COMPACT PICKUPS ARE COMING
Compact pickups are poised to make a comeback in the U.S., appealing to Americans who don't need the girth of a large pickup but like the idea of the open-bed in the back that an SUV can't provide. Hyundai made a splash last week with the reveal of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, a crossover-pickup combo that first debuted as a concept vehicle at the 2015 Detroit auto show.
Source: USA Today
HONDA PLANS TO OFFER EV-ONLY LINEUP IN NORTH AMERICA BY 2040
In recent months, a number of automakers have committed to phasing out ICE-powered vehicles from their respective lineups in the coming years and replacing them with electric vehicles. This includes General Motors, Nissan, and Ford (in Europe only), to name a few. Now, Honda is joining that group, as the Japanese automaker has announced that it plans to transition to a fully battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell lineup in North America by 2040.
Like others, Honda will take a progressive approach to this change, aiming for 40 percent of its sales to consist of electric vehicles by 2030, 80 percent by 2035, and 100 percent by 2040. To meet this goal, Honda will be introducing a series of EV models built on its new e:Architecture platform. These EV models will first be introduced to the North American market, and then to other regions of the world. Moreover, Honda is jointly developing two large-sized EV models using GM's Ultium batteries, and is planning to introduce these crossovers to the North American market as 2024 model year vehicles – one being a Honda branded vehicle, and the other from the Acura brand.
Honda also announced that it will produce the solid-state batteries for its new EV models in-house beginning in the second half of this decade. The automaker does not currently build its own batteries but is in the process of researching ways to lower costs and increase capacity, and plans to verify its production technology using a demonstration line later this year.
Source: Motor Authority
BUYERS APLENTY, BUT DEALERS ARE RUNNING ON EMPTY
It's an awful time for dealers to be running short. The U.S. economy is making a comeback, and consumers are flush with tax refunds and another round of stimulus checks. Americans who have stayed away from dealerships for a year are getting vaccinated. The spring selling season is heating up — so much so that one forecaster says the industry could have its strongest sales rate in nearly four years this month. That is, unless too many shoppers give up because they can't find what they want.
Source: Automotive News
MORE CHIP REPERCUSSIONS AND IDLE PLANTS
Ford CEO Assesses Chip Shortage
Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley said the worsening semiconductor shortage has prompted "perhaps the greatest supply shock" he's ever seen, as dealer lots dry up and the company juggles production shutdowns across the globe. Speaking to Automotive News Group Publisher KC Crain as part of Automotive News' Congress Conversations series, Farley said the challenges are similar to what the industry faced in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Automotive News
Daimler Raises Profit Outlook, Sees Potential Q2 Sales Hit from Chip Shortage
Mercedes-Benz car maker Daimler AG on Friday raised its profit outlook for 2021, but said the global semiconductor chip shortage may continue to impact sales in the second quarter. Daimler said it assumed there would be some recovery in chip availability in the second half of this year but there was limited visibility at present. Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said underlying car demand was strong, but the chip shortage had prevented sales from reaching full potential.
Mitsubishi to Cut 16,000 Units Globally in May on Chip Shortage
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will cut production by as many as 16,000 cars globally next month due to the chip shortage, according to a company spokesperson, the latest automaker to succumb to the malaise that's gripped the world's automobile industry. The Japanese automaker produced 90,745 units globally in January and 88,754 cars in February, according to its website, so that trim represents almost one-fifth of total output. Mitsubishi said in March that it would reduce its domestic output of vehicles by 4,000 to 5,000 units that month and was reviewing its production plans for April.
Microchip Shortage Hits Jeep Grand Cherokee Production in Detroit
Employees in Detroit producing Jeep's most popular vehicle are facing temporary layoffs resulting from the global semiconductor shortage that's expected to last for months, the company confirmed Thursday. Jefferson North Assembly Plant produces the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs. The plant typically operates on 10-hour shifts with three crews six days a week. Starting Monday, only one crew will work for three weeks, and then it will be laid off while the other two crews work for the next three weeks, according to a schedule obtained by The Detroit News.
Source: The Detroit News
Jaguar Land Rover, Daimler Production Scaled Back Due to Global Chip Shortage
Jaguar Land Rover said Thursday it's suspending production at two U.K. factories, becoming the latest automaker to fall victim to a global shortage of microchips. Production will be halted for a “limited period” starting Monday at its Halewood factory near Liverpool and at its Castle Bromwich plant near Birmingham in central England, the company said, without being more specific. Manufacturing at another plant in Solihull in central England will continue. The Halewood factory makes Jaguar's XE, XF and F-type models, and the Castle Bromwich plant produces the Land Rover Discover Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
U.S. Auto Industry to Press Congress Again on Chips Shortage
Major automakers and suppliers will press Congress again on Tuesday to address the global shortage of semiconductor chips that has curtailed auto production around the world. A U.S. Senate subcommittee will hear testimony from auto industry groups urging action to address production of “mature node” chips. The industry backs proposals to spend tens of billions of dollars to boost U.S. semiconductor production and new tax incentives to help chip companies offset costs of creating new lines within existing facilities.
Honda to Idle Three Japanese Plants in May Due to Chip Shortage
Honda Motor Co. will suspend three plants in Japan as many as six days in May due to a chip shortage, a spokesman said on Wednesday. Honda will suspend two plants in Saitama Prefecture for six days and its Suzuka plant in Mie Prefecture for five days, he said. The suspension is due to a chip shortage caused by various factors, he added. He declined to outline the volume or models of vehicles affected but said that the company will carefully examine the situation for production following June.
