Trucks lead as Road Traffic Technology lists the top five terms tweeted in automotive in Q3 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform. The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Trucks – 395 mentions

A legal battle surrounding Nikola Corporation’s truck model, UK planning electrification of trucks and prevention of accidents involving big trucks were popularly discussed topics in the third quarter. According to an article shared by Peter Campbell, motor industry correspondent at Financial Times, Nikola Corporation is engaged in a $2bn lawsuit with Tesla over patent infringement of the Nikola One truck model. The company’s founder Trevor Milton noted that the truck’s design was acquired from a third party. Meanwhile, Tesla noted that Nikola could not safeguard the truck designs as they were created by a Croatian designer.

Further, Auke Hoekstra, an EV reporter, shared an article about UK’s proposal to install overhead cables for electric trucks on 7,000km of highway roads with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions. The $24.6bn electric road system will be supplied with power by the national electricity grid and is expected to be accessible across the country over the next two decades. The road freight sector accounted for 5% of the country’s CO2 emissions in 2018, the article noted.

Another discussion surrounding trucks was shared by Tom Krisher, auto reporter at The Associated Press, about how big truck crashes can be cut by 40% by implementing specific safety features. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group based in the US, automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings systems can prevent accidents involving trucks. The institute appealed to the federal government to implement these systems in all new trucks, which can cut vehicle speed by 50% immediately after crash, the article noted.

 2. Electric Vehicles – 350 mentions

An automotive company’s plans to use software systems for its electric vehicles (EVs), world’s largest EV charging network company’s plans to go public and the possibility of autonomous EVs becoming a reality were some widely discussed topics in Q3. Henrik Fisker, founder of Fisker Automotive, an EV manufacturing company, shared an article about its first dedicated engineering and technology centre named Source Code at San Francisco. The new facility will develop software and vehicle electronics for its Ocean sports utility vehicle (SUV) and future products.

Ben Klayman, auto correspondent at Reuters, shared an article about ChargePoint, an operator of EV charging network, announcing an initial public offering (IPO) through a reverse merger. The company will reverse merge with Switch Energy, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). ChargePoint is estimated to be valued at $2bn or above once the deal is closed.

EVs were also discussed in an article shared by Venkat Viswanathan, an EV influencer, about the challenges involved in the development of self-driving cars. The article notes that self-driving cars are often limited by their travel range and battery capacity. Research from Nature Energy, a scientific journal, has stated that modifications to the hardware and software of driverless EVs can prevent batteries from draining and make them feasible for daily use.

3. Autonomous Vehicles – 303 mentions

The delay in launch of autonomous taxis in Canada, auto and tech giants investing in autonomous vehicles (AVs) and development of technology for autonomous ship navigation were some popularly discussed topics in Q3 2020. According to an article shared by E.W. Niedermeyer, an automotive correspondent, a self-driving car project in Canada, supervised by tech giant Google, is being delayed due to various factors. Complications such as artificial intelligence ethics, legal issues, and the weather conditions in the country were some of the reasons for the delay, the article noted.

Further, Wilko S. Walters, shared an article about top brands investing in research and development of autonomous cars. Most of the top global companies including Apple, Amazon, Bosch and automotive giants such as BMW, Audi and Jaguar are receiving huge funding for research into driverless cars. Apart from these firms, angel investors and venture capitalists are also jumping onto the AV bandwagon, the article highlighted.

AVs also trended in discussions shared by Evan Kirstel, a social media influencer, about Sea Machines Robotics, a software provider for self-driven ships, receiving $15m in funding to develop technology for autonomous boats and ships. The company uses built-in technology to connect to a ship’s navigation sensors, which allows autonomous control. The concept of self-driven ships is gaining traction with companies such as IBM planning to send a vessel across the Atlantic, the article noted.

4. Sales – 250 mentions

Mandates issued to automakers to progressively increase EV sales, Ford’s strategy to boost sales in the US and the adverse impact of Covid-19 on sales of Volkswagen were some of the popular topics discussed during the quarter. Colin Mckerracher, an EV and battery aficionado, shared an article about a law passed by Canada’s British Columbia province whereby auto manufacturers have to reach 100% sales of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2040. Under the ZEV act, automakers will need to achieve the target in stages of 10% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Mark Turby, vice president of communications at Ford, further, shared an article about the automaker’s plan to relaunch Bronco SUV as Bronco Sport to increase sales in the US. Ford is revamping the SUV model, which had a strong patronage before being withdrawn from the market in 1996. The modernised version of the SUV will hit the market by the end of 2020 and the later versions will be launched in Q2 2021, the article noted.

Another discussion related to sales was shared by Phil LeBeau, an auto correspondent at CNBC, about Volkswagen, the German car manufacturer, incurring losses of $940m in Q1 2020 as sales declined by 23.2% due to the ongoing pandemic. Further, car deliveries declined by 27.4% on a year-on-year basis. Despite the unfavourable situation, the company expects to bounce back to profits by the end of year, the article highlighted.

5. Manufacturing – 205 mentions

Mazda and Toyota collaborating to enhance manufacturing methods for their cars and automakers teaming up to manufacture delivery vehicles were some widely discussed topics in Q3. Mike Millikin, founder of Green Car Congress, an online energy portal, shared an article about automakers Mazda and Toyota’s joint venture, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM). The new company will invest more than $1.6bn to integrate state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies into its production lines. MTM is also constructing a production plant that will employ approximately 4,000 workers, the article noted.

Other discussions surrounding manufacturing included the collaboration between AYRO and Karma Automotive, two EV manufacturers, according to an article shared by Ben Klayman. The two automakers have signed a contract worth more than $300m to manufacture more than 20,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2023. Karma will provide engineering, design and manufacturing services for AYRO’s vehicles, under the partnership. The deal will help in meeting the increasing demand for delivery vehicles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the article highlighted.