USED CAR PRICES ARE COOLING OFF, BUT IT STILL WON'T BE EASY TO BUY ONE
The used vehicle market is finally showing signs of leveling off after three consecutive months of record price increases, data from the US government's latest monthly inflation report show. The average price for used cars and trucks ticked up just 0.2% in July, barely moving after June's 10.5% spike was responsible for a third of the overall rise in inflation. But even though the picture didn't get worse for car shoppers, it didn't get any better either — and it might not improve for a while yet.
Source: Business Insider
LORDSTOWN MOTORS STILL HAS A GOING CONCERN ISSUE
Lordstown Motors Corp., the embattled electric vehicle startup, renewed a warning about its ability to continue as a going concern. The company said in a regulatory filing Friday it doesn’t have enough money to fund large-scale production or commercially launch the battery-electric pickup it plans to manufacture. That came two days after telling investors it was on track to start limited production in September.
Source: Automotive News
FORD COUNTERATTACKS IN 'CRUISE' DISPUTE WITH GM
Ford Motor Co said late on Friday it will ask the U.S. Patent Office to rescind trademarks obtained by rival General Motors Co for the terms "Cruise" and "Super Cruise," escalating a brawl GM began by suing Ford over its use of "Blue Cruise" for an automated driving system.
The legal fight between the two Detroit automakers turns on whether "cruise" is a generic term for technology that allows the car to take over some share of driving tasks from a human motorist. The clash underscores the intensity of competition among established automakers to be seen as leaders in automated driving technology, competitive with Silicon Valley rivals Tesla Inc, Alphabet Inc's Waymo unit, and others.
GM filed a federal suit against Ford on July 24, accusing Ford of violating GM trademarks by using the name "Blue Cruise" for a system that enables hands-free driving. GM had previously trademarked "Super Cruise" for its hands-free, partially automated driving technology. It also has trademarked "Cruise," the name of its robo-taxi unit in San Francisco.
Ford reiterated on Friday its position that GM's suit is frivolous. The effort to nullify GM's trademarks for the use of the word "cruise" takes the fight to a new level. "To defend itself, Ford has no choice but to ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind both of GM’s “Cruise” and “Super Cruise” trademark registrations that should have never been registered in the first place," Ford said. "Any number of companies use the word 'cruise' in connection with driver assist technology." Among the examples Ford cited: "Predictive Cruise," marketed by Mack Trucks; "Smart Cruise Control" marketed by Hyundai Motor Co, and Autocruise, used by auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
GM said Friday that Super Cruise "has had a well established commercial presence since 2017," and added in a statement that the company "remains committed to vigorously defending our brands and protecting the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market and that won’t change."
DETROIT STICKS WITH TRUCKS, SUVS DESPITE LOFTY 2030 GOALS FOR EVS
The future may belong to electric cars, but for U.S. automakers, trucks will rule for years to come. Automakers in North America plan to build more big pickups and sport utility vehicles than electric vehicles well into the late 2020s, chasing sales trends that run counter to the Biden administration's goal of boosting EVs to half the market by 2030, according to internal production forecasts viewed by Reuters. The popularity of Detroit's big trucks is a challenge both to the industry and efforts by lawmakers and regulators to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other exhaust gas pollutants from combustion engines.
COVID, CHIPS JUST PART OF SUPPLY CHAIN HEADACHES
A coronavirus outbreak at a microchip factory in Malaysia will force Nissan North America to halt vehicle production at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn., for the next two weeks. It was not alone. Volvo had to shut down its assembly plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, last week as a result of a shortage of chips. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have warned that the next few months could be problematic for meeting production plans because of the chip shortage. The issues reflect the current state of affairs for supply chains in North America and around the world.
REPORT SUGGESTS MERCEDES IS CANCELLING V-8S OUT OF U.S. FOR 2022
The problem is reportedly supply-chain related, though a purported leaked document also seems to reference changing global emissions regulations.
A post this weekend on Reddit's popular r/cars forum reports that Mercedes-Benz is set to announce that it will suspend sales of almost all of the brand's V-8-powered cars in the U.S. for the 2022 model year. The user behind the initial post—who has said in other posts on Reddit that they run a car dealership—claims to have seen a memo to that effect, purportedly provided to U.S. dealerships in order to warn them of the coming change. The forum's moderators say that the user provided proof of the memo to them—Jalopnik says it's seen it, too—but did not post the proof publicly in an attempt to protect the identity of the original poster.
