The cutest EV that General Motors doesn’t sell to Americans is doing rather well. All that and more in The Morning Shift for April 20, 2022.
1st Gear: I Am A Dumb Idiot Who Wants The Hongguang Mini EV
GM sells an electric car combining mass-market pricing with unquestionable desirability. It just doesn’t sell it in America. China, the world’s largest car market and the world’s largest market for electric cars, does, and it has been taking on Tesla in the sales race for some time.
Here’s an update from Car News China’s roundup of top sellers over there, and it’s still roundly outselling the much pricier Tesla:
Explorer 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
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This is not to say that the Tesla Model 3 is doing poorly by any means. Car News China’s Tycho de Feijter actually has a really wonderful roundup of Chinese-market aftermarket treats for the Model 3 on The Autopian, and Tesla has been busy with lockdowns in its factory base of Shanghai.
Still, it goes to show that GM can make a good EV, and it can sell well if GM makes it not only affordable (hi Bolt!) but desirable, too (hi ... not the Bolt!).
2nd Gear: Re-Opened Shanghai Plants May Have To Shut Back Down Over Shortages
Speaking of shutdowns in Shanghai, their end may be slightly premature. Rushing to re-open closed factories has left them once again facing shutdowns because they can’t get any parts. From Bloomberg:
Even those companies in China whose factories are operating under so-called closed-loop systems might be forced to stop work due to parts shortages or logistical challenges that make moving people and goods around the country near impossible, a European chamber of commerce has warned.
“A few companies are running in closed-loop production now. Those companies are facing challenges and may shut down very soon due to lack of logistics and workers,” Maximilian Butek, chief representative at the Delegation of German Industry & Commerce in Shanghai said in a LinkedIn post Monday. “Their workers for closed-loop production have been working for more than three weeks and need to be replaced.”
Butek added that most of his association’s members can’t “have production sites running since they cannot get raw materials delivered and cannot deliver their products to their customers. The logistics in Shanghai is not working.”
I am glad that I have a cushy office job that lets me largely work from home. That said, I got Covid a few weeks ago (not from work), my office just got a couple new cases last week, while my buddy in California who has worked with no interruptions in two different factories all through Covid has never contracted anything.
3rd Gear: Continental Says It Has To Restart Russian Factory Or Else Its Employees Will Face ‘Severe Criminal Consequences’
I can’t say I know what to make of this, from Reuters:
Continental said it has resumed production at its Russian plant in Kaluga to protect local workers who could otherwise face criminal charges.
“Our employees and managers in Russia face severe criminal consequences should we refrain from serving local demand,” the German supplier said on Tuesday.
Continental did not elaborate on the potential charges staff might face.
Continental claims that this is not a profit-based decision, something that for-profit companies do all the time.
4th Gear: Toyota Keeps Selling All These Dang Hybrids
Using up all your EV tax credits selling hybrids? That’s the Toyota Galaxy Brain at work. The Financial Times has a nice story on Toyota being almost too successful at selling hybrids:
A heavy reliance on hybrid models, which currently account for more than a quarter of Toyota’s sales, has given it an unexpected edge. Sales of hybrid versions of the RAV4, its top selling compact SUV, rose by double digits, even as overall sales fell.
The main difference between a hybrid car and an electric car is that the hybrid combines a conventional combustion engine with an electric motor to power the car. Because they have two fuel sources, hybrid cars offer improved fuel efficiency.
Sounds great! What’s the catch?
Hybrids are cleaner than petrol cars, but still burn petrol. Most large economies want all cars on their roads to be electric eventually. From June, federal tax credits for purchasers of Toyota hybrids in the US will be phased out. In the UK, new sales of hybrids will be banned from 2035 — five years after pure petrol and diesel.
The EU has announced plans to end the sale of non-electric cars by 2035. It has been 25 years since the first Prius was launched but the market remains niche. Hybrids still make up just 5 per cent of annual US light vehicle sales. It has taken less than four years for EVs to reach 3 per cent.
Toyota is basically an anti-EV company at this point, which is kind of funny given how successful it is as a car company in general. I will never get over Toyota making its new EV literally impossible to pronounce. Nobody can even say its name. Who will buy it?
5th Gear: European Car Sales Down 19 Percent
It turns out war is bad for car sales, among other things. From Bloomberg:
Passenger car registrations in Europe slumped 19% in March, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said Wednesday. It was the ninth consecutive monthly decline amid production stops due to the war in Ukraine hitting local suppliers.
“Parts shortages and production halts related to the Ukraine war are set to limit auto supply and delay an expected sales recovery,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean wrote in a note.
Car registrations are falling short of expectations after last year’s record low when a lack of semiconductors idled plants. The continuing slump points to a deepening supply-chain crisis for manufacturers. Volkswagen AG last week warned of more supply pain and unpredictable commodity price swings as major nickel, aluminum and steel producer Russia sees more pressure from sanctions.
It is in the car companies’ best interest to take charge of the issue and send Peugeot 208s to the front.
Reverse: Also Today Busing Was Declared Constitutional in 1971
Neutral: How Are You?
I am getting increasingly unhinged as Passover continues. My lunches consist of coffee and air. Everything on god’s green earth has soy in it. I will be comprised of 80% french fries by the end of the week.