Tesla’s marketing miracle; Foxconn takes the road less travelled; and Ford’s electric F-150 might soon outsell the Lincoln brand. Please enjoy our auto industry and mobility briefing for 13th September to 19th September 2021. A PDF version can be found here.
- Know Your Enemy — Tesla is ending its referral program, which has substituted for traditional marketing by encouraging word of mouth referrals. The firm has shown that you truly can grow by word of mouth (a superstar CEO helps). Overall, by spending less on advertising, Tesla is saving 2%+ of net revenue compared to an established manufacturer (I’m not going to get into wholly-owned dealers, that is a different subject altogether). To put that in perspective, that’s not far off a 5% material cost bill, the sort of performance carmakers would shout about and analyse to death if their rivals achieved it. So… why does everyone else still have their chequebooks out?
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams — Foxconn is reportedly planning to pull out of a venture to build an electric car with Byton, thanks to the latter’s poor finances. The thing is, you can’t really chop and change parts sharing very easily with cars: either you are sharing everything and you are disturbed or were sharing nothing, so breaking apart is easy but what was the point in the first place? Does Foxconn have a secret ingredient that will make tactical collaborations a plausible strategy, or will it learn the approach’s shortcomings the hard way?
- Longview — Ford is boosting capacity for the all-electric F-150 before production has even started. But even at the new, higher, rate, Ford reckons it has almost enough orders to fill the plant for two years. At the car’s current level, sales won’t be much below the entire Lincoln line-up. Will buyers happily stand in line, or does Ford need another round of capacity increases?
News is arranged by company and topic. Stories that apply to more than one company or topic are duplicated.
Find our archive here.
News about the major automakers
- Announced that it will increase capacity for the all-electric F-150 to 80,000 per year. Ford says it has almost enough orders to fill two years of production. (Ford)
- Ford’s COO of North America wouldn’t commit to when the company might reduce production capacities for vehicles with internal combustion engines, saying that currently demand for all-electric vehicles appears to be incremental. The company’s current, favoured, route is to build cars that can have either fully electric drive or internal combustion engines, but with the added hassle of separate final assembly facilities. She also said that the decision to move from purchasing batteries from third parties to use joint ventures was purely driven by a greater ability to reap scale benefits (which she didn’t quantify). (Ford)
- Appointed a new chief information officer, with a background in online retail. (Ford)
- Volvo is reportedly set to list with a valuation of $15 billion to $20 billion. (Reuters)
- GM said it has sent process improvement experts into plants owned by LG Chem as it bids to get enough parts to refit all-electric Bolts with batteries that could catch fire. (Reuters)
- GM invested in sensor startup Oculii. (TechCrunch)
- Honda’s researchers are studying human brain waves to try and understand how drivers perceive risk out on the road. They aren’t yet sure that the company can realise its ambition of having zero fatal accidents by 2050. (Nikkei)
- Hyundai’s upmarket Genesis brand will start offering face recognition for vehicle access. Each vehicle can register two faces. (Hyundai)
- Hyundai is using robot dogs for real time safety inspections in factories. (TechCrunch)
- Used Hyundai and Kia electric batteries will go into a stationary storage system in Texas, USA. (Autocar)
- Mitsubishi will stop designing its own products for the Japanese market and will instead rely on engineering provided by part-owner Nissan. (Nikkei)
Stellantis (formed via the merger of PSA and FCA)
- CEO Tavares is giving up his board seat at Airbus to concentrate fully on Stellantis. (Stellantis)
- CEO Musk says Chinese automakers have his respect, thanks to their software expertise. Some journalists thought the remarks might have been made to please the Chinese government. (TechCrunch)
- Tesla will monitor how well owners drive for seven days before allowing them to try out the most advanced release of its driver assistance system. (CNBC)
- Ended its referral program (for the second time). (Engadget)
- Bugatti has launched a new razor. As if Bugatti buyers shave their own faces. (Bugatti)
- VW’s captive finance company sold off its Indian loan portfolio, which the company said was because of a “refined digital strategy”. (Autocar)
- Solar powered vehicle developer Lightyear raised $110 million. (Lightyear)
- Rivian is reportedly hoping that its IPO will raise $8 billion in cash. (Reuters)
- Workhorse accepted that it wouldn’t win its legal case against the US Postal Service choosing a competitor’s product for a big fleet deal. (FreightWaves)
- AM General showed off the next generation Humvee. (AM General)
- Foxconn’s project to build an all-electric car with Byton is reportedly on the ropes due to the OEM’s worsening financial situation. (Economic Times of India) Despite the troubles, Foxconn signed a joint venture with Thai fossil fuel producer PTT to build electric vehicles. The partners hope for 150,000 vehicles per year. (Nikkei)
- Evergrande is in grave financial problems. (Deal Street Asia)
- Xpeng wants to expand and is open-minded about acquiring weaker rivals to do so. (Deal Street Asia)
- Lucid celebrated achieving a 520 mile range in US certification. (Lucid)
- Rivian is launching a scheme that will bundle charging, data and membership of an owners’ club along with software updates. It will be free for an unspecified period. (Rivian)
- There are reportedly three final bidders for Ssangyong. (Economic Times of India)
News about other companies and trends
Economic / Political News
- US regulators are reportedly looking at another round of failures related to Takata airbag inflators. (Reuters)
- Chinese ministers hope to consolidate the country’s electric vehicle brands. (Reuters)
- CATL and BASF will work together on battery materials. (CATL)
- Allison Transmission is acquiring AVTEC’s Indian off-highway components division. (Allison)
- Continental completed the spin-off of Vitesco. (Handelsblatt)
- Redwood Materials hopes to have enough capacity to produce cathode and anode materials for 500 GWh of batteries by 2030. (TechCrunch)
- Chipmaker GlobalFoundries says it will double production for automotive parts. (Nikkei)
- UK used car dealer Cazoo acquired vehicle reconditioning business SMH. (Motor Trader)
- Self-driving firm DeepRoute.ai raised $300 million. (Deal Street Asia)
- Electric scooter maker Gogoro is merging with a special purpose vehicle in a $2.4 billion deal. (Deal Street Asia)
- Volta Trucks raised €37 million. (TechCrunch)
- Xpeng Heitech, part-owned by carmaker Xpeng says it will have flying cars on sale by 2024. (Deal Street Asia)
Find our archive here.