Inside Electric Vehicles - February 24th, 2020

Inside Electric Vehicles (Feb 24th, 2020)

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1. A rumor is circulating on Twitter that Tesla will build the Cybertruck in Texas. The revelation came from Twitter user @InElonWeTrust__, who said the information was shared by a Tesla employee during a presentation about the history and future of the automaker. While he did not name the employee, he said the company would be building the vehicle from a newly-constructed facility. Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that the automaker may open a factory in Texas. Neither Tesla nor Musk has commented on a new U.S. production facility. — @INELONWETRUST__/TWITTER

2. Rivian is looking to acquire licenses to sell directly to customers in several states, as it hopes to adopt a direct sales model. The company is lobbying in favor of a bill that would allow any automaker to sell an electric vehicle directly to customers. Rivian is also reportedly looking to receive licenses to sell vehicles in California, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Florida, while it has already received a license to sell in Arizona. Dealerships in Colorado are opposed to the direct sales EV bill. — AUTO NEWS

3. Audi is temporarily suspending production of its e-tron electric vehicle. Bloomberg reports that the automaker will suspend production of the SUV until Tuesday, due to a bottleneck in its parts supply. Last year, the automaker reduced its planned output of e-Trons, due to a constraint in battery cell supplies. Audi did not offer more details on the nature of the bottleneck. The automaker also declined to comment on its estimated number of deliveries this year. — BLOOMBERG

4. Lyft has acquired a digital advertising startup, Halo Cars, the company confirmed Friday. Halo Cars allows drivers to make extra money by displaying digital advertising on top of their vehicles, much like a taxi cab. The startup, launched in 2018, currently operates in New York and Chicago. Terms of the deal were not announced and it is unclear how Lyft financed the deal. Halo Cars competes directly with Firefly, another digital advertising agency. — NYT

5. GM officially introduced its first all-electric crossover SUV, but it will only be available for the Chinese market. The automaker’s Chevrolet unit unveiled the Menlo EV late last year, which was inspired by the Chevrolet FNR-X sports concept vehicle. The vehicle starts at $22,740 after national subsidies, with a range of about 186 miles. The Menlo can charge from 0 percent to 80 percent in about 40 minutes, with an electric motor peak output of 110 kW. — INSIDE EVS

6. Honda will stop manufacturing cars in the Philippines next month. This comes amid a global restructuring of vehicle production from the automaker. The facility makes BR-V and City passenger vehicles from the Santa Rosa plant, located south of Manila. But the facility had been producing one-fourth of the facility’s capacity, only making 7,000 units in 2019. The plant currently employs about 650 people. The automaker plans to continue sales and service operations in the country. — NIKKEI

7. California released its 2019 analysis of new car sales in the state, with the Tesla Model 3 holding a place as the third best-selling vehicle overall for the year. The Honda Civic outsold all vehicles in 2019, with over 75,915 registrations, followed by the Toyota Camry and Model 3, with 63,459 and 59,514 registrations, respectively. One interesting statistic: registrations of Hyundai’s luxury nameplate, Genesis, rose 383.8 percent between Q4 2019 and Q4 2018. — CALIFORNIA NEW CAR DEALERS ASSOCIATION

China Beat

Each week, we dedicate an entire section of our newsletter (updates 8-10) to the automotive market in China. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our “China Beat” section (or just general comments), hit reply and let us know!

8. Retail sales of passenger vehicles in China for the first half of February have dropped 92 percent over the same period last year. This is according to figures from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), which said only 4,909 units were sold in the first 16 days. During the same period last year, 59,930 units were sold. The CPCA said very few dealerships were open the first few weeks of February, with very little customer traffic, as the country battles the coronavirus epidemic. — REUTERS

9. To recover lost car sales, Chinese automakers are accelerating their entry into the Indian car market. This month, Chinese car companies Great Wall Motor and FAW Haima have launched their first offerings in India. SAIC Motor entered India last year and has been selling MG vehicles. Chinese automakers have been planning a strategy to enter the market for years, but analysts are suggesting the coronavirus-linked dropped in sales have put pressure on companies to accelerate their entrance into the market. — FINANCIAL TIMES

10. Geely is reportedly interested in making a $300 million investment into EV startup Nio. The investment would make Geely the third-largest shareholder in the EV company, behind Nio founder and CEO William Li and Tencent Holdings, which collectively hold about 30 percent of the company. Geely and Nio have not denied the news, only stating that they do not comment on rumors. — YUGAN CHESHI

Johan Moreno is the writer and curator of Inside’s mobility-focused newsletters (Inside Automotive and Transportation). He joined in February 2017 and has written over 700 issues of both newsletters collectively, so he knows a thing or two about the development of electric vehicles, autonomous cars and more.

Johan is also a contributing writer for Forbes and works for J.D. Power, an automotive data and analytics firm. For this reason, Johan does not include Forbes links or discusses anything related to J.D. Power in newsletters, to avoid conflicts of interest. Before that, he wrote for The Orange County Register's "Wheels" section, alongside veteran automotive journalist Susan Carpenter. 

Follow him on Twitter: @dudejohan

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