CHINA'S PASSENGER CAR SALES FALL 80% IN FEBRUARY ON CORONAVIRUS
Passenger car retail sales in China, the world's biggest auto market, fell 80% in February because of the coronavirus epidemic, one of the country's industry associations said on Wednesday. The China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) said in a statement that China's overall passenger car sales dropped 80%, without giving a full sales figure for the month.
WHY PICKUP TRUCK SALES HAVE MORE THAN DOUBLED OVER THE LAST DECADE
Big pickup truck deliveries swelled by 123 percent since 2009, according to the automotive information company Edmunds' annual Truck Report. They reached a 14-year high in 2019 and accounted for 14.5 percent of all new-vehicle sales. Demand is so strong, both General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler continued to build and successfully sell previous-generation versions of their redesigned Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Ram 1500 pickups for 2019 (the Ram 1500 "Classic" remains in production for 2020). Edmunds attributes this surge largely to a reliably strong economy, affordable gasoline prices, and low interest rates, along with an explosion of technology, luxury, and safety features being offered.
GM TOUTS BATTERY COST, RANGE BREAKTHROUGHS
General Motors expects its battery costs to fall below the level that analysts say would make electric vehicles competitive with internal-combustion vehicles, the automaker said Wednesday during a preview of more than a dozen upcoming EVs. GM's proprietary Ultium batteries will cost less than $100 (all figures USD) per kilowatt-hour and allow for a driving range of up to 400 miles (more than 640 kilometes) on a full charge, GM said. That's about 50 per cent more than the 259-mile range — or 416 kilometes — for the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt. The GMC Hummer EV, expected to go into production in fall 2021, will be the first vehicle to use the new battery technology, GM said.
Tesla and other automakers have been working to reduce battery costs to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, which is widely considered the point at which EVs can have price parity with combustion vehicles. "Our team accepted the challenge to transform product development at GM and position our company for an all-electric future," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "What we have done is build a multibrand, multisegment EV strategy with economies of scale that rival our full-size truck business with much less complexity and even more flexibility."
GM says its first generation of a full EV portfolio will be profitable and can be scaled to meet customer demand even if sales significantly top its forecasts. The automaker projects global sales of one million by mid-decade. "Thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working to execute a historic reinvention of the company," GM President Mark Reuss said in the company's statement. "They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers." GM will design the electric motors in-house. The vehicle systems and propulsion systems are much less complex than traditional internal-combustion powertrain combinations, GM said. The automaker plans 19 different battery and drive-unit configurations to start, compared with 550 internal-combustion powertrain options available today.
The Ultium batteries have large-format, stackable pouch-style cells for more flexibility and optimal battery energy storage, GM said. The automaker aims to manufacture the batteries through its $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem in Ohio and could license the technology to other companies. The Ohio battery plant will have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt-hours, making it among the largest in the world, with potential for expansion, GM has said.
The automaker has said it plans to build 20 EVs globally by 2023 and is converting its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant that was slated for closure into an EV manufacturing hub with a $3 billion investment.
GM said an updated version of the Bolt will reach Chevy dealerships in late 2020. A utility variant the automaker is calling the 2022 Bolt EUV will follow in summer 2021. Both Bolts will use GM's existing battery technology. The Ultium batteries will be used in the Cruise Origin, an autonomous vehicle GM showed in January, and the Cadillac Lyriq, an electric utility the automaker said it will reveal in April. GM plans to unveil the Ultium-powered Hummer EV in May.
The Bolt EUV will be the first vehicle outside the Cadillac brand to feature Super Cruise driver-assist technology. GM plans to expand Super Cruise to 22 vehicles by 2023.
