Electric Vans, Delayed by Production Problems, Find Eager Buyers

First Up 05/18/23

Electric Vans, Delayed by Production Problems, Find Eager Buyers

Not long after buying a Ford E-Transit van for his plumbing business last November, Mitch Smedley sat down with some receipts and a calculator to figure out how much the electric vehicle was saving him on fuel expenses. “I knew there was going to be some savings because our electricity here is very inexpensive,” said Mr. Smedley, whose business is based in Blue Springs, Mo., just east of Kansas City. “But I was amazed when I worked it out. It makes it really, cheap to operate.” In the auto industry’s transition to electric vehicles, passenger vehicles have led the way. In the first quarter of 2023, sales of EVs were 45 percent higher than the same period a year ago to 259,000 cars and trucks, according to Cox Automotive. Tesla remains the largest seller by far, while General Motors, Ford Motor, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and others are selling multiple electric models, reports The New York Times. Cox expects the annual EV sales total in the U.S. market to top one million this year for the first time. Click here for the full story.

Honda Joins Toyota's Hydrogen Engine Push

The Toyota-led push to plug hydrogen combustion as a path to carbon neutrality has gained backing from rivals such as Honda and Suzuki as a group of Japanese minicar and motorcycle makers launch a fresh nationwide effort to promote the technology. Honda Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. will join Kawasaki Motors and Yamaha Motor Co. to develop hydrogen combustion engines for "small mobility," a category they say covers minivehicles, motorcycles, boats, construction equipment and drones. The new effort, announced Wednesday, injects fresh energy into a clean powertrain strategy championed by Toyota Motor Corp., which has largely been a lone voice in the wilderness on the technology, reports Automotive News. Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda has been positioning hydrogen combustion as one route to achieving carbon neutrality since 2021. Japan's biggest automaker has been developing hydrogen-burning engines and deploying them in race cars, and the Toyoda is expected to take his turn behind the wheel of one in an endurance race at Fuji Speedway this month. As recently as 2021, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe had shrugged off the potential of hydrogen-burning engines. He said Honda had studied the technology but didn't see it as feasible for cars. Click here for the full story.

Urgent Recalls Affect More Than 2.5M U.S. Vehicles, Carfax Says

More than 2.5 million U.S. vehicles are under "do not drive" or "park outside" safety recalls that remain unrepaired despite the danger they present, vehicle history specialist Carfax said Wednesday. This is the first time Carfax has specifically analyzed urgent recalls — part of their efforts to address the 20 to 25 percent of all recalls that typically go unrepaired, Patrick Olsen, editor in chief for Carfax, told Automotive News. "Do not drive" notifications advise owners to cease operating their vehicle because a safety issue has led to an increased risk of accidents or physical harm, and "park outside" recalls occur when a vehicle is at risk for fire. "Any car at any point can get a recall," Olsen said. Six states each have more than 100,000 of these vehicles still in use on their roads, Carfax reported. California leads at 245,000, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Click here for the full story.

As Seller’s Market Abates, Car Dealers Lean on Consumer Data

Forward-thinking car dealers are using an array of modern data sources to get to know consumers in detailed and meaningful ways. The goal: Know enough about car consumers – such as their family size, financial wherewithal, buying cycles and more – to expedite selling them a car. So, says Satyan Merchant, senior vice president and automotive business leader at TransUnion, a credit bureau and financial information company. As vehicle inventory levels climb back to normal after parts shortages curtailed production, dealers are brushing up their sales skills, which today includes leveraging consumer data. The trick is to put it all together to create detailed consumer profiles that help make the sales process smoother. It’s a matter of “keeping current customers and getting new ones,” Merchant tells Wards. “It’s getting ahead of things by uniting all the data” drawn from both from inside the dealership and outside sources, he says. “At the dealership, the sales and service department have significant amounts of customer information. But sometimes those departments aren’t talking to each other.” Click here for the full story.

Kia to Tap into U.S. Subsidies by Expanding Mexico Plant to Make EV

Kia Motors is in talks to expand its production plant in northern Mexico to build EVs in an effort to qualify for US federal tax credits for electric vehicles. The plans have been confirmed by company officials after the governor of Mexico's Nuevo Leon state, Samuel Garcia, made a surprise announcement on Twitter on May 16, reports Inside EVs. "Nuevo Leon is being strengthened as a electro-mobility hub: Kia once again bets on Nuevo Leon with an investment to expand its plant and produce two Kia car models," he tweeted while on a trip to Seoul for a business forum during which he is believed to have met with Kia officials. While he didn't reveal what models would be built at the expanded site, his tweet was accompanied by photos of the Kia EV9 three-row large electric SUV. Kia has already confirmed that the EV9 will be made from 2024 at a new plant in Georgia, United States. A Kia official confirmed to The Korea Herald that the company is considering an investment in Nuevo Leon. Click here for the full story.


Around the Web

2024 Lexus LC Features Interior Upgrades Including a New Screen [Car and Driver]

32 States Charge Electric Vehicle Drivers for Not Pumping Gas. Is Yours One of Them? [CNET]

The New EV Gold-Rush: Automakers Scramble to Get Into Mining [The Wall Street Journal]

How ChatGPT Is Transforming the Way Dealers Manage Everyday Tasks [CBT News]