The coronavirus has motivated some dealerships to double down on mobile service vans, to deliver light service work in customers’ own driveways or workplaces, according to service managers. “It’s the biggest advertising we have,” says David Bergamotto, service manager for Park Avenue BMW of Rochelle Park, NJ. Bergamotto says he has offered some form of mobile service since 2010, so the concept isn’t new. But with this year’s pandemic, customers value the service more than ever, he says. Years of experience also gave the service department a head start over other dealerships, which had to scramble to meet the sudden demand for remote service.
Big tech was going to revolutionize the car market. Then reality happened. Just a few years ago, Silicon Valley seemed to have Detroit in its sights. Google had self-driving test cars roaming around, while Apple was building its own automated car from scratch. Chip giant Intel made its second largest acquisition ever with Mobileye for $15.3 billion in early 2017, while rival Nvidia was building powerful chips designed to become the central brains of autonomous vehicles. And Amazon.com wasn’t even keeping its dreams on the ground. The e-commerce giant was testing air delivery drones in the U.K. by late 2016. Most of those efforts haven’t died, but the hype has faded considerably.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Aston Martin said on Friday its shareholders approved a plan to inject 125 million pounds ($168 million) in new capital as the luxury carmaker tries to turnaround its loss-making business. The capital injection, Aston Martin’s third this year, was announced in October along with plans that Daimler unit Mercedes-Benz would lift its stake in the British company to up to 20% by 2023, making it one of Aston Martin’s largest shareholders.
About 150 General Motors Co. dealers have decided to part ways with Cadillac, rather than invest in costly upgrades required to sell electric cars, according to people familiar with the plans, indicating some retailers are skeptical about making the pivot to battery-powered vehicles. GM recently gave Cadillac dealers a choice: Accept a buyout offer to exit the brand or spend roughly $200,000 on dealership upgrades—including charging stations and repair tools—to get their stores ready to sell electric vehicles, these people said.
Ford Motor Co. is pushing back by several weeks the launch of its highly anticipated Bronco sport-utility vehicle to next summer because of problems receiving parts from suppliers hamstrung by the pandemic. The new model, which is considered a linchpin of Ford’s comeback plan, is being delayed from the spring due to unspecified Covid-19-related challenges in its supply chain, Mike Levine, a company spokesman, said Friday. This is the Bronco’s second postponement after an earlier decision to push back its release following a two-month factory shutdown to slow the spread of the virus.
Toyota Motor Corp. plans to bring 25 new or significantly updated models into the U.S. market during the next 16 months, and while other manufacturers might be pulling back on sedans, coupes and sports cars, fully half of the new products will be passenger cars, according to Executive Vice President Bob Carter, the automaker’s head of North American sales. The automaker is already busy fleshing out its product portfolio, recently launching the reborn Venza, this time as a hybrid-only model. Source: The Detroit Bureau
Uber, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a self-driving car project that executives once believed was a key to becoming profitable, is handing the autonomous vehicle effort over to a Silicon Valley start-up, the companies said on Monday. Uber will also invest $400 million in the start-up, called Aurora, so it is essentially paying the company to take over the autonomous car operation, which had become a financial and legal headache. Uber is likely to license whatever technology Aurora manages to create.
Source: The New York Times
Auto consumers of late perceive vehicles as costing more than did people who were in the market last spring. Today’s shoppers also see vehicle selection as leaner than did earlier buyers. Those are among findings of the latest CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study. The rolling survey looks at how the pandemic has affected auto consumer sentiment over the months and how shoppers have reacted in terms of how, when and why they car-shop. November research results compare with CarGurus survey findings from April and June. The polling topics include vehicle inventory, affordability, digital retail and how ride-sharing and public transit have taken a hit as many people bridle at using such transportation services during a pandemic.
