We have a big move from Corvette, some interesting news from Honda, an unsurprising achievement for BYD, and President Biden using the word “folks.” Hold on to your hats!
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Corvette Will Possibly Become Its Own Sub-Brand
The big news that has the car world all atwitter is that GM is apparently going to launch two new vehicles under a Corvette badge that becomes its own standalone brand. Those vehicles are said to be a four-door electric sedan (they call a “coupe”) and an electric crossover. Our best source for this is an extremely detailed rreport from Car And Driver:
A source who has seen the first proposals describes them as “copies of nothing” and as “encapsulated emotional purity.” Waxing lyrical may do justice to the styling themes, but what about the bespoke content? The mechanical package apparently includes battery packs with high energy density, superfast software, a patented cooling concept, staggered Lego-like topographic packaging, miniaturized componentry, ultra-efficient inverters, high-revving electric motors, an 800-volt electrical system that provides up to 350 kW of charging power, a two-speed transmission, brake-by-wire, multi-mode four-wheel steering, and torque vectoring.
Technical details aside, this feels awfully like a very intentional leak of information to try to test the waters for this move, which is classic GM. I only say that because the source talks in complete marketing nonsense dynamicspeak:
“Corvette is not just a brand. It’s a constantly evolving system paired with a dramatically different user experience.”
“The aim is not to beat Taycan and Cayenne at their own game but to create three American legends capable of breaking new ground by making the essence of Corvette scalable. To do so, that essence must at all times be in a state of progressive flux.
Who talks like that?
This isn’t to denigrate the good reporting/scoop from C/D as I’d have given one of David’s rusty nuts to have this info first. It’s entirely possible that this is just a leak and somewhere Mary Barra is ordering her stealthy assassins to bury this person’s body underneath Belle Isle.
Buuut… “the essence must at all times be in a state of progressive flux” is quite the random sentence to just come up with when talking to a reporter.
[Editor’s Note: I realize that the “source” mentions Porsche, but it’s hard for me to see this as something not aimed at Tesla. When Ford launched its Mustang Mach-E electric crossover, it freely admitted that it needed to borrow its strongest brand to compete with the herculean Tesla brand. I wouldn’t be surprised if GM is thinking along the same lines. Cadillac ain’t what it used to be. -DT]
Honda To Build Hydrogen Fuel Cell CR-V In Ohio
The brands love hydrogen! The people… unclear. Nevertheless, Honda is trying to get in again on the Hydrogen game with a CR-V-based Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) build in the same Ohio plant that’s been responsible for the very mid Acura NSX. The difference is that this is a Plug-In FCEV or, I guess, a PIFCEV?
Here’s the press release and the key point:
The new CR-V-based FCEV also will mark North America’s first production vehicle to combine a plug-in feature with FCEV technology in one model, which enables the driver to charge the onboard battery to deliver EV driving around town with the flexibility of fast hydrogen refueling for longer trips.
I don’t hate this idea. You’ve got an EV for around town that gets 150-200 miles of range you can charge at home. If you want to drive 300-400 miles you can go to a hydrogen fueling station (probably on the highway) and top off.
Above is a map of natural gas transmission lines within the United States. The most popular way to make hydrogen in the United States is through a process called “natural gas reforming” you can read about here. Placing hydrogen filling stations around interstate hubs with access to compressed natural gas isn’t the worst idea.
Of course, you run into the problem of carrying around all this excess capacity and weight for this hybrid system, but perhaps Honda has found a way to make it smaller? The outgoing Honda Clarity was an EV, a PHEV, and an FCEV but never a PIFCEV. Right? Honda is so confusing. Please don’t name this the CR-V Clarity.
Also, please enjoy that Honda called a car “Clarity” and it’s the single most confusing product launched in the last decade.
President Biden Is Serious About This Chip Thing
As weird as this is to write, the future of the Democratic Party is the industrial Midwest. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania went strongly blue this cycle, defying conventional wisdom. It’s no surprise, then, that President Joe Biden has spent a lot of time in Michigan touting the car industry.
I think this Detroit News headline pretty much sums it up: “Biden in Michigan: US won’t be ‘held hostage’ in chips supply.”
Here are some highlights from that speech:
I come from the corporate capital of the world. There are more corporations incorporated in Delaware than every other state in the union combined. And guess what? A lot of businesses got greedy, go to the cheap labor overseas.
Well, now we’re sending good products overseas made by first-class labor. (Applause.)
Folks, as a result, today we’re down to producing only around 10 percent of the world’s chips despite leading the world in research and design of new chip technology.
Why does this matter? I had a long meeting with Xi Jinping at the G20. We have met for over 80 hours over the last 10 years. We know each other well. And he’s a little upset that we’re deciding we’re going to, once again, be — you know, and so are our European friends. They’re talking about the supply chain. We’re going to be the supply chain. And the difference is going to be we’re going to make that supply chain available to the rest of the world, but we’re not going to be held hostage anymore. (Applause.) I mean it.
One of the key tells that something important is about to happen in a Biden speech is that he uses the word “folks.” It’s like when Astros pitcher Luis Garcia rocks the baby. You know the heat is coming!
This isn’t entirely empty rhetoric, of course, because both the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS And Science Act were both passed and they:
- Encourage automakers to shift their EV supply chain to the Unites States.
- Provide about $50 billion to shift chipmaking here.
BYD Was China’s Biggest Brand In November
I’ve tried to prep you all for this moment. Please go back and read everything under the BYD tag on this website. And then read this report from Automotive News Europe, which lays out how Chinese automaker BYD has taken the Chinese sales crown.
Technically, when you add Audi to VW’s score it still has VW Group as the largest automaker in China, but that’s cold comfort. The country is dealing with COVID protests and great economic insecurity and not reacting well to it.
Chaos is a ladder, of course, and who loves chaos more than Elon Musk? Tesla also doubled its sales compared to October when the company was allegedly dealing with supply issues. It’s important to note that BYD has raised prices while Tesla has increased incentives and cut prices.
No one, it turns out, actually cares that the Mustang Mach E is called a Mustang. Will anyone care about Corvette being a sedan?
Photos: Jason Torchinsky, GM, The White House, BYD, Honda