Analysis by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst
This update helps automotive suppliers inform their legal and operational decisions to help address challenges and opportunities. Contact your Foley relationship partner, or Ann Marie Uetz, Vanessa L. Miller, or Nicholas J. Ellis, to follow up.
The most recent article in Foley & Lardner LLP’sAuto Trends 2023 Series assessed a number of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recent enforcements, investigations and reviews pertaining to safety standards and emerging technologies. Click HERE to subscribe to the series.
Foley & Lardner provided an overview of the potential implications of upcoming labor contract negotiations between the UAW and Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
U.S. new light-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.3 million units in May, representing a SAAR of 14.8 million units, according to a joint forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
Foley & Lardnerreviewed the fast-changing industry dynamics contributing to an uncertain outcome for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2023 renewable fuel standard (RFS) proposal.
As part of a 50-50 joint venture announced May 26, Hyundai and LG Energy Solution will invest $4.3 billion to build a battery plant in proximity to the automaker’s upcoming EV factory in southeast Georgia. Hyundai also has a battery cell production joint venture with SK On in Bartow County, Georgia.
Ford’s electric vehicle customers will gain access to Tesla Superchargers in North America beginning in 2024 through a Tesla-developed adapter, as part of an agreement between the two companies. In addition, Ford will equip its EVs with the North American Charging Standard (NACS) port beginning in 2025, eliminating the need for an adapter.
PwC predicts the U.S. will establish 58 million electric vehicle charge points by 2040, up from approximately 4 million in 2023. The analysis also indicates EV load could account for 9% to 12% of projected U.S. grid capacity by 2040.
Plante Moran’s 2023 North American Automotive OEM-Supplier Working Relations Index Studyfound that Toyota and Honda again held the top two positions in spite of slight declines in WRI scores, while GM, Nissan and Stellantis improved their positions. The study also reveals “rising tension over increased risk related to short-term cost-recovery issues, production scheduling, and supply chain disruptions as the industry transitions to electric vehicles.”
Toyotaannounced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a merger of “equal footing” between its truck manufacturing subsidiary Hino Motors and Daimler’s Mitsubishi Fiso Truck and Bus. The deal is intended to facilitate the development of advanced technologies.
Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology
A significant portion of public EV chargers need to improve reliability before charging infrastructure can achieve a successful broader rollout, according to commentary from J.D. Power featured in Bloomberg on May 18. Analysis from J.D. Power excerpted in Utility Dive earlier this year found that more than one in five charging attempts fail due to malfunctioning or out-of-service chargers.
The lack of adequate EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. was a key theme discussed during the annual Forth Roadmap Conference held May 15–17 in Portland, Oregon. After ten years on the west coast, this conference will be held in Detroit in 2024.
The Wall Street Journal reports global automakers may encounter new challenges and risks as a result of establishing more direct involvement with mining companies, amid efforts to secure adequate supplies of EV battery materials such as lithium, nickel and graphite.
Toyota Research Institute’s chief executive, Gill Pratt, indicated the transition to fully-electric vehicles will take more time than people currently expect, and emissions reduction in the near-term will require a variety of technologies including hybrid vehicles. Pratt also stated, “Eventually, resource limitations will end, but for many years we will not have enough battery material and renewable charging resources for a BEV-only solution.”
A report in The New York Times (subscription) indicates nations may require decades to approach China’s capabilities in lithium-ion battery production in regards to mining and processing raw materials, and cost-effectively producing components at scale.
According to Reuters, Panasonic plans to roughly quadruple its annual battery production capacity by the end of the decade to support rising demand for EVs.
Rapid battery swappingsites could be a viable solution for delivery and fleet vehicles that cannot have extensive downtime to charge vehicles, according to a report in Bloomberg.
A nearly 900-mile Binational EV Corridor established between Kalamazoo, Michigan and Quebec City, Quebec will provide DC (direct current) fast chargers at every 50 miles, according to an announcement by government officials on May 16. The timetable for installing all the chargers was unclear at the time of this newsletter’s publication.
GMannounced its all-electric 2024 Chevrolet Silverado work truck will have a range of up to 450 miles on a full charge, and an upcoming retail version of the pickup will have a range of up to 350 miles.
Stellantis’ venture capital arm invested an undisclosed amount in California-based lithium-sulfur battery technology developer Lyten Inc.
Federal and provincial governments in Canadawill contribute approximately $220 million to an upcoming GM-Posco EV battery materials joint venture plant in Quebec.
Automated, Autonomous or Connected Vehicles Technologies
As part of a new multiyear partnership, Uber will use Waymo vehicles for its ride-hailing and food delivery platform beginning in Phoenix later this year.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration awarded a $9.85 million grant to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to conduct connected-vehicle technology research.
NVIDIAwill partner with fabless semiconductor company MediaTek to develop chipsets for automotive infotainment and in-cabin convenience and safety applications.
Market Trends and Regulatory
Over 2.5 million U.S. vehicles are under “do not drive” or “park outside” safety recalls that remain unrepaired, according to analysis from online vehicle marketplace provider Carfax.
President Biden is expected to veto Congressional legislation that is attempting to overturn recentU.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
Reuters reports the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requested U.S. EPA approval for a plan to require all new vehicles sold in the state to be zero emissions by 2035. CARB approved the Advanced Clean Cars II rule in August 2022.
A federal judge denied an industry group’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the anticipated June 2023 enforcement of Massachusetts’ “right to repair” law, amid numerous delays to a ruling for an ongoing lawsuit concerning its implementation.
The Biden administration withdrew its nomination of Ann Carlson to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Carlson was named acting head of NHTSA in September 2022, and formally nominated in March.
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