Porsche plans to buy stakes in more companies this year to broaden the electric-vehicle offerings and digital services that are focal points for the future. The German sports-car maker is continuing to “pick up the pace on investments” in new technologies and will make “a few announcements this year,” Chief Financial Officer Lutz Meschke said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News. Porsche’s technological edge and financial muscle is vital to parent Volkswagen AG’s shift toward electric vehicles.
BMW CEO Expects Chip Investment Wave to Ease Supply Crunch
BMW expects the global semiconductors shortage hobbling automotive production to be resolved in a couple of years as companies and governments work to overcome the shortfall. “There’s intense focus on the issue globally, so it’s to be expected for supply and demand to be back in balance within two years at the latest,” Chief Executive Officer Oliver Zipse said in an interview Thursday at the company’s driving academy near Munich.
Plants assembling the Jeep Cherokee SUV and Chrysler minivans will idle for additional weeks due to the global semiconductor shortage, Stellantis NV said Thursday. Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, home to the Cherokee, will be down through the middle of May. Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario, which makes the minivans, will be down through the second week of the month. Production at Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico, which produces the Jeep Compass SUV, however, has resumed
Source: The Detroit News
Chip Shortage Dampens Nissan's Route Back to Profit After Record Loss
Nissan Motor Co expects to break even this business year, defying expectations for a return to profitability, as the global chip shortage curbs the car maker's recovery from a record annual operating loss. The forecast by Nissan, Japan's No.3 carmaker by sales, to break even for the year that began April 1 was lower than a 241.7 billion yen ($2.23 billion) profit predicted by SmartEstimate. The global auto industry has been grappling with a chip shortage since the end of last year, exacerbated in recent months by a fire at a plant of key automotive chip maker Renesas Electronics Corp (6723.T) in Japan and blackouts in Texas where a number of chipmakers have factories. That forced Nissan to cut production by 130,000 vehicles in the year just ended, although the company has been able to recover half of that production, Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said.
Toyota Set to Dodge Earnings Nightmare Caused by Chips Crisis
Investors should see two scenarios playing out among automakers in Japan this week as the nation’s biggest car manufacturers report their financial results. On one side is Toyota Motor Corp., which thanks to its forward supply-chain planning has weathered the pandemic relatively well. On the other, everyone else, mired in a morass of factory closures due to the global chip shortage. Like all automakers, Japanese firms have been hurt by a reduction in consumer demand as a result of Covid, although car sales picked up as the year progressed.
Empty Lots, Angry Customers: Chip Crisis Throws Wrench into Car Business
Americans are shopping for cars in near-record numbers, but the world’s computer-chip shortage has left dealers with the fewest offerings in decades. The market mismatch is driving up prices, and many buyers expecting to drive new cars off the lot have to wait weeks or months for their vehicles to arrive. Some showroom models sell for thousands of dollars over the sticker price.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Jeep Maker Says Top Suppliers Failed Carmakers in Chip Shortage
The head of Jeep maker Stellantis NV said major auto-parts makers have let down car companies that count on them to avoid supply-chain crises like the chip shortage that’s crippled production across the industry. “Over the last 20 years, we were assuming that the tier-one suppliers would protect us from this kind of situation,” Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said Wednesday during a Financial Times virtual car summit. “It’s fair to say that we were not protected.” The comments are among the sharpest a major auto CEO has publicly leveled at auto-parts companies that have struggled to secure enough semiconductors to keep up with resurgent new-car demand.
A months long rise in used-car sales has left bargain-hunters with increasingly limited options on lots across the U.S. The average price paid for a preowned vehicle hit a record of $25,463 in April, about $2,800 higher than in the same month last year, according to research firm J.D. Power. It also was the first time ever that the average used-car price had exceeded $25,000, the firm said. The climb, which began last year, has surprised some dealers who say they don’t see the trend ending soon.
Rafih Auto Group has purchased the four-store Eitel Dahm Motor Group in suburban Detroit, further expanding the Windsor, Ont., company’s U.S. reach. CEO Terry Rafih said the deal closes today. It involves four stores: BMW of Rochester Hills, Audi of Rochester Hills, Porsche of The Motor City in Eastpointe, Mich., and Motor City Mini in Southfield, Mich. The deal grows Rafih’s presence in the U.S. about two years after it bought a trio of luxury dealerships in Ohio from Bernie Moreno in 2019. The Cleveland-area dealerships sell Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Source: Automotive News
One research study shows evidence that some owners find charging their EVs a hassle and return to gas-powered cars.
In a study published in the journal Nature Energy by the University of California Davis, researchers Scott Hardman and Gil Tal surveyed Californians who purchased an electric vehicle between 2012 and 2018 and found roughly one in five switched back to owning gas-powered cars.
Most indicated they found charging the batteries was a pain. Business Insider published a story on the study that said of those who switched to gas, more than 70 percent lacked access to Level 2 charging at home, and slightly fewer lacked Level 2 connections at their workplace. This seems odd considering essentially Level 2 charging at home can happen with any 240V outlet which the EPA notes most home owners already have. True, some installation service might be needed to install a charging station in your garage, but most homes are already capable. The EPA also notes that companies have increased workplace charging 70 percent (and growing) since 2014. The study didn’t say why four out five EV owners stick to EVs, nor why it relied on some outdated data (there were only six EVs even available from OEMs in 2012, for example).
