Category: Industry

By on October 12, 2021

While nobody needs to tell you that the economy isn’t in good health, we should at least hip you to the latest automotive trends relating to the financial purgatory we’re currently living through. Ford sent a memo to dealers last week indicating that it would be removing the minimum FICO requirement for 84-month financing, indicating that the industry may soon normalize auto loans that are even longer than the 72-month whoppers that have grown in popularity over the last several years.

Meanwhile, those needing a vehicle intermittently will find that rental rates have not been declining as hoped. Despite analysts previously suggesting that auto pricing may stabilize through the fall, we now look to be going into the holidays facing familiar high-priced troubles — and there’s really no reason to think that’s going to change after 2022 gets here.  Read More >

By on October 8, 2021

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has officially announced that his company would be moving house this week. Currently nestled upon the bosom of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, CA, the automaker has expressed its intent to establish a new base of operations in Austin, TX. While this situation has been a long time coming, it’s not quite the prompt walkout that everyone was predicting 17 months ago.

At the start of the pandemic, Musk found himself at odds with local officials pushing strict COVID lockdowns. The CEO had wanted to keep the all-important Fremont facility up and running at the start of 2020, suggesting workers could simply choose to stay home without there being any negative repercussions (or pay). Told again to shut down, Tesla sued Alameda County on the grounds that its orders were unconstitutional and violated a return-to-work mandate recently issued by Governor Gavin Newson. Before long, Elon Musk was openly confessing he was fed up with the state of California and would be relocating the businessRead More >

By on October 5, 2021

There’s a new automotive trend afoot, one where industry giants alter their iconic corporate logos so they’ll play better in a digital environment. Shadows and color gradients designed to give an image depth don’t always pop on a cheap screen the way they might on the glossy piece of paper and have encouraged manufacturers to transmission to flat, monochromatic icons that look bad everywhere.

But consistency isn’t the only reason to change logos. It’s also an opportunity to signal to customers that you’re evolving as a brand, which is why so many companies have associated their new iconography with the pivot toward electric vehicles. General Motors, recently ditched the logo it’s been using (more or less) unchanged since 1964 for a Bizarro World alternative that swaps the color pallet and makes the letters lowercase. Now it’s modernizing the emblem to be used for Cadillac’s electrified products until they gradually supplant the entire lineup.  Read More >

By on October 4, 2021

volvo emblem logo grille

Volvo Cars has confirmed months of speculation by announcing that it’s planning to go public on NASDAQ Stockholm. On Monday, the automaker stated that it would be seeking to raise 25 billion Swedish kronor (nearly $2.9 billion USD) via the selling of new shares as a way to fast-track its electrification plans. Those include ensuring half its annual volume being represented by EVs and transitioning the majority of its sales stemming from online orders by 2025.

While the targeted IPO valuation is unknown, prior information coming from Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Volvo’s Chinese parent company) suggested it was aiming for something in the neighborhood of $20 billion. We’ve also learned that the collaboratively owned Polestar would also be going public, except it will be using the always sketchy special-purpose-acquisition-company merger to help pump the stock.  Read More >

By on October 1, 2021

The troubled Lordstown Motors has announced it will be selling its Ohio production facility to the Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. But this is not a case of the prospective automaker offloading its assets so it can pay off its debts in full retreat. Instead, Lordstown has asserted this is a necessary partnership that will help guarantee it can still deliver the all-electric Endurance pickup truck.

Terms stipulate that Lordstown Motors will sell the sprawling factory to Foxconn for about $230 million. Two years ago, the site was purchased from General Motors for a very breezy $20 million after the Detroit-based manufacturer decided to abandon the Chevrolet Cruze. Foxconn will also be buying up $50 million worth of common stock and effectively take responsibility for production at Lordstown Assembly. However there is a laundry list of things that need to be done before pickup assembly is even an option.  Read More >

By on September 29, 2021

Production of the 2022 Lucid Air started this week, adding another automaker to the North American roster. The manufacturer held an event on September 28th, inviting Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, relevant executives, big-time investors, select media outlets, and customers who dropped $170,000 to purchase the limited Dream Edition of the electric vehicle.

While often framed as a Tesla ripoff, Lucid Motors has been setting its sights so high that it hardly feels like a fair assessment. Because the Air is offering one of the most impressive all-electric spec sheets in the industry right now and should probably worry the competition.

Read More >

By on September 24, 2021

Despite the occasional media report claiming that the semiconductor shortage is nearly over, reality looks quite a bit different. Some manufacturers have managed to temporarily stabilize supply chains, even though others have continued announcing work stoppages as they run out of chips. Wait times for the electronic components have also increased by about 61 percent since the beginning of 2021. Meanwhile, a recent Kelly Blue Book survey had 48 percent of respondents saying they were going to postpone buying a new automobile until shortages end, prices come down, and they can actually find the vehicles they’re looking for. But even those that were willing to buy now expressed a surprising level of acceptance to abandon brand loyalty or their preferred body style just to get a fairer deal on an automobile.

With the United States fairing worse than other regions in regard to chip availability, the White House has been under pressure to solve the problem all year. Thus far, government strategy has focused on encouraging investments for new semiconductor production. But there’s a new gambit being proposed that would invoke a Cold War-era national security law that would force manufacturers to furnish information pertaining to semiconductor supply lines and chip sales.  Read More >

By on September 16, 2021

us-capitol, public domain

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t fond of the new electric-vehicle incentives being proposed by the United States Congress and recently stated as much over social media this week. He even went so far as to allege that the bill was lobbyists working on behalf of legacy automakers and the United Auto Workers, as it monetarily benefits domestic manufacturers with strong union ties above all others.

Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to respond to those claims with anything other than an affirmative nod. Due to his seemingly intentional manipulation of cryptocurrency and willingness to overpromise Tesla investors, I’m not the biggest fan of Musk. However, he’s getting support from other manufacturers and it’s pretty hard for your author to see any legislative scenario other than the one he’s supporting — especially since this is frequently how business is done on Capitol Hill.  Read More >

By on September 13, 2021

With supply chain hiccups crippling the automotive industry’s ability to conduct business as normal, resulting in rolling production stalls and skyrocketing vehicle prices, manufacturers looked to be in serious trouble throughout the pandemic. But we learned that wasn’t to be the case by the summer. Automakers were posting “surprise profits” because people still needed cars. We also found out there’s been a growing appetite for expensive (see: highly profitable) models and the industry saved itself a bundle by not needing to pay for office space or line workers, as COVID restrictions kept everyone at home.

Having considered the above, most automakers are seriously considering how they can further leverage this new modality. German manufacturers have even said they’re not that interested in going back to the normal way of doing things — instead electing to intentionally limit volumes and focus on high-end models that will yield the greatest return on investment. But it’s not quite the curveball it seems, as some companies were already ditching the volume approach.  Read More >

By on August 27, 2021

General Motors now requires salaried employees operating in the United States to disclose their coronavirus vaccination status. As confirmed by the automaker on Thursday, the decision is supposed to help the company determine what percentage of its own workforce is vaccinated so it can make better decisions about which safety protocols to implement. But your author is under the assumption that “as many as possible” will always be the preferred answer.

Earlier in the month, GM forced all salaried employees to disclose whether or not they were immunized for COVID-19 using the automaker’s internal network. Those answering to the affirmative were required to submit proof of vaccination by last Monday. But it sounds as though the manufacturer is just getting warmed up for more invasive activities.  Read More >

By on August 25, 2021

Ford badge emblem logo

On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. told employees that it would delay plans for on-site work due to coronavirus concerns relating to the delta variant. Non-site-dependent staff are being told they stay home for the rest of 2021, while line workers will still be required to come in so long as there’s a job to be done — creating a dichotomy between white and blue-collar workers.

While Ford has encouraged some teams to come back to the office for various projects, it has repeatedly delayed its return-to-work timeline. Workers now being told to stay home until 2022 were previously informed they’d be coming back to the office in October. Before that, everyone thought it would be business as usual by the summer. Now the company is adopting a policy that has most people staying home even after 2022 as often as possible while it considers mandating vaccines.  Read More >

By on August 17, 2021

Last month, General Motors filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Ford’s use of the term BlueCruise for its SAE Level 2 advanced driving assistance suite. GM has argued the phrase is too close to its own SuperCruise system and wants Blue Oval to ditch the name for something else. Ford recently filed a motion asking the US District Court in San Francisco to throw out the case, as it believes the term cruise is common enough to qualify as ubiquitous.

This is the industrial equivalent of two of your friends screeching at each other because one of them wanted to name their youngest son Landon while the other already named their kid Langston. Though the manufacturer’s feud may be dumber because it’s not exactly like we’ve recently started affixing the word cruise to the systems found inside automobiles. Read More >

By on August 4, 2021

The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) has been cancelled for the second year in a row over, you guessed it, COVID. Though things are a bit more complicated this time around.

Progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that New Yorkers will need proof of vaccination to do everything from going to the movies to dining out starting August 16th. While this doesn’t include a mask mandate, something he said was unnecessary, requiring thousands of people from out of state to furnish vaccination cards they likely already lost makes NYC hosting the auto show a difficult (if not impossible) proposition. NYIAS organizers announced their decision to cancel the event on Wednesday.  Read More >

By on July 28, 2021

General Motors will resume full-size pickup assembly next week, leaving its crossovers will have to continue enduring production hang-ups related to the semiconductor shortage. American manufacturers have been absolutely creamed by supply shortages this year and a lack of chips really hurt pickup volumes. We’ve seen a lot of creative solutions, including automakers putting unfinished vehicles on the lot in hopes that they can install the missing hardware later.

But GM’s latest solution involves prioritizing Michigan’s Flint Assembly, Indiana’s Fort Wayne Assembly, Silao Assembly in Mexico — all of which were previously idled or operating on reduced schedules. Unfortunately, that means giving other North American facilities more downtime and, sadly, plenty of it.  Read More >

By on July 26, 2021

Audi is discontinuing the A1, citing Europe’s regulatory landscape as the main cause. Eager to limit the amount of CO2 coming out of tailpipes, the European Union has placed strict limits on petroleum-powered passenger vehicles. For Audi, the price of manufacturing a subcompact automobile-dependent upon internal combustion is getting too high. Installing a smaller motor would negatively impact drivability while slotting in a hybrid powertrain means more R&D costs and jacking up the MSRP to a point where consumers might lose interest.

There’s just not much incentive to build small, efficient vehicles when the profit margins have been made razor thin and people aren’t buying them in great numbers. And this is a lesson that’s being learned by all automakers, not just those associated to Volkswagen Group.  Read More >

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