NJ IS LATEST STATE TRYING TO GO “ALL EV”
New Jersey government officials announced plans to phase out the sale of ICE vehicles, setting a target date of 2035. Governor Phil Murphy signed executive orders which will begin the process for the state to follow the framework as drawn up by California. NJ follows similar moves by Vermont, Oregon, New York, and other states.
FERRARI BUILDS 4-DOOR UTILITY VEHICLE, ENZO SPINS IN GRAVE
The long-awaited Purosangue was revealed by Ferrari last week, and the Italian automaker refuses to call the high-ground-clearance, four-door, hatchback vehicle an “SUV”. Pricing was also announced, with the vehicle starting at $398,000. If you want one and haven’t ordered yet, be prepared to wait. The Purosangue (no, we don’t know how to pronounce it) is sold out for the next two years.
TOYOTA TO BUILD ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN KY BY 2025?
A report from Nikkei Asia claimed that Toyota will begin building mid- and full-sized EV SUVs at its existing Kentucky plant, with production slated to start as early as the summer of 2025, ramping up to an eventual goal of 10,000 such EVs a month. Toyota, one of the world’s largest car companies, has been a leader in hybrids (witness the Prius) but has lagged behind its competitors with pure EVs. A spokesperson for Toyota Motor denied any such announcement and added that the company has not finalized plans for U.S.-based EV production.
2023 DODGE HORNET PRICING ANNOUNCED
Stellantis revealed the price structure for its upcoming Hornet CUV. (The Hornet name, by the way, goes all the way back to the 1951 Hudson Hornet, and was recycled for the 1970-1976 AMC Hornet.) Including a destination charge of $1,595, the least expensive trim level, the GT, will start at $31,590, and the top-of-the-heap R/T Plus will set you back $46,490. The Hornet shares its platform with the Alfa Romeo Tonale; Tonale prices are expected to range several hundred dollars above the Hornet’s. The new Dodge will begin sales this spring.
TESLA SHIFTS GEARS ON BATTERY PRODUCTION LOCATION
The Brandenburg Germany Economy Ministry said that Tesla has changed its mind regarding EV battery production in Germany, and will move production to the U.S. because of more favorable tax incentives, available via the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act). The Reuters article further stated that Tesla has been moving more slowly than expected in ramping up battery production at its existing Fremont, CA and Austin, TX factories.
EU JAN. ’23 SALES RESULTS BY POWERTRAIN: ICE, BEV, HEV, & PHEV
Alphabet soup! First: ICE = internal combustion engine; BEV = battery electric vehicle; HEV = hybrid electric vehicle; PHEV = plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Looking at passenger car sales for the entire European Union for the month of January 2023, based on drivetrain, ICE vehicles were highest at 37.9%, followed by HEV at 26.0%, diesel (!?!) at 15.9%, BEV at 9.5%, and PHEV at 7.1%. When we add the 3 “electric” numbers together, the total, 42.6%, outpaces the ICE cars.
STELLANTIS BUILDS BIG EXPENSIVE TRUCKS, MAKES LOTS OF MONEY
Stellantis, the global parent company of American brands Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep, reported 2022 pre-tax margins for its North American operations of 16.4%. This is almost twice what Ford reported for North America, and it’s 6% higher than what GM’s North American operations achieved. This result even exceeded Mercedes-Benz’s global pre-tax margins. There is no doubt that Americans’ appetite for large and expensive trucks and SUVs, of which the Stellantis brands sell plenty, helped fuel this result.
RAM REV EV PICKUP ORDER WINDOW: A 5-DAY OPEN-AND-SHUT CASE
It took only five days for Ram to stop taking deposits from customers interested in the new REV EV pickup truck. Ram did not state how many $100 deposits it accepted, nor has any final pricing info been made public. The Ram REV is not scheduled to begin production until late in 2024.
MERCEDES-BENZ IS LATEST CAR MAKER TO INSTALL GOOGLE
Mercedes-Benz announced that it has entered into an agreement with Google whereby Google will power the in-car navigation experience, and will also allow passengers access to YouTube under certain safe circumstances, such as when the vehicle is stationary. The German luxury car maker joins a list of other manufacturers including GM, Renault, and Volvo, all of whom have embedded Google within their vehicles. The trend is being closely watched by other auto brands – some car makers are “giving up” software oversight and are instead turning to companies seen as having greater expertise, such as Google. Pundits have opined that whoever manages that software will have powerful access to personal data which can be used to marketing advantages.
AN EV YOU NEVER HEARD OF (MAYBE) BEGINS PRODUCTION NEXT MONTH (MAYBE)
Faraday Future (be honest, you’ve heard of them?) announced a production start date of March 30, 2023, for its FF 91 EV. There is one caveat, though, as stated on the company’s website: “… assuming timely receipt of funds from the Company’s investors….” Their website is accepting preorders with a $1,500 deposit, but also includes the disclaimer that “… you understand and agree that placing this preorder does not guarantee receipt of an FF 91 or a specific delivery date.” If and when something changes, I’ll try to remember the company name post an update.
NEW VEHICLE SALES EXPECTED TO SHOW IMPROVEMENTS THIS MONTH
Early projections are showing that U.S. light-duty vehicle sales for February 2023 will show a 7% improvement compared to February 2022. Analysts attribute some of that improvement to stepped-up production, although the same report acknowledged that supply will still fail to fulfill demand. Rising prices are not scaring away customers, either: the average new-vehicle transaction price is expected to clock in at over $46,000.
VW AND AUDI TALK UP POSSIBLE U.S. PLANT ADDITIONS
A German industry publication reported that VW will build a dedicated U.S. factory for its new Scout brand. VW had earlier announced that it would launch the new brand in 2026. Scout, a takeoff on the old International Scout, would be designed and manufactured in U.S., VW had added at the time.
Meanwhile, Audi’s CEO, Markus Deusmann, said in a recent interview that Audi might consider a U.S. plant, a possibility driven by the financial advantages of the Inflation Reduction Act. The Audi brand, owned by VW, has never manufactured vehicles here, while VW currently has a U.S. factory in TN and opened its first U.S. plant in PA in the 1970s.
IRA LOOPHOLE SAVES NON-U.S. MADE EVs, FOR NOW
Until the final rules for the Inflation Reduction Act are completed, which is expected to happen next month, customers who lease their EVs will be eligible for the Act’s tax incentives. The U.S. Treasury considers a “lease” to be a “commercial transaction”, moving it into the “eligible” column. While it’s not known if or when this will change, the European and Asian makers of EVs who have been arguing for a rules change are breathing a (temporary) sigh of relief.