Toyota Plant Puts Foreign Carmakers on Path to Pass Detroit in U.S. Production

First Up 01/11/18

Toyota Plant Puts Foreign Carmakers on Path to Pass Detroit in U.S. Production
Toyota Motor Corp.’s announcement Wednesday of Alabama as the home for a shared factory with Mazda Motor Corp. highlights a major shift in U.S. vehicle manufacturing: Foreign auto companies soon will build more cars and trucks in America than the Detroit giants. According to The Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter of 2018, foreign makers are expected to produce 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S., projects, equaling their American rivals for the first time. Already, the Big 3 are being outsold by non-U.S. rivals, as their share of American sales dwindled to 44 percent in 2017. A series of developments have fueled the shift. Japanese and other foreign companies—unencumbered by unions and decades of financial obligations to retired workers, and lured by U.S. states offering incentives—see an opportunity to bulk up their market share and localize production to mitigate risk. Meanwhile, executives at Ford, GM, and Chrysler are prioritizing profits over revenue, scaling back production of low-margin compact cars and sedans in favor of pricier and profit-rich trucks and sport-utility vehicles. Read more here

Trump Looms Large as Auto Show Revs Up
President Donald Trump is casting a long shadow over the Detroit auto show, reports The Detroit News. New models are being rolled out against a backdrop of uncertainty about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has reshaped the industry over the past generation. Changes to NAFTA, or an outright U.S. withdrawal, could drastically change the way automakers do business. Also hanging in the balance are stringent gas mileage rules that could impact models made after 2021. The Trump administration’s review of the rules is set to conclude by April. Automakers facing deadlines to produce fleets averaging over 50 miles per gallon by 2025 are hoping for relief from the mandate from a business-friendly administration. The uncertainty makes it difficult to conduct long-term planning, said Paul D. Ryan, vice president of trade and competitiveness for the Washington-based Association of Global Automakers. “The automotive industry is a highly capital-intensive, long lead-time industry,” he said. “Having the policy climate a little bit more stable so investment decisions can be made is very important.” Read more here

12 Must-See Cars, Trucks, and SUVs Coming to Detroit's Auto Show
As auto shows go, none is more important than the annual gathering in Detroit. The city famous as home to the American auto industry is where the world looks first for trends in auto design and innovation — and next week's gathering will be no exception. According to USA Today, while the auto industry is awash in SUVs, reflecting a shift to the boxy vehicles by consumers, the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is shaping up as being fairly balanced between crossovers, cars, and pickups. The show is set against a backdrop of a continuing boom in auto sales. The tally dropped slightly in 2017 compared to 2016, but still surpassed the 17-million mark, according to Autodata. Automakers are flush with profits to reinvest to enhance cars' looks, gadgets, engines and fuel economy. Plus, with a flood of models in the market, automakers are anxious to stand out. For more on the must-see vehicles at next week’s Detroit Auto Show, click here

2019 Honda Insight Aims to Become America's Favorite Hybrid
Honda will make its latest pitch for recognition as a leader in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles when the sleek 2019 Insight prototype bows at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday, reports The Detroit Free Press. The handsome, five-seat sedan will look right at home alongside Honda’s hot-selling Accord and Civic. Honda was the first automaker to sell a hybrid in the U.S. with the 1999 Insight hatchback. The bullet-shaped, first-gen Insight taught Americans that a combination of gasoline and electric power could deliver a previously inconceivable combination of fuel economy, performance, and fun. Honda calls the Insight debuting at the Detroit show a prototype, but the production model due to go on sale in the summer should be virtually identical. Fuel economy figures aren’t available yet, but Honda promises a combined EPA city/highway rating “in excess of 50 m.p.g.” Read more about Honda’s new Insight here

Porsche to Develop EV Supercar Platform
Porsche will develop a platform for electric sports cars and supercars that may also be used by Audi and Lamborghini, reports Automotive News. Called SPE, the architecture will be parent Volkswagen AG's third purpose-built architecture for full-electric cars. Besides Porsche EVs, SPE could underpin a more affordable replacement for the Audi R8 e-tron supercar. It could also help Italian sibling Lamborghini make the jump towards electrification. Lamborghini unveiled the Terzo Millennio (third millennium) electric car concept in November. The first indication of the SPE platform plan was in a footnote in a capital markets presentation in November. A senior VW executive familiar with the plan confirmed that Porsche received the assignment to develop an EV platform "for two-door sports cars and supercars." Despite its small size, Porsche may be the furthest among its VW siblings when it comes to electrifying its fleet. Roughly 60 percent of all new Panamera sedans in Europe are sold currently as a plug-in, and by 2025 more than half of its volumes should have some form of electric propulsion. For more, click here.

Ransomware: A Rapidly Growing Threat
Ransomware is a growing concern for companies large and small. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center will soon release data showing that in 2015, there were 2,453 reported ransomware incidents in which victims paid $24.1 million total. The actual number of incidents and losses may have been far greater. To learn more, including some Dos and Don’ts to avoid a ransomware hostage situation (see Resources at end of article), click here.

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