Supply chain woes mounted world-wide for makers of everything from cars and clothing to home siding and medical needle containers, as the extreme Texas weather and port backlogs compounded problems for manufacturers already beset by pandemic disruptions. Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. were the latest multinational companies to chime in about setbacks, with the two auto makers saying Wednesday they would halt production at plants in North America.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Porsche announced Monday it will increase its stake in Croatian EV supplier and niche supercar builder Rimac from 15.5 percent to 24 percent through a 70 million Euro (roughly $83 million) investment into the company. Porsche has had a vested interest in Rimac since 2018, when it obtained a 10-percent stake in the EV startup. In 2019, it increased that stake to 15.5 percent. Now, Porsche owns 24 percent of the brand, leaving founder Mate Rimac with just 43 percent ownership (19 percent belongs to Camel Group, Asia's largest battery manufacturer, while the remaining 14 percent is owned by Hyundai).
“Rimac is excellently positioned in prototype solutions and small series [production],” Porsche deputy chairman Lutz Meschke said in a statement. “Mate Rimac and his team are important partners, especially when it comes to supporting us in the development of components. Rimac is well on its way to becoming a Tier 1 supplier for Porsche and other manufacturers in the high-tech segment. Porsche has already placed its first orders with Rimac for the development of highly innovative series components."
Rimac himself is, unsurprisingly, pleased with Porsche's further investment. "Porsche has been a big supporter of our company since 2018, and it has always been a privilege to have one of the world's most iconic sports car brands be a part of Rimac,” the 32 year-old said in a statement. “We're proud to work together on exciting new electrified products. With many car manufacturers across the world being Rimac customers, it is important, both for Rimac and Porsche, that we remain an entirely independent business. The partnership with Porsche helps the company develop and grow which is beneficial for all of our customers."
The news of Porsche's cash injection comes just five months after a report surfaced claiming Volkswagen, Porsche's parent company, was planning to sell its flagship Bugatti brand to Rimac. While it's a move that would make sense for both brands, we haven't heard anything more on the subject since (both brands declined to comment at the time). We're curious to see how things play out.
Source: Road & Track
Ford's upcoming compact pickup was spotted being tested on public roads near one of the automaker's development centers nearly undisguised, save for a camouflage wrap meant to obscure the details of its design. Ford hasn't officially had much to say about the new model or even confirmed its name, but recent information leaks suggest it will be called the Maverick and share some of its platform with the new Bronco Sport SUV. That means it will be a front-wheel-drive-based vehicle with an available all-wheel-drive system, which the pickup in the photos is equipped with along with an independent rear suspension. Size comparisons put the crew cab short bed at about two-feet shorter than a Ford Ranger. Engine options will likely be the same as the Bronco Sport's, which offers the choice of a 181 hp turbocharged three-cylinder and 250 hp turbocharged four-cylinder.
Ford reportedly told its dealers that the vehicle will be offered with a base MSRP under $20,000, which would make it the cheapest pickup on sale in the U.S. The Maverick is expected to be unveiled in full in the second half of 2021 ahead of its launch for the 2022 model year.
Source: Fox News
As many vehicle owners drove fewer miles last year because of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, overall customer satisfaction with auto dealer service departments still increased for a sixth consecutive year. That is according to the J.D. Power 2021 Customer Service Index Study, which showed dealer service visits declining only by 6% from the previous year. Overall satisfaction increased to 847 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 837 a year ago. The study also measured customer satisfaction with dealer service among mass market and premium vehicle brands. Among mass market brands, ranking highest in satisfaction with dealer service was MINI with a score of 864. Buick ranked second, followed by Mitsubishi, GMC and Kia.
Source: Auto Remarketing
Renesas Electronics Corp.’s top executive warned that a global shortage of auto semiconductors may persist into the second half, joining other industry leaders in bracing for a chip crunch to snarl production of cars and gadgets well past the summer. Industry giants from Continental AG to Innolux Corp. have in recent weeks warned of longer-than anticipated deficits thanks to unprecedented Covid-era demand for everything from cars to game consoles and smartphones. Renesas is running its most critical plants at full capacity to try and sate demand but there was no way of telling when the market might balance out, Chief Executive Officer Hidetoshi Shibata told Bloomberg News.