The Business Insider story says that a Mustang Mach-E EV plugged into a Level 1, 120-volt household outlet for an hour gave a Bloomberg automotive analyst just three miles of range, so 36 miles overnight. He told the website that he ended up taking the car to his office to charge it. A Level 2 charger puts out around 240 volts of power. The analyst says if you don’t have Level 2 “it’s almost impossible.” Two-thirds of EV drivers in the survey said they didn’t use them but didn’t say why not.
Automakers are more optimistic. “The study definitely makes for an interesting headline and is attention-grabbing,” a Ford official told Autoweek. “These are issues we think a lot about. However, our POV is contrarian to this article for several reasons.”
The Ford official points out that not only does the study focus on EV owners from 2012-2018, but the majority of the research is on the early end of the time frame. “An incredible amount of progress has been made in the nearly 10 years since the study timeframe began,” the official told us. “Range has significantly improved across the board on newer EV models, striking a much more confident tone in current and future EV drivers. He pointed out that DC fast charging was essentially non-existent in the early part of the UC Davis study. Since then, fast charging companies like Electrify America and others OEMs are partnering with are able to deliver charging experiences in minutes. “Using the Mach-E for example, customers can charge up to 59 miles in just 10 minutes, or 10-80 percent of their battery in just 45 minutes. “Infrastructure growth of DC fast charging will continue to grow rapidly in years to come, especially with support from the Biden Administration.” He told us OEMs agree that Level 1 is not efficient, but that Level 2 charging at home and in public, at work for example, will meet the needs of most all EV drivers. He also said education around EVs is an important part of the equation today, and efforts from OEMs is making the transition a lot easier. “Shifting from the traditional internal combustion engine vehicle to an EV does require changes to the usual pattern of how you keep your car fueled up,” Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit’s principal automotive analyst, told Autoweek. “For most, the changes are not onerous. Having a home base to charge at daily, whether it’s at home or office or apartment complex garage, is something that can make a massive difference to how easy or difficult the transition can be. People buying EVs today are still very early adopters of the technology; not all will be converted by their first experience. It does not mean the technology will fail, but it is not yet the right solution for all buyers.”
Researchers Hardman and Tal warned that this trend could make it harder to achieve California’s EV sales targets, as well as grow the EV market elsewhere. “What is clear is that this could slow PEV market growth and make reaching 100 percent sales more difficult,” they said. They also said “fixing the charging issue” requires more automaker participation, though OEMs have yet to make EVs at a profit. “We don’t disagree that infrastructure remains a growth opportunity across the board to help continue to build range confidence,” the Ford official told us, “but think recent efforts are much more encouraging than the article and study imply.”
Source: Green Car Reports
German carmaker BMW plans to unveil a limited series hydrogen fuel cell model SUV in 2022 as the company continues to research zero-emission alternatives to battery-electric cars, the company's top executive said on Wednesday. Most of the auto industry is focusing its efforts on developing battery-electric cars to meet tightening emission standards in Europe and China. But BMW is one of a small number of carmakers that currently sees possibilities for the mass adoption of hydrogen fuel cells, which emit only water, and has said it is keeping its options open for the future.
Toyota Motor Corp. said most of its U.S. vehicles would still run on gasoline a decade from now because it doesn’t think fully electric vehicles will have caught up in cost and convenience. Toyota doubled down on its commitment to a technology it pioneered, hybrid vehicles, which are fueled with gasoline but also have an electric motor that raises fuel efficiency. The company projected that in 2030, slightly more than half of the vehicles it sells in North America would be hybrids, while around 30% would run on traditional gasoline engines and the remainder would be fully electric.
Perhaps fueled in part by the revenue generated by their used-vehicle departments, two of the publicly traded dealer groups are sharing the financial success with their shareholders. This week, both Penske Automotive Group and Group 1 Automotive announced plans for dividends. According to a news release from Penske, the company’s board of directors has increased the group’s dividend by 2.3% to $0.44 per share. Penske said the dividend is payable on June 2 to shareholders of record as of May 24.
Source: Auto Remarketing
An unprecedented surge in prices for used cars was the biggest contributor to the surprise jump in U.S. inflation last month. The cost of previously owned sedans, pickups and sport-utility vehicles soared 10% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest climb ever in data that go back to 1953. It accounted for more than a third of the 0.8% increase in the consumer price index, which was four times the level economists estimated. With fewer new cars being made amid a shortage in critical semiconductors, both retail consumers and rental car companies have gone to the used-vehicle market to get the wheels they need. Wholesale prices have soared as a result, up 54% in April from a year earlier at Manheim, the nation’s largest vehicle auction house.
Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that it is bringing in-vehicle Amazon Alexa voice capability to roughly 700,000 Ford vehicles in the U.S. and Canada this year through over-the-air updates as part of a new six-year deal with the tech giant. The automaker, which announced a separate six-year deal with Google earlier this year, billed the partnership as the industry's "broadest rollout of the embedded Alexa hands-free experience to date." The update will allow customers to use in-vehicle voice commands to place a phone call or find parking, as well control things such as lighting or temperature in their home from within their car.
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