September 17, 2021
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California homeless camp fire damages 2 bridges, disrupts public transportation
Austin finishes half of its bicycle network, expects to complete entire 400-mile system by 2025
The Top 10 Automotive Concepts that automotive enthusiasts will be itching to see on the road!
Oregon Transportation Commission, wary of I-5 Rose Quarter project’s growing price tag, grants conditional approval
Woman dies after being hit by car in North Windham Friday night
Silk-FAW Continues To Poach Italy’s Automotive Talent, As Lamborghini’s Katia Bassi Joins As Managing Director
Transportation Department cracks down on airlines withholding refunds for canceled flights
Bear gets trapped in car, destroys interior
Cycling apparel company adding full-service bike repair to visitor center
German sales plunge in August to lowest level since 1992
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California homeless camp fire damages 2 bridges, disrupts public transportation Austin finishes half of its bicycle network, expects to complete entire 400-mile system by 2025 The Top 10 Automotive Concepts that automotive enthusiasts will be itching to see on the road! Oregon Transportation Commission, wary of I-5 Rose Quarter project’s growing price tag, grants conditional approval Woman dies after being hit by car in North Windham Friday night Silk-FAW Continues To Poach Italy’s Automotive Talent, As Lamborghini’s Katia Bassi Joins As Managing Director Transportation Department cracks down on airlines withholding refunds for canceled flights Bear gets trapped in car, destroys interior Cycling apparel company adding full-service bike repair to visitor center German sales plunge in August to lowest level since 1992
Aug
2021
20

Automakers spend billions in shift to EVs

The Vermont State Police released this photo of the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV that caught fire on July 1, 2021 in the driveway of state Rep. Timothy Briglin, a Democrat.

Vermont State Police

Automakers are spending billions of dollars to transition to cleaner and greener battery-powered vehicles, but the new technology has come with an even steeper cost: Reputation-damaging vehicle fires, recalls, sudden power loss and problems getting some of the cars started.

The learning curve with batteries is steep for traditional automakers, and battery technology remains challenging even for Tesla, which has faced similar issues. But automakers are eager to embrace the new technology with President Joe Biden in the White House pushing for half of new car sales to be electric by 2030, a plan that will likely come with billions of dollars in tax and other incentives.

While costly recalls occur in traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines, many of the current trouble spots for electric vehicles are software and batteries — two areas crucial to EVs that are not historically core areas of expertise for Detroit automakers.

“Anytime you go into a new area of technology, there’s more to be learned than there is that you know,” Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division, told CNBC. “There are risks, and there are things to be learned.”

The problems are already showing up on corporate balance sheets. Three high-profile automaker recalls within the last year — by General Motors, Hyundai Motor and Ford Motor — involving about 132,500 electric vehicles cost a combined $2.2 billion. Most recently, GM said it would spend $800 million on a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt EV following several reported fires due to two “rare manufacturing defects” in the lithium-ion battery cells in the vehicle’s battery pack.

Recalls are common in the automotive industry, especially for new vehicles. It’s one of the reasons vehicles with the newest technologies traditionally perform poorly in some J.D. Power studies.

“When you go from gas to electric, there’s going to be a whole new set of problems you have to deal with, and we just have to figure out how to deal with those issues that you know that we haven’t had to deal with in the past,” said Guidehouse Insights principal analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

Recent recalls or problems with batteries or software of new EVs have included:

  • GM last month issued a second recall of its 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EVs after at least two of the electric vehicles that were repaired for a previous problem erupted into flames. The automaker said that officials with GM and LG Energy Solution, which supplies the vehicle’s battery cells, identified a second “rare manufacturing defect” in the EVs that increases the risk of fire. The $800 million recall covers about 69,000 of the cars globally, including nearly 51,000 in the U.S.
  • Porsche recalled the Taycan, its flagship EV, due to a software problem that caused the vehicle to completely lose power while driving.
  • In April, Ford Motor said
Aug
2021
4

Ford Puma passes Fiesta, Focus to become automaker’s top-seller in Europe

The Puma went on sale in 2019, giving Ford a more premium entrant in the fast-growing small SUV segment alongside the budget EcoSport. Last year, the Puma was Ford of Europe’s third best-seller after the Focus and Fiesta.

Strong sales of the Puma this year pushed it ahead of the Dacia Duster and Hyundai Kona to give it fourth place in Europe’s small SUV segment behind the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Volkswagen T-Cross.

Sales of the Ford Focus fell 40 percent in the first six months, while Fiesta sales were down 9.4 percent according to data from JATO Dynamics market researchers.

The drop in sales for the two cars is even more dramatic because most models saw volume rebound in the first half compared with the same period in 2020 when many dealerships were forced to close across Europe as governments introduced measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like other automakers, Ford’s production has been hit by the global shortage of automotive semiconductors, which has affected all its European plants, including Craiova in Romania, where the Puma is built. From April 26 to May, the Craiova factory operated with two shifts instead of three, and had six days of no production on April 28 and between May 10-14, according to the company.

