Lucid doesn’t want to make the news like Rivian just did, Toyota is reeling from natural disasters, cyberattacks and emissions cheating and Porsche wants everyone to know it’s talking to Apple, but refuses to say what. All this and more in The morning shift for March 18, 2022.
1st gear: only a matter of time
When Rivian announced double-digit price increases for some reservation holders, customers let the young electric truck maker know what they think. Rivian quickly dropped the plan for existing pre-orders. Lucid, another promising new electric vehicle maker, is eyeing the same cost hikes, but its CEO, Peter Rawlinson, is trying to spare its early adopters the brunt of those. From Reuters:
“It is inevitable that we will have to look at the prices of the models that will be released in the future,” CEO Peter Rawlinson told Reuters, citing the spike in nickel prices after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“I think it would be absolutely stupid of me to say that we will never raise our prices,” Rawlinson said in the interview on the sidelines of the South by Southwest (SXSW) music, tech and film festival.
“What we want to do is honor and deliver on our commitments to existing reservation holders. I think that’s what has been poorly received in the market with Rivian.
Last month, the Newark, Calif.-based company slashed its 2022 production target from 20,000 vehicles to between 12,000 and 14,000. It blamed “extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges “, such as:
Rawlinson said Thursday the bottlenecks were caused by a handful of suppliers for windshields, carpeting and some exterior trim parts.
“I’m super frustrated because we’re not limited by silicon chips, we’re not limited by our ability to make electric motors,” Rawlinson said.
Switching to different suppliers for these parts would compromise quality, he said.
He wondered if Rivian would be able to make a profit on its vans without raising prices, given the cost of the batteries.
“I don’t think even we could, with the best technology in the world, make an affordable and practical pickup,” he said.
Battery-powered electric mics are difficult to do well at an affordable price because they are heavy in nature. This heaviness requires larger batteries, which makes them even heavier and their autonomy. If you’re hauling a trailer or something else, this problem is exacerbated. The fact that Lucid – a company clearly struggling with supply chain in its own way – can look at Rivian and say “oof, good luck with that” really puts into perspective the uphill battle Rivian faces.
2nd Gear: Tesla’s Shanghai factory is back
Elsewhere in the electric vehicle world, Tesla’s facility in Shanghai is reportedly back in operation after a two-day shutdown due to a spike in COVID-19 in China. Via Reuters:
The Shanghai factory restarted production in two shifts from 7 a.m. local time to operate around the clock, the people said. A sufficient number of workers have returned to their posts after being cordoned off at nearby residential compounds for 48 hours where they were to be tested for COVID-19, according to the people who declined to be identified because they were not were not allowed to speak to the media.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that the U.S. electric vehicle maker suspended production at its Shanghai plant for two days, according to a notice sent internally and to suppliers, as China tightens measures to curb its biggest outbreak in two years. .
Manufacturing hubs like Shenzhen, Dongguan and Changchun, in addition to Shanghai, have been hit hard by the latest efforts to control the spread of the disease. Trucking and shipping too. Of another Reuters report:
Fabien Gaussorgues, who provides contract manufacturing services from a factory in Dongguan, said he was struggling to source parts needed for electric scooters, warehouse robots and electric toys due to the shutdowns.
“It’s not critical yet but it’s getting harder every day,” Gaussorgues said. “Shenzhen suppliers cannot produce, so they do not deliver goods. So next week we have no material for production,” he added.
It affects everything from Teslas to iPhones and even the area’s KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.
3rd Gear: …as Toyota assesses Japan earthquake damage
The earthquake that struck Japan off Fukushima on Wednesday killed four people and injured nearly 200, per CNN. He also caught manufacturing in the country, and Toyota said it will suspend some operations at 11 plants there next week. He will also have to lower his annual production forecast of 20,000 units. From Automotive News:
Toyota will halt production for three days starting next week on 18 lines at 11 plants in Japan, out of a total of 28 lines at 14 plants operated nationwide, the automaker said Friday.
Toyota said it would lose about 20,000 production vehicles from earthquake-related shutdowns.
If you’ve been following Toyota lately, you know that an earthquake was not the manufacturer’s only setback these last weeks :
In addition to previously announced slowdowns triggered by a cyberattack and microchip shortages, Toyota’s operations in Japan will be down 50,000 units in total for March, compared to its original plan.
As for the models concerned, it’s almost all:
The latest suspensions will reduce production of Toyota-branded models, including Crown and Yaris passenger cars as well as RAV4, Harrier, C-HR and Land Cruiser SUV crossovers.
Lexus LS and IC sedans, RC and LC coupes and the NX crossover will also be affected.
Of course, Toyota makes a lot of cars for its domestic market that are no longer sold here or never were, like the Yaris and the Land Cruiser. (The Harrier is the Japanese market name for the Venza, by the way.) The quake also rattled Toyota partners Renesas and Denso. In any case, this will block production. More, and even more.
4th Gear: Porsche and Apple have spoken
About what? Who knows! Maybe it was related to this car that no one wants to help Tim Cook build. The automaker’s CEO, Oliver Blume, said in an annual earnings call on Friday that with Apple’s help, it could “expand [CarPlay]which is the kind of non-statement that might very well go nowhere but still gets everyone talking because it involves the biggest tech company in the world. From Reuters:
“We already have Apple CarPlay, we’re going to expand that,” chief executive Oliver Blume said during the automaker’s annual results video conference on Friday.
He said Porsche and Apple have traditionally cooperated closely and were “on the same page”, but added that it was too early to make decisions on future projects.
It could mean literally anything, but my hunch is that it has to do with Apple’s desire to include more vehicle control functions in CarPlay. For this to work, the iPhone maker will have to get manufacturers to play along, and Porsche might be keen enough to do just that.
5th gear: Automakers are still cheating on emissions regulations
You would think that one of them would have learned from Dieselgate, but it turns out not. The last is Hino, the Toyota-owned commercial truck manufacturer. Today, the Japanese Ministry of Transport announced that it will revoke the certification of four of the company’s diesel engines. Courtesy of our friends at Reuters once again, who are really cleaning up today:
The decision, which will also apply to Toyota Motor Corp and Isuzu Motors Ltd vehicles that use one of the Hino engines, will be officially announced by the ministry on March 25, it said in a statement.
Hino admitted this month to falsifying emissions and fuel economy performance data for three of the engines. In a fourth engine, he said performance was later discovered to be below specification, although he has so far found no evidence of misconduct.
Hino has suspended sales for the time being, but an estimated 115,000 vehicles on the road worldwide are believed to have these engines, and many of them are in North America. That’s wonderful.
Setback: these guys are going somewhere else
Sunday 18 March 2007 marked the introductory round of the Formula 1 calendar that year at Albert Park in Melbourne. The winner was Kimi Räikkönen, driving for Ferrari in his first race with the Rosso Scuderia, kicking off a season where he would later win his one and only Drivers’ World Championship. Third on the podium was a bright-eyed and up-and-coming 22-year-old newcomer by the name of Lewis Hamilton. He would continue to accomplish things too.
Neutral: GT7 is still broken!
It’s kinda amazing and our Kotaku buddies just covered it in more detail, but Grand Touring 7 was taken down for maintenance before 8 a.m. ET Thursday. This is always down at the time of this writing, supposedly due to a catastrophic glitch discovered in the latest update, which only went live hours before the game went offline. Since you can’t play GT7 without an internet connection, this is a shiny endorsement of the heavily regulated, GDN-the confusing, ever-connected world we now live in.