Nutson's Automotive News Digest Week Ending December 7, 2019
NOV 2019 US Sales Breakdown, UAW Fiat Agreement, Mercedes Says Buh-Bye To NY Auto Show; Toyota Lexus Rethink Car Shows, Phone In hand Ass In Jail; Dieselgate Still Alive; GM Pressures For Extension Of EV Welfare, BYD Zero Emission Beer Delivery
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending DECEMBER 7, 2019; Important and Interesting automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru and Toyota posted sales increases in November, an indication that the U.S. industry picking up a bit after an October lull. Few brands recorded declines in a month marked by higher spiffs, holiday promotions and an extra sales day and weekend. According to Kelley Blue Book, average transaction prices (ATP) increased to $38,393, up slightly from year-ago levels. Total light-vehicle sales ran at an adjusted annualized rate of 17.5 million in November, a touch better than 17.4 million a year ago, according to a projection by LMC Automotive and J.D. Power. The market researchers expect industry deliveries to drop to 16.8 million in 2020, from about 17.1 million this year. To move older model year vehicles from dealer lots, automakers boosted incentive spending by an estimated 12% to $4,538 per vehicle in November, J.D. Power estimated last week, exceeding $4,500 for the first time. Those discounts, plus the later date for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, was expected to spur some of the best Black Friday deals in years, according to car-shopping researcher Edmunds.
* The UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have reached a tentative labor contract agreement. The company has committed to an additional $4.5 billion in investments over the next four years on top of $4.5 billion announced earlier this year, which in total would add 7,900 jobs. The labor agreement is expected to include at least a $9,000 ratification bonus. FCA's national council met this week and voted to send the deal for hourly production and skilled trades employees to the 37,200 UAW-FCA members.
* Mercedes is exiting the New York auto show for 2020. Once a star of America's biggest car shows, Mercedes-Benz is now abandoning them, one by one. New York joins Detroit and Chicago where they are a "no show." The company did participate in the recent 2019 Los Angeles show. But, Automotive News says that's no guarantee for 2020.
* And, Toyota and Lexus are adjusting their auto show strategy to aim at consumers. Toyota will continue to have a presence in New York and other large and regional auto shows, but the automaker may aim its marketing dollars more at experiential efforts at the shows for consumers.
* Joe White for Reuters reports that Motorists in New South Wales, Australia, will have one more reason not to fiddle with mobile devices behind the wheel in violation of the law: The government plans to install cameras that will capture images of drivers and use artificial intelligence to detect who had a phone in hand, and issue tickets. New South Wales authorities said mobile phone detection technology will operate day and night feeding images to computers trained to detect what drivers are doing. The system is similar to one approved by the Netherlands last fall. How quickly this technology will spread, and when it will encounter privacy concerns, isn't clear yet.
* And more from Reuters. Dieselgate keeps haunting Volkswagen. German authorities raided the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg seeking documents that the company said related to a family of engines code named EA 288 - a different group of engines from those at the center of the 2015 emissions cheating scandal. VW said it had disclosed the emissions compliance problems with the EA 288 engines.
* And from the Detroit News, GM is at the center of a political fight in Washington about gas-mileage rules and the future of tax credits for electric vehicles as Congress gears up for an end-of-year push. The Detroit manufacturer is one of the loudest voices lobbying for an extension of a federal tax credit that provides up to $7,500 to buyers of electric vehicles, but GM has angered some Democrats by siding with President Donald Trump in a fight with California over fuel-economy regulations. GM and Tesla are the leading automakers pushing Congress to raise a lifetime ceiling of 200,000 electric vehicles per manufacturer that qualify for the tax break. Both carmakers hit that ceiling in 2018.
* Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with Nikola Motor Company and BYD Motors, completed a zero-emission beer delivery in the brewer’s hometown of St. Louis. Nikola’s hydrogen-electric truck picked up the load of beer and delivered it to Anheuser-Busch local wholesaler partner, Lohr Distributors, marking the first commercial delivery using a Nikola hydrogen-electric vehicle. Lohr Distributors then delivered the beer to the Enterprise Center, home of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, on a BYD electric truck. In addition to the zero local emission from these two vehicles, if you care about a reduction in street noise, electric trucks are very quiet.
* Nissan ordered a two-day furlough for U.S. employees amid falling sales. The automaker's U.S. operations will be closed and all employees will forgo pay for two days after the New Year's holiday. Employee travel expenses will be cut by 50 percent, effective immediately.
* This from the Detroit News: Ford dealers have met some new customers over the last two weeks, and they have the Mustang Mach-E to thank for it. Ford Motor Co. debuted its first-ever electric SUV on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles, at an event live-streamed to more than 140,000 people. The automaker said then it would start taking $500 reservations for the Mach-E that night, a full year before it hits dealer floors. The company won't say how many buyers have stepped up, but the publicity about the event has pulled Mach-E buyers to Ford showrooms even though there are none to see or drive.
* Uber issued an 84-page report on safety that contained one alarming, headline fact: The company received over 3,000 reports of sexual assaults related to rides last year. Uber portrayed the problem as improving by saying sexual assault reports in 2018 fell by 16% in the most serious categories compared to the year before. Uber put the number in the context of 1.3 billion rides in the U.S. The company also disclosed that there were 10 fatalities related to assaults during rides in 2017, and nine in 2018. Note from editor: take a taxi if you can, they are safer and often cheaper.
* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau have a story that should interest many. An average person in the U.S. spends nearly $1,250 annually on fuel and maintenance related to the daily trek for work. That figure rises significantly when you add the time lost making that drive every day — it jumps to $6,449 each year. Most motorists don’t consider time as part of the equation when sorting out how much it costs to get to their job; however, there is one and it’s called opportunity cost. This is time that could be spent working, reading, playing with your kids, lounging by the pool, etc. Opportunity cost is computed by taking the average U.S. hourly wage and dividing by the amount of time spent commuting. The average American spends 46 minutes behind the wheel commuting round trip, which is more than 200 hours annually. The opportunity cost adds $5,200 to that daily commute, and accounts for $12.9 billion of the $16 billion attributed to driving back and forth to one’s place of employment annually.
* Ford is recalling nearly 262,000 heavy-duty pickups in the U.S. and Canada because the tailgates can open unexpectedly. The recall covers F-250, F-350 and F-450 trucks from the 2017 through 2019 model years. All the trucks have electric tailgate latch release switches in the tailgate handle.