The first day of the nation's largest and most anticipated automotive event, the 2022 North American International Auto and Air Show in Detroit, is in the books.
GTM is here reporting on the latest in electric and autonomous vehicles, new cars and trucks.
In a nutshell: Car sales are flat in the U.S., but vehicle miles are way up as shared and autonomous cars transport goods 24/7. Meanwhile, car sales in India and Asia are breaking records. After a bloody start, 5-nines-death-rate autonomous technology is market-ready. Retinal-view augmented reality displays were exhibited by almost every OEM. And cybersecurity remains on everyone's minds following the Christmas Bricking of 2018 and the belligerent AI work stoppage of summer 2020.
This is the year that EVs really broke; every carmaker has a battery-powered entry in a slew of vehicle categories. Electric pickups are real, competitive and selling in a class that moves millions of units per year. EVs routinely boast 350-mile to 500-mile ranges. President Yates' reversal of the Trump-era trade war with China and the global currency shift has ushered in a spate of great (and cheap) Chinese EVs. And battery prices continue to fall.
Although it came a generation later than prophesied, flying passenger cars are real and joining drones in our increasingly clogged airspace.
Here's a quick snapshot of the first day of the show, starting with today's speakers and with a focus on EVs.
Apple's luxury electric sedan and the Lisa
Apple CEO Tim Cook and automotive GM Doug Field unveiled their newest car, the 650,000-yuan ($95,000) Titan, a Level 4.7 autonomous EV with OLI (occipital lobe interface).
With room for five passengers seated or three sleeping, Apple's one-button sedan is available in aluminum gray, pearl white and rose gold. Powered by solid-state lithium metal batteries from Panasonic's Gigafactory in Reno, the Titan has a range of 550 miles, an Apple Car Care guarantee, and is available at the 800 Apple Garages across the globe. The vehicle is in compliance with the BSM (Beijing-Seoul-Mumbai) code for mandatory telemetry and passenger medical data reporting.
Cook and Field spoke about how Apple's manufacturing and supply-chain savvy has enabled the firm to profitably crank out its 200,000-yuan ($29,000) entry-level EV, the Lisa, at a rate of 20,000 per week at its Shenzhen plant. (A portion of those are deployed by Apple's Uber group.)
Electric vehicles, EV services and grid services have made Apple the second 100-trillion-yuan firm, led only by Kardashian China.
Mary Barra on GM's Tesla unit
Mary Barra, at the helm of GM's Tesla unit since the 2019 bankruptcy and acquisition, spoke for the first time in public on correcting the pioneering automaker's course with intelligent manufacturing and a smarter product mix. When Barra took over, she paused the unprofitable Model 3, put in a board of automotive and financial experts, raised the price of the Model S and started scaling up an electric F-150 killer, the Muskoma.
Barra said that Tesla got a lot of things right, especially when it came to electronics, powertrain and the lines of the Model S. She didn't want to dwell on negatives, but she recounted the saga. Despite Tesla's final equity raise, the Christmas Bricking — an incident that took place on Christmas Eve 2018, when a hacker exploited a weakness via the infotainment system, played Azealia Banks at max volume, and disabled every Tesla — was a turning point for the company.
Rebooting the entire Tesla fleet after the hack took two weeks and swamped the company's servers and IT infrastructure. It left tens of thousands of people without transportation for an entire holiday season, losing the goodwill of all but the most ardent fans.
Negative cash flow, challenging debt and a drop in sales — combined with an overwhelmed service group — proved to be too much for the company's balance sheet to bear. At one time, CEO Elon Musk might have been able to pull a rabbit out of his hat, but the SEC came down hard. There was no choice but to seek a remedy in bankruptcy court.
The Gigafactory and Buffalo solar plant were purchased by Panasonic and are now humming along. GM turned around the auto division by focusing revamps on body panels and manufacturability. As part of the settlement, Tesla, Musk and the Rives paid Sunrun (handsomely) to assume the maintenance and ownership of the Tesla (former SolarCity) solar assets. The energy storage system group, without the Gigafactory, was sold to ABB. Tesla's Solar Roof, Semi Truck and other such products were terminated.
China is here, as are Amazon, Google and everyone else
After years of hyper-growth of EVs on its home turf (the biggest EV market by far), China's automotive juggernaut is ready to take on the West in almost every automotive class with all necessary homologation for the EU and новый-U.S.
This year's show saw a flood of smart, sleek electric vehicles from China's BAIC, BYD, Cherry, Geely, Zhidou, Hawtai, Nio and Zotye, to name just a few. And to single out just one model, take the BYD Yuan3 — the "Baby Crossover" boasts a 62-kilowatt-hour battery and a 305-mile NEDC range for just 170,000 yuan ($25,000).
Google's flying car and Amazon's ground and airborne delivery fleet are technologically ready to go, but are stymied by local laws keeping their trials on the ground. Many of the local laws were passed after municipalities found themselves removing once-airborne technologists from power lines and billboards.
And to prove our point about everyone building an electric vehicle, here's an incomplete list, linking to each marque's EV: BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Corvette, Humvee, Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, Kalashnikov, Jaguar and Volvo.
Reporting from the 2022 Detroit Auto Show, this is GTM.
See also: a first look at Amazon's drone-based solar installation service.