Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: ARE YOU READY FOR THIS!?
Volvo said back in July that, after 2019, all of its new cars will be either hybrid or electric. And now it looks like Jaguar Land Rover is following suit by offering electrified cars for the future as well.
On the heels of what will be the company’s first electric offering, the I-Pace, JLR stated that all of its new cars will be hybrid or electric after 2020, according to a statement. From the story:
From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. The company made the announcement at its inaugural Tech Fest, a series of debates and a free public exhibition about the future of mobility.
Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. Our first fully electric performance SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, goes on sale next year.”
When I read this, my brain immediately jumped to a hybrid or electric Jaguar F-Type. Will it sound just as mighty? Probably. I could dig it.
There’s really no use in resisting it. Governments everywhere are tightening environmental regulations on cars and electrification is just the way to go. JLR does have some Brexit anxiety regarding customer delays and high tariffs, according to Reuters, but I suppose we just have to wait and find out what happens.
2nd Gear: Buckling Down
As Hurricane Irma advances toward Florida, people are scrambling to prepare for the storm. Including insurance companies like Progressive and Allstate, which have stopped issuing policies to new cars in a few Florida counties, according to Bloomberg. From the story:
Progressive has put binding restrictions on new customers in some Florida counties, said Jeff Sibel, a company spokesman, adding that insurers often do so ahead of storms. Allstate has a property and auto moratorium in place in 23 counties, according to April Eaton, a spokeswoman. The companies are the third- and fourth-largest auto insurers in the state, according to according to data compiled by A.M. Best Co.
Some have predicted that Hurricane Irma could cause $130 billion in damage.
It could be that the companies are “overreacting” to Hurricane Harvey losses from last month, one car dealership expert theorized. That said, he also added that State Farm is continuing to offer new policies and will wait for a national hurricane advisory before stopping.
Stopping new coverage means, of course, that car dealerships can’t sell cars. This is bad for both car dealerships and buyers, who might need those new cars to prepare or evacuate in the days leading up to the hurricane hitting their neighborhoods.
3rd Gear: Scared Of The Tech
Self-driving cars are coming whether you like it or not. They’re seen as the solution for jams, gridlock and traffic fatalities. But there are two main issues to tackle. First, obviously, we have to develop a system that works. The second is with us, the consumers.
Maybe we’ve dropped our phones one too many times. Maybe all this talk of scary hacking has us on high alert. Whatever the reason, the majority of people surveyed by consulting company AlixPartners say they probably won’t buy driverless cars when they become available, according to a Bloomberg story that has not made it online yet at the time of this writing. From the story:
All too familiar with dropped calls and laptop meltdowns, 84 percent of consumers fear a software malfunction in a driverless car. Eight in 10 are worried about a hardware breakdown and 77 percent fret their car would be hacked, the AlixPartners survey of more than 1,500 U.S. drivers found.
On top of that, people are less likely to trust tech coming from car companies:
Consumers have more faith in tech giants such as Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. than automakers to develop self-driving software, with 78 percent saying they would trust them more to handle the coding for such a car. Traditional automakers such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. were trusted most to develop the hardware for driverless cars. Ride-hailing services such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. were trusted by just 1 percent of respondents to develop either the software or hardware of robot rides.
The obvious way to fix this, AlixPartners reasons, is to show and not tell: give the consumer a demonstration of how self-driving tech works to put their minds at ease.
I guess we’re pretty simple creatures in that regard. We just need to see things for ourselves to believe them.
4th Gear: High Rates, But Probably Not Price Gouging?
As Houston residents start the long road to recovery after Hurricane Harvey, many need cars to get around and back to work. Unfortunately, the flooding also destroyed many cars, so people have to turn to renting for the time being. In certain places, rental prices seem crazy high, writes Bloomberg.
From the story:
Avis Budget Group Inc.’s Budget website showed on Tuesday afternoon Hyundai Elantra compact cars available starting Thursday for $55 if paid in advance or $78 if settled at Hobby Airport, more than double the $36 drivers would pay at the same counter 30 days later. Avis had a Chevy Cruze on offer for Thursday for $57 in advance — or $123 at the counter — versus $43 if rented in advance for October. And Hertz Global Holdings Inc.’s Thrifty advertised on its website Chevrolet Spark subcompact cars for $60 a day plus fees at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, nearly a quarter more than the following month.
Is this another example of price gouging? Perhaps. But! Hertz is sending 15,000 cars to Houston from its other fleets and reduced rates to $4.99 a day for people who will rent a car take drive it to Houston one-way, however.
Further down in its story, Bloomberg also notes:
And not all vehicles are showing up as more expensive now than in a few weeks. Some cars listed Tuesday on Avis’ website for pick-up at George Bush starting Friday actually showed cheaper rates this coming weekend than for Columbus Day weekend the following month.
So maybe this could have been just pre-Labor Day price hikes? Seems pretty ill-timed if that’s the case, though.
5th Gear: Nissan, Doubling Down
Nissan unveiled its new Leaf earlier this week. It won’t be the best performer in the entire world, but it’s cheaper than the Chevy Bolt EV or a Tesla Model 3. That, for some, is the only deal breaker needed. And Nissan’s doubling down on these new Leafs (Leaves?)
Nissan will try and double its yearly Leaf deliveries with this new model. To help make it more attractive to buyers, Nissan gave it self-parking capabilities and a longer range, reports Bloomberg. From the story:
The Yokohama-based automaker sold 49,000 Leafs in 2016, falling behind Tesla’s Model S. The redesigned vehicle, which goes on sale in Japan from October and in Europe and the U.S. in January, has a window to build momentum before Tesla ramps up production for its mass-market Model 3 and other carmakers hit the market with a parade of new electric vehicles in the next few years.
Nissan has shipped almost 300,000 units of the first-generation Leaf, making it the world’s best-selling electric car on a cumulative basis. Tesla has said more than 450,000 people have put down deposits on its new Model 3.
If Nissan introduces an upgraded Leaf next year, with a bigger battery and longer range, you’d really be getting more bang for your buck.
Reverse: Wait, What Year?
Neutral: Hybrid and electric cars used to be seen as a hippy chariots. Now, it’s 2017 and it seems like every day that goes by, another automaker is pledging to electrify its fleet in some way within three to five years. Some of the most powerful and expensive cars you can buy today are hybrids. Have you made the switch yet? If not, what are you holding out for?