Source: Automotive News
TOYOTA'S BUYS LYFT'S SELF-DRIVING UNIT BOLSTERS ITS AUTOMATION AMBITIONS
Toyota Motor Corp will acquire Lyft Inc's self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said, as the Japanese firm steps up its automation ambitions with the newly created Woven Planet division. The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide Toyota access to the U.S. ride-hailing firm's more than 300 employees of the essentially complete autonomy technology.
2030 AND AFTER – A BATTERY SHORTAGE?
Battery-manufacturing capacity will have to grow dramatically for electric cars to surpass internal-combustion vehicles in the 2030s, according to a new report produced by Ultima Media, and sponsored by Swiss tech firm ABB.
The report's conclusion is based on two predictions: that electric cars are poised to overtake sales of internal-combustion vehicles by 2036, and that 80 battery factories will be in operation globally by that time.
That number of factories won't be sufficient to meet battery demand from all of those new EVs, according to the report. An even greater increase in manufacturing capacity will be needed not only to meet demand, but to provide some headroom, as the theoretical maximum capacity of a factory is rarely achieved in real life.
The report's authors advocated co-locating battery-pack assembly and vehicle assembly as a way to boost useful capacity. The report also pushes increased automation, which is to be expected, as robotics are one of the businesses of sponsor ABB.
It also touched on supply chains and raw materials, noting that Europe "has set a road map" for sustainable raw-material production. Tight raw-material supplies and concerns over a lack of domestic sourcing led to a Biden administration Executive Order earlier this year, calling for increased domestic production of both batteries and semiconductors.
Various CEOs—of Ford, for instance—have noted the importance of a stronger supply chain for the United States as well. That was also likely some of the motivation behind the battery rethink presented at Tesla's Battery Day last year.
However, individual automakers still prefer to use their own specific cell configurations and chemistries. That's an important way for automakers to achieve a competitive advantage over rivals, or tailor products to specific regions, but it may also form a bottleneck in battery production, the report warned.
Battery research also accounts for up to a third vehicle costs—with ABB's pitch perhaps being that its robotics will allow for increased manufacturing productivity to balance that out.
Source: Green Car Reports
AUTO SALES SHOULD DOUBLE IN APRIL, COMPARED WITH A LOW POINT LAST YEAR
Forecasters expect U.S. auto sales to nearly double in April vs. the same month a year ago. Mathematically, that's not saying much. That's because a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic had shut down North American auto factories and most dealerships, while much of the population was ordered to stay home. As a result, U.S. auto sales fell almost 50% in April 2020. That turned out to be the lowest month for auto sales last year. Still, the easy year-ago comparison isn't the only reason the sales numbers are so much better now. U.S. auto sales began to gradually recover starting in May 2020, and by the fall of 2020, auto sales approached 2019 levels again.
VEHICLE DEPRECIATION BY COLOR SAYS YELLOW RULES
Of 13 colors ranked, beige depreciates the second least, while white comes in ninth.
If you buy a car fully intending to sell it in three years, you want it to hold its value, right? So how can you help get a better resale value three years down the line? Buy yellow.
“Yellow may not be a widely desired car color, but there are enough people who want yellow, versus the number of yellow new cars being ordered, to make yellow cars more desirable than others on the used market,” said iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer. “In fact, yellow is among the colors with the lowest vehicle share, and is most commonly a color for sports cars and other low-volume vehicles that hold their value relatively well.”
Wait, wasn't white supposed to be the “safest” car color for depreciation? Turns out, no. White was number nine on the list of 13 colors iSeeCars compiled from a list of 5.6 million new cars and 700,000 used cars bought and sold or traded in between 2017 and 2020. Beige, the second-safest color, only depreciated 22.8 percent in three years. Yellow only 20.4 percent. White dropped 38 percent. Gold was the worst of the 13 colors, plummeting 45.6 percent over three years.
The site iSeeCars.com compared the prices of more than six million new and used cars between 2017 and 2020 and used that data to determine which colors help, hurt, or don't seem to matter when it comes to vehicle resale value. “A vehicle's color is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model,” said Brauer. “With resale value being the single biggest factor in how much a new vehicle ‘costs' over the course of ownership, consumers should carefully consider their color choice.”
The website said that mainstream colors, including white, black, and silver, are popular because they are seen as the safest colors with the widest appeal. Being seen as and actually being safest, however, are two different things.
“There's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy going on here, with many consumers picking these mainstream colors not because they like them, but because they assume everyone else does,” said Brauer. “This makes white, black, and silver appear to be in high demand, yet our analysis confirms that more obscure colors tend to hold their value better than common and popular colors.”
Brauer points out that the most common car colors—black, white, silver, gray, red, and blue—are all close to average in terms of depreciation. “Because there are so many of these vehicles in the used car marketplace, buyers can shop around more easily if they're interested in these colors, reducing the amount of pricing power for dealers,” said Brauer. “This means black, white, and silver are the safe colors to buy if you're satisfied with average value retention, but not if you're trying to do better than average.”
Surprisingly, yellow is also the best color for SUVs, sedans and coupes, while beige is best for pickup trucks, red for convertibles, and blue for minivans. Go figure.
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