China Is the New Detroit in the Global Race for EV Dominance

First Up 03/29/24

China Is the New Detroit in the Global Race for EV Dominance

The rise of electric vehicles is dividing the global auto market into two: one that welcomes China-made cars, and the other that effectively rejects them. Last spring, a group of Nissan executives huddled at the company’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, staring at a world map. According to The Wall Street Journal, the map color-coded the world in four: red, for countries that block vehicle exports from China; yellow, for countries that risk halting them in the future; gray, for countries that might place some restrictions in the future; and green, for countries without restrictions or such likelihood. The exercise was designed to find out whether Nissan had a shot at exporting cars it made in China, including electric vehicles, even as geopolitical tensions grow. The executives found that roughly 60% of the countries fell under what the company assessed as “green” or “gray.” Including the “yellow” countries, the tally was higher. “When you look at the map, you can see that 80 percent of the market has an environment in which it could accept” China-made cars, said Masashi Matsuyama, who heads Nissan’s China investment unit. Nissan declined to say which countries fell under which color category. Click here for the full story.

March Sales Look Robust, Thanks to Incentives and Inventory

Analysts are expecting March to be one of the strongest months of the last three years when automakers report their monthly and first-quarter U.S. sales results next week, as increased incentives and rising inventories continue to keep consumers active in the market as the spring selling season arrives. Estimates from Cox Automotive, S&P Global Mobility, Edmunds and GlobalData put sales volumes over 1.4 million vehicles in March, up 5 to 6 percent from a year ago and only the second time since May 2021 that monthly sales have topped that level, reports Automotive News. Cox estimates quarterly sales will come in at 3.76 million, which would be a 5.5 percent increase over a year ago when inventories were tighter, but down slightly from the fourth quarter of last year because of seasonality. Cox pegged the seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales would reach 15.5 million in March. S&P Global Mobility projected volumes to reach 1.47 million in March and also estimated the month's selling rate would reach 15.8 million. GlobalData predicted an even more robust SAAR of between 16 and 16.4 million. Click here for the full story.

Survey: Dealerships Lukewarm About EV Service Overall but See Potential for Increased Retention, Revenue

Perhaps mirroring consumer and automaker uncertainty about the slow pace of electric vehicle adoption, nearly half of executives and fixed operations leaders from a cross-sample of auto dealerships aren't overly enthused about integrating EV service into their shops. They're also not overwhelmingly positive about the future of EV service overall. But these same dealership representatives are fairly bullish on more specific EV-related issues, such as customer retention and, surprisingly, increases in overall service revenue, reports Automotive News. Those are just some of the findings from "EV Service: Today and Tomorrow," a report released in October by CDK Global based on a survey conducted in July of nearly 200 auto dealerships nationwide. Nearly 80 percent of participants were directors, managers or supervisors; the rest were executive leaders. Nearly 80 percent work in parts or service departments, while more than 60 percent work in businesses that include one to five rooftops. The report reveals an odd dichotomy between participants' lukewarm attitude toward broad issues regarding EVs and optimism about the specifics, such as overall revenue and repair order volume. Click here for the full story.

How Leveraging Data Enhances the Car Buyer Journey — Vanessa Ton & Jade Terreberry

Out of all the factors dictating the car buyer journey, the online and in-store experiences are the most important for dealerships to get right. But with the arrival of new technologies, strategies, and consumer preferences, it can be challenging to stay up to date on what vehicle shoppers are really looking for and how effectively the retail automotive industry is meeting those expectations. On this episode of Driving Solutions, CBT News host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Jade Terreberry, senior director of strategic development at Cox Automotive’s Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, and Vanessa Ton, senior manager of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive. Together, Ton and Terreberry share findings from Cox Automotive’s 14th annual Car Buyer Journey study to help dealers and OEMs gain a deeper understanding of the current automotive market and how the consumer experience has evolved over the last year. Ton highlights the importance of understanding consumer behavior and market trends as the industry shifts toward normalization in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes that certain channels in the car buyer journey have shown impressive resilience throughout the last several years. Click here to watch the full interview.

2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz Arrives with More Tech and Style

Hyundai’s unibody pickup truck, the Santa Cruz, has received several revisions for MY2025, with the facelifted Ford Maverick fighter debuting at the New York Auto Show. While the powertrains remain unchanged - bar a new tow mode for the 2.5-liter turbo - the adventure pickup benefits from sharper exterior styling, interior upgrades, and enhanced off-road ability (in the case of the XRT). Let’s take a closer look at the 2025 Santa Cruz. According to Carbuzz, the Santa Cruz soldiers on with a pair of 2.5-liter engines. The naturally aspirated variant produces 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, which is channeled to the drive wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Those seeking more power must opt for the turbocharged Santa Cruz, which musters up 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. Instead of an automatic gearbox, this version receives an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. For 2025, the turbo variant offers a new tow mode found on the Limited and XRT trims. Santa Cruz models with the base engine are rated to tow 3,500 pounds, while the turbo AWD can pull 5,000 lbs. Click here to learn more about the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz.


Around the Web

The Good, the Bad and the Robotic: Reviewing the $345,000 McLaren 750S Spider [Bloomberg]

Automakers to Face Shipping Disruptions Following Baltimore Bridge Collapse [Car and Driver]

Here Are All The 2024 World Car of The Year Winners [Carbuzz]

Study: These Are the Top 20 Cars to Buy New Instead of Used [Autoblog]