If this report turns out to be true, it would signal a pause on U.S. sales of Mercedes' C63, GLC63, E63, GLE580, GLS580, GLE63, GLS63, GLS600 Maybach, G550, G63. The V-8-powered S580 and S580 Maybach would be spared, per the mysterious memo. One commenter on the r/cars post claimed that an order they had placed for a 2022 Mercedes-AMG E63S sedan had been canceled by the dealer. That user claimed that their dealer showed them a memo similar to the one cited in the original post by way of explaining the cancellation. It's unclear, from the small chunk of text posted by forum moderators as proof, whether the suspension of these models would be temporary or permanent. The text included in the post references "various global, external and internal requirements, as well as several other factors, including but not limited to challenges in the supply chain" as reasons for the sudden change. A statement Car and Driver received from Mercedes-Benz, which did not explicitly confirm the lineup change, used the same language. The supply chain problems will probably clear up in time, but if the "external and internal requirements" the memo mentions refer to changing emissions regulations, this move could foreshadow more permanent changes to Mercedes' lineup. Mercedes has already said it would be "ready" to go all-electric by the end of the decade "where market conditions allow."
Source: Car and Driver
GM TO REPLACE BATTERY MODULES FOR SOME BOLT ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Automaker General Motors Co said it will replace all battery modules in some Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles (EVs) under a recall announced last month. The module replacements, which could start as early as later this month, come after GM recalled its 2017-2019 model year Bolt battery-powered cars for the second time in less than a year. Two fire incidents were reported after the initial recall, including one in a Bolt that had updated software. GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said in a statement issued on Monday it would replace recalled vehicles' lithium ion battery modules with new modules, rather than replacing entire battery packs.
FORD’S NEW PLAN IS THE OLD WAY
Ford Motor Co. wants to put you into a new car—in six to eight weeks. In a shift in the way it sells vehicles, Ford plans to do a bigger portion of its sales by having buyers order from the factory and wait, rather than pick from the selection available at the dealership. Company executives say efforts to shift more of Ford’s auto retailing operations to a so-called build-to-order model, where people custom-order online and take delivery at the dealership, would help cut inventory costs for the company and its dealers.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
MAYBE HIGHER PENALTIES FOR NOT MEETING FUEL EFFICIENCY GOALS
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Wednesday it may impose higher penalties for automakers failing to meet fuel efficiency requirements in recent years, a decision that could cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars or more. President Donald Trump's administration in its final days in January delayed a 2016 regulation that more than doubled penalties for automakers failing to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements. Automakers protested that 2016 hike, warning it could boost industry costs by at least $1 billion annually.
MORE CHIP IMPACTS
Toyota Succumbs to Chip Shortage and Shuts Factories
The global semiconductor shortage has finally started to bite at Toyota Motor Corp., highlighting how prolonged disruptions in the global supply chain in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are hitting even the best-prepared companies. Japan’s largest car maker said Thursday it was cutting production in the country by 40% in September because of a shortage of semiconductors. The company declined to say whether it would shut down plants outside of Japan.
VW Might Have to Cut Production Further Due to Chip Shortage
Volkswagen may need to cut production further due to a semiconductor supply crunch, the German carmaker said on Thursday, after a report that Toyota (7203.T)would slash output by 40% in September. The auto industry is facing renewed strains after a recovery in demand stretched supply chains earlier this year, with COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia hitting both chip production and operations at commercial ports. The Wolfsburg-based carmaker said it expects the situation to improve by the end of the year and aims to make up for production shortfalls in the second half as far as possible.
Ford Will Halt Production at U.S. Truck Plant For Week Over Chip Shortage
Ford Motor Co said Wednesday it will temporarily shutter its Kansas City assembly plant that builds its best-selling F-150 pickup truck due to a semiconductor-related part shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia. The one-week shutdown will begin Aug. 23, the second-largest U.S. automaker said, adding it will also cut a shift on Saturday. The global auto industry has been hit hard by chip shortages that have caused significant production cuts.
GM adds to Factory downtime
General Motors will add downtime at several crossover and sedan plants because of the global microchip shortage, the automaker said Thursday. GM also plans next week to idle Orion Assembly, which builds the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV, for the first time since the chip crisis began. Until now, the chip crisis had not impacted GM's electric vehicle production. The automaker has kept plans in place to launch the GMC Hummer pickup EV later this year and the Cadillac Lyriq electric crossover in early 2022.
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