October 25, 2021

Volume XI, Number 298

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October 25, 2021

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Foley Weekly Automotive Report - October 12, 2021

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

Key Developments

  • U.S. new light vehicle sales in September fell to an estimated SAAR of 12 million units to 12.2 million units, representing the lowest sales pace since May 2020.

  • Full-year 2021 U.S. new light vehicle sales are forecast at just under 15 million units, down from a previous projection of 15.7 million units by LMC Automotive, with the impact of low new vehicle inventory on sales now expected to persist until late 2022 or early 2023.
     
  • U.S. fleet sales reached an estimated 1.3 million units for January – September, 41% lower than for the same period in 2019 and just 3% higher compared to the same period in 2020.
     
  • IHS Markit estimates that global light vehicle production has lost 7.4 million units through the third quarter of this year, with Ford and GM experiencing the most significant production disruptions as a result of the chip shortage.
     
  • Lead times for semiconductor orders increased to an average of 21.7 weeks in September, rising for the ninth consecutive month.
     
  • The Geneva International Motor Show will postpone its annual event from March 2022 until 2023, due to coronavirus-related challenges.
     
  • GM plans to double revenue to $280 billion by 2030, with growth supported by new EV models, as well as business lines including Cruise, BrightDrop, and software services.
     
  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:
     
    • Stellantis will invest $229 million to retool three Indiana plants to build eight-speed transmissions that can be used in electrified and internal combustion vehicles.
       
    • GM will establish a new battery research & development center at its Warren Tech Center. Construction of the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center is scheduled to be completed in mid-2022.
       
    • Lithium prices have more than doubled in the past year, and global lithium demand is projected to increase five-fold by 2030.
       
    • Tesla will move its corporate headquarters from Palo Alto, California to Austin, Texas. CEO Elon Musk said the company will continue to expand in California, with the goal to increase output by 50%.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • Manufacturers continue to face the challenge of soaring steel priceswith average spot prices more than tripling in the past year.

  • Global supply chain constraints are expected to persist “well into next year” and may impede economic recovery. Ongoing issues include shortages of components and labor, high prices for freight and raw materials, and bottlenecks resulting from countries experiencing lockdowns and coronavirus-related restrictions.

  • Efforts by the Biden administration to collect semiconductor supply chain data are being met by concern from global chipmakers. The companies were asked to voluntarily disclose information by November 8 about inventories, backlogs, delivery time, procurement practices, and key customers.
     
  • North American Class 8 truck orders declined 10.9% in September, compared with a year earlieras manufacturers struggle to balance pent-up demand with supply chain constraints.
     
  • China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology indicated that it will implement assessment measures to regulate data sent abroad by vehicles, but did not provide details for how the assessments would be conducted.

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Production impact of the semiconductor shortage –

    • GM will resume production by November 1 at several North American plants that have been idled due to the chip shortage. The plants are San Luis Potosi Assembly in Mexico, Fairfax Assembly in Kansas, and CAMI Assembly in Canada. In addition, Chevrolet Blazer production at Ramos Assembly in Mexico will restart October 18.

    • Stellantis will extend downtime through the rest of October at its Jeep Cherokee crossover plant in Belvidere, Illinois. In addition, Ford confirmed downtime for the week of October 11 at its Mustang plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.
       
    • Volkswagen will extend production cuts until October 15 for its plant in Puebla, Mexico.
       
    • Nissan confirmed downtime for two Mexican plants, with a shutdown of eight days in the state of Aguascalientes, and eleven days in Morelos state.
       
  • Aptiv lowered its annual sales guidance to a range of $15.1 to $15.5 billion, from a previous projection of $16.1 to $16.4 billion. The adjustment was due to a reduction in global vehicle production forecasts, as well as the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and global semiconductor shortage.
     
  • Construction began on the $48 million M3 Commerce Center located on the site of the former Cadillac Stamping plant in Detroit. Lear will occupy nearly two-thirds of the 684,000-square-foot building, and it will supply GM’s upcoming FactoryZero.
     
  • Nissan plans to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from global manufacturing sites by 2050, by using all-electric equipment powered by renewable energy and alternative fuels. In January, the automaker announced the goal to attain carbon neutrality over the entire life cycle of its vehicles by 2050.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Apple is in the early stages of developing technology to enable iPhone control of vehicle functions including climate control, seats, speedometer, and radio. This effort seeks to expand Apple’s in-vehicle interface capabilities. CarPlay is currently used to interface with music, navigation and phone calls.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • A California federal jury awarded $136.9 million to a former Tesla subcontractor after finding that he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment at the company’s Fremont plant.

  • GM announced a strategic supplier agreement with North Carolina-based Wolfspeed, Inc., to develop and provide silicon carbide power devices for future EVs.

  • Nikola and Canadian pipeline operator TC Energy will partner to build and operate hydrogen fuel cell hubs in the U.S. and Canada.
     
  • Stellantis plans to retool its plant in Turin, Italy, in order to transform the site into an EV hub.
     
  • GM will partner with GE Renewable Energy to evaluate options for developing rare earth materials supply chains to support production of EVs and renewable energy equipment in North America and Europe.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 285
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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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