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0:00 UAW Claims +50% VW Workers Want a Union
1:01 Toyota Investing in U.S. EVs
1:43 Ford Earnings Decent but Not Great
4:05 ZF Transmission Ready for ICE, Hybrid, PHEV
4:53 Daimler Claims H2 Storage Breakthrough
6:48 Auto Group Wants Stricter Truck GHG Regs
7:53 Ford Refreshes Puma in EU
8:31 Chrysler Adopts New Logo
9:09 Porsche Upgrades Taycan EV
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
UAW CLAIMS +50% VW WORKERS WANT A UNION
The UAW claims that over 50% of the 4,000 line workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee have signed cards saying they want a union. The UAW’s goal is to get to 70% at which time it will demand that VW either recognize the UAW, or hold a vote that’s sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board. The UAW started its card-signing push only two months ago, so it’s moving fast, and maybe this time it will be successful. But this could be like similar situations in the past, where thousands of workers sign a card saying they want a union, only to see a majority vote against the UAW when they vote in secret at the ballot box. We’ll have to see how it goes if or when it reaches that 70% threshold.
TOYOTA INVESTING IN U.S. EVs
Even though Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda keeps talking up hybrids, the automaker continues to put more effort into EVs. It just announced that it’s investing $1.3 billion at its plant in Kentucky to build a new, three-row, all-electric SUV. It’s also adding a battery pack assembly line to the factory, with the batteries being supplied by its new battery plant in North Carolina. Toyota didn’t reveal when production of the SUV will start or how many it plans to build. Since 2021, the automaker has invested $17 billion in its U.S. plants to expand its electrification efforts.
FORD EARNINGS DECENT BUT NOT GREAT
Ford reported its earnings for 2023 and the results are good but not great. It sold over 4.4 million vehicles last year, up 4%. That brought in $176 billion in revenue, up more than 11%, meaning its revenue grew faster than its car sales. And it posted a net profit of $4.3 billion, compared to a loss of $2 billion in 2022. One way Ford boosted its bottom line was by reducing its spending on EVs, saying it will increase spending when demand for EVs grows faster and it can get better returns. It also announced a 15¢ dividend per share, plus an 18¢ dividend supplement. Investors liked that news and Ford stock was up more than 5% in pre-market trading. Another interesting tidbit. Ford says it now has 630,000 subscribers for software services, like Blue Cruise, up 8% in the 4th quarter alone. But here’s what most people want to know. How did Ford compare to GM?
GM sold 6.1 million vehicles last year, but 1.2 million of them were from Wuling, and GM doesn’t count them in its total sales and revenue, so let’s take them out, which means GM really sold 4.9 million vehicles last year, compared to 4.4 for Ford. GM brought in $171 billion in revenue, compared to $176 billion for Ford. GM posted a net profit of $9.8 billion compared to $4.3 for Ford. This shows that Ford is better at getting higher prices for its vehicles, and while Ford took a $1.7 billion charge for adjustments to its pension and retirement plans, it also shows that GM is a whole lot better at putting money on the bottom line.
|GM VS. FORD 2023 EARNINGS
ZF TRANS READY FOR ICE, HYBRID, PHEV
ZF wants its transmissions to be ready for whatever way the market goes, ICE, Hybrid or PHEV. Yesterday it announced plans to invest $500 million in South Carolina to build the 4th generation of its 8 and 9-speed transmissions that can handle conventional powertrains, mild hybrids or plug-in hybrids. The trans can handle loads up to 214 horsepower and 332 pound feet of torque and will be available to automakers in 2025. The Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee plug-ins use the current version of that transmission. ZF also announced that it has €30 billion on its order books for high-voltage electrification.
