By on September 28, 2021

While Mercedes-Benz has gradually been moving away from larger motors, it was still a shock to learn that the company would be removing the brunt of its V8-powered lineup in the United States for the 2022 model year. Higher-end vehicles typically come with broader profit margins and Americans tend to like V8s, so it was strange to see the brand tailoring its product at the last minute. Less surprising, however, was watching the entire automotive community speculate on the reasons why.

As your author is constantly suspect of regulations, it was my assumption that emissions compliance was the main culprit. But one would assume European rules would have put the kibosh on V8s in the home market long before cars were neutered in North America. Mercedes likewise suggested this was not the case, alluding to supply chain issues that have been hampering the industry since the start of 2020 while it promised to fix the problem as soon as possible. Then, Daimler executives started giving different answers and hit the reset button on the global supposition surrounding the discontinued engines.  (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 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 June 12, 2020

Image: Hyundai

While we fully expected to issue rolling updates on factory shutdowns as industry suppliers struggled to catch up to manufacturers in the aftermath of coronavirus lockdowns, the last few have been impossible-to-predict curveballs.

Honda found itself at the mercy of digital criminals who held its network for ransom, forcing numerous factory shutdowns around the globe as it tried to make sense of the attack. Meanwhile, Hyundai has had to belay assembly in South Korea after an employee at supplier Duckyang Industry Co. fell into the machinery.

The fatal incident stopped production at the supplier, leading to parts shortages at Hyundai that required work stoppages on numerous production lines — including those responsible for the Palisade and Kona.  (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2020

Nissan titan assembly Canton Factory

It wasn’t long ago — just a day, actually — that Nissan’s already embattled CEO told shareholders he’d happily be fired if the company’s turnaround efforts fall flat.

Less than a week after posting its first quarterly loss in a decade, Nissan now fears that a supply chain disruption born of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak could idle plants worldwide. It’s the last thing the company needs. (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2019

british-leyland-mini

With Britain’s parliament rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal, European automakers stand to face some strong headwinds in the near future. As of now, no clear path lies ahead. Many believe the European Union will continue playing hardball, punishing Britain for leaving. But, even if it doesn’t, loads of regulatory and trade issues must be resolved in short order to avoid problems.

There’s also no shortage of hyperbole surrounding the issue. Just this morning I heard cable news call it “the largest crisis in Britain’s history,” as if World War II never happened. A channel away, another outlet proclaimed how splendid it would be for trade between the United Kingdom and United States.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall, there’s more at stake here than Theresa May’s job. Automakers, who like consistency above all else, worry a no deal plan for “British independence” could be tantamount to flipping the industry table. They don’t like being caught up in the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and there appears to be an endless list of issues to contend with.  (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2015

Chevron Fuel Prices In Oceanside, California Circa March 2011

While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California.

(Read More…)

By on February 27, 2014

Tesla Gigafactory

After months of speculation, Tesla drew back the curtain on their most ambitious project to date, the Gigafactory.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2014

2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior-011

Tsubakimoto Chain Co., a Toyota supplier, expects sales of their auto parts to factories in China to double within the next four years as automakers seek to diversify their supply chains.

(Read More…)

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