Volkswagen plans to gradually switch the type of battery used in its electric vehicles, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday, moving away from the technology supplied under current deals with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation.
Volkswagen plans to use the prismatic type of battery, increasingly turning to supplies from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), South Korea’s Money Today online news site reported earlier on Monday, citing unnamed South Korean battery industry sources.
The German car maker declined to comment. Volkswagen plans to announce its battery procurement plans at its Power Day event on Monday, Money Today reported.
South Korea’s LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation have been manufacturing pouch-type batteries for Volkswagen, while CATL and Samsung SDI have supplied it with prismatic ones.
LG Energy Solution, a unit of LG Chem, said it does not comment on market speculation, while SK Innovation declined to comment. “It really depends on how fast Volkswagen manages to switch to prismatic type batteries. Currently, there are not enough prismatic battery supplies, and it would take quite a while for Volkswagen to fully adopt them,” sand Han Sang-won, an analyst at Daishin Securities. “One of the reasons that Volkswagen has chosen to switch could be to enhance electric vehicles’ safety, as prismatic batteries are generally considered to have lower energy density than pouch-type batteries, making them relatively safer,” Han added.
Among three types of batteries - prismatic, pouch and cylindrical - prismatic batteries had 49% share in the EV battery market in 2020, while pouch-type batteries had 28%, according to industry tracker SNE Research.
The plan comes at a time that LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation are locked in a legal battle in the United States over allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets related to EV battery technology.
Ford's new F-150 Police Responder has an old-school feature with a twist, so to speak.
The pursuit-rated pickup can be equipped with conventional keys that can be removed from the vehicle while it's still running and locked in Park to allow officers to continue to use lights and powered equipment without worrying about anyone making off with their truck. It's one of several law enforcement-specific features on the full-size truck that will enter service this fall.
The F-150 Police Responder will be available in a four-door, SuperCrew configuration powered by a 400 hp 3.5-liter. Its four-wheel-drive system has a full-time Auto setting that can be used on all surfaces and the truck comes standard with the F-150's FX4 off-road package, which includes an upgraded suspension and underbody protection.
Interior features include heavy-duty upholstery and steel intrusion plates on the backs of the front seats that can stop knives and other sharp objects. The trucks can be ordered without a center console to allow for department-specific equipment-controlled backup assist feature.
All of the Big Three automakers offer police versions of their pickups, but the F-150 is currently the only pursuit-rated model. Ford has not announced plans to offer any of the F-150's other powertrains, installation or with a factory setup that incorporates a work surface.
Ford says the aluminum-bodied truck has a 2,030-pound payload capacity and a standard tow rating of 7,000 pounds that can be increased to 11,200 pounds with a towing package that includes a knob including the hybrid that can function as a 7.2-kilowatt-hour generator.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are halting production at plants in North America as the pandemic’s continuing effects on the global supply chain create shortages of essential components. Toyota cited an unspecified shortage of petrochemicals at some North American plants. Honda said it would halt production at most of its U.S. and Canadian car factories next week because of supply-chain issues including port backlogs that have delayed the delivery of parts.
Source: Wall Street Journal
General Motors Co said on Monday that due to the global semiconductor chip shortage the U.S. automaker is building certain 2021 light-duty full-size pickup trucks without a fuel management module, hurting those vehicles’ fuel economy performance. The lack of the active fuel management/dynamic fuel management module means affected models, equipped with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine with both six-speed and eight-speed automatic transmission, will have lower fuel economy by one mile per gallon, spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said.
Volvo Cars, which is owned by China’s Geely Holding, will temporarily stop or adjust production in China and the United States for parts of March due to a global shortage of semiconductor chips, it said on Wednesday. “We expect the situation to become critical during the second quarter and have therefore decided to take measures to minimize the impact on production while working daily to improve the situation,” Volvo Cars said in an e-mailed statement.
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