Hybrid cars are seeing a quiet resurgence as the boom in electric vehicles spurs automakers to give the older, cheaper technology a second look. This year has been an extraordinary one for electric-car manufacturers. Investors have embraced makers of pure-electric vehicles, driving the share prices of Tesla Inc. and Chinese competitor Nio Inc. to stratospheric levels. Drivers are also coming on board, with EV sales from China to Europe rising despite the pandemic. But the market risks becoming a crowded one, with more than 500 EV models expected to be available globally by 2022.
GMC will not extend buyout offers to dealers who are reluctant to sell electric vehicles, GMC said Tuesday. "We will not be going down a similar strategy as Cadillac," said Duncan Aldred, vice president of global Buick and GMC. About 17 percent of Cadillac dealers accepted buyout offers last month, most ranging from $300,000 to upward of $500,000, as Cadillac plans for an all-electric lineup within the decade.
Source: Automotive News
Toyota is planning a battery-electric SUV for the European market, the automaker confirmed in a press release Monday. A version for the United States is likely to follow. The unnamed SUV will be based on the e-TNGA platform, an EV-specific derivative of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform used by most of the automaker's current internal-combustion models. This architecture will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive configurations, with a variety of power outputs and battery-pack capacities, Toyota said, adding that it's aiming to launch a "portfolio of battery-electric products." The first e-TNGA-based model "has already been developed and is being readied for production" at a factory in Japan, according to Toyota. A battery-electric derivative of TNGA was likely only a matter of time. In 2018, Toyota anticipated that from 2030 at least 10% of its global fleet would be made up of battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Scaling up fuel-cell cars has proven difficult, however, due to lack of hydrogen infrastructure.
Meanwhile, a battery-electric model is coming to the U.S. in the "short term," Toyota North America CEO Tetsuo Ogawa said in an interview with Automotive News, while maintaining that hybrid powertrains will remain the automaker's core technology. That fits with Toyota's overall attitude, which has been to downplay the importance of electric cars in favor of hybrids, where the automaker has an undisputed advantage.
The U.S.-market electric model is almost certainly the result of the previously revealed joint venture to co-develop an electric SUV with Subaru. That project was announced in 2019 as part of a broader partnership between the two automakers, which previously collaborated on the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 sports-car twins.
Toyota has had several low-volume EVs in the past—including the "powered by Tesla" second-generation RAV4 EV, built primarily to satisfy California's zero-emission vehicle mandate.
Source: Green Car Reports
Compares Himself to War General
Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk said on Tuesday he had relocated to Texas from California as he wanted to focus more on Tesla Inc’s new electric car plant and his SpaceX venture in the Lone Star state. Musk confirmed the move in an interview with Matt Murray, the Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief. Texas might potentially offer some tax reprieve for the world’s second richest man. It does not collect personal income tax while California has some of the highest state tax rates in the United States.
Earlier in the year he also moved his Musk Foundation to Texas.
New-vehicle leasing still isn’t quite at the level seen before the pandemic started, according to data provided by Experian Automotive. During the first quarter of this year, Experian reported that 30.19% of all new-model deliveries were connected to a lease. In the second quarter with COVID-19 in play, analysts found that leasing softened to 25.81%. The leasing industry generated a bit of a rebound during the third quarter, but Experian found that it still remained below the 30% level, coming in at 26.2% of new-vehicle financing.
Source: Auto Remarketing
Dealers and OEMs are in the early stages of sorting out the potential new revenue that digital subscriptions, on-demand features and over-the-air (OTA) software updates represent. How dealers get compensated when their customers buy new infotainment apps or download updates to existing features for their vehicle, without visiting the dealership, is one of the biggest questions of the day. Software-based features and services are proliferating in today’s cars and trucks, and estimates are the electronics needed to drive these systems now account for more than 40% of the price of a new vehicle. Features range from pushbutton concierge services such as General Motors’ OnStar to automatic crash notification systems that summon first responders in the event of an accident, as well as more basic infotainment technology such as navigation and satellite radio.
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