U.S. Dealership Turnover Tumbles as Employee Earnings Soar

First Up 10/27/22

U.S. in ‘Valley of Death’ as Autonomous Cars Write Checks the Tech Can’t Cash, Warns Pete Buttigieg

Self-driving cars have been billed as the future of transportation for decades. Some experts estimate that self-driving cars could cut out 72 percent of highway incidents on U.S. roads, once they become widespread. But right now, self-driving cars aren’t widespread. “It feels like the widespread use of autonomous driving is seven years away, and it’s been seven years away for 10 years,” says DOT secretary Pete Buttigieg. “So, the question is, will it be seven years away 10 years from now, or will we actually be getting somewhere?” Despite this damning reality, advances are being made in the space. Jalopnik reports Waymo is showing positive improvements with its driver AI system and Cruise is testing autonomous taxis in San Francisco, but these are far from finished products. Cruise cars are facing issues on their proving grounds and other companies in the space have repeatedly run into problems getting the cars to handle everyday obstructions on the road. Click here for the full story.

U.S. Inflation Reduction Act a Risk to Europe's Industrial Base, EU's Vestager Says

The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and soaring energy prices pose a risk to some of Europe's businesses, European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager warned as the U.S. and EU launched a task force on the issue. The EU has said the new legislation puts at a disadvantage European car company and those producing a wide range of goods from the "green economy" sector including batteries, hydrogen, and renewable energy equipment. Vestager, said the issue was crucial for the 27-country bloc. "We consider this a very important question. Because it is not just a question of some individual businesses also benefiting from the subsidies that is enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act," reports Reuters. "It is a combination of the energy crisis and the way that the Inflation Reduction Act is working that puts at risk part of the industrial base in Europe," Vestager said. She emphasized the importance of finding a solution with the U.S. government.  "And I think there is an understanding on the U.S. side of things that this is a situation where they need to engage in full in order to find solutions," Vestager said. Click here for the full story.

U.S. Dealership Turnover Tumbles as Employee Earnings Soar

Employee turnover at U.S. dealerships in 2021 dropped to its lowest level in at least a decade as average annual compensation for dealership employees soared — appearing to top the $100,000 mark for the first time. Average industry turnover was 34 percent in 2021 — the lowest level in the 11-year history of the National Automobile Dealers Association's annual Dealership Workforce Study. It fell from 2020's figure of 46 percent, which is where the annual turnover number had been hovering for several years. Meanwhile, average weekly earnings at dealerships that participated in the study increased 27 percent in 2021, NADA said on its website. Automotive News used the percentage increase figure and data from last year's study covering 2020 to calculate estimated average annual earnings for dealership employees in 2021. Last year’s study showed average weekly earnings for all positions in all dealerships at $1,554 in 2020. Applying the 27 percent increase to that and annualizing it calculates out to estimated earnings of about $103,000 for the typical dealership employee in 2021. It's the first time that average dealership employee earnings have crossed the $100,000 threshold. Click here for the full story.

Ford, VW-Backed Argo.ai Self-Driving Joint Venture to Close

Argo.ai, a US self-driving venture backed by Ford and Volkswagen Group, is to be wound down. Volkswagen has announced it will no longer invest in Argo AI. Auto Futures reports in individual mobility, VW's Cariad is continuing to drive forward the group's development of highly automated and autonomous driving together with Bosch and, in the future, in China with Horizon Robotics. Oliver Blume, CEO Volkswagen AG says: "Especially in the development of future technologies, focus and speed count. Our goal is to offer our customers the most powerful functions at the earliest possible time and to set up our development as cost-effectively as possible." Christian Senger, member of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand board of management responsible for MaaS/TaaS and AD (Mobility and Transport as a Service; Autonomous Driving), adds: "In the course of the cooperation with another partner, the collaboration within the group to develop highly automated and autonomous driving will also be strengthened." Click here for the full story.

Some of America's Favorite Cars Are Now Vastly Unaffordable

Beloved cars like the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Mustang have become out of reach for regular Americans, according to a new study from the automotive search engine iSeeCars. A shortage of new vehicles and other pandemic-related factors have driven car prices through the roof in recent years, reports The Insider. iSeeCars compared skyrocketing vehicle costs to relatively stagnant median American wages and found that dozens of models that would have been affordable in 2019 are now unattainable in 2022. "From August of 2019, well before the pandemic lockdowns started, to August of 2022, new car prices increased by almost 29 percent, and three-year-old used car prices increased by 52 percent, but incomes increased by only 13%," said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars. To calculate if something is affordable or not, the study considered today's typical rates for car loans and assumed that yearly payments shouldn't exceed 10 percent of a household's income. It identified 33 used models that were affordable in 2019 but aren't anymore. Click here for the full story.

Around the Web

Tesla Under Criminal Investigation from U.S. Department of Justice Over Self-Driving Claims [Car and Driver]

Audi Partners With Sauber to Race in Formula 1 Starting in 2026 [The Drive]

Controversial BMW Design Is Punking You, and Won’t Stop, CEO Says. [Forbes]

America's Cars and Trucks Are Getting Bigger, and so Are Their Front Blind Zones. Children Are Paying the Price. [NBC News]