How Shanghai Lockdowns Are Changing the Auto Industry

While the semiconductor shortage was long considered the excuse par excellence for why the automotive sector couldn’t produce enough vehicles during the pandemic, some manufacturers have begun pivoting to blaming supply chains that have been stymied by Chinese lockdowns. Toyota is probably the best-known example. But the matter is hardly limited to a singular automaker and market analysts have already been sounding the alarm bell that strict COVID-19 restrictions in Asia will effectively guarantee prolonged industrial hardship around the globe.

Back in April, Shenzhen was emerging from a month-long lockdown. However, the resulting downtime severely diminished the tech hub’s output which exacerbated global component shortages. While Chinese state-run media claimed regional factories maintained full-scale production during the period, the reality was quite a bit different. Meanwhile, Shanghai has remained under harsh restrictions since March and more look to be on the horizon. As an important industrial center and the world’s busiest port by far, the situation has created an intense backlog of container ships that are presumed to create some of the sustained problems that we’re about to explore.

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Rolls-Royce Boosts Volume and Narrows Sales Gap With Rival Toyota

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited is on track to become the highest volume automaker in the world someday. Management is keeping it under wraps but volume has been exploding over the last few years. For 2014, the brand delivered a record 4,063 cars, up 12 percent on its volume for 2013 — closing the gap with Toyota’s 10.23 million global sales.

Unfortunately, Rolls’ five year volume streak didn’t last but it is creeping back up after some minor setbacks. For 2016, the brand announced its second highest ever annual sales result in the marquee’s 113-year history, up 6 percent on its 2015 results, for a total of 4,011 global sales. While it looks like the premium automaker has — once again — placed Toyota’s volume back in its sights, Rolls-Royce doesn’t want to get too cocky and has implemented a strategy that should keep the customers pouring in.

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Should All Smart Dealers Burn Down Their Lots This Summer?

It’s been roughly a decade since Daimler’s Smart Automobile first caressed America’s purple mountains and amber waves of grain with the microscopic Fortwo. Despite a promising first year in the United States, the brand never really managed to carve a space out for itself in a competitive and size-obsessed marketplace. The same is true (over a slightly longer timeline) for Canada.

Standalone Smart dealerships have become a rarity, frequently rolled into Mercedes-Benz sales lots over the years. But both have to ask themselves the same question: Is it worth pursuing sales when Daimler converts the little two-seater into a pure electric later this year and abandons the gasoline engine?

Obviously, the gut reaction is to tell every Mercedes-Benz franchise “probably not” and recommend any standalone Smart dealership immediately consider arson. Small car sales in North America are dwindling and EV sales are miniscule. Claiming a vehicle that exists as one of the least capable examples of both is a good investment is not something any rational person would suggest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the unfortunately named Fortwo ED in North America.

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Subaru Profits Slip Despite Steady Sales; Self-Betterment and Currency to Blame

After several years of record growth, a combination of increasing costs and exchange losses forced Subaru’s operating profit to fall by 27 percent in its recently ended fiscal year. No longer Fuji Heavy Industries, and now focusing primarily on automotive product, Subaru Corporation announced its operating income had dipped to $3.69 billion in April. Net income also took a hit, falling by 35 percent to $2.54 billion.

Considering the company finally surpassed the one million annual sales mark for the first time in its history, it is surprising to see the brand faced with anything other than glowing praise. However, improved sales and continued revenue growth doesn’t tell the entire story. Subaru’s European sales declined by 2.6 percent — matching the trend in China and Japan. North America, which accounts for the majority of the brand’s sales, maintained its interest but the overall market has slowed.

“U.S. demand has peaked out,” Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga explained. “The market environment has increasingly become tougher. We will carefully the situation and will take the necessary steps to maintain our sales, including incentives.”

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Is Mitsubishi the Next Eagle? Nissan Ponders Joint Dealerships, Rebadged Renaults

With Carlos Ghosn out as Nissan’s chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa has some well broken-in shoes to fill as the brand’s new CEO. Only ten days into the job, Saikawa says he doesn’t want to stray too far from groundwork laid by his predecessor. However, both men face an interesting problem in deciding what should be done with Mitsubishi.

Ghosn loves a fixer-upper and has already decided to dedicate much of his time to bringing Mitsubishi back from the brink, now that it’s part of the Renault–Nissan Alliance. He managed to help Nissan out of its decade-long slump in the early 2000s, so perhaps he can do the same for Mitsubishi now. However, according to Saikawa, that’s going to involve carefully assimilating the struggling automaker into the greater alliance.

That could mean taking Mitsubishi by the hand and offering it European models wearing the three-diamond emblem.

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What Do General Motors' Trucks Have That the Other Domestics Don't? Huge Incentives

The pickup is as much of a stereotypical American icon as gun ownership and throwing things away. Last year was a particularly good one for trucks, with Ford F-Series sales reaching pre-recession volume and a 10-year high and Ram recording a seventh year of growth. However, with sales peaking for the other domestic labels, General Motors’ share of the market shrunk.

What’s the solution to whatever consumers find lacking with GM’s product? A price war, of course. While Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are scaling back, GM upped incentives from last February by 56 percent for the Chevrolet Silverado and 82 percent for the GMC Sierra. With the pickup segment being so important in North America, nobody wants to lose ground. Aggressive discounts are often the only way to overwhelm brand loyalty, but the practice is also guaranteed to eat into profits while annoying the competition.

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EVs, PHEVs Faring Better Than Hybrids In Fourth-Year Sales Comparison

Though it may appear EVs and PHEVs aren’t flying out of showrooms in comparison to Toyota Camrys and Ford F-150s, IHS Automotive says that in comparison to hybrids, the electrified offerings are faring better in their fourth year of sales.

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GM Adds 2.4M To 2014 Recall Total, Recalls More Than Sold In Five Years

Autoblog reports General Motors has issued four new recalls affecting a total of 2.42 million vehicles. As of this writing, a total of 15 million units have been recalled by GM since February, a number Jalopnik says exceeds the total number of vehicles sold by the automaker in the past five years.

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  • Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
  • SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
  • Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
  • Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?
  • Steve Biro Not only do I not want this technology in any vehicle that I own, I will not have it. As in I will never buy it or, if forced by circumstances to accept its presence, I will find a way to disarm it.