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0:00 Stellantis COO of North America Resigns
1:46 Musk Wants More Control of Tesla for AI & Robots
2:54 Indian Automakers Worry About Lower Import Taxes
4:05 VW Looks for More Solid-State Battery Partners
5:00 Foxconn Creates New Chinese EV Company
6:02 Panasonic Improving 2170 Battery Cell
6:42 Lamborghini Has Its Best Sales Year Ever
7:27 New Mercedes eSprinter Goes on Sale
8:37 Daimler Truck Sales Growth Fueled By EVs
9:11 Porsche Revealing New Macan on Jan 25th
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
STELLANTIS COO RESIGNS
In an unexpected and surprising move, Stellantis fired its COO of North America, Mark Stewart. His replacement is Carlos Zarlenga, who was the president of Stellantis Mexico. Zarlenga will take over the North American operations on February 1. Under Mark Stewart, Stellantis North America, which is essentially the former Chrysler Group, was the economic powerhouse of the company. In 2022, which is the most recent full-year financial data available, the Chrysler Group accounted for 31% of the company’s total vehicle sales, 47% of its total revenues, and 60% of its total operating profits. So why would Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Stellantis, decide he needed to replace Mark Stewart? The press release announcing the change cited the need to unleash the potential of iconic American brands. That suggests Tavares thought the Chrysler Group should be doing better. The release also said that Zarlenga would work in close cooperation with the brand CEOs, which may suggest that Stewart wasn’t doing that as much as Tavares thought he should be. And maybe Tavares didn’t like the fact that UAW president Shawn Fain singled out Stellantis as the most cooperative of the Detroit Three in agreeing to an expensive labor contract. Whatever the reason, this change is a milestone in that there are no longer any Americans in senior management positions at Stellantis, even though its American operations play an outsized role in the company.
MUSK THREATENS HIS BOARD UNLESS HE GETS MORE SHARES
He’s the richest man in the world, worth over $230 billion, which is bigger than the economies of 157 countries. And yet, he wants more. We’re talking about Elon Musk, of course. He’s warning his board of directors that they need to double his stock ownership of Tesla. Musk has 13% of all company shares, but in a tweet on X he said he wants 25% if he’s going to make the company a leader in artificial intelligence and robotics. Otherwise, he’s threatening to do that outside of Tesla. Critics were quick to point out that if he hadn’t sold so many shares to buy Twitter he’d have a lot more Tesla stock. Up to now, Tesla’s board has pretty much given Musk whatever he wants. And it’s likely they’ll give him a new compensation package to keep that AI and robotics work inside of Tesla. Wall Street analyst Adam Jonas at Morgan Stanley says Tesla’s Dojo AI computer could add $600 billion to the company’s market valuation.
INDIAN AUTOMAKERS WORRY ABOUT LOWER IMPORT TAXES
India wants to see more EV investment in the country, but it might have to give up its hefty import tariffs, which has local manufacturers worried. For years it’s been courting foreign EV makers, including Tesla, to build and sell their vehicles in India, but Tesla wants it to reduce taxes on imports, which currently sits at 100% for vehicles that cost over $40,000 and 70% for everything else. So, India is working on a policy that could cut the tax to as little as 15%, but may also require local investment in manufacturing. Tesla has said it would invest up to $2 billion in an Indian factory as long as it could import up to 30,000 vehicles at the 15% tax rate. But last year India only sold 82,000 EV and that has local manufacturers Mahindra and Tata worried that foreign automakers will just take advantage of the lower import taxes and have called on officials to keep the higher rates. They’re also concerned that having more EV makers in the country will hurt their future fundraising efforts.
VW LOOKS FOR MORE SOLID-STATE BATTERY PARTNERS
Volkswagen is in talks with France’s Blue Solutions on solid-state batteries because its current partnership with QuantumScape has been hit by delays. Blue Solutions makes solid-state batteries for Daimler’s electric buses and it also signed a development deal with BMW. A number of automaker’s, including Toyota and Nissan, are developing solid-state batteries because they have more energy density and shorter charging times compared to lithium-ion batteries. However, companies are running into challenges to produce them in high volumes for passenger vehicles, which is delaying when they’ll hit the market.
FOXCONN CREATES NEW CHINESE EV COMPANY
Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn is expanding its EV efforts. It just established a new EV company in China called Foxconn New Energy Automobile Industry Development, which, in addition to developing EVs, will also produce its own motors and other vehicle components. Foxconn, which makes iPhones for Apple, has been ramping up its EV plans over the last couple of years. In 2022, it purchased GM’s former plant in Ohio from Lordstown Motors and built a small number of Endurance pickups for the startup until it filed for bankruptcy last summer. Foxconn also makes electric tractors for Monarch and it’s in talks with Fisker to build its upcoming Pear EV at the plant. Its other EV efforts include Foxtron, another EV brand it established to showcase its technology and capabilities. And it has developed EV concepts with Italian design house Pininfarina and chip maker Nvidia.
PANASONIC IMPROVING 2170 BATTERY CELL
Panasonic is going to come out with a new and improved version of its 2170 battery cell sometime this year or next, according to Bloomberg. The cells are expected to be more energy dense than the version it makes today, which is used in some versions of the Model 3 and Y. The company’s CTO says it will also increase production output by 10% this year and quadruple its capacity to 200 GWh by 2030. A more energy dense cell means an automaker could use less of them to get the same amount of range and potentially bring down the prices of EVs.
LAMBORGHINI HAS BEST SALES YEAR EVER
Last year, Lamborghini celebrated its 60th anniversary and now it’s celebrating another milestone. The luxury brand set a sales record last year and delivered more than 10,000 vehicles for the first time in its history. It sold 10,112 vehicles to be exact, which is a 10% gain compared to 2022. The Urus SUV accounts for most of that, with more than 6,000 deliveries, followed by the Huracan with nearly 4,000 sold last year. Lambo also says its first plug-in hybrid, the Revuelto, which was launched in 2023 is popular with customers and it has enough orders to cover production into late 2026.
NEW MERCEDES eSPRINTER GOES ON SALE
Mercedes is getting ready to launch the new version of the eSprinter van in Europe. It will come in two body shapes, lengths and motor sizes as well as three battery packs. Power will come from either a 100 kW or 150 kW electric motor, which is 134 or 201 horsepower. The smallest battery is 56 kWh, which provides up to 220 km or 136 miles of range. That model is going to start at over 71,000 euros, including the Value Added Tax or VAT. An 81 kWh battery that provides up to 310 kilometers or 192 miles of range will be available and so will a 113 kWh pack that provides up to 440 kilometers or 273 miles of range. Mercedes isn’t giving pricing for those models yet, but a decked out version with the biggest battery, including VAT, should easily creep near $100,000, which sounds a bit crazy for what is basically a work van.
DAIMLER TRUCK SALES GROWTH FUELED BY EVs
Are we seeing the tipping point between EV and ICE big trucks, too? Last year Daimler Truck sold over 526,000 vehicles, but only a little more than 3,400 were electric. However, like BMW yesterday, most of Daimler Truck’s sales growth is coming from EVs. Those total sales were only up 1%, while EVs were up 277%. So, I think we’re going to see a lot more companies’ sales growth coming from EVs.
PORSCHE REVEALING NEW MACAN ON JAN 25TH
We knew it wouldn’t be long and Porsche just announced that it will unveil the all-new, all-electric Macan in a little over a week on January 25th. We’ll provide a link for anyone that wants to keep the date in their calendar.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day.
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