Rivian is moving on, cars don’t legally need steering wheels or pedals anymore and BMW just made an acquisition that I personally thought I made years ago. All that and more in this Friday edition of The morning shift for March 11, 2022.
1st gear: so much wasted goodwill
March hasn’t been kind to the EV truck and SUV maker everyone is looking for. First, Rivian announced a major price increase of up to 20% on pre-ordered vehicles, force customers to pay a lot more if they wanted their R1T or R1S on the schedule they were promised. He backed off on those hikes, but that didn’t save him from a lawsuit from a shareholder claiming the company knowingly undervalued its products.
Things aren’t looking up for Rivian either.. On Thursday, it reported “a net loss of $2.46 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $354 million year-on-year,” according to Reuters via Automotive News. And on Friday morning, its stock was trading 10% lower. Again, from Reuters:
Shares of Rivian Automotive Inc fell 10% in premarket trading on Friday after the electric vehicle maker halved its production forecast, underscoring its struggles with soaring raw material prices and chain constraints supply.
The prices of lithium and nickel, key materials used in batteries that power electric vehicles, have soared due to Western sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
This, in turn, has added to supply chain disruptions, which have plagued the industry since the pandemic hit.
As hard as Rivian has been hit, it’s somewhat dishonest to blame all of its problems on the supply chain. Everyone is dealing with it, and at this point it’s more about dealing with those punches in a way that’s fair and transparent to customers. Tossing a five-figure price increase on reservation holders is pretty much the opposite of that, and it’s reflected in the company’s stock price. As Reuters notes, Rivian is now trading for less than half the value of its IPO in November. On Friday, it fell as low as $36.30, a record high.
2nd Gear: cuts continue for Toyota
Toyota plans to make a record 11 million cars worldwide in 2022, provided it sticks to its schedule. We are three months in the year, and the world’s largest automaker has already had to scale back that plan somewhat. On Friday, he announced a series of domestic production cuts in April, May and June. From Reuters:
Toyota plans to cut domestic production by about 20% in April, about 10% in May and about 5% in June from an earlier production plan, a spokesperson said. Production would remain high because the previous plan took into account the need to compensate for lost production, the spokesperson said.
The automaker’s suppliers have been forced to deal with a number of changes to production plans due to chip shortages, and the production cut should ease some of the burden on them, the spokesperson said, declining to comment on the number of cars involved or the financial situation. impact.
Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda told union members this week that without a solid production plan, suppliers risked being “burned out” and that April to June would be a time of “intentional cooling”.
Surely you can guess why this is happening, but of course there is now a new complicating factor to consider: the current crisis in Ukraine. Additionally, in February, Toyota had to forgo 13,000 production vehicles in Japan due to a cyber attack at one of its suppliers. I wonder what it will be like next week.
3rd Gear: Cars Without Controls
GM’s Cruise division is currently testing self-driving taxis on city streets. These cars don’t have a driver and therefore don’t really need manual controls, like steering wheels and pedals. It is for this reason that the automaker recently asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make an exception for automated vehicles, so that they are not required to have these entrances. Via Reuters:
Automakers and tech companies have faced significant barriers to deploying automated driving system (ADS) vehicles without human control due to safety standards written decades ago that assume people are in control.
Last month, General Motors Co and its self-driving technology unit Cruise applied to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for permission to build and deploy an autonomous vehicle without human controls like steering wheels or the brake pedals.
The rules revise regulations that assume vehicles “will always have a driver’s seat, steering wheel and associated steering column, or a single front outboard passenger seat”.
“For vehicles designed to be operated solely by an ADS, manual driving controls are logically unnecessary,” the agency said.
Depending on how you look at it, this is an important step. It is now codified in law that some cars do not need conventional controls. You might see this as a big step into the future of self-driving we’ve been promised for so long – Where you might think of it as GM simply laying down permission to cut production costs on its robotaxis. I would lean more for the second reading, but whatever: it’s still a great moment in the history of the automobile.
4th gear: BMW buys a company you probably thought you already owned
This company is none other than Alpina – or should I say ALPINA, given how it is presented in all of the company’s marketing materials. Alpina has been tuning the German luxury automaker’s products for decades, but not in the track-focused, power-obsessed tradition of many specialists. Sometimes BMW Alpinas are less powerful than their source material, which is weird. The company is also obsessed with replacing paddle shifters with nipples behind the steering wheel.
Personally, I never understood the love, but BMW clearly thought Alpina was worth locking up for an undisclosed sum. Of Press release:
The Bovensiepen family-owned company will continue to use its engineering expertise in the development, manufacture and sale of BMW ALPINA vehicles under the existing cooperation until the end of 2025. This results in significant changes base BMW cars by the ALPINA team – including engine and transmission, as well as chassis, aerodynamics and interior equipment. BMW ALPINA vehicles are pre-assembled on the BMW production lines before the final assembly of the vehicles which takes place in the Buchloe workshops, also including individual interiors built to customer specifications.
After 2025, things really start to change for Alpina. It will cease assembly at its current headquarters in Buchloe, outside Munich, and move manufacturing to BMW proper.
The sale of brand rights to BMW and the discontinuation of the current ALPINA vehicle program at the end of 2025 will have implications for existing jobs at the Buchloe site. BMW will support ALPINA with the necessary labor adjustments at the Buchloe site over the next few years. Until the end of 2025, BMW will work with ALPINA to offer employees who will not be able to continue working at the Buchloe site a new position within the BMW Group and will also help them find new jobs with suppliers and partners of development.
Here are many more fast and weird BMWs in the years to come.
5th gear: the panda is safe — for now
There are few vehicles more valuable than the humble and honest Fiat Panda. Its immediate future is assured until 2026, according to another report by Reuters this confirms that it will be produced alongside the Alfa Romeo Toena – I’m sorry, tonal.
Stellantis will produce its best-selling small car, the Fiat Panda, at its plant in Pomigliano, southern Italy, until 2026, metalworkers’ unions said on Thursday after the automaker met with worker representatives.
Production of the Panda at Pomigliano, for which the group had never provided an end date, will be added to production of Alfa Romeo’s new Tonale sport utility vehicle, which is about to start at the plant. .
Subcompact electric vehicles are very difficult to manufacture at an affordable price, so hopefully the Panda will stick around for as long as possible. Because once Stellantis is fully EV, the Panda could materialize as something very different – and very expensive – from the efficient and practical multi-tool that has been in a car for decades now. That is, if he even manages to live at all.
Reverse: It’s “A Van Time”
The Renault Avantime, the futuristically styled B-pillar minivan and arguably the most French vehicle produced by a French automaker in the past 20 years, is said to have been shown for the first time at the Paris Motor Show. Geneva that day in 1999. Our recently deceased colleague Jason Torchinsky drove one not too long ago and recorded this awesome experience for your viewing pleasure.
Jalopnik has a Twitch now if you didn’t already know, and yesterday Steve DaSilva and I discussed a whole host of topics while he was playing Grand Touring 7. It was a fun time and we plan to do it every Thursday at 4pm ET. I love racing games, so I’d like to ask players in the chat what you’d like to see us play. And let me be extremely clear about this: nothing is out of place. I want to get weird and esoteric. Repairable Sega Saturn racers, like F1 Challenge. Driving Emotion Type-S. This abomination. Of course we will also play new stuff, but I want to stream games that no one else is streaming. Let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments.