December 3, 2021

Volume XI, Number 337

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November 30, 2021

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October 19, 2021: Foley Weekly Automotive Report

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

Key Developments

  • IHS Markit lowered its global light vehicle production forecast to 74.8 million units in 2021, representing a cut of 1.3% from a major revision published in September. The production forecast for 2022 is minimally revised up by 0.1% to 82.7 million units.

  • U.S. new vehicle inventory fell below one million units in September, representing a 30 days’ supply industrywide. This is a decline of 63% from the same period one year ago.

  • New vehicles reached an average transaction price of $45,031 in September, up 12.1% from the same period one year ago.

  • Toyota will reduce global car production by 15% in November, due to ongoing parts shortages. Toyota has maintained a full-year production target of 9 million vehicles for the period ending March 31, 2022.

  • GM, Ford and Stellantis will require COVID-19 vaccination for Canadian employees, contractors and visitors beginning later this year.

  • The U.S. will lift restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November.

  • New analysis by AAA found that moderate to heavy rain significantly reduced the performance for various types of advanced driver-assistance technology.

  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:

    • new report by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation estimates that over 168,000 zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) were sold in the second quarter of 2021, representing 3.8% of the U.S. market.

    • Toyota plans to invest $1.29 billion to build a U.S. battery plant that will begin operations in 2025. The location was not revealed.

    • Stellantis and LG Energy Solution will form a joint venture to produce battery cells and modules for North America, with the intent to begin production in 2024.

    • GM and LG Electronics reached an agreement for the supplier to cover the majority of costs associated with the recall of Chevrolet Bolts due to the risk of battery fires.

    • Electric Last Mile Solutions announced a battery supply deal through 2025 with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co.

    • new report by the Michigan Council on Future Mobility & Electrification urges the state to invest in the mobility sector and “become more EV-friendly and better prepared for electric vehicles.”

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • Sales of passenger vehicles in China fell by 13% in the third quarter, compared to the same period one year ago, due to the impact of supply chain disruptions. GM’s sales in China fell by 19% in the quarter, while Ford’s dropped by 8.7%, year over year.

  • U.S. retail sales of Classes 4-7 medium-duty commercial vehicles declined by 1.9% in September, compared to the same period last year.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested information about Tesla’s driver-assistance software in relation to a recent emergency-light-detection update in September. The agency also intends to review nondisclosure agreements signed by people with early access to Tesla’s city driving feature.

  • Over 100 U.S. House lawmakers urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep consumer tax incentives for union-built electric vehicles in the $3.5 trillion spending package that is working its way through Congress.

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill allowing the state's auto dealerships to adjust hours for the purpose of improving flexibility.

  • Producer prices for final demand goods and services increased by 8.6% over the last twelve months on an unadjusted basis, according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This represents the largest increase since the 12-month data series was introduced in November 2010.

  • Supply-chain bottlenecks and elevated inflation are expected to impact the U.S. economy “well into 2022,” according to a recent survey of economists conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Production impact of the semiconductor shortage –

    • Stellantis will reduce its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant from two shifts to one shift beginning in the spring of 2022, citing the effects of the ongoing semiconductor shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • GM will extend production downtime for the Chevrolet Equinox SUV at Ramos Assembly in Mexico until November 22.

  • Ford suspended production for several days last week at its Hermosillo plant in Mexico due to an unspecified parts shortage.

  • Robots powered by artificial intelligence will ultimately be able to do the majority of the work at Nissan’s “intelligent factory” near Tokyo.

  • Hyundai intends to develop its own semiconductors, and noted that its parts affiliate Hyundai Mobis will play an important role in the in-house development plan.

  • Volvo hopes to raise $2.9 billion in a Stockholm initial public offering, with proceeds intended to help the automaker shift to a direct-to-consumer sales and subscription model.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Amazon’s self-driving unit Zoox will begin testing autonomous vehicles in Seattle, using Toyota Highlander vehicles equipped with sensor technology and autonomous-driving software.

  • Autonomous trucking startup Embark Trucks said carriers have reserved 14,200 trucks equipped with its technology.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Honda announced that all of its new models introduced in China will be electrified after 2030.

  • GM will extend a production shutdown of the Chevrolet Bolt by two weeks at its Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan, as a result of a battery pack shortage pertaining to the vehicle’s recall.

  • Electric Last Mile Solutions announced the opening of an Urban Mobility Lab in San Francisco, which will function as a hub for innovative EV fleet solutions.

  • Tata Motors will invest more than $2 billion in EV production over the next five years, following an investment by private equity firm TPG.

  • Novi, Michigan-based battery startup Our Next Energy (ONE), raised $25 million in a Series A venture funding round led by Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

  • American Battery Solutions will expand its Lake Orion, Michigan Innovation Center from 40,000 sq. feet to 115,000 sq. ft., and will add 75 positions. The expansion results from “several recent customer awards for high-voltage battery packs and solutions for light commercial delivery and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.”

  • Flatbed carrier PGT Trucking Incintends to lease Nikola Tre heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), following the satisfactory completion of a Nikola Tre FCEV demonstration program.

  • Vietnam’s VinFast plans to begin deliveries of its VF e35 and e36 electric utility vehicles in the U.S. market toward the end of next year.

  • Ford will invest $315 million to prepare its transmission factory in Halewood, England to manufacture electric power units for vehicles sold throughout Europe.

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 292
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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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