Foley Weekly Automotive Report – September 2021 | Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley Weekly Automotive Report

This report helps automotive suppliers inform their legal and operational decisions to help address challenges and opportunities.

Key Developments

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • In a recent interview with CNN, Ford CEO Jim Farley said that absentee rates at some of its factories can exceed 20%, with the return to a mask requirement at its U.S. plants cited as a contributing factor.
  • A new analysis from IHS Markit found that brand loyalty for new vehicles among U.S. consumers is at its lowest rate since August 2015, with the drop attributed to declines in dealer inventory resulting from the global microchip shortage.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives agreed to vote by September 27 on the Senate’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

OEMs/Suppliers

  • Nissan will extend a production shutdown at its Smyrna, Tennessee, plant by two weeks as a result of COVID-19 cases at a microchip supplier in Malaysia.
  • Bosch, in a recent interview with CNBC, emphasized the importance of developing new models for semiconductor supply chains, including longer lead times and an increased stock of certain components.
  • Toyota will raise the price of steel materials sold to suppliers by the largest amount in over a decade, according to Nikkei Asia (subscription).
  • BorgWarner invested $10 million in Series A funding in Tennessee-based renewable energy company Enexor BioEnergy LLC; Enexor converts plastic waste into thermal energy.
  • According to ACT Research, raw material and labor shortages are reducing manufacturing rates for Class 5-8 trucks, in spite of high demand, with Class 8 production particularly impacted.
  • Huawei received U.S. approval for license applications to buy chips for its automotive component business, according to unnamed sources in Reuters. The telecommunications equipment maker is subject to U.S. trade restrictions on the sale of chips and components for use in smartphones and other network devices.
  • GM confirmed a layoff at its Toledo Transmission plant that will affect 16 permanent workers and 106 temporary workers; the action intends to “align production with demand” for six-speed rear wheel drive transmissions.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Autonomous delivery vehicle startup Nuro will invest $40 million to build a manufacturing factory and a closed-course test track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.Companies, including Walmart, FedEx and Kroger, have tested Nuro’s robotic delivery vehicles.
  • Waymo has ended a two-year initiative to sell its lidar sensors to nonautomotive companies. The company stated that it plans to focus on developing and launching its Waymo Driver technology across its Waymo One ride-hailing unit and Waymo Via delivery unit.
  • A Tesla Model 3 crashed into a parked Florida Highway Patrol car while the Autopilot advanced driver-assistance system was reported to be engaged; an investigation of the incident has not yet concluded.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Toyota plans to manufacture “integrated dual fuel cell modules” for hydrogen-powered Class 8 trucks from a new manufacturing line beginning in 2023 at its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst

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Automotive Components