Highlights from this week include: Zoom Zombies behind the wheel; An EV battery battle comes to an end; China leads the world in EV options; Tesla now lets you buy it’s cheapest car online in Canada; VW are back in the news and it’s good news; David Beckham gets free cars from Maserati; the Mustang is the world’s best-selling sports car – again; there’s a chip shortage (not the kind you eat); and Honda launches the all new Civic and more…
The new All-New 2022 Honda Civic sedan will be fully revealed on April 28. The 11th-generation will go on sale this summer, with the hatchback, Si and Type R following along later this year. Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant is almost ready to start mass production of the sedan. The hatchback will be built at Honda’s Indiana plant. Some more pictures are at the end of this article.
LG & SK Innovations Reach $1.8 Billion Settlement to End EV Battery Battle
The settlement will avert a 10-year import ban of SK Innovation’s batteries into the U.S. and ends the two-year dispute between the two companies. (SK Innovation & LG Chem have been involved in a bitter legal dispute over LG’s accusation that SK had stolen its battery production secrets. LG Chem argued that SK Innovation hired over 70 of its former employees to access sensitive information about battery manufacturing processes, then destroyed pertinent evidence to cover its tracks). The import ban threatened to complicate the rollout of Ford Motor Co.’s new F-150 electric pickup truck and the Volkswagen AG’s ID.4 SUV, both due to begin production next year with EV batteries assembled at an SK Innovation plant in politically important Georgia. The dispute became a political conundrum because it was said to jeopardize as many as 6,000 battery manufacturing jobs in Georgia. Biden was facing an April 11 deadline to decide whether to overturn a 10-year import ban of SK Innovation’s batteries into the U.S., or do nothing and let it take effect. More HERE
Backstory to the Battle: SK Innovation & LG Chem have been involved in a bitter legal dispute over LG’s accusation that SK had stolen its battery production secrets. LG Chem argued that SK Innovation hired over 70 of its former employees to access sensitive information about battery manufacturing processes, then destroyed pertinent evidence to cover its tracks. According to LG Chem, SK Innovation’s alleged theft enabled the company to receive billions of dollars’ worth of contracts from several automakers, including VW and Ford. The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favour of LG, imposing a 10-year import ban on SK.
Ford or Just “Bronco”
About 100 Ford dealers are planning to open standalone showrooms for the Bronco. Automakers sometimes ask dealers to carve out additional space for new brands or sub-brands, however, the idea for standalone “Bronco Stores” originated with dealers themselves. Ford has agreed on the idea, but Bronco-only showrooms are optional.
The SUV’s launch has already been delayed to due to coronavirus-related supplier issues. The 2021 Ford Bronco will now launch this summer, and the manual-transmission Sasquatch package has been pushed back from the 2021 model year to the 2022 model year. More HERE
Staying with Ford…
For the second straight year, the Ford Mustang (which celebrates its 57th birthday on the 17th), is the world’s best-selling sports car and also retained its title of the best-selling sports coupe for the sixth straight year. The Mustang had global sales of 80,577 in 2020, representing 15.1 percent of the sports coupe market. The U.S. remains the strongest market for the Mustang, representing about three-quarters of the car’s total sales, but the European markets also helped Mustang retain its title as the world’s best-selling sports car with sales increasing throughout Europe. Source: FordAuthority.com
Tesla recently brought its nearly non-existent entry-level Canadian version of the Model 3 out into the open on their website. Labelled as the “Standard Range” (it’s been available since 2019), and it’s priced at $44,999 (CDN). Up until now, it’s been a special-request model – not listed on Tesla’s configurator. Setting the price below $45,000 (before destination and other fees), allows for point-of-sale federal incentives.
