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Volume XI, Number 337

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Foley Weekly Automotive Report - November 23, 2021

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

Key Developments

  • LMC Automotive estimates that 446,400 light vehicles were delivered in the third quarter in Canada, representing a decline of 12% compared to the same period last year, and 15% lower than in 2019.

  • Ford announced a partnership with U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries Inc. to develop chips in an agreement that could include joint U.S. production in the future. In a recent investor call, GM also stated that it intends to pursue strategic partnerships with semiconductor manufacturers.

  • Honda is asking its suppliers to cut carbon emissions by 4% annually, as part of an effort to achieve a net-zero supply chain.

  • Stellantis will require its U.S. salaried workforce to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees must receive their final dose by January 5, unless they have received a medical or religious exemption.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals by Volkswagen related to lawsuits filed by officials in three states that are seeking damages resulting from the automaker's vehicle emissions violations.

  • J.D. Power’s most recent Wholesale Market Update found that used vehicle prices through October were on average 37% higher when compared to the same 10-month period in 2020.

  • Qualcomm will supply chips for BMW’s autonomous cars, in an effort to expand revenue streams beyond mobile devices.

  • Bloomberg reports that Apple has an internal target to launch an autonomous vehicle in the next four years.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • Several industry experts quoted in Forbes warned that global lithium supplies will not be sufficient to meet projected EV demand.

    • According to IHS Markit, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will support up to 66% of the nation’s EV charging growth through 2026.

    • Ford, GM, Jaguar Land RoverMercedes-Benz, and Volvo Cars are among the automakers that have pledged to work toward selling only zero-emissions vehicles by 2040, following commitments from the 2021 United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26).

    • Chevrolet Bolt production at GM’s Lake Orion Assembly plant will be down the remainder of the calendar year as the automaker continues work on the vehicles’ battery-related recall.

    • The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a three-year $1.4 billion plan to support the state’s zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure build-out. The majority of the funding will be dedicated to charging stations or hydrogen refueling.

    • Cumulative fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) sales for the U.S. passenger market have only reached 12,000 units since 2006, according to analysis from LMC Automotive. A key barrier to U.S. adoption is the limited number of hydrogen refueling stations, as the majority are clustered near Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new vehicle prices rose by 9.8% over the past twelve months, reflecting the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1975.Overall, the consumer-price index increased by 6.2% in October compared to one year ago, representing the largest 12-month increase since November 1990.

  • A divided federal appeals court has thrown out portions of the 2016 greenhouse gas emissions and fuel-economy standards for heavy- and medium-duty trailers, noting that the trailers are not self-propelling and cannot be regulated as motor vehicles.

  • Following a White House meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Trudeau indicated he will continue pursuing a favorable outcome concerning proposed U.S. legislation that would offer consumer tax credits for electric vehicles that are union-made in the U.S.

  • The Montreal International Auto Show is scheduled to proceed January 21-30, 2022, according to an update from show organizers.

  • Nine governors sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging swift action to approve full funding of the Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, in order to support domestic production of semiconductors, including “mature node” semiconductors that are critically important to the auto industry.

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Automotive Trends Report found that new vehicle fuel economy reached an average of 25.4 miles per gallon for the 2020 model year, representing a new high. However, the Detroit Three automakers produced the most emissions and had the worst MPG ratings of all major producers in model year 2020.

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Production impact of the semiconductor shortage –

    • GM will temporarily stop offering the option for heated seats and steering wheels across much of its lineup; however, the feature will be available through a retrofit process sometime by mid-2022.

    • Stellantis will lay off 400 workers at its Jeep Cherokee SUV plant in Belvidere, Illinois beginning in January.

    • Toyota plans to resume normal levels of production at its plants in Japan for the first time in seven months.

  • Parts shortages are significantly impacting trucking fleets, according to the American Trucking Associations.

  • ZF will expand its partnership with Microsoft to move all its business, production and industrial processes to the Azure cloud platform.

  • Toyota will invest $6 million over the next five years to expand vehicle testing at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Waymo will expand its partnership with UPS to include autonomous freight movement with Class 8 trucks as part of a trial run in Texas.

  • Autonomous-truck technology company Embark began trading on the Nasdaq after completing a merger with a blank-check company.

  • Autonomous truck startup Kodiak Robotics raised $125 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round.

  • merger deal was terminated between autonomous truck technology company Plus and special-purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V, as the result of "recent developments in the regulatory environment outside of the United States."

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Following a U.S. IPO, which is currently the largest since 2014, Rivian is reported to be planning a number of projects, including investing in a stand-alone battery plant. Separately, it was announced that Ford and Rivian have canceled plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle.

  • Tesla will invest over $1 billion in its new factory in Austin, Texas, and construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

  • New analysis from The Wall Street Journal found significant cost differences to fully charge EVs across various regions in the U.S.

  • Toyota will invest $240 million for a hybrid production line at its West Virginia manufacturing plant. Separately, the automaker recently stated that large parts the world are not prepared for zero-emissions vehicles in regards to charging infrastructure, economics and customer readiness.

  • The market value of Lucid Group recently reached $89.9 billion, surpassing Ford, and approaching the value of General Motors.Lucid is planning a 2022 production target of 20,000 EVs.

  • EV company Canoo will relocate its headquarters from California to Bentonville, Arkansas.The decision was attributed to the opportunity for workforce development and quality of life.

  • GM’s BrightDrop unit announced that vehicle leasing company Merchants Fleet plans to expand its order by an additional 5,400 vehicles, reaching a total of 18,000 BrightDrop electric delivery vans.

  • Due to supply chain constraints, Lordstown will delay the start of its electric pickup production by one quarter to the third quarter of 2022.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 327
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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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