Automotive Weekly Crowe MacKay

Dealers are Essential to Broader EV Adoption

Automotive weekly

Automotive Weekly Crowe MacKay
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This is a critical juncture in our march towards a cleaner future. And it’s a good time for policymakers and stakeholders at all levels to think critically about what it’s going to take to sell EVs in greater volumes to customers who haven’t experienced EVs yet. Because the reality is that it’s going to take a lot. It’s going to take a network of tens of thousands of retail and service points located in just about every corner of the country, not just a website. It’s going to take hundreds of thousands of knowledgeable sales staff, not just a 1-800 number. And it’s going to take hundreds of thousands of highly trained technicians capable of providing professional service on the spot, not just mobile repair trucks. It’s going to take dealers. Fortunately, we’re already here, and we are raring to go.

Source: Green Car Journal


A new U.S. tax credit aimed at encouraging Americans to buy electric vehicles may backfire and limit choices for consumers because of concerns it’s weighed against European Union manufacturers, the EU trade chief said Thursday. Valdis Dombrovskis held a virtual meeting with his American counterpart Katherine Tai to address a wide range of trade issues, including the tax credit provision. Democrats included the credit in the climate and health care policy law passed last month as a way to incentivize domestic battery and electric vehicle production. But manufacturers in Europe and South Korea, which sell millions of vehicles in the U.S., have threatened to lodge legal complaints with the World Trade Organization.

Source: AP 


Toyota Motor Corp. is stepping up its transition from gasoline-burning to battery-powered cars by converting two decades’ old powertrain plants in Japan into battery production sites. The overhauls are part of the $5.6 billion investment plan announced this week by the world’s biggest automaker. The Shimoyama engine plant and the Myochi powertrain factory, both near Toyota’s global headquarters, will be upgraded to also turn out batteries for electric vehicles.

Source: Automotive News


General Motors is offering buyouts to U.S. Buick dealers that don’t want to make investments in the brand’s transition to exclusively offer all-electric vehicles domestically by 2030, the automaker confirmed Friday. The buyout offers, which are being outlined to Buick dealers Friday, are the latest efforts by GM to accelerate the company’s electric vehicle plans and transform its sales network. All of Buick’s roughly 2,000 U.S. franchise dealers will be given the opportunity to take a buyout, Duncan Aldred, global head of Buick, told The Wall Street Journal.

Source: CNBC


Volkswagen AG said Monday that it would list its iconic sports car maker Porsche AG in one of the biggest initial public offerings in years and a crucial test of investors’ confidence as high inflation and the war in Ukraine put a damper on the global economy. The offering could value Porsche at between 60 billion euros and €85 billion, equivalent to between $59.8 and $84.6 billion, according to analyst estimates, injecting fresh cash into VW’s coffers that executives say will help the company bankroll its transition to electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

Source: The Wall Street Journal 


More than a decade after the billionaire Porsche clan waved goodbye to their crown jewel, the family is set to claw back more direct influence over the sports-car maker as parent Volkswagen AG pushes ahead with one of Europe’s biggest initial public offerings. The share sale, targeted to value Porsche at as much as 85 billion euros ($84 billion) – roughly the same as its parent – could deliver some 10.6 billion euros in proceeds to VW. The Porsche family, still led by some of the personalities who lost control of the iconic carmaker back in 2009 following a takeover attempt of VW that went wrong, will emerge with a blocking minority.

Source: Bloomberg


Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales rose 27% in August, rebounding from year-ago production shortages and benefiting from increased demand for electric vehicles. Ford has been posting strong year-over-year gains this summer on climbing electric-vehicle sales and improved deliveries of trucks and SUVs. The company’s EV sales increased fourfold from a low base a year earlier, while sales of gas-engine vehicles rose by a quarter. The Dearborn, Mich., auto maker cited interest in its new, all-electric F-150 Lightning truck, which was launched in the spring. The company said the electric truck is being sold, on average, eight days after hitting dealership lots, the fastest current rate for any Ford vehicle.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Norway has only 5.26 million people—about half the size of Los Angeles County in population, and with only about 35 percent of LA's vehicles on its roads. But there's one measure in which Norway trumps America's most saturated EV market. Per capita, Norway has more electric car owners and drivers than anywhere else in the world.

But why? Widespread incentives play a part, as do steep taxes on gas and diesel vehicles—and the fuels themselves—but what else is it about the country and its people?

