CHEVROLET BOLT AFTERMATH
General Motors Co said on Thursday it will extend a shutdown of a Michigan assembly plant by two weeks in the aftermath of a new recall of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles over battery issues. The largest U.S. automaker said the extension of the production halt at its Orion Assembly plant that will go through at least Sept. 24 was "a result of a battery pack shortage" related to the recall that followed reports of 10 battery fires. GM said it will not resume Bolt production or sales until it is satisfied that the recall remedy will address the fire risk issue.
CHIPS JUST KEEP IMPACTING PRODUCTION AND A BIT OF HOPE
Toyota Cuts Output Again on Shortage of Chips, Parts
Toyota Motor Corp. will slash global production again next month – by 330,000 units – as the pandemic and global shortage of automotive microchips continue to bite. The total hit represents a 40 percent cutback from Toyota's original October production plan. In announcing the reversal on Friday, Toyota said it will also take a bigger hit than expected in September. Toyota expects to lose another 70,000 units this month. That adjustment comes on top of an August announcement, when Toyota warned it would lose 360,000 vehicles of output globally in September, including some 80,000 units in North America.
Source: Automotive News
Volkswagen Says Chip Crisis Won’t Ease Until Second Half of 2022
The head of Volkswagen AG’s Americas business doesn’t see U.S. auto production returning to normal levels until the second half of 2022 following Covid-19 outbreaks in Malaysia that brought a fresh round of supply chain headaches. A global semiconductor shortfall has cut auto production worldwide and left showrooms with fewer models to sell, even as the pandemic triggered a surge in demand. Volkswagen was forced to idle production of the Taos and Tiguan sport utility vehicles at its Puebla, Mexico, plant this summer, and it’s been harvesting chips from the slower-selling Passat sedan to feed production of the more-lucrative Atlas SUV, which is made in Chattanooga. It’s also preparing the Tennessee plant to produce the ID.4, its debut electric SUV, next June.
More Stellantis shutdowns
Stellantis has extended shutdowns at its Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Ill., and its minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, due to the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors, according to the company. The plants, which will be down the weeks of Sept. 13 and Sept. 20, were previously idled Aug. 30 and Sept. 6 for the same reason. Both factories have had significant downtime this year. The shutdown at Windsor was confirmed by the union that represents hourly workers there.
General Motors extends shut downs
General Motors will extend production cuts at crossover, midsize pickup and sedan plants next week because of the lingering microchip shortage, but full-size pickup production will resume Monday, as planned. Next week, five GM North American plants will be running: GM's three full-size pickup plants, its full-size SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, and its Chevrolet Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky. GM's light-duty pickup plants in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Silao, Mexico, will reopen Monday after a production halt this week. Heavy-duty pickup production in Flint, Mich., and full-size SUV production in Arlington, which ran this week, will also continue. General Motors’ vehicle sales and production will be hit harder by the global chip shortage during the second half of the year than it previously expected, its finance chief said Friday. The shortage will cut GM’s wholesale deliveries by about 200,000 vehicles in North America during the second half of the year compared with the 1.1 million it delivered in the first half of the year, CFO Paul Jacobson said during an RBC Capital Markets conference. That reduction is double the 100,000 units that was expected when GM reported second-quarter earnings in August.
Sources: CNBC and Automotive News
3M Doubles Its Estimated Drop in Car Output on Chip Shortage
3M Co. expects the semiconductor shortage that has idled auto factories worldwide will last into 2022 and the company has doubled its previous estimate for the decline in new-vehicle production in this year’s second half. The year-over-year drop will be 6%, up from 3%, Chief Financial Officer Monish Patolawala said Monday at a Morgan Stanley conference. Automakers including Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG have been forced to curtail production due to the chip shortfall.
Mercedes Sees Sales Stabilizing at Year-End Amid Chip Turmoil
Daimler AG’s main Mercedes-Benz division expects sales to stabilize in the fourth quarter and still aims to generate double-digit returns this year despite disruptions from the global semiconductor shortage. While chip supply bottlenecks have been exacerbated by recent factory shutdowns in Malaysia, underlying demand for Mercedes luxury cars remains very strong in China, Europe and North America, Daimler Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said in an interview.
A new source of chips?
One of General Motors Co's China joint ventures said on Wednesday it is developing auto chips and aims to increase use of locally sourced chips in the next five years. Liuzhou-based SGMW, GM's venture with partners SAIC Motor Corp and Guangxi Automobile Group, said at an industry conference that it has been developing its own auto computing chips since 2018. SGMW did not say whether it is merely designing chips or is also participating in chip-manufacturing but said it would boost cooperation with Chinese manufacturers to improve quality and economy of its chips.
TOYOTA, HONDA OPPOSE U.S. HOUSE ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX PLAN
Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co on Saturday sharply criticized a proposal by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to give union-made electric vehicles in the United States an additional $4,500 tax incentive. Toyota said in a statement that the plan unveiled late Friday discriminates "against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize." The bill, set to be voted on Tuesday by the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee as part of a proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill, would benefit Detroit's Big Three automakers, which have union-represented auto plants.
