September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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September 17, 2021

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Foley Weekly Automotive Report: September 14, 2021

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

Key developments

  • Aptiv estimates the auto industry could experience a third quarter global production loss of two to three million units, up from a previous estimate of 1.5 million units, due to the impact of the chip shortage and COVID-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia.

  • Toyota will cut production by 40% globally for a second consecutive month, and will reduce its full-year production guidance by 3%, due to the chip shortage and parts shortages caused by escalating COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia.

  • GM informed analysts that its second-half 2021 sales and production volumes will be down by 200,000 units, due to worsening supply constraints for semiconductors out of Southeast Asia.

  • Ford will extend downtime for F-150 production into a fourth week at its Kansas City Assembly plant, along with adding downtime for the Transit van at this plant, and reduce shifts at its Dearborn Truck and Kentucky Truck plants during the week of September 13.

  • Aluminum prices have increased by 48% this year, and supply constraints are expected to continue through 2022, resulting from increased demand, shipping congestion, and reduced production in China. 

  • President Biden directed the Department of Labor to draft rules requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing; an emergency temporary standard is expected in the coming weeks.  

  • New York will require all new passenger cars sold in the state to produce zero emissions by 2035, and new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles have until 2045 to achieve this goal.

  • Continental is creating a new business unit dedicated to its advanced driver-assistance and autonomous technology, and the supplier intends to pursue partnerships to enhance its existing capabilities in the space.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • Regulators in China are considering a minimum production capacity utilization rate for the nation’s electric vehicles sector, in an effort to coordinate resources among its production hubs and manage overcapacity. China has an estimated 300 companies involved in making EVs.

    • Charging infrastructure is the “single biggest barrier” to EV adoption in the U.S., and the nation will require an expansion of “at least five to 10 times” its current number of public charging stations.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • Retail sales of passenger cars in China declined by 14.7% in August, representing a third consecutive month of sales declines following a drop of 6.2% in July and 5.1% in June, compared with the same period one year ago.  The sales decline is attributed to reduced production caused by supply shortages, including the impact of elevated COVID-19 cases on Malaysia’s semiconductor packing and testing facilities.

  • Malaysian semiconductor company Unisem will close certain plants for seven days after three of its employees died from COVID-19.  The packaging and testing services company plans to limit staff numbers when the facilities reopen.  Approximately 12% of Unisem’s revenue is from the auto industry.

  • Automakers, including GM, Ford, Volvo, BMW and Audi, have set target dates to reach certain levels of recyclable or sustainable content in their vehicles.  In some instances, automakers have switched suppliers that could not meet recycling standards. 

  • A group of Republican lawmakers on the Energy and Commerce Committee expressed concern over U.S. approval for Huawei to purchase chips for its automotive components business.  Huawei is subject to U.S. trade restrictions on the sale of chips and components for use in smartphones and other network devices.   

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Production impact of the semiconductor shortage – GM will extend downtime at five North American plants in Michigan, Missouri and Mexico that produce crossovers, sedans and midsize pickups.  GM’s full-size pickup and SUV plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Silao, Mexico; Flint, Michigan; and Arlington, Texas are scheduled to resume production the week of September 13. Stellantis will extend downtime by two weeks at its Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and its minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario.

  • Ford will stop manufacturing cars in India, following a struggle to achieve growth in a market dominated by low-cost vehicles made by competitors such as Suzuki and Hyundai.  Ford has experienced over $2 billion in operating losses in India over the last decade, and CEO Jim Farley has indicated that the automaker will avoid investing in markets that provide limited return.

  • Qualcomm is reported to have made a bid of over $4 billion to acquire automotive safety technology company Veoneer, surpassing a previous offer by Magna

  • ZF employees in Marysville, Michigan, began a strike on September 9 over a dispute related to union recognition. The volume of workers participating in the strike was not readily available, and the supplier noted that production was not impacted. 

  • Ford named a former Apple and Tesla executive as its new advanced technology and embedded systems officer.  Doug Field will report to President and CEO Jim Farley, and will lead efforts to deliver smart, connected vehicles and related services.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Intel subsidiary Mobileye will begin testing an autonomous taxi service in Munich next year, operated in partnership with German rental car company Sixt and Israeli mobility data startup Moovit.

  • General Motors' venture capital arm invested an undisclosed amount in Oculii, a developer of imaging radar software for use in autonomous vehicles.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Toyota and Honda disagree with a House proposal to provide an additional $4,500 in tax incentives for electric vehicles that are union-made in the U.S., noting that the plan would discriminate against autoworkers based on whether they are unionized. 

  • The Senate’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill could lead to increased funding for electric and low-emissions school buses. The U.S. House of Representatives previously agreed to vote on the bill by September 27; however this pledge is non-binding and the bill is expected to face significant opposition

  • German automakers could potentially view sales in the U.S. as a method to offset the costs of electrification in their domestic market, as signaled by the emphasis on sustainability and zero emissions at the International Motor Show in Munich last week.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst.

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 257
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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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