market, so far it hasn’t happened, at least not in Germany.
NORDIC UNIONS TARGET TESLA
Unions in the Nordic countries are showing solidarity. The strike against Tesla in Sweden is spreading to Denmark. Reuters reports that Danish dockworkers will stop offloading Swedish-bound Tesla’s in harbors to support labor groups in Sweden. The unions are trying to force Tesla to sign collective bargaining agreements with mechanics. And the blockade could spread further, transport unions in Finland and Norway are also discussing joining the effort. And that would mean Tesla would have to import vehicles by truck from Germany.
FIAT 500e PRICED AT $34,000 IN U.S.
The Fiat 500e will make its North American debut in a few months or less and the company is sharing details about the first version that will launch, called the (500e)RED. For those of you familiar with the European version some of this will sound kind of similar. But it features a 42 kWh battery pack and an 87 kW or 118 horsepower electric motor that drives the front wheels. With a curb weight of roughly 3,000 pounds that setup provides up to 149 miles or 240 kilometers of range and 0-60 MPH in 8.5 seconds. The new 500e is built in Italy and will be shipped to North America. While there will be additional versions available, the (500e)RED has a starting price of just over $34,000, including destination charges but not any EV incentives.
JEEP DROPS RENEGADE FROM U.S. & CANADA
Jeep is dropping the Renegade from its lineup in the U.S. and Canada. It’s giving the model the ax because it wants to focus “its resources on SUV segments in North America that continue to grow.” Sales of the Renegade are down 35% through the first nine months of the year. The Compass is now the new entry level model for the brand and its sales are up 7% so far this year. The Renegade will continue to be built in Italy and Brazil and be sold in Mexico, Europe, South America and the Asia Pacific region.
STELLANTIS CRANKS UP FUEL CELL PRODUCTION
Stellantis seems to believe strongly in fuel cells. Symbio, which is a joint venture between Stellantis, Forvia and Michelin, opened its first gigafactory in France to build fuel cell systems. And the units made at the plant will go all over the world. Not only will they power mid- and large-sized vans in Europe but also Ram pickups and heavy-duty trucks in North America. The site can currently make about 16,000 fuel cells a year but it wants to increase that to 50,000 by 2026. Stellantis also has plans to build a second gigafactory with support from the European Union and French government that would double its fuel cell production capacity to 100,000 units a year by 2028.
BMW BUILDS FLEET OF FUEL CELL X5s
And along the same lines, BMW is testing a fleet of hydrogen-powered X5s. You may have seen these models on this channel before, but the luxury brand is operating a fleet of 100 of these models that it will use as a testbed for future models. BMW said it followed a similar path before coming out with its first electric vehicle. But unlike Stellantis, BMW’s plans aren’t as near-term. It hopes to be selling hydrogen-powered vehicles, which will be built on the same platforms as its BEVs, by the end of the decade. For that to happen it says it needs to improve things like cost and power density and that a better infrastructure needs to be built out.
FORD & XCEL TO INSTALL 30,000 EV CHARGERS
There’s a lot of complaints that there’s not enough EV chargers, that’s why automakers are helping more to grow the network. Ford’s commercial division, Ford Pro is partnering with energy company Xcel Energy to install 30,000 EV charging ports by 2030, which would be used for business fleets in Xcel’s service territories across the U.S. Most of the upfront costs for the charging equipment and installation will be offset by Xcel, while Ford Pro will offer charging products to Xcel’s business customers. They also use telematics data to promote charging during off-peak times.
GM & PARTNERS OPEN MORE PUBLIC EV CHARGERS
And speaking of EV chargers, General Motors, EVgo and Pilot Travel Centers opened the first 17 locations of their EV charging network at existing Pilot and Flying J locations in 13 states. By the end of the year, they plan to have 25 locations with 100 fast charging stalls and that will grow to 200 by the end of 2024. Each site will have multiple stalls with up to 350-kW chargers. The centers feature 24/7 amenities and onsite staff monitoring.
DAIMLER TO USE EV LOGISTIC TRUCKS GLOBALLY
At the end of last week Daimler Trucks North America announced it was going to start integrating electric semis into its own logistics operations. But it’s not just doing it in North America. This is its plan for most of the world. A Mercedes-Benz Truck plant in Germany wants to electrify 100% of its delivery fleet, so somewhat uniquely, it’s just going to give electric Mercedes trucks to the companies that supply to the plant. This was made possible by a fund from the country’s Federal Minister for Digital and Transport. Initially it’s giving away 12 eActros trucks, which will make about 50 deliveries a day. But that will increase to 20 trucks. Daimler is also installing 30 charging stations around the plant, including in a parking lot just outside its gates.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day.
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