Ford Knows It Can't Bungle The F-150 Launch

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Nissan is giving up on the Titan in Canada and possibly soon in the US too, Porsche is being investigated for gas-engine manipulation, and Ford. All that and more in The Morning Shift for August 24, 2020.

1st Gear: Ford Knows It Has To Get The F-150 Launch Right

Ford, as a reminder, completely bungled the launch of the new Explorer last year, which probably had something to do with CEO Jim Hackett getting ousted and soon-to-be-CEO Jim Farley getting elevated.


The next big test for the company will be the new F-150, to be delivered next year after months of preparation. Ford sells nearly a million F-150s in a normal year, and it really can’t afford to fuck up its major cash cow. Also, the electric F-150 is coming. Next year will be a big year for Ford!

From Bloomberg (apparently not online just yet):

Ford will temporarily shut a factory in Michigan next month to install machinery for the redesigned F-150 pickup going on sale next year. The automaker also is constructing a new facility adjacent to its Dearborn, Michigan, truck plant to build an electric version of the F-150, according to people familiar with the project. Prototype production is expected to start next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal plans.

Ford also will idle and overhaul its Missouri pickup factory in October to prepare for the redesigned truck after closing its Dearborn plant for two weeks of retooling starting Sept. 7, according to the people. The complex and costly changeover of the two factories will trim output of Ford’s biggest cash cow by about 100,000 vehicles this fall, according to Michael Ward, a Benchmark Co. analyst with a hold rating on the stock.


My guess is that Ford will not fuck this up because F-150 really is that important but Ford’s history with launches isn’t great.

2nd Gear: Nissan Is Pulling The Titan From Canada

Will the US be next? Possibly! In any case, the Nissan Titan has been on life support for a while now, as it never really broke through here in challenging the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, or Ram 1500. Now, Nissan is pulling it from the market in Canada, even though dealers there aren’t happy about it.


From Automotive News:

The automaker dropped the news during a regularly scheduled Web call with the dealer advisory board this month.

“There was ... shock on the call last week. It was just sprung on you,” dealer board Chairman Rick O’Neill told Automotive News last week.

But the Titan was not a “core product” for Nissan in Canada, said market President Steve Milette.

“The Titan represented incremental business for us,” he said. “This decision was about what we need to do to focus and prioritize our resources to move the Nissan brand forward in Canada, versus Titan as a product itself.”


The pickup accounted for about 15 percent of sales at O’Neill’s three Nissan stores in Newfoundland.

“It’s like someone taking your right arm,” the dealer said. “It was a disappointing phone call for me because I had put so much effort and money into the Titan.”


Nissan sold just 800 Titans in Canada in the first six months of 2020. And while, yes, there has been a pandemic, if you’re not getting into at least four digits in a truck-dependent country like Canada in that time you are ... doing something wrong.

In the U.S. meanwhile, Titan has just 1.2 percent market share, according to Auto News. Brand loyalty to the Detroit Three is a hell of a thing.


3rd Gear: Hyundai And Kia Are Waiting To Pounce With EVs 

And analysts think that the automakers have more than a shot.

Per Automotive News:

“I feel like the Korean automakers have gotten the EV thing down,” said industry analyst Karl Brauer. “It’s so common with them. It doesn’t seem like they are major players in a type of vehicle or a segment, and they just jump in and the industry is generally impressed.”

Brauer has spent time in the subcompact Kona EV crossover, which has 258 miles of battery range, and considers it superior to the gasoline version of the popular model.

“They are right there,” Brauer said, “or slightly better than a lot of their competitors.”


Hyundai’s choice of a compact- to-midsize crossover as its first vehicle on the new EV platform is a good play for the U.S. and most global markets, said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

Although Hyundai defines the Ioniq 5 as midsize, spy photos suggest it’s closer to a compact crossover. Hyundai has not shown the planned EV in detail but said the model will take design cues from the angular concept vehicle called the 45 that it showed at last year’s Frankfurt auto show.