Ford said the Puma has not been given priority for semiconductors for any other reason other than higher demand.

“Prioritization is given to customer orders and CO2 compliance vehicles across the range,” a company spokesman said.

Automakers in Europe prioritize low-emissions vehicles to avoid being fined by the European Union for missing mandated CO2 reduction targets.

The Puma does not qualify as a compliance vehicle due to the lack of a plug-in hybrid variant. The car is offered with mild-hybrid technology.

The SUV allows Ford to sell a small model with a much higher sticker price than the Fiesta. The Puma starts at 22,045 pounds ($30,600) in the UK, Ford’s biggest European market, while the Fiesta starts at 16,645 pounds.

Aug
2021
3

Nissan seeks to lead Japan automakers with female manager goal

Nissan Motor Co. aims to boost the percentage of women in management by 2023 to a level that stands out within Japan’s male-dominated auto industry, though its chief sustainability officer said there’s still far more room for improvement.

The Japanese carmaker said Friday it’s seeking to increase its ratio of women managers in Japan to 13 percent by 2023, up from roughly 10 percent this year. Globally, the Yokohama-based company is targeting 16 percent women managers by the same year.

Those numbers may seem small, but they’re on the ambitious end of the scale in Japan. Despite the Japanese government’s push to increase the number of female workers and women in management to 30 percent by 2020, as of last year, fewer than 8 percent of managerial positions were held by women.

The gap is even starker when it comes to Japan’s conservative and largely male-dominated automotive industry. Among Japanese manufacturers with 1,000 or more employees, around 4.7 percent of managers are women, according to the country’s labor ministry. As of 2018, women made up less than 2 percent of managers at Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Nissan, which credits its alliance with France’s Renault SA with helping bolster its diversity, started to promote gender equality in 2004, about a decade before rivals. Today, Nissan’s Executive Vice President Asako Hoshino stands out as the most senior-ranked woman among internally-promoted executives in Japan’s automotive industry.

Still, Nissan’s Chief Sustainability Officer Joji Tagawa said he’s not satisfied: “Whether the target for 2023 is bold and strong enough? Not yet,” he said at a briefing Friday.

Indeed, Nissan’s targets are low compared with international standards. Globally, the percentage of women in top management positions rose to a high of 29 percent in 2020, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that tracks women in business. Only two of Nissan’s 12 board members are women.

“We’re aiming to eliminate inequality and discrimination. We have big room for improvement,” Tagawa said.

Nissan has a number of systems supporting women workers, including childcare centers at its headquarters and various other locations in Japan, as well as policies that accommodate activities such as child-pickup, according to a Nissan spokeswoman.

“It’s not just about hitting targets,” Tagawa said. Despite representing a small portion of auto executives globally, recent research shows women influence more than 85 percent of all auto purchases in markets such as the U.S.

“Mothers, wives and daughters inform car-purchasing decisions,” Tagawa said. Increasing managerial diversity “will improve Nissan’s brand value,” he said.

Aug
2021
1

Biden wants U.S automakers to pledge 40% electric vehicles by 2030 -sources

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) – The White House has told U.S. automakers it wants them to back a voluntary pledge of at least 40% of new vehicles sales being electric by 2030 as it works to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, sources briefed on the matter said.

The administration is set as early as next week to roll out proposed revisions to vehicle emissions standards through 2026. Sources said a voluntary electric vehicle (EV) target could be as high as 50% but emphasized that no agreement with automakers has been reached and many details remain under discussion, including whether that pledge will include various types of gasoline-electric hybrids.

United Auto Workers spokesman (UAW) Brian Rothenberg said a published report was inaccurate “that we have agreed to 40% EVs by 2030. The UAW is still in discussions and has not reached agreement at this point.” The UAW has opposed EV mandates, warning it could put some jobs at risk.

This month, Stellantis (STLA.MI), parent company of Fiat Chrysler, said it was targeting over 40% of U.S. vehicles be low emission by 2030. Stellantis declined to comment on Thursday.

General Motors Co (GM.N) declined to comment on the talks. It has said it aspires to end sales of new U.S. gasoline-powered light duty vehicles by 2035. The White House declined to comment on the discussions.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) did not comment on the discussions but noted it has said it plans “at least 40% of our global vehicle volume being all-electric by 2030.”

The Biden administration has resisted calls from many Democrats to set a binding target for EV adoption or to follow California in setting 2035 as a date to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered light duty vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are reviewing former President Donald Trump’s March 2020 rollback of fuel economy standards. Trump required 1.5% annual increases in efficiency through 2026, well below the 5% yearly boosts set in 2012 by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Biden’s proposed rules, which would cover 2023-2026, are expected to be similar in overall vehicle emissions reductions to California’s 2019 deal with some automakers that aims to improve fuel economy 3.7% annually, sources told Reuters. The 2026 requirements are expected to exceed the Obama-era 5% annual improvements.

In March, a group of 71 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives urged Biden to set tough emissions rules to ensure that 60% of new passenger cars and trucks sold are zero-emission by 2030.