There’s a catch though – the Standard Range comes with only a 151 km (94 miles) range – BUT it has the same battery, Trim level, 0-60 mph time and 225 km/h top speed of the Standard Range Plus (423 kms – $55,000). Using software it’s locked out of the majority battery capacity and limits the range to only 151 km (94 miles). Question 1: will the purchaser then be able to “upgrade” the software at a later date and get the full range? Question 2: under Transport Canada’s iZEV program, the lowest priced vehicle enables ALL of the Model 3’s to qualify, so why wouldn’t you just get the Standard Range Plus, get the $5,000 federal money knocked off – making it $50,000? Tesla did something similar in the UK when they changed the rebates a couple of weeks ago.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the U.S. Part 2
Although Americans drove a total of 2.83 trillion miles in 2020 – down 13.2 percent from 2019, fatalities rose by 8 percent, according to the NHTSA. This means that on a miles basis, fatalities increased by 24 percent – the biggest year-over-year jump since 1924. That’s a stunning figure given that so many people worked from home and gave up commuting last year. There are a number of factors relating to dangerous driving, but one you might not expect is video conference calling. So-called “Zoom Zombies” are part of a trend of drivers increasingly distracted by technology and more drivers are checking their phones while they drive. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that checking one’s phone takes an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph (88.5 km/h), that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field with your eyes off the road.
David Beckham Begins A Partnership With Maserati
According to the press release: “Global sporting icon, philanthropist, businessman and style trailblazer: David Beckham is the perfect partner to accompany Maserati on the next leg of its journey, breaking boundaries and driving the brand forward to the forefront of luxury motoring in the 21st century.” David has always been a car guy, so this isn’t a great leap. Check out the pointless video/ad HERE
Volkswagen Spent 18 Days Touring America In An ID.4
Eager to prove that the ID.4 could handle a long-distance trip, VW recently completed an 18-day tour of America.
“We proved exactly what we set out to do with this drive, which was to show that with a little planning, covering long distances in an EV can be easy,” said Dustin Krause, Director, e-Mobility, Volkswagen of America. More on the story HERE
China & EV’s
Here’s a staggering number out of China… China’s auto industry is going through a seismic shift toward electric, intelligent and connected cars. For consumers looking to buy electric, choosing among the many operators can be mind-boggling. Last year, more than 500 different models of sedans and sports utility vehicles were released. Source: Bloomberg
Computer Chip Shortage Is Reeking Havoc With Automakers
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of complains about a chip shortage, especially for car manufacturers… but why and how did it happen? Here’s a brief background on the issue.
The problem started about a year ago when the pandemic caused car and truck demand to plunge. That prompted auto suppliers to slash orders for chips and other parts, but sales of vehicles didn’t drop off as expected and the suppliers tried to increase purchases, plus some extras for good measure. That’s when the real problems started. Dominant manufacturer TSMC was busy servicing a stay-at-home boom in demand for tablets, computers and game consoles – computers are up an average of $300 or more since the plandemic started. Auto manufactures are traditionally only 1% of the entire chip market, so chipmakers couldn’t just turn their back on 99% of their customers.
Another problem is Bitcoin mining. They require very many powerful chips, and with the boom in bitcoin even more people are mining and buying up all the chips they can get their hands on. Earlier this year, the power outages in Texas and fire at a chip plant in Japan have exacerbated the problem. We’re not talking just a couple of chips here…a car from a premium brand can require more than 3,000 chips and if even if just one is missing, the vehicle is incomplete. Added to the fact the entire industry is electrifying and battery-powered cars tend to pack significantly more expensive chips into EV’s than combustion engines, that’s yet another problem. As well as a rising share of entertainment and autonomous-driving features demand MORE chips, carmakers will have to source even more semiconductors in the future.
That’s it in a nutshell. What next? Well TSMC have released a memo that the company’s auto customers can expect the shortage to be “greatly reduced” by next quarter (July-September), but there will still be an overall supply deficit throughout this year, and potentially into 2022.
If you’re looking for something to watch in the coming weeks, have a look at Maserati: 100 Years Against All Odds Documentary (1 hr 33 min). It’s available for free on TubiTV and well worth a watch (www.TubiTV.com – search: maserati or 100 years). Great background on this icon car company, both in racing and manufacturing. Don’t bother with the BMW movie 100 years of BMW, it’s boring and gets completely hung up on their part of manufacturing during WWII.
2022 Honda Civic Pictures
That’s A Wrap! For this week. Until next time…
Copyright © 2021 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Respective Manufacturers/Outlets