BlueCruise is a little too close to Super Cruise for GM's comfort.
Ford might be excited about its BlueCruise hands-free driving tech, but GM is less than thrilled about it. The Detroit Free Press and The Verge report that GM has sued Ford for allegedly violating the trademarks for both its rival Super Cruise feature and its autonomy-focused Cruise company.
GM was holding mediated talks with Ford to reach a "good-faith" arrangement, according to DFP sources. The two sides reportedly didn't make a deal before a July 24th deadline, however, prompting the lawsuit. A GM spokesperson said the company had "no choice" but to sue Ford after trying to resolve the dispute "amicably." Ford's representative, meanwhile, argued that GM's lawsuit was "meritless and frivolous." People understood that "cruise" was short for cruise control, Ford said, and BlueCruise was ultimately the "next evolution" of its Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control feature. The automaker added that GM didn't seem to have issues with other brands' naming schemes, such as BMW's Active Cruise Control and Hyundai's Smart Cruise Control.
The attention to Ford isn't surprising. Both companies see hands-free driving as a major selling point for their cars, with full self-driving a long-term goal. It's also no secret that the two Detroit brands have been fierce rivals for a long time — neither Ford nor GM will want to cede ground, at least not quickly. We wouldn't be surprised if the lawsuit ends with a settlement, but not before the companies have traded some verbal jabs.
Automakers and battery manufacturers are racing to develop new electric-vehicle batteries that can reinforce body structures and open the door to breakthroughs in driving range. What engineers call structural batteries hold the promise of lighter weight and greater energy efficiency - resulting in driving ranges between charges that are nearly double the 326 miles (525 km) of a Tesla Model Y. Geely's Volvo Cars in late June revealed a new structural battery design it is developing with Swedish battery maker Northvolt that Volvo said should deliver 600 miles or more of travel between charges.
Midsize sedans are dropping like flies as customers — and in turn automakers— fancy turns to SUVs. The list of the nearly departed continued to grow as Mazda and VW recently announced the impending demise of the 6 and Passat sedans, respectively. The 6 would probably have been replaced with a new model in the next 18 months if Mazda hadn’t decided to drop it in favor of better selling SUVs. The brand’s CX-5 compact SUV, for instance, costs about the same but outsold the 6 better than 9 to 1 through July 2021.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Amazon Inc-backed electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive plans to build a second U.S. assembly plant that will also include battery cell production, according to four people familiar with the matter. Multiple U.S. states have bid for the plant - dubbed “Project Tera” in documents - which will be announced in a couple of months and break ground early next year, said the sources, who asked not to be identified. The timing could still change given the coronavirus pandemic, which has already delayed the planned announcement from the summer, the sources said.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is optimistic about the eventual outcome for his new, transatlantic company, but he has his sights set on a steep mountain to climb – and climb quickly – as Stellantis switches to electric vehicles and phases out internal-combustion engines in less than a decade. Tavares is particularly worried about affordability for consumers. Affordability is already an issue, and it’s only going to get worse when the auto industry switches to electric vehicles, Tavares says.
For a second year, dealership marketers are evaluating their advertising strategies in a challenging sales environment. But unlike last year, the point isn't to contain costs to survive showroom and factory closures and plunging demand. Some retailers are responding by scaling back advertising budgets until inventory recovers, while others are maintaining spending at least at 2020 levels — but moving money out of new-vehicle campaigns and into other areas, such as used vehicles, fixed operations and "why buy" messages.
Source: Automotive News
Automakers such as GM can't do much to speed up production of the chips. In fact, the shortage could go until the middle of 2023, the tech company Intel warned last week. Studies and GM dealers both indicate that most customers understand that and are patient. But experts say automakers should still do intense crisis management with customers who order a car instead of a pickup or SUV because if those customers switch brands, they could be lost forever.
Volkswagen AG is exploring options for its MAN Energy Solutions SE division as the carmaker focuses on its shift to electric vehicles, according to people familiar with the matter. The German manufacturer is discussing ideas with potential advisers, including a minority listing, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. The deliberations follow improving financial results at the unit, which makes everything from engines used to power ships to chemical reactors, one of the people said.
Carmaker Aston Martin reported on Wednesday a 224% increase in sales to its dealers, boosted by its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, as losses fell in the first half of the year. The DBX 4x4, which first rolled off the production line just over a year ago, accounted for more than half of its 2,901 vehicles between January and June.
The auto industry's tight new-vehicle supplies and strong retail demand could extend almost another year because of ongoing inventory shortages and strong economic conditions, Toyota Motor North America executives said Wednesday. A chronic shortage of microchips and other supply-chain disruptions that have forced automakers to idle assembly plants -- in some cases for months -- have upended the industry's steady recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jaguar Land Rover Suffers
Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata Motors reported a wider-than-estimated first-quarter loss as a global microchip shortage dragged down sales at the UK luxury unit. Tata Motors reported a loss of 44.5 billion rupees ($598 million) in the three months ended June 30, compared to an 84.4-billion-rupee shortfall a year earlier, the company said. Analysts had forecast a 21-billion-rupee loss, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Jaguar Land Rover reported a pretax loss of 110 million pounds ($152 million) on revenue of 4.97 billion pounds ($6.9 million). The division’s sales in China jumped 14 percent.
GM Starts and Stops
General Motors Co. is restarting its full-size trucks plants next week after a week of production impacts caused by the global semiconductor shortage, but other facilities face additional downtime, the automaker said Wednesday. GM's Flint Assembly, where heavy-duty trucks are built, went down to one shift this week, while light-duty truck plants Silao Assembly in Mexico and Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana halted production completely. All three plants will resume full production Monday, Aug. 2, the automaker said.
Source: The Detroit News
Toyota Defies Chip Shortage to Post Record Output and Sales
Strong global demand for cars boosted Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales to a record for the month of June, with production seemingly unfazed by an industrywide shortage of semiconductors. Toyota’s unit sales in June rose 20% from a year earlier to 844,750 units. Total output rose 41% to 831,533 units, a record for the month. Worldwide automobile demand is soaring in 2021 after sales floundered last year.
Volkswagen's Top Brands Flag Chip Risk in Months Ahead
Volkswagen's top three brands on Friday pointed to an ongoing shortage of automotive chips that could intensify in the coming months, highlighting the industry's difficulty in tackling the issue. Volkswagen had said on Thursday that lost production due to the crisis, which started to hit the automotive industry at the end of 2020, currently stood at a high six digit number of vehicles.
The Impact Adds UP
The global shortage of computer chips continues to hammer automakers, forcing factory shutdowns and sapping sales and profits, with mixed views on when relief might arrive. Seventeen auto factories in North America and Europe have halted or reduced production in recent weeks over the scarcity of the tiny components, according to Seraph Consulting, which is advising automakers on the shortages. The shutdowns have affected plants in Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Mexico, Canada and Germany.
Source: The Washington Post
Subscribe to our Automotive Weekly newsletter