Fortune magazine creates several lists each year, including (of course) the Fortune 500. In their list of the world’s largest companies ranked by revenue, at least 10 automakers show up in the first 84 slots. Volkswagen and Toyota are in the top-10. In their list of the top-50 most-admired companies, Toyota and BMW are in the top-50.
Drive Toward Electric
With the push to electrify vehicles and the need for renewable-energy storage batteries, much work is being done in battery development. One such effort has resulted in a hard-carbon negative electrode material requiring a lower heat-treatment temperature of 1500°C. More work needs to be done, but a sodium-ion battery using this carbon electrode material would result in a 19% increase in energy density over lithium-ion batteries.
Lordstown Motors Corp., a startup OEM producing all-electric light-duty trucks focused on the commercial-fleet market, has received an unprecedented 100,000 nonbinding production reservations from commercial fleets for its Lordstown Endurance. The Lordstown Endurance is a full-size, all-electric pickup that has a range of 250 miles, the equivalent of 600 HP and can tow up to 7,500 pounds. Lordstown is on track to start production in September of this year. The initial Endurance is a crew-cab with medium bed length, and it is priced at $45,000 after federal rebate.
GKN Automotive has added 13 more electrified models from 10 leading global brands. The new platforms span four major global automotive manufacturers and range from premium four-wheel-drive SUVs to an iconic electric city car. This milestone comes just one year after the announcement that GKN Automotive had over 1 million eAxles on the road.
Germany’s Newalu will supply heat-treated and ready-to-install aluminum components to Lucid Motors, a U.S. manufacturer of electric cars. The heat treatment adds strength and ductility to the aluminum, which makes it suitable for use as a steel substitute. The body parts will be sent from a large German foundry to Newalu for finishing. Production of the Lucid Air e-limousine is scheduled to begin before the end of 2021 at the company’s new facility in Casa Grande, Ariz.
Baidu, a technology company specializing in Internet-related services, plans to supply automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding with its intelligent-driving technologies as part of a joint venture to manufacture smart electric vehicles (EVs). According to Baidu, the partnership will pave the way for future passenger vehicles. The company’s Apollo fleet of autonomous vehicles reached more than 2 million test km on the road in June 2020 across 13 cities.
Steel Dynamics will supply up to 3 million metric tons of steel annually from a plant 170 miles away from Tesla’s Texas Cybertruck factory site. The plant should be ready for commissioning by the middle of this year. Cybertruck’s exterior shell is designed for ultimate durability and passenger protection. Starting with a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton, superior strength and endurance are designed into every component.
The next revolution in electric transportation may come from American trucking. Volvo and Freightliner have already put dozens of test trucks on the road. Tesla originally promised to deliver a battery-electric semi of their own in 2021. Nikola Motor, a Phoenix startup also borrowing from the Tesla name, plans to produce a hydrogen fuel-cell electric semi. Instead of selling the trucks, it plans to lease them as part of a package that includes hydrogen fueling and maintenance.
Another interesting (if odd) concept on the electric-vehicle model comes from Chinese EV maker Nio. Their battery as a service (BaaS) lets customers purchase a vehicle sans battery and subscribe to a service to chargeable, swappable and upgradable batteries. There are already about 150 battery-swapping stations in China.
Other Auto News
For those of you who might be interested in which vehicles have the most U.S. (not North American) content, I offer the following from Cars.com. These are the top-10 in descending order for 2020 models: Ford Ranger, Jeep Cherokee, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, Honda Passport, Chevrolet Corvette, Tesla Model X and Chevrolet Colorado.
BorgWarner Inc. has secured a contract to supply its part-time transfer cases to Nissan for the Navara pickup and Paladin SUV models. The transfer case allows the driver to shift between two-wheel and all-wheel drive modes in 0.7 seconds or less.
Honda of America Mfg. Inc. will invest another $200 million in an expansion of its Anna Engine Plant in Shelby County, Ohio. The expansion will add 120 jobs with an estimated payroll of $5.30 million. Since its inception in 1985, nearly $3 billion has been invested in the plant, which annually produces more than 1 million engines for North American Honda auto plants.
The 2021 Ford Bronco is getting its steel from a mill in Alabama. AM/NS Calvert – a joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel – is producing a new ultrahigh-tech steel specifically for the vehicle. Fortiform 980 GI was developed by ArcelorMittal in conjunction with Ford.
A recent Fortune column proposed that it is time for Ford to reinvent itself. Suggesting that they should stick with what they do best, Fortune believes Ford should focus on trucks and vans and not sedans, particularly in Europe. The Bronco is an example of Ford making the right move.
We expect that with the current EV confusion, other automakers will flounder a bit until they figure out how to make sense of it. What the automotive industry will look like in a decade is anyone’s guess. Stay tuned!
All images on this page were taken from the media center of each company’s website.