The United States pledged at a global climate summit this year to reduce emissions 50% to 52% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

In April, a dozen governors from states including California, New York and Massachusetts, urged Biden to endorse banning new passenger gasoline-powered vehicle sales by 2035.

Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jul
2021
2

Automakers report 2Q vehicle sales today. Here’s what investors should expect

A Totota dealership is seen in Annapolis, Maryland on May 27, 2021, as many car dealerships across the country are running low on new vehicles as a computer chip shortage has caused production at many vehicle manufactures to nearly stop.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

DETROIT – Sales of new vehicles in the U.S. remain healthy but are showing signs of a slowdown amid concerns about inflation and a global shortage of semiconductor chips that continues to depress auto production and dealer inventory levels.

Analysts estimate automakers sold about 4.5 million vehicles in the U.S. in the second quarter — a 52% to 53% increase compared with a year ago when the coronavirus pandemic caused Americans to shelter in place and temporarily closed auto dealerships. Most major automakers report June and second-quarter sales data on Thursday, except for Ford, which is expected to release its results Friday.

While the sales recovery from the depths of the pandemic is impressive, the pace of sales this year is slowing. Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner expects June’s sales pace to be 15.7 million vehicles, down from 17.1 million vehicles in May and 18.6 million vehicles in April.

The sales pace for any given month measures how many cars the industry would sell for the year if it sold the same amount every month. It’s a main barometer of the industry’s health and consumer demand.

“The sales slow-down likely reflects a lack of availability on dealer lots rather than a decline in consumer demand as automakers struggle to replenish dealer inventories with top models, particularly SUVs and pickup trucks,” Rosner wrote in an investor note.

Sales for every major automaker are expected to be up double digits during the second quarter compared with the same time a year ago, according auto research firms Cox Automotive and Edmunds. But they’re only slightly above the second quarter of 2019.

Something not showing signs of slowing down is sales prices of new vehicles due to tight supplies from the global chip shortage and stronger-than-expected consumer demand throughout the Covid pandemic.

The average transaction price for a new vehicle in June is expected to reach a record $40,206, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. The previous high for any month, $38,539, was set in May, according to the companies.

The higher pricing has led to higher profits for automakers and retailers but has stoked broader concerns about inflation. Consumer spending on new vehicles is expected to reach a second-quarter record of $149.7 billion, up 60.7% from 2020 and up 27.9% from 2019.

“Despite inventory shortages constraining the volume of vehicles sold to consumers, the underlying strength of consumer demand is clear. Consumers are buying more expensive vehicles despite smaller discounts, which is dramatically increasing the profitability of those sales for both manufacturers and retailers,” said Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, in a statement.

CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

Apr
2020
20

Automakers are offering extreme deals. Car buyers should proceed with caution

A number of car companies, including Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), General Motors (GM) and Hyundai (HYMTF), are offering 84-month car loans at 0% interest. That’s seven years without any interest. Others are offering 72-month loans at zero interest. Not only that, but buyers can put off making their first payment for 120 days, or about four months. That should be helpful for workers on furlough. (Hyundai, for one, is also offering other payment protection plans for owners who lose their jobs due to coronavirus-related disruptions.)

With loans that long and no interest at all, monthly car payments can be very low. That’s assuming, of course, your credit score is good enough to qualify. But, experts warn, don’t get so fixated on that very enticing interest rate that you forget to consider all your options. It may not be the best deal for you.

There are some risks with taking these very long car loans. The main one: That you’ll still be making payments long after the new car smell has gotten lost behind a forest of cardboard pine tree air fresheners.

You might not like the car so much by then, even if you loved it when you bought it. Also, your needs might change, said Michelle Krebs, an industry analyst with Autotrader.com. A lot can happen in seven years.

“If you’re going to buy a small car how would you know what your life is going to be like in that amount of time,” she said.

You might need a bigger car, maybe even an SUV or minivan, before then. Also, new cars with fancy new technologies could start to look appealing a few years down the line. Maybe you want to go electric some time before 2027.

Then there’s a fundamental math problem. The longer you stretch out your loan, the longer you’ll be “underwater” on your new car. That means you will owe more money on the car than the car is worth. All new vehicles lose value the minute you purchase them. The drop in value is steepest at the beginning — right after it changes from a new vehicle into a used vehicle — then tapers off to a gradual decline over the years.

Chevrolet dealers are offering 84-month 0% interest loans on many 2019 models including the Colorado pickup.

The amount you owe on the vehicle, on other hand, declines at the same rate each month as you make each payment. With a longer loan and smaller payments, that slope will be shallower. That increases the amount of time during which you’ll owe more money than your car is worth.

“It puts the transaction in a bit of a negative light in terms of ‘Oh man, I’ve got this car and it’s not even worth as much as my loan’,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds.com. “It’s just not a good feeling.”

If you’re happy with your car or crossover and plan to keep driving it, that’s not really a problem. It’s only a problem if your needs change or you just