Lexus Makes First EV Crossover for China and Europe

First Up 11/22/19

Nov. 22, 2019

Threat of Auto Import Tariffs Remains Despite Lapsed Deadline

President Trump’s decision to let a deadline to impose tariffs on foreign auto imports lapse without taking action has left the auto industry puzzled over the White House’s next move—which could include restarting the clock with a new levy action. According to The Wall Street Journal, the president had until Nov. 13 to decide whether to apply the tariffs following a Commerce Department finding that imported vehicles could pose a risk to national security. The White House hasn’t announced a decision. Experts on trade law say Mr. Trump might still seek to impose the tariffs despite the missed deadline, but such an action would be vulnerable to a strong legal challenge for not complying with Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Alternatively, Mr. Trump could decide to abandon the Section 232 action and pursue tariffs under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which is the same mechanism the president used to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. Read more here (subscription required). 

Lexus Makes First EV Crossover for China and Europe

Lexus has pulled the wraps on its first electric vehicle, a battery powered version of the UX compact crossover it says delivers brisk acceleration and a 400-kilometer (248-mile) range. Click here to see it. According to Automotive News, the UX 300e will go on sale in China and Europe next year and land in Japan in early 2021. Lexus said there were no immediate plans to sell the vehicle in the United States. Toyota's premium brand unveiled the EV at the Guangzhou auto show in southern China on Friday as a step toward electrifying the entire Lexus lineup by 2025. Leading with an EV offering for China and Europe is seen as crucial to meeting those markets' increasingly stringent emissions regulations. Having an EV on tap could further spur rapidly rising Lexus sales in China, where the brand was the fifth largest luxury car seller last year, behind Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Cadillac. For the full story, click here.

FCA Chairman Rejects GM Allegations, Says PSA Merger Talks on Track

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chairman John Elkann forcefully rejected allegations leveled by General Motors that implicate the Italian-American automaker’s late CEO, Sergio Marchionne, in a union bribery scandal and could threaten its plan to merge with French rival PSA Group, reports Automotive News. “We are not worried,” Elkann said Thursday, calling the suit “groundless” at an investor event in Turin for Exor, the holding company of Fiat’s founding Agnelli family. “I’m disappointed over the false accusations against Marchionne, who can’t defend himself.” Elkann, the 43-year-old Agnelli family leader, was responding to the federal racketeering lawsuit filed by GM on Wednesday that accuses Marchionne of playing a role in a years-long corruption scheme that’s already landed auto executives and labor leaders in jail. The stakes are high given the charges, if borne out, would tarnish the legacy of an executive credited with saving Fiat, and then Chrysler during a 14-year run – and with it the Agnelli family’s fortunes. Read more here. 

FBI Says Hackers Are Targeting U.S. Auto Industry

The American automotive industry has been the target of malicious cyber actors since at least late 2018, according to an FBI report obtained by CNN. In the bulletin disseminated this week to a select group of private companies, the FBI warned of efforts by hackers to successfully compromise auto industry computer systems using sophisticated techniques and by taking advantage of network vulnerabilities. The cyber attacks "have resulted in ransomware infections, data breaches leading to the exfiltration of personally identifiable information, and unauthorized access to enterprise networks," the FBI said. "The automotive industry likely will face a wide range of cyber threats and malicious activity in the near future as the vast amount of data collected by Internet-connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles become a highly valued target for nation-state and financially motivated actors," the FBI added. The FBI did not identify which specific cyber actors have targeted the US automotive industry, or whether any are state-supported. Read more here.

VW and Chinese Partners Announce $4.4 Billion Spending Plan for 2020

Volkswagen Group said Thursday that, together with its Chinese partners, it will invest around 4 billion euros ($4.43 billion) in China next year, with almost half of the cash to be spent on developing e-mobility, reports CNBC. VW claims that the German firm now accounts for almost every fifth car sold in China. The automaker was a pioneer of manufacturing in China, first establishing contact in the late 1970s. VW now has large joint venture partnerships with Chinese firms SAIC Motor and FAW Group. The announcement detailed that around 40% of the 4 billion euro investment is going towards e-mobility. The firm’s electrification strategy in China is being concentrated on manufacturing all-electric cars in two factories in Foshun and Shanghai. The manufacturer says by October 2020, the two factories combined will reach a capacity of 600,000 e-cars per year. The firm wants to produce 30 different types of electric car in China within the next six years. The CEO of Volkswagen Group China, Stephan Wollenstein, said in a statement Thursday that success in e-mobility “will be a key driver for reaching our sustainability target, becoming net carbon neutral by 2050.” Read more here.

Beltway Talk Podcast: Q&A with Toyota's Director of Public Policy Communications

In this latest Beltway Talk we take the opportunity to pick the brain of Ed Lewis, Director of Public Policy Communications at Toyota. Ed gives us an update on Toyota’s activity in Washington, D.C., and discusses trade, fuel regulations, and why Toyota’s dealers are so critical to their mission as a company. Listen in and subscribe by clicking here. 

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Self-Driving Trucks Likely to Hit the Roads Before Passenger Cars [CNBC]

Is Black Friday a Good Time to Buy a Car? [USA Today]

Court Seizes and Auctions Bizarre Cars [MSN Autos]

Tesla Cybertruck Debuts, and We Can't Believe Our Eyes [Autoblog]