July 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 209

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Foley Weekly Automotive Report - July 20, 2021

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

Key Developments

  • Production downtime during July and August has been scheduled for five GM plants and four Stellantis plants in North America due to the chip shortage.

  • GM will eliminate wireless phone charging on certain 2021 and 2022 SUVs because of supply constraints caused by the chip shortage.

  • According to unnamed sources in Bloombergthe governments of the U.S., Canada and Mexico are potentially in disagreement on the approach to calculating the country of origin for certain vehicle parts, which could impact how rules of origin are phased in under USMCA.

  • Aptiv and Lear are offering on-site COVID-19 vaccinations at their facilities in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico; the suppliers are recommending, but not requiring, vaccines for their workforces.

  • The European Commission proposed measures to end the sale of cars with internal combustion engines by 2035 in the EU. The commission is also pursuing a 55% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, from a previous target of a 37.5% reduction.

  • Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet acquired high-definition mapping startup CARMERA in support of its plan to increase investment in mobility technologies.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • The combined category of electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids reached 8.5% of second quarter U.S. new vehicle sales, according to an analysis published by Cox Automotive.

      • As part its newly announced 10-year strategyVolkswagen expects EVs to represent half of its global sales by 2030, and North America will be the “main focus to grow its market share.”

      • GM notified some 2017-2019 Bolt owners to park outside and avoid charging overnight due to potential fire risk; the vehicles were part of an earlier recall due to a manufacturing defect in the battery modules.

      • IHS Markit predicts global deployment of EV charging stations will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 31%, to reach more than 66 million units by 2030, with the Greater China region accounting for over 60% of the growth.

      • Over one million electric vehicles were sold in China in the first half of 2021, compared to full-year 2020 sales of 1.1 million EVs, according to the China Passenger Car Association, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • Used car prices increased by 10.5% in June, and are up 45% compared to June 2020, accounting for over one-third of the seasonally adjusted all items increase in the latest Consumer Price Index. New vehicles were up by 2% in June, and by 5% compared to June 2020.Used vehicle prices are predicted to start trending downward beginning this month.

  • J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study found that consumers remained loyal to their preferred brands during limits on in-person shopping during pandemic lockdowns. Subaru, Toyota, Honda, RAM and Ford lead mass market rankings, and premium brands are led by Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. [Press release only, no access to full report]

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Production impact of the semiconductor shortage –  GM scheduled downtime at four plants from July 19 until August 2:Lansing Delta Township, in Michigan; Spring Hill Assembly, in Tennessee; and San Luis Potosi Assembly and Ramos Arizpe Assembly in Mexico. GM also extended downtime for CAMI Assembly in Ontario until August 16.Stellantis has scheduled downtime for Detroit’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant July 11 through August 1, impacting production of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango; the plant also has a previously scheduled shutdown for maintenance the week of August 2.Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico and Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario are scheduled to be down through the end of the month.

    • GM will eliminate wireless phone charging on certain 2021 SUVs for the remainder of the 2021 model year, and on a temporary basis for certain 2022 model year SUVs. Impacted models include certain 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles, as well as certain 2022 Cadillac XT5, XT6, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave vehicles.

    • Nissan scheduled downtime into the beginning of August for production of the Altima sedan at its Canton, Mississippi, plant, and output will be reduced for various models at this plant during the first half of August.

  • Volkswagen announced a new 10-year strategy called New Auto to support its efforts to transform into a “software-driven mobility company. ”The company will invest 73 billion euros ($86.4 billion) in future technologies between 2021 and 2025, and intends to develop one software platform for use in all its vehicles by 2025.Electrification features prominently in Volkswagen’s strategy, including the establishment of a “controlled battery supply chain” and the opening of six battery plants in Europe by the end of the decade.

  • GM will invest $71 million to build a new advanced design and technology campus in Pasadena, California, that will more than double the size of its current site in North Hollywood. The new site will open toward the end of 2022. The automaker currently employs 65 to 70 people at its current design site.

  • Semiconductor wafer manufacturer SK Siltron CSS will invest $300 million and more than double its Michigan headcount with a new site in Bay City. The company is a subsidiary of South Korea’s SK Siltron, and manufactures a specialty wafer for use in semiconductor power components for end markets, including electric vehicles.

  • The UAW narrowly ratified a six-year labor agreement at Volvo’s heavy truck plant in Dublin, Virginia, ending a months-long labor dispute that had led to strikes and the rejection of three previous contract offers.

  • Companies including Ford and GM have resumed political donations to members of Congress that voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election, after previously implementing reviews or temporary cessations in response to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. After receiving negative publicity from the Lincoln Project, Toyota recently announced that its bipartisan PAC will no longer contribute to lawmakers that contested the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Continental will integrate LiDAR sensors from AEye Inc. into its autonomous driving systems. AEye also announced a development partnership with autonomous truck company TuSimple.

  • Toyota indicated that it plans to increase investment and headcount in its Woven Planet subsidiary to enhance its competitive position in mobility technologies, including artificial intelligence.

  • Tesla will introduce a monthly subscription service for its advanced driver assistance software for customers who own vehicles equipped with "Full Self-Driving computer 3.0 or above."  The "Full Self-Driving capability" service will cost $199 per month, as opposed to the previous upfront charge of $10,000.

  • The German government is expected to implement a nationwide approach to autonomous vehicle regulation, with a requirement for AVs to be overseen by humans and operated in a defined space.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • GM announced the expansion of its Ultium Charge 360 electric-vehicle charging program to commercial fleet customers in the U.S. and Canada. Fleet drivers will have access to charging through eTransEnergy, EVgo, In-Charge Energy and Schneider Electric, as well as in-home installations through GM’s collaboration with Qmerit.

  • Lithium-metal battery supplier SES Holdings will go public in a SPAC deal with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp. SES, formerly known as SolidEnergy Systems, is based in Singapore and has investors that include GM, Hyundai, Kia, and Geely Holding Group.

  • South Korea’s LG Chem will invest 10 trillion won ($8.7 billion) through 2025 to achieve growth in its battery materials operations and other business units. Approximately two-thirds of the investment will be dedicated to expanding production of battery materials such as cathodes and separators.

  • Electric truck maker Rivian will delay production of its first vehicle by two months to September, citing the “cascading effects of the pandemic” on facility construction, equipment installation and the supply chain for vehicle components, including semiconductors.

  • Global deployment of EV charging stations will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 31% to reach more than 66 million units by 2030, according to a new forecast by IHS Markit. The Greater China region will account for over 60% of growth during the decade, with Europe representing approximately 24% and North America at roughly 16%. Charging infrastructure type and location will vary significantly by region. [Press release only, full report not publicly available]

  • Saudi Arabia will receive a profit of almost $20 billion on its 2018 investment in San Francisco Bay Area EV maker Lucid Motors after the startup completes a merger with blank check company Churchill Capital Corp. IV.

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 201
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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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