Every day we tell ourselves “Ford isn’t going to have any problems with this product launch” and every day we are disappointed. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 26, 2021.
1st Gear: Orders Delayed Into 2022 Over Roof Supplier
We have written about delays in the Bronco launch and Ford’s issue with roof supplier Webasto before, but now we have a firmer idea of how late this will make some hardtop Broncos. We also have a better sense of how much this will cost Ford, as Automotive News reports:
Ford Motor Co. will begin delivering its highly anticipated 2021 Bronco SUV to customers in June, although some hardtop roof options are being further delayed to the 2022 model year because of issues with roof supplier Webasto.
The automaker on Thursday shared the latest production updates in separate letters to customers and dealers. It promised to compensate affected customers for the roof delays with FordPass Rewards points, off-road school vouchers and free accessories that could cost Ford tens of millions of dollars.
Ford is very adamant that it has no institutional issue with launching important new cars, though if I had put in an order for a new hardtop Bronco, I don’t know if I’d agree.
2nd Gear: The Chip Shortage Just Got Real
The global semiconductor shortage hitting the auto industry as it ramps up in the wake of the pandemic just got real: Ford is pausing F-150 production over it.
Can you grasp the gravity of this situation? The F-150 is Ford. It’s the money-maker. You don’t put a pause on that unless shit is serious.
Reuters lays out the details:
Ford Motor Co. will idle production of its highly profitable F-150 pickup truck at a plant in Michigan through Sunday due to the global semiconductor chip shortage.
Ford and other automakers have stressed they are trying to protect production of their profitable vehicles, but the company has been forced to curtail F-150 output multiple times since the start of the year.
Ford’s plant in Dearborn, Mich., will be idled from Friday through Sunday, and resume operations on Monday. A spokeswoman declined to say how much volume would be lost.
3rd Gear: Ford Made One More Mistake: Selling Cars To Montanans And Minnesotans
The Supreme Court just laid down a unanimous judgment against Ford, and the details of the case are interesting. The first thing strange about it is that the case is still litigating stuff from the ‘90s, dealing with crashes involving a 1996 Ford Explorer and a 1994 Ford Crown Vic.
The second thing weird about it is that it hinged on Ford claiming it wasn’t really responsible for cars sold in Montana and Minnesota, as Reuters reports:
The automaker also contended that since it designed the vehicles in Michigan, manufactured them in Kentucky and Canada and originally sold them in other states that Montana and Minnesota courts should not decide the cases.
In an 8-0 ruling, the justices disagreed with Ford.
“We reject that argument. When a company like Ford serves a market for a product in a state and that product causes injury in the state to one of its residents, the state’s courts may entertain the resulting suit,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court.
Ford does substantial business in the two states, Kagan added, “by every means imaginable - among them, billboards, TV and radio spots, print ads and direct mail - Ford urges Montanans and Minnesotans to buy its vehicles.”
I love the idea of some Ford exec furious that the company never should have messed around with those damn Montanans.
4th Gear: Cruise Will Start “Sooner Than We Think,” Two Years After Planned Rollout
GM was supposed to start rolling out a fleet of Cruise autonomous vehicles back in 2019. In the intervening years, car companies have kind of come around to the idea that, well, autonomous vehicles are really hard to get right. We’ve largely stopped hearing much in the way of bragging and big expectations.
With that in mind, please enjoy this from GM:
5th Gear: We Got Another SPAC Over Here
“This electric vehicle start-up just became the largest UK company listing in history,” the Financial Times boldly declared, “and pretty much nobody has heard of it.” The company in question is an electric vehicle startup, one that makes vans. The FT reports:
Just under an hour ago, at US market open, Arrival, a London-based pre-revenue electric van maker, merged with special purpose acquisition vehicle CIIG Merger Corp to list on the Nasdaq. In the process, it raised $660m.
But that’s not the nuts bit. The value of the business as the clock struck 9.30am Eastern? $13.6bn.
Yes, you read that correctly. Billion with a “B”. Not only that, but it’s the record for a listing of a UK company, according to data from Dealogic.
The words “special purpose acquisition” should raise your ears. These companies, SPACs for short, are key in letting shaky startups go public without revealing information investors normally get access to during the IPO process. SPACs were behind Nikola, and SPACs are making a bubble, as Defector explained in a detailed report in February. I’m just amazed that this hustle is still going on.
Neutral: Did You Own One Of The Old Two-Door Cute Utes?
Geo Tracker owners, convertible RAV4 owners, I know you’re out there.