VW Set to Plug in a New Name: "Voltswagen"

First Up 03/30/21

Auto Industry Urges Biden to Back 'Comprehensive' EV Plan

Major automakers, parts companies, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union urged U.S. President Joe Biden to support a “comprehensive plan” on electric vehicles and called for hefty government tax credits and numerous other financial incentives, reports Reuters. The requests, made in a six-page letter dated March 29, come as Biden is set to unveil on Wednesday a $3 trillion or more infrastructure proposal that could include significant support for manufacturing and charging electric vehicles (EVs). The letter from the UAW and two major auto industry trade groups noted there are currently only 1.5 million EVs out of 278 million registered passenger U.S. vehicles. “We need a comprehensive plan that takes the present market realities into consideration,” said the letter, which was seen by Reuters. “Neither the current trajectory of consumer adoption of EVs, nor existing levels of federal support for supply- and demand-side policies, is sufficient to meet our goal of a net-zero carbon transportation future.” Read more here (Source: Reuters).  

VW Set to Plug in a New Name: "Voltswagen"

Volkswagen will spend more than $80 billion to bring at least 50 battery-electric vehicles to market by mid-decade, and it wants to make sure buyers know the new direction it is taking by using the name “Voltswagen” for its all-electric models. The plan was originally set to be revealed on April 29 but an internal document leaked out early, a senior VW source told TheDetroitBureau.com. The document described the move as “a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility.” The name change is meant to back up the automaker’s attempt to position itself as the world’s leading producer of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. Herbert Diess, the CEO of the Volkswagen Group put a target on the back of the auto industry’s current EV leader, Tesla, last year saying he is confident the German giant can “overtake” its American rival before the end of this decade. Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

Biden's Infrastructure Plan Will Avoid Gas Tax Hike, Vehicle Miles Fee

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Monday the White House will not propose hiking gasoline taxes or a new vehicle miles traveled fee to pay for a proposal to massively boost infrastructure spending. According to Automotive News, Buttigieg told CNN a vehicle miles traveled fee is "not part of the conversation about this infrastructure bill." Buttigieg has previously spoken about the idea of a VMT but has acknowledged it faces challenges regarding privacy and technology. He also told CNN a gas tax hike is not under consideration. "I want to reiterate the president's central commitment here. If you're making less than $400,000 a year, this proposal will not involve a tax increase for you," he said. Earlier, the White House said President Joe Biden will outline on Wednesday how he would pay for his $3 trillion to $4 trillion plan to tackle America’s infrastructure needs, a proposal likely to include tax increases first laid out on the campaign trail. Read more here (Source: Automotive News).  

Volvo is Set to Give All Employees 24 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave

CNBC reports that Swedish automaker Volvo Cars is increasing paid parental leave for employees globally to 24 weeks regardless of gender, the company announced Tuesday. Employees — both hourly and salaried — who have been with the automaker for at least one year are eligible for the new “Family Bond” program, the company said. It covers those who become parents through birth, adoption, permanent foster care, and surrogates. Non-birth parents in same-sex couples are eligible as well. The program takes effect Thursday, Volvo said. Employees will be paid 80% of their base pay by default under the program. They can use the time off from work during the first three years of parenting a new child. U.S. employees also have the option of 19 weeks of fully paid parental leave within 36 months of becoming a parent, according to Volvo. Read more here (Source: CNBC). 

Cybersecurity is Companywide Effort, IT Expert Says

Ransomware, where hackers hold hostage a company’s IT system and data, is top-of-mind in the auto industry right now, but simple human error with business emails is still the biggest vulnerability in cybersecurity, and employee training is still the first line of defense, reports WardsAuto. “Ransomware is a huge, huge issue,” says Benjamin Tweel, senior cybercrime specialist within Bank of America’s Global Information Security team. However, even the more-sophisticated threats including ransomware often get their foot in the door via common, everyday threats such as phony, “phishing” business e-mails. Tweel provided some tips and best practices for combating cybercrooks in a March 23 webinar hosted by AIADA, “The Auto Industry Under Cyber Attack.” If there’s a single most important tip from Tweel’s presentation, it might be, “Don’t reply to an email requesting a change in payment instructions!” Read more here (Source: WardsAuto).

Thriving Through Vehicle Shortages

Vehicle stock and shipments to dealerships were down 26% YOY in February 2021 (sources: Wards Intelligence, The Wall Street Journal, Jalopnik). As an industry, we recognize this problem, but what do we do about it? Smart dealerships have been investing in marketing campaigns that focus on used vehicle inventory and their fixed ops department specials. Additionally, they are focusing on operational excellence. Let us repeat that last part: operational excellence. Sales and service appointments are half the battle, but running an efficient dealership pays off now and in the long-run. For example, having lots of used vehicles in stock is great, but if you don’t have effective aged-inventory management processes, you run the risk of losing money on those vehicles. Know your recon time, process and costs, and make sure they are running as efficiently as possible. If you need help with inventory-related items, we recommend contacting Lotpop for an inventory audit. For additional valuable marketing tips, trends and best practices for dealers in 2021, download our 2021 Automotive Success Playbook here.

Around the Web

Hyundai Just Made It Easier to Opt Into Usage-Based Insurance [Car and Driver]

Jeep-Branded Charging Stations Coming to Trailheads This Spring [MotorAuthority]

Most-Anticipated New Car Releases [CarsDirect]

Lexus LF-Z Electrified Previews Future Lexus Hybrids and EVs [Autoblog]