“This is probably the ideal segment for Hyundai to launch this new family of vehicles, since those compact CUVs are the top-selling passenger vehicles today, aside from big pickups,” Abuelsamid said. “If an OEM is going to try to bring in customers to buy EVs, it makes sense to put electric platforms in the type of vehicles they want to buy.”


This is mostly based on the two companies’ recent track records on catching up with crossovers and on the (mostly successful) launch of Genesis, though I’m not so sure the same experience applies when it comes to EVs. Get ready for Ioniq, in any case.

4th Gear: Porsche Is Under Investigation

Porsche was previously fined $632 million by German authorities after getting caught cheating diesel emissions tests, but this new investigation centers on gasoline engine emissions testing.


From Reuters:

A KBA spokesman said on Monday the investigation involved petrol engines that Porsche, Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) luxury sports vehicle unit, produced for the European market before 2017.

Porsche had confirmed a newspaper report on Sunday that it had informed the authorities after internal investigations uncovered suspected irregularities.


Bild am Sonntag weekly had reported that the investigation was focused on engines developed between 2008 and 2013, including those of the Panamera and 911 models, with suspected illegal changes to hardware and software that could affect exhaust systems and engine components.


A Porsche spokesman told Reuters that the company was cooperating with authorities. It’s remarkable that all of this just ... keeps happening.

5th Gear: Tesla Model 3s Apparently Hold Their Value On The Used Market

This makes some sense, given that many consumers seem to buy into CEO Elon Musk’s promise for ongoing over-the-air updates to Tesla’s cars, and that Tesla still does not have much real competition in the electric luxury market, though I’ll be interested to see how this plays out.


From Bloomberg:

Car-shopping websites still have small samples sizes to work with for how used Model 3s are doing, but so far the data are extremely encouraging. The sedans are retaining much more of their value than small luxury vehicles and selling quickly once owners list them for sale.

“If you’re looking for a used Audi A4, you have other comparable options like the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Lexus IS,” said George Augustaitis, director of automotive industry and economic analysis at CarGurus Inc. “If you’re looking for a Model 3, there’s no substitute.”


Low residual value — the amount cars are worth after a few years of ownership — was one of many factors holding back wider adoption of EVs. But TrueCar Inc.’s outlook is for vast improvement, driven in large part by the Model 3. The company’s ALG unit forecasts that the premium electric-car segment will go from currently having the lowest auction-value retention after three years to the fourth-highest 36 months from now.

Used Model 3s took just 29.3 days to sell on average from March through June, according to The Tesla sedan was the fastest-selling used car the vehicle-listing aggregator tracked during that span. Three-year-old models depreciated by just 10.2% on average, retaining much more of their value than small luxury vehicles the site analyzed.


Buyers of used Teslas should beware, however, as those over-the-air updates work both ways. If Tesla decides you didn’t pay for the technology on your used car it can downgrade your vehicle just as easily as upgrade it.

Reverse: Former F1 Driver Éric Bernard Is Born

He even got on a podium once, at the German Grand Prix in 1994.

After victory in the national kart series, Eric beat Jean Alesi to win the prestigious Winfield school scholarship in 1983, launching him into Formule Renault. A strong run in this was followed by title success in 1985 that boosted him into Formula Three, in which he finished second to Alesi in 1987. Formula 3000 was another category that took two bites, with Eric finishing third overall for DAMS in 1989. His two Formula One outings that year for Larrousse were backed up with a full-time ride for 1990, with Eric claiming fourth at the British Grand Prix. A weak 1991 season followed, and it was curtailed when he broke a leg in Japan. To many this would have been the end, but Eric fought back and returned to the Ligier team in 1994, peaking with third place at the German Grand Prix, his only scoring drive of the year.


Neutral: How Are You?

I’ve been aggressively logged off for the last nine days. I spent the morning sifting through emails and the news, which has made me want to die.