FORD EXTENDS FLAT ROCK PLANT DOWNTIME AMID GAS LEAK RECOVERY EFFORTS
Plans Facility Upgrades
Ford Motor Co. will not resume full production at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant — the source of a gasoline leak into the city's sewer system that was discovered two weeks ago — until next week. The Dearborn automaker had halted production at the Mustang plant through at least the end of last week, but company spokesperson Kelli Felker confirmed Monday that downtime there has been extended until Sept. 20 "to ensure all resources remain focused on the Flat Rock community."
Source: The Detroit News
GREEN STEEL BECOMES A HOT COMMODITY FOR BIG AUTO MAKERS
Auto makers are racing to find cleaner steel to build their cars. The industry’s approach ranges from low-tech—using more recycled steel—to less-proven methods, including trying to source the metal from hydrogen-powered mills instead of more conventional coal-fired ones. The steel industry is one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, and the auto sector is one of the largest users of steel. Steelmakers are seeking ways to produce their steel more cleanly. Auto makers—pushed by regulators, investors and climate-conscious customers—are joining that search.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
THE NEXT BEST ELECTRIC CAR BATTERY IS HERE, CHEAPER THAN EVER
There’s no shortage of excitement for electric vehicle battery startups or multibillion dollar investments in the industry, as companies, backers and scientists look for the winning play. China, though, is already moving on to the next leg in the race — one that isn’t dependent on a big, bold breakthrough — with sodium-ion batteries. Done right, this technology could lead to widespread adoption in a market largely dependent on subsidies and where EV sales are still a fraction of all cars. China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., or CATL, the world’s largest battery manufacturer, unveiled its latest product in July — a sodium-ion battery. The following month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it would drive the development, standardization and commercialization of this type of power-pack, providing a cheaper, faster-charging and safe alternative to the current crop on offer, which continue to be plagued by a host of problems, not least, faulty units catching fire.
NHTSA PROBING TESLA CRASHES
The U.S. auto safety regulator said Tuesday it has asked 12 major automakers for assistance as part of its probe into crashes involving Tesla vehicles striking emergency vehicles while using advanced driver assistance systems like Autopilot. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent letters to General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG and others questions as the agency conducts a "comparative analysis" with other "production vehicles equipped with the ability to control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously under some circumstances."
RIVIAN R1T ELECTRIC PICKUP TRUCK PRODUCTION STARTS
The first production Rivian R1T rolled off the assembly line today at the company's plant in Normal, Illinois, marking an important milestone for the EV start-up that will soon see R1S sport utilities join its first electric pickup truck. The first production example of the R1T followed assembly of hundreds of pre-production models used for testing and validation—and a number of delays prompted by the coronavirus pandemic including chip shortages experienced by nearly all automakers.
The first units of the R1T off the line are the Launch Edition examples that start at $73,000, offering a 314-mile range courtesy of a 135-kWh battery, and a 1760-lb payload capacity. An even larger battery pack is on the way a bit later, promising to give the R1T a range of about 400 miles, though production of the SUV, slated to offer 316 miles of range according to recently published EPA figures, is expected to start before that later this year, once again in Launch Edition flavor. Rivian had been racing to start mass production, which was originally slated for late 2020, with the delays at one point making it look like Tesla could begin building its Cybertruck first. The Cybertruck has now been pushed back to late 2022 for several technical reasons, with GMC's Hummer being the only other mass-produced electric truck model slated to begin production in late 2021 (if the schedule holds), with Ford's F-150 Lightning due to follow in the spring of 2022.
The start of R1T production this week gives Rivian a long-awaited PR boost, just ahead of a wave of electric pickups in the coming months and years.
Rivian Plans 3,500 Fast-Charger Adventure Network
Like Tesla, the company has also been busy building its own EV charging system, dubbed the Rivian Adventure Network, with the goal of installing a large number of DC fast chargers across the US for the exclusive use by owners of its vehicles, in addition to a universally available Waypoint network for all other EVs. "We also remain focused on building out our charging network—this includes our fast DC chargers that are part of our Rivian Adventure Network as well as our Level 2 AC chargers/connectors that are part of our Rivian Waypoints network," Scaringe added in the same email to customers. "Key to delivering on our goal of more than 3500 DC chargers (at 600 sites) and 10,000 Waypoints is securing a portfolio of great locations for these chargers. You will start to see more of these pop up over the next few months, and by the end of the year the buildout will start expanding quite rapidly."
GM TELLS BOLT OWNERS TO PARK 50 FEET AWAY FROM OTHER CARS
General Motors Co. urged some owners of Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to park and store the vehicles at least 50 feet away from other cars to reduce the risk that a spontaneous fire could spread. The Detroit automaker has recalled all of the roughly 142,000 Bolts sold since 2016 because the battery can catch on fire. GM has taken a $1.8 billion charge so far for the cost of the recall and has been buying cars back from some disgruntled owners. The company expects to recoup much of the cost from battery supplier LG Corp. The new advice is likely to rankle owners who are already limiting their use of the Bolt to avoid overheating the battery and risking a fire.
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