Industry News and Notes
There’s always something new and exciting happening in the auto industry. Here are ten bite-sized automotive news nuggets from around world to keep you abreast of the latest:
- The auto industry is beginning to take 3-D-printed car parts seriously. 3-D printers are gaining ground as a practical alternative for low-volume automotive parts production. Carbon3D, a startup in Redwood City, Calif., has been producing a variety of 3-D printed polymer parts to BMW, AG and Ford Motor Co. Carbon3D now is currently partnering with Delphi Automotive to develop more uses for 3-D printing and new players are jumping in to discover more automotive related uses for the technology.
- Never before in the history of the Canadian auto industry have automobile manufacturers and their dealers combined to sell more than 200,000 new vehicles in a single month. Until now. By any standard of measurement April 2016 was hugely successful for Canadian manufacturers and dealers. Three-quarters of the auto brands competing in Canada sold more vehicles this April than last.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics women hold 26.7% of jobs in the motor vehicle industry. Women have been gravitating to the retail car industry for a number of reasons that include; dealerships and manufacturers are looking for candidates with the right experiences and credentials, regardless of gender; the industry offers excellent income potential and opportunities for advancement; Women have been enjoying greater success in the sales arena as well. It’s widely reported that 80 percent of all car buying decisions are influenced by women and many customers appreciate the skills, sensitivity and insights that women bring to the job.
- An auto industry group, including Ford and General Motors, is urging President Barack Obama to ignore the recommendations that tech companies recently made about opening up the 5.9 GHz band for Wi-Fi. The group is urging the government to stick to a previous plan for dedicated, short range communication (DSRC – Dedicated Short Range Communications) that they say will lead to safer roads. “Changing the DSRC rules and ecosystem at this late stage would be an enormous setback for highway safety and delay the deployment of DSRC, thereby significantly limiting the potential of this technology to reduce injuries and fatalities on our roads,” the letter says.
- The shift toward shared and autonomous vehicles along with with UBER-styled transportation poses an existential question for the automobile industry: What sort of cars will we need in 10 years? Is the answer electric, autonomous vehicles? If so, it will pose a huge challenge for an industry model that has not changed much since the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford’s production line.
- Takata problems deepen as recalls widen. Takata Corp. is struggling to get its airbag recall crisis under control. Their latest full-year financial forecasts failed to take into account the fact that a U.S. regulator nearly doubled the number of devices to be replaced. The troubled Japanese supplier chalked up its latest forecast — for a 13 billion yen ($121 million) annual loss for the year ended in March — to charges for recall costs and settlements with consumers injured by its rupture-prone airbags. Those provisions were announced days before a U.S. regulator’s order that may add 35 million to 40 million devices to the recall list.
- A new catalytic converter may accompany the upgrade to overcome concerns over the diesel emissions cheating issue, which affects about 85,000 Audi, Porsche and VW vehicles. Talks between Volkswagen and U.S. regulators are still in progress with no final decision to date. While a recall for the 3-liter diesel engines was proposed in February, an agreement has been delayed as Volkswagen and U.S. regulators focus on the issues affecting about 480,000 vehicles with smaller engines that were deliberately rigged to pass official emissions tests. The ultimate timing of an agreement on 3-liter diesels depends on a broader settlement over the cheating scandal in the U.S.
- Two top manufacturing executives are leaving Tesla Motors, including the global head of production, at a time when the electric-car company is preparing to launch its most important car: the mass-production Model 3. Greg Reichow, Tesla’s vice president of production and Josh Ensign, vice president of manufacturing, will leave the company. A source familiar with the situation said the executive changes are linked to delays, glitches, and a recall that have plagued Tesla’s Model X. Tesla denied any connection between the departures and production problems with its SUV.
- April was a HUGE month for truck sales. Trucks accounted for 59.3 percent of light vehicles sold in April — the biggest trucks vs. cars spread this year and the highest truck sales ever for the month of April. Cars were down 6.1 percent and every car segment lost ground across the board while every truck segment including premium crossovers, pickups, vans and SUVs gained market share, up a combined 11 percent.
- Based on strong U.S. auto sales in April, forecasters are sticking with predictions for record U.S. auto sales this year, beating the all-time record set just last year. If there’s a cloud on that horizon, it’s the predicted increase in the share of fleet sales. On average, sales to government, corporate and rental fleets are less profitable than sales to individual retail customers. Nevertheless, LMC and J.D. Power reiterated a record forecast for all of 2016 of about 17.8 million overall, including retail and fleet sales. Last year’s record for U.S. auto sales was 17.5 million, just beating a record 17.4 million set back in 2000.