Foley Weekly Automotive Report

08 September 2021 Blog
Authors: John R. Trentacosta Ann Marie Uetz
Published To: Dashboard Insights Coronavirus Resource Center:Back to Business

Foley Weekly Automotive Report

This report helps automotive suppliers inform their legal and operational decisions to help address challenges and opportunities. Contact your Foley relationship partner, or John R. Trentacosta or Ann Marie Uetz, to follow up.

Key developments

  • U.S. new light vehicle sales in August fell to an estimated SAAR of just under 13 million units to 13.1 million units, representing the lowest sales pace in 15 months.

  • Full-year 2021 U.S. new light vehicle sales are forecast to reach 15.7 million units, down from a previous projection of 16.5 million units by LMC Automotive, due to low U.S. new vehicle inventory at or below the one million mark persisting for the near-term.

  • U.S. fleet sales reached an estimated 1.2 million units for January – August, 41% lower than for the same period in 2019 and 6% higher compared to the same period in 2020.

  • Supply shortages, including semiconductors, wire harnesses, plastics and glass, are expected to result in elevated prices for U.S. new vehicles into next year.
  • The global auto industry has lost over 7 million units of planned production as a result of the chip shortage, according to estimates from AutoForecast Solutions, as quoted in The Detroit News.

  • Production downtime will impact the majority of GM’s North American plants the week of September 6, due to “continued parts shortages caused by semiconductor supply constraints from international markets experiencing COVID-19-related restrictions.”

  • Ford will extend downtime into a third week for the F-150 side of its Kansas City Assembly plant this week, and operate with reduced shifts at its Dearborn Truck and Kentucky Truck plants.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation announced its EV Infrastructure Guiding Principles for the purpose of advancing consumer acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S.

    • Prices for lithium-based chemicals used in electric vehicle batteries have more than doubled since December 2020 and, according to IHS Markit, projected demand for lithium will more than double between 2021 and 2025.

    • Honda and GM will share certain electric vehicle parts development costs; the collaboration will standardize key components such as motors, batteries, and inverters for select vehicles in an effort to achieve cost savings.

    • At an investor briefing on batteries and carbon neutrality, Toyota announced plans to spend nearly $14 billion on battery development through 2030, including solid state batteries and next-generation lithium ion power packs.

    • Hyundai announced plans to develop hydrogen fuel cell versions of all its commercial vehicle models by 2028, and a “next generation fuel-cell system” will be introduced in 2023.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • The new president of the AFL-CIO stated that “everyone should be vaccinated” against COVID-19, and it’s “the only way we’re going to bring back the economy.” The new president of the UAW has said the union encourages vaccines, but they should remain voluntary.

  • A survey of 961 employers conducted in August by consultant Willis Towers Watson found that 52% of U.S. employers are planning or considering requirements for a COVID-19 vaccine by year-end.
  • Volkswagen asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an Ohio ruling that would allow the state to sue the automaker for anti-tampering law violations related to its 2015 "clean diesel" emissions-cheating scandal. 

  • U.S. port congestion is expected to persist deep into 2022, according to leaders of several of the nation’s busiest ports.

  • Companies, including Intel, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices, predict potential supply shortages and elevated prices for substrates, which are typically a low-margin outsourced semiconductor component.

  • A survey by Morning Consult conducted last month for the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 60% of respondents intend to postpone business travel plans. Several companies are delaying a return to business travel due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

  • South Korea passed a bill to require a reduction of GHG emissions by 35% or more from its 2018 levels by 2030, with the intent to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.Over 100 countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions, and it’s estimated that over a dozen countries have legislated such a target.

  • A recent report from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group predicts that net-zero goals are insufficient to avoid climate risks associated with 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, and that prioritization should be placed on achieving a net negative emissions position.

  • U.S. traffic fatalities increased by an estimated 10.5% in the first quarter of 2021, despite a reduction of 2.1% in the number of miles driven compared to the same period last year, according to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

OEMs/SUPPLIERS

  • Toyota experienced supply chain bottlenecks that resulted in a 40% global production cut for September, after rising COVID-19 cases in nations including Vietnam and Malaysia impacted its ability to secure parts such as wire harnesses and semiconductors.

  • Stellantis will acquire F1 Holdings Corp, the parent company of First Investors Financial Services Group, for an estimated $285 million, with the intention of creating its own financing arm for the U.S. market.

  • Ford has stopped production through the end of this week at its Mustang plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, due to a gas leak that has resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of residents near the facility.

  • The J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study lists Ram as the highest-ranking brand in overall initial quality for the first time, followed by Dodge, Lexus, Mitsubishi and Nissan. Infotainment remains the most problematic category; six of the top 10 problems industrywide are infotainment-related.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Autonomous truck startup Gatik raised $85 million in a Series B funding round led by the venture arm of Koch Industries. Gatik has been operating pilot programs for Walmart in Arkansas and Louisiana, and in Ontario, Canada, for Loblaw Companies Limited.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Daimler Trucks and Volvo Trucks will deliver 100 Class 8 battery-electric trucks to Schneider Electric and NFI for use in Southern California.

  • South Korea-based SK Innovation will invest 1.2 trillion won ($1.04 billion) in a new battery plant in China; no details were provided about the new site.The company has manufacturing operations in the U.S., Hungary, China and South Korea.

  • Nikola announced an agreement to build Bosch fuel-cell power modules for two of its hydrogen-powered trucks; assembly is expected to begin in 2023.

  • Electric vehicle charging company Wallbox plans to build a $44 million, 130,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Arlington, Texas. This is the Spanish company’s first U.S. manufacturing site, and production could begin by June 2022.

  • Tesla is reported to have stopped a production line at its Shanghai plant for several days last month due to the chip shortage.

  • Solid-state battery developer Solid Power Inc. plans to expand its factory outside Denver to increase production for the purpose of delivering test cells to Ford and BMW early next year.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst

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