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December 14, 2021: Foley Weekly Automotive Report

This report helps automotive suppliers inform their legal and operational decisions to help address challenges and opportunities.

Key Developments

  • U.S. new vehicle average transaction prices reached $46,329 in November, and are up by over 13% compared to November 2020.

  • In an effort to strengthen global semiconductor supply chains, Stellantis will partner with contract manufacturer Foxconn to design semiconductors for use in the automaker’s vehicles by 2024, and BMW signed a long-term agreement with Inova Semiconductors and Globalfoundries Inc. to secure a supply of “several million” chips per year for use in in-car lighting systems.

  • Software-based services are increasingly an area of focus for automakers, but it is unclear whether consumers will be willing to pay for software subscriptions. By 2030, GM plans to receive up to $25 billion in annual revenue from software-enabled products and services, and Stellantis announced a goal to generate up to 20 billion euros in annual revenue.

  • The Center for Automotive Research provided recent commentary on automotive industry greenhouse gas performance, as well as usage of EPA carbon credits.

  • Intel is planning an IPO in the next year for its autonomous vehicle business unit Mobileye. Intel acquired the company in 2017 for approximately $15 billion.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • The Biden administration announced its strategy for building a nationwide network of charging stations for electric vehicles.

    • More than 50 U.S. power companies are partnering to build a coast-to-coast charging network for electric vehicles by the end of 2023, as part of the newly formed National Electric Highway Coalition.

    • President Joe Biden signed an executive order in support of a goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across federal government operations by 2050, which includes the requirement that federal agencies buy only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.

    • The Alliance for Automotive Innovation released its Recommended Attributes for EV Charging Stations that comments on topics including charging rates, network requirements, pricing and station layout.

    • The Wall Street Journal published an overview of the upward trajectory of lithium prices.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • The Canadian government, in line with Mexico, stated that it could impose tariffs in response to proposed U.S. legislation that would offer consumer tax credits for electric vehicles that are union-made in the U.S. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that conversations to resolve the dispute are ongoing, and include the option of aligning EV incentives to ensure there are “no unfair advantages on one side or the other.” The EU also expressed its concern to Senate leadership about the proposal’s potential to result in discrimination against European cars and car parts.

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Bosch and Volkswagen are reported to be nearing an agreement to collaborate on automotive software.

  • Toyota announced temporary production shutdowns in Japan due to parts shortages, affecting output of Lexus models and the Toyota Land Cruiser. Last month Toyota announced plans to resume normal levels of production in December at its plants in Japan.

  • Volkswagen Group is reported to be considering an initial public offering for its Porsche brand, as part of an approach to fund its shift toward software and electrification.

  • Ford will invest over $900 million to modernize its two plants and its supply chain network in Thailand.

  • Volvo experienced a cyberattack focused on its R&D property, and concluded that there may be an “impact on the company’s operations.”

  • Daimler Truck began trading December 10 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the stock symbol DTG, following its spinoff from Daimler AG.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is challenging an application from GM subsidiary Cruise to charge for robotaxi rides in the city. The agency’s concerns include commercial vehicles stopping in a travel lane and failing to offer service in low-income areas. Cruise plans to launch its commercial taxi service in 2022, beginning in San Francisco.

  • The Interstate 45 highway between Houston and Dallas is becoming a significant test route for autonomous trucking.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • GM’s electric delivery van brand BrightDrop opened its first dealership last week in Los Angeles. Brightdrop will provide its EV600 and EV410 midsize delivery vans to its first major customers, FedEx Express and Merchants Fleet

  • Battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution hopes to raise up to $10.8 billion in its upcoming IPO, reflecting a market value of $59 billion for the company.

  • Plant updates:

    • GM is considering Lansing, Michigan for the site of a new $2.5 billion battery cell plant to be operated with its joint venture partner LG Energy Solution, according to tax incentive documents filed with the city. The automaker is also pursuing plans to convert its Orion Assembly plant into a hub for electric pickup trucks.

    • Rivian may announce a new manufacturing site in Georgia, according to reports that have not been confirmed by the company.

    • GM will invest over $50 million at its Bedford, Indiana facility to build drive unit castings for applications including the upcoming electric Chevrolet Silverado; the automaker plans to begin production of the electric Silverado in early 2023 at its Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center.

    • Volvo and Northvolt AB will open a joint battery R&D center in Sweden, and the companies intend to announce the site of their upcoming European battery plant in early 2022.

  • Volkswagen announced a joint venture with Umicore and a long-term agreement with Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd., to secure raw materials necessary to support its strategy of establishing six European battery plants by 2030.

  • Ford plans to reach 200,000 annual production units of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E by 2023 for North America and Europe. This vehicle has reached sales of over 24,000 units in the U.S. as of November 1.

  • As part of its ongoing plans to establish and strengthen its supply chain for electric vehicles, GM announced partnerships with rare earth materials provider MP Materials, and advanced magnetic materials producer Vacuumschmelze (VAC).

© 2022 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 348
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About this Author

John R. Trentacosta, Foley Lardner, Automotive Industry Attorney, Supply Chain Lawyer
Partner

John R. Trentacosta is a partner and transactional lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. Mr. Trentacosta is actively involved in drafting contracts commonly used in the automotive industry. He frequently represents clients in supply chain disputes, particularly automotive and supplier-manufacturer disputes. He is the chair of the firm’s Complex Supply Chain Litigation Group, former chair of the Detroit Litigation Department and founder and member of the firm’s Automotive and Manufacturing Industry Teams. He also is a member of the Commercial Transactions & Business...

313-234-7124
Ann Marie Uetz Foley Lardner Debtor Representation Bankruptcy Lawyer Foley Lardner Detroit
Partner

Ann Marie Uetz is a partner and trial attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she represents clients in a variety of industries in all aspects of their contracts and business disputes. She also represents debtors, creditors and secured and unsecured lenders in all facets of restructuring. Ms. Uetz focuses her practice on business litigation and bankruptcy, two of Foley’s practice areas recently ranked by U.S. News—Best Lawyers® as “national First-Tier” practices in recognition of excellence in client service.

Ann Marie heads Foley’s Coronavirus Task Force and...

313-234-7114
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