DAIMLER CLAIMS H2 STORAGE BREAKTHROUGH
There’s two ways to store hydrogen used in fuel cell vehicles; either in gas or liquid form. The vast majority store hydrogen as a gas, but Daimler Truck is going the liquid route. The main advantage is you don’t need those high-pressure tanks, which means you typically have more storage capacity and driving range. The big downside is you have to store liquid hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures otherwise it will boil. It can also take longer to refuel and there’s no set standard yet for refueling with liquid hydrogen. But in cooperation with Linde Engineering, Daimler claims they have made a breakthrough that allows for a higher storage density, a greater range, faster refueling, lower costs and superior energy efficiency of liquid hydrogen. And they’re opening the tech to everyone. They developed a new process and pump to increase the pressure of the liquid, so the hydrogen becomes subcooled liquid hydrogen, which unlocks a number of benefits, like reduced energy losses while refueling, faster fill up time and less cost. A pilot station they built can pump out 400 kilograms of liquid hydrogen an hour, which could fill up 80 kilograms – enough for 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles of range in a heavy-duty truck – in 10-15 minutes. They also say investment in a refueling station is two to three times less and that operational costs are five to six times lower. This is a great move to take out some of the hassle with refueling liquid hydrogen, but there still remain challenges with the vehicles themselves, which require very robust and well-sealed systems.
AUTO GROUP WANTS STRICTER TRUCK GHG REGS
There’s a battle being waged in the heavy-duty truck industry over new emission rules for big trucks that the EPA wants to implement. The new standards are planned to go into effect in 2027 and would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become tougher over time. But some big truck makers like Volvo and Daimler want to delay the rules until 2030 and they want the standards to automatically end or be weakened if certain infrastructure metrics aren’t met. However, Ford, Cummins, BorgWarner and Eaton, issued a joint statement saying they’re in favor of the stronger standards and want the EPA to finalize the rule on March 31st. The companies are calling themselves the Heavy-Duty Leadership Group and they say they’re willing to make the investment in new technologies to meet the stricter rules. The EPA says the projected net benefits from the heavy-truck rules will range from $180 to $320 billion.
FORD REFRESHES PUMA IN EU
Ford revealed a refreshed Puma for Europe and it’s getting the same kind of updates we’ve been seeing lately from the company; light on the styling changes, heavy on the tech. Each trim-line has their own front bumper, grille and wheels and all come with a new headlight design. The interior gets two, rather large, digital display screens that run on a newer version of Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system, which has twice the computing power of the previous Puma. The release doesn’t say when it will go on sale, but it does say it will reveal the all-electric version later this year.
CHRYSLER ADOPTS NEW LOGO
It looks like Chrysler is getting a new logo. It’s now shown the same new logo three times, I believe. First on the Synthesis interior concept, then on the Airflow concept and now it’s showing it again on a teaser image of a new concept it will reveal next Tuesday February 13th. It looks nothing like its current winged logo and is very simple, really just a couple of lines. Chrysler says we’ll get to see more of this potential path of its all-electric future later this week and next before its official debut.
PORSCHE UPGRADES TAYCAN EV
Porsche is launching a significantly refreshed version of the Taycan. While styling changes are subtler, it has more power, more range, it’s faster and it has faster charging. All versions come with a new rear axle electric motor that has up to 80 kW or over 100 horsepower more than before. Even the slowest model is over half a second faster than before and Taycan Turbo S will do 0-60 in 2.3 seconds. 0.3 seconds faster than before. Porsche also improved the software, gave it more powerful batteries, improved the thermal management, including a new heat pump and the regenerative braking is a little better. The Performance Battery Plus now has a gross capacity of 105 kWh, up from 93 kWh, which returns a WLTP range of up to 678 kilometers or 421 miles and is up to 35% more than before. Also, more than before is the price, which is up by about $8,000. Base versions in the U.S. starts just over $101,000, including destination, and a top-line Cross Turismo version starts at just under $214,000.
Say did Kyle Vogt at GM Cruise lie to Mary Barra about what was going on there? And with the slowdown in EV sales, are PHEVs going to come on stronger? And is China about to get into the American market via the backdoor in Mexico? Those are going to be some of the topics on Autoline After Hours tomorrow. We’ll have Michael Robinet from S&P Global, Tu Le from Sino Auto Insights and David Welch from Bloomberg coming on the show and you’ll want to listen in on what they have to say.
But that’s the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in.
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