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0:00 EVs Drive Down Price of Platinum, Palladium
1:07 Hyundai To Sell €20,000 EV in EU
2:04 Geely Builds Starlink Competitor
2:45 GM Makes OnStar Features Standard
4:02 Ford EV Sales Drop, Hybrids Soar
5:11 Lincoln Aviator Receives Same Upgrades as Ford Explorer
5:57 Toyota To Manufacture H2 Electrolyzers
7:05 Automated Parking for Loading Ships
8:15 Stellantis Denies Renault Merger Rumors
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
EVs DRIVE DOWN PRICE OF PLATINUM, PALLADIUM
There’s a good chance catalytic converter thefts are going to go down. Prices for critical materials, like platinum and palladium shot up as car production rose around the world, which is why converters were so enticing to steal. But as EV sales and production has taken off, prices of those critical materials have been dropping significantly and it looks like they’re going to keep going down. Last year the price of palladium slipped 40%, while platinum dropped 15%. And now in South Africa, where a good majority of these metals are mined, producers are looking to close unprofitable sites. The country’s Minerals Council says 4,000-7,000 jobs are likely to be cut as a result. With worldwide BEV sales coming in around 9.5 million units last year, prices for platinum and palladium haven’t bottomed out yet.
HYUNDAI TO SELL €20,000 EV IN EU
Hyundai’s joining the growing list of low-cost EVs. Hyundai will launch an all-electric version of its Casper compact crossover by the end of this year in Europe, which will cost less than 20,000 euros. The EV will feature a lithium-iron phosphate battery and have a range of 200 to 300 kilometers or 125-187 miles. The Casper is currently sold in South Korea with a 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engine. The electric version will reportedly be built alongside the gas variant in South Korea and shipped to Europe. The Casper joins a growing list of low-cost EVs already sold or planned for the EU market, including the Dacia Spring, Renault Twingo, Citroen e-C3, VW ID.2 and Chinese EVs from MG and BYD.
GEELY BUILDS STARLINK COMPETITOR
It looks like Geely wants to compete directly with SpaceX and its Starlink network of internet satellites. The Chinese automaker is building out its own network to provide more accurate navigation information for autonomous vehicles. In 2022, it launched 9 low-earth orbit satellites and over the weekend, the company launched 11 more. Geely said it plans to have 72 in orbit by 2025 and eventually have 240 in its network. In addition to providing navigation for AVs, the satellites will also provide connectivity for consumer electronic companies.
GM MAKES ONSTAR FEATURES STANDARD
General Motors is making some of its more popular OnStar features standard on all of its vehicles in North America. Starting with the 2025 model year, every new Chevy, GMC, Cadillac and Buick model will get Automatic Crash Response, remote vehicle commands, and navigation and voice assistant features at no additional cost. However, they won’t be available for the lifetime of the vehicle, they’ll be included for eight years from purchase. The Chevy Trax and Buick Envista will be among the first models to get the features. And Cadillac buyers will also get additional premium OnStar features for three years at no additional cost. GM will also offer the standard OnStar features for its fleet management business called GM Envolve. GM needs to get customers using OnStar more so it can monetize more services to generate more revenue.
FORD EV SALES DROP, HYBRIDS SOAR
Ford posted its US sales for last month and there’s some interesting details in the numbers. Total sales, including Lincoln, came to 152,617 vehicles, up 4.3%. BEV sales dropped almost 11%, while hybrid sales shot up almost 43%. Let’s dive a bit deeper into those BEV sales. The Mach-E was down 51%, Lightning sales were flat, while the E-Transit was up 214%. Meanwhile, Lincoln had a really hot month, with sales up 20%, to nearly 7,000 vehicles. That puts the brand on a run rate to sell about 84,000 cars this year. But Lincoln wants to hit 100,000 sales this year in the US, which means it needs to put the pedal to the metal. One thing that will help is a new Aviator that’s coming out this summer, a redesigned Navigator that comes out later this year, as well as an all-new Nautilus that Ford will start importing from China.
|FORD JANUARY 2024 U.S. SALES
LINCOLN AVIATOR RECEIVES SAME UPGRADES AS FORD EXPLORER
Speaking of that new Aviator, it’s getting the same kinds of upgrades as its cousin, the Explorer. Ford revealed its refreshed version of the SUV last week, with the biggest changes coming to the interior. And the same goes for the Aviator. Here’s Lincoln’s take on the interior, which features a similar layered dash with digital display screens. Although, the driver’s IP is more exposed in the Aviator and, as you would expect to see, the materials are nicer. Like the Explorer, the front and rear fascias have been massaged and the Aviator will get Ford’s hands-free highway driving system, called BlueCruise. Lincoln says orders are open now and it expects deliveries to kick off this summer.
TOYOTA TO MANUFACTURE H2 ELECTROLYZERS
Critics of fuel cells or fool cells as they like to call them, always talk about a lack of infrastructure or, in other words, not enough places to fill up. And it’s true that there’s not many hydrogen producers or hydrogen stations, but we are seeing growth. Last month Renault announced a deal to produce hydrogen, build refueling stations and sell a fleet of fuel cell vans in an area around the French Alps. And now Toyota is working with a company that specializes in building production plants to make a scalable electrolysis system, which is used to produce hydrogen. The goal is to engineer a 5 MW electrolysis unit that is capable of producing up to 100 kilograms of hydrogen an hour on its own or they can be linked together to produce more. Toyota will install one of these electrolysis units at a factory in Japan at the start of its next fiscal year with the plan to add a second one in the future. It also hopes to sell the system to other customers around the world.
AUTOMATED PARKING FOR LOADING SHIPS
The giant German suppliers, like Bosch, Continental, and ZF really like the idea of automated valet parking. They’ve all developed systems where drivers get out of their cars at a designated spot in a parking structure and the car goes and finds a place to park. The only problem is, the parking structure needs connectivity and lidar sensors for it to work. And it’s going to be a long time before the infrastructure gets built, meaning there’s not going to be a lot of demand for it. That’s why Continental is looking for other applications for this technology, like loading cars onto ships for export. The cars can automatically drive themselves on board and park. And since there aren’t any people opening the doors to get out, the cars can be parked much closer to each other, allowing more cars. Continental says other applications could include car rental agencies that need to wash, fuel and even deliver cars to customers. And if you have other ideas where automated valet parking makes sense, post it in the comments section and we’ll be sure that they get to Continental.
STELLANTIS DENIES RENAULT MERGER RUMORS
There are too many car companies, with too many brands, making too many models. There’s a lot of repetition and redundancy in the industry, which is why the experts have been predicting a lot more consolidation. And we’re already seeing it. Stellantis is a consolidation of Chrysler, Fiat and Peugeot. GM is cooperating with Honda. Toyota supports Mazda and Subaru. Ford is working with Volkswagen. And no doubt more consolidation is on the way. But not between Stellantis and Renault. Reuters reports that after abandoning Russia, which was Renault’s second largest market after France, and after reducing its collaboration with Nissan, and canceling its IPO with Ampere, the Italian media said the French government was looking at plans to have Renault merge with Stellantis. And that prompted Stellantis to deny that anything like that was going to happen. Even so, Renault is in a precarious position. It has a market cap of only €10 billion which makes it very vulnerable to almost any kind of corporate raider.
And that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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