Is it because Norway, with the second longest coastline in the world behind Canada, including all those famous fjords and 50,000 islands, is feeling the pinch of rising sea levels? Or is it because they sell every drop of oil they drill from the North Sea and make it prohibitively expensive to use themselves? Or is it because, as a small nation with most of its population within a small geographic area, it can better serve its drivers with a tightly knit web of electric-car charging stations? Those factor in, but Norway has gone where no other democracy has gone with electric cars. It has made them more affordable than their gas counterparts, and over time, that has made electric cars, for lack of a better explanation, normal. “Norwegians are not much more environmentally friendly than other countries,” said Christina Bu, Secretary General of EV Norway, a non-profit representing electric car owners in Norway. “The overwhelming majority of people purchasing EVs says the number one reason is economic.”

This is obvious to economist Lasse Fridstrøm, senior research economist at the Norwegian Center for Transport Research, who wrote “Electrifying the vehicle fleet: Projections for Norway 2018-2050.” “Vehicle electrification in Norway is brought about, not by generous subsidization, but—quite the contrary—by stiff taxation,” Fridstrøm wrote.

Go electric, or pay up on taxes and tolls

Norway doesn’t make electric cars cheaper; it makes gas- and diesel-powered cars far more expensive than they are in other countries. Taxation on gas and diesel vehicles turns into incentives for electric vehicles, whether powered via batteries or fuel cells. Collectively these zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) have no value-added tax, which is 25 percent on gas and diesel vehicles. There is no registration tax on used car sales, no annual ownership tax, and no fuel tax. Road tolls are “fully or partially” exempt, ferry fares are “strongly reduced,” bus lanes are mostly open to ZEVs, public parking fees are tossed for ZEVs and there is plenty of free charging for BEVs.

The policy works, and has been working for a long time—since 1990, when the import tax was first abolished for EVs.

Taxation as a way to steer transportation policy has a long history in Norway, says Bu, dating back to road taxes instituted in the 1920s.

“Up until the end of the 1960, cars were considered a luxury good that should be taxed heavily,” Bu said. “It had nothing to do with environmental concerns.”  

People in Norway are used to them, Fridstrøm said in a phone interview. “This is how people react to taxes in capitalism all over the world. If you make the product very expensive, fewer people will buy it. It’s elementary.”

To understand this elementary lesson, compare a Volkswagen Golf with a Volkswagen e-Golf. The only similarity is the scrapping tax equivalent to about $285.

That’s just the initial cost. Then there are all the ancillary cost-of-ownership benefits that drive down the cost further.

Norway calls this the policy the “polluter pays principle.” It’s been in place for a long time without effect until recently. Since 1990 there has been no purchase or import tax for ZEVs, and beginning in 2001 this was expanded to a VAT exemption. The reason EV adoption didn’t grip the country sooner is also elementary: There were no electric cars to buy.

Source: Green Car Reports


The U.S. agency has updated its cybersecurity best practices to help modern cars guard against hackers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the latest update to its cybersecurity guidelines on Wednesday. This is the first time in five years that NHTSA has revisited its cybersecurity best practices, after having updated the rules in 2016. The latest NHTSA update isn’t so much a collection of immutable cybersecurity laws as much as an attempt to establish a baseline of what the U.S. agency thinks carmakers should implement. It’s just a broad overview of how carmakers can safeguard against hackers, data breaches, or worse.

The update makes recommendations about ECU security, wireless network security, external data ports, OTA updates, stricter access to firmware — which NHTSA says should be harder to modify — and even goes over how to make third-party devices (such as bluetooth dongles that plug into OBDII ports) safer.

NHTSA says this latest update comes after years of research and ongoing studies from specialized cybersecurity groups like the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center. The Auto-ISAC counts major automakers and suppliers as members: Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mazda, Magna, ZF and Bosch just to name a few. NHTSA and Auto-ISAC collaborated with carmakers and suppliers, then took this input and any public comments to come up with the latest guide. Again, these are non-binding guidelines, and carmakers are free to ignore them. But it’s still a good thing that NHTSA updates the list every few years.

Five years is basically a lifetime in the tech sector, and these last few years have been eventful as far the auto industry goes. More and more automakers are vying for ways to turn cars into rolling computers — for better or worse. Even though cars have relied on computer systems and comparable electronics for decades, modern cars have sophisticated hardware and software that looks like it’s at the cutting edge of technology, until it isn’t.

Hackers are breaking into Hondas and Teslas; USB cables are rendering Kias and Hyundais helpless against theft; and state agencies can pull data from cars too easily. I mean, I get it. Drivers want convenience and a familiar interface. But if carmakers insist on blurring the line between cars and computers, at the very least, they need to pay attention to the backdoors that they’re leaving open.

Source: Jalopnik

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