Toyota to Build New SUV, Rather Than Car, at Alabama Plant

First Up 07/11/19

Toyota to Build New SUV, Rather Than Car, at Alabama Plant
Toyota Motor Corp. said on Wednesday it will build a new sport utility vehicle at a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama rather than produce Corolla cars, reports Reuters. The largest Japanese automaker announced in January 2018 would build the factory in Alabama with Mazda Motor Corp. Toyota, which said the shift was due to “a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” still expects to start production in 2021. Last week, the company said U.S. Corolla sales fell 5% in the first six months to 152,868, while overall Toyota car sales fell 8%. Its U.S. SUV sales only fell 1% over the same period. Toyota will continue to build Corolla cars at its Mississippi plant. Mazda said previously it would build a new SUV at the joint venture plant that will assemble up to 300,000 vehicles annually. Read more here.   

Jaguar, BMW, and Mercedes Have Most to Lose in U.S. Tariff War
The risk of U.S. tariffs on global auto imports and parts has cast a shadow over the worldwide auto market, but some automakers stand to lose more than others, reports CNBC. European luxury car makers like BMW, Mercedes maker Daimler, and Jaguar Land Rover are the most vulnerable to trade tensions between the U.S., Europe, and Asia, Fitch Ratings said in a new report this week. The majority of the cars they sell in the U.S. are imported from elsewhere. Other European luxury automakers like Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and BMW are also at risk, but unlike Jaguar Land Rover, have moved assembly plants to the U.S. with factories in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Spartanburg, South Carolina. Japanese automakers like Toyota, Honda and, to a lesser extent, Nissan are safer than their European counterparts, since they all have strong and expanding manufacturing footprints in the U.S. Read more here.    

Ford, VW Prepare Powerhouse Alliance on Autonomous, Electric Vehicles
Ford Motor Co. and autonomous-driving software company Argo AI are nearing agreements with Volkswagen AG to partner on electric and self-driving vehicles that would bind two of the world's largest automakers in a transatlantic alliance on two of the most expensive pieces of a rapidly changing global auto industry. According to The Detroit News, the proposed alliance would also tie VW to Argo as the Pittsburgh-based start-up company's second investor and the second company to use its software to deploy self-driving vehicles. Argo would be able to test and launch in Europe through VW. If approved by Ford's board this week and Volkswagen's board Thursday, the companies are expected to officially announce the new partnership details Friday. Read more here.    

Europe Should Brace for U.S. Tariffs, Says German Official
European Union member states should brace for U.S. tariffs on several fronts in the coming months, a senior German official said Tuesday, following meetings with U.S. officials and lawmakers in Washington. Automotive News reports that Peter Beyer, a German lawmaker and Germany's transatlantic coordinator, said there was continued U.S. interest in dialogue with Europe, but the Trump administration appeared poised to impose tariffs over disputes about aircraft subsidies, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and European automotive imports. President Donald Trump said in May some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threat but postponed a decision for as long as six months on imposing tariffs on European and Japanese auto imports to allow time for trade talks with both partners. European officials fear that Trump will now turn his attention to Europe, after brokering a truce in a protracted trade battle with China. Read more here.   

Hyundai Catering to Low-Price New Car Buyers with Venue
Hyundai’s Mike O’Brien said the company is catering to shoppers who want low-priced new vehicles instead of used cars, reports The Detroit Bureau. With the average transaction price for new cars approaching $40,000, a lot of consumers who once considered a new vehicle have wound up looking for a used car. However, the growing demand for used vehicles also creates an opportunity for company’s willing to price new cars and utility vehicles lower, according to Michael O’Brien, vice president for product, corporate and digital planning for Hyundai Motor America.“It’s a real opportunity,” O’Brien said during a visit to Michigan this week because probably 25% of used car buyers would prefer a new vehicle if one was available at an affordable price point. Read more here.    

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