Source: Automotive News and Bloomberg
FORD, MAZDA, AND MITSUBISHI SCRAP FOR SMALL-SUV BEST VALUE
These are interesting times. Where Americans once coveted soap-bar smooth sedans, now they crave the boxy, five-door SUV. Give me a game show where contestants have to identify utes by their profile and contestants would be stumped. When I arrived at my aunt's house driving a BMW X4 she asked if it was the latest Chevy SUV. Oh, dear. Brands have been working hard to break the monotony with coupe-like roofs and daring fascias. Peel back the top of these tin cans, and it gets more compelling: dazzling digital displays, remote rotary-controllers, high-tech driver-assist features. And that's on vehicles that cost $30,000 and less.
Source: The Detroit News
CANADIAN STARTUP CLUTCH LOOKS TO MODERNIZE USED-CAR MARKET
A Canadian startup is looking to help make it easier to buy cars using technology it says speeds up the approval process and makes finding and buying a new ride faster. Clutch Canada Inc. wants to make buying a used car quicker and more reliable with online-based sales that bypass the dealership. The model, which is already firmly established in the United States, has its tradeoffs but provides a new option for buyers to consider that could offer convenience and potential savings.
Canada has been slower to develop online-focused offerings for big financial commitments such as mortgages and car purchases, but the recently launched offering is looking to fill some of the void. Clutch wants to bring speed and convenience to used car sales with online-only listings where they bring the vehicle directly to the customer for a test drive. The company says by cutting out the dealership and commissions, and instead of storing the cars in more cost-effective warehouses they can offer vehicles at lower prices. "They chose to invest in the brick and mortar, we chose to invest in online," said CEO Dan Park.
Direct comparisons on used vehicles are difficult because there are so many variables, so it's hard to say what sort of direct cost savings there are, but Park also says it saves time compared with dealerships. "Everything that they do is designed to lock you in, sell you a car, take a bunch of back end services and products, and ultimately, most of the structures around dealerships are not designed to be consumer friendly."
Clutch finds a middle ground between options like AutoTraders or Kijiji Autos, where the customer doesn't know much about the seller, and a full-fledged dealership. It also doesn't negotiate on price and offers a seven-day money back guarantee.
The company, with a similar model to the fast-growing Carvana in the United States, launched in Halifax in 2017 after Ontario regulators weren't sure what to make of the model. It secured registration with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council earlier this year and is now also operating in the Toronto area, with plans to expand. Supplies of cars could be a problem, said auto industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, since dealerships often get the first pick from trade-ins, and he wondered about the potential savings, but the model could certainly work, he said.
"I hope that they bring some more excitement to the marketplace. More attention to the market is good, not bad."
Source: The Canadian Press
FIESTA, FOCUS OWNERS COULD GET THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS APIECE - LAWYERS
A federal judge approved on Thursday a Ford Motor Co. class-action settlement that will result in the repurchase of thousands of defective Ford Fiesta and Focus vehicles for up to $22,000 a piece, according to lawyers who crafted the agreement. Ford customers claimed in legal filings their 2012-16 Focus and 2011-16 Fiesta compact cars were built with transmissions prone to "shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration."
Source: Detroit Free Press
AS GM AND FORD RAMP UP EVS FOR US, EUROPEANS RETREAT
As General Motors and Ford Motor Co. bet the farm on electric vehicles, European manufacturers are pulling vehicles from the U.S. market for lack of demand. BMW confirmed this week that it will not bring its electric iX3 crossover to these shores, following a decision by Mercedes in December to delay the introduction of its EQC EV here. They will be sold in international markets like Europe and China where governments are forcing electrification with penalties and consumer incentives.
Source: The Detroit News
EVEN AFTER 4% JUMP, USED-CAR SALES START 'LIFTOFF'
Used-vehicle sales climbed more than 4% last month, but the market may only be warming up. Analysis from Cox Automotive indicates there was a tax refund-fueled "liftoff" in the used-car market during the first week of March, with retail sales climbing more than 30%. "The seasonal sales jump has been slower to happen as a result of the slower refunds, but week 10 delivered," Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke wrote in the latest Smoke on Cars report.
Source: Auto Remarketing
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