General Motors has outsold Toyota again in the States, Rivian’s present is stable but future looks uncertain, and Ferrari is trying to figure out how a whole bunch of its internal documents were dumped online. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, October 4, 2022.
Back in July, GM retook the U.S. quarterly sales crown from Toyota, who sold the most cars last year. The General kept its lead in the third quarter of 2022 as well, Reuters reported on Monday afternoon. That’s a whopping 24 percent more than during the same period in 2021.
GM said it sold 555,580 vehicles in the quarter through September, 24% higher than last year when inventory shortages hit sales. Toyota’s sales fell 7.1% to 526,017 vehicles in the same period.
GM outsold Toyota by about 80,000 vehicles through the first nine months of the year. Toyota in 2021 topped GM in sales by about 110,000 vehicles, the first time since 1931 that GM did not lead the U.S. auto industry in sales.
It’s incredible to think that Toyota’s overall volume actually decreased by 7 percent at the same time GM’s lifted by about three times that. It just goes to show the volatility of the market under the ongoing supply constraints, which brings us to another topic: the interest rate. Experts and executives fear another phase of backsliding demand is just around the corner:
But analysts now warn demand may lose steam in the coming quarters as rising interest rates discourage consumers from paying more money for cars and trucks in the coming months.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about moving forward. There’s a lot of negative consumer sentiment in the marketplace. So we’re obviously concerned about that,” Randy Parker, chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor North America, said in an interview after the automaker reported a 3% rise in vehicle sales.
Used car retailers are shaking in their boots, too:
However, macroeconomic concerns are on top of analyst minds after used-car retailer CarMax Inc’s inflation warning last week.
“Discounts may begin to materialize as economic conditions, rising interest rates and steady vehicle availability affect the imbalance of supply and demand over the coming quarters,” said TrueCar analyst Zack Krelle.
Speaking of which, if you’re shopping for a used car, our car buying guru Tom McParland has some tips so you can negotiate in confidence, and ideally not get ripped off. Good luck out there; nobody seems to have any idea what’s going to happen next.
The Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV, two very reasonably priced EVs frustrated last year by battery issues, just enjoyed a relatively strong quarter. GM looks to ride that wave into 2023, when it plans to produce 70,000 examples of the cars worldwide, up from 44,000 in 2022. It’ll also pump the brakes on GMC Hummer production as the automaker ramps up the Bolt and makes tooling preparations for other new EVs. From Reuters:
The largest U.S. automaker said it was moving up body shop upgrades at its Detroit Factory ZERO for Silverado EV production in 2023 and taking other steps to prepare.
GM will pause production of the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup for several weeks starting in late November to prepare for that production jump, it said.
Cadillac Lyriq production will increase in the fourth quarter and GM plans additional production shifts for GMC Hummer EVs in 2023, it said.
The automaker reiterated its 2023 EV launches, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, Chevrolet Blazer EV and Chevrolet Equinox EV, were on schedule.
GM’s EV sales are still a small fraction of U.S. sales. Out of 1.65 million U.S. vehicles sold in the first nine months of the year, GM sold 22,012 Bolts, 782 Hummer EV pickups and 36 Lyriq SUVs.
Despite the recent good fortune, the Bolt isn’t really in the cards for GM going forward, as it’s based on outdated architecture. At least perhaps now it’ll leave this world with some dignity.
The electric truck startup churned out 7,363 vehicles at its plant in Normal, Illinois this past quarter, and delivered 6,584 of them. Anecdotally, I can believe that, because I’m seeing plenty of Rivians out on the road these days. More importantly, the company says it’s expecting to achieve its year-end goals. Again, Reuters:
The company also reiterated its full-year production target of 25,000 vehicles, sending shares up 9% in post-market trade.
The Amazon.com Inc-backed electric vehicle company produced 4,401 and delivered 4,467 vehicles in the preceding quarter.
This is slightly encouraging news for Rivian, which has not had the best year. After jacking up prices and forcing reservation holders to either upgrade their future trucks’ spec or go home, many people were feeling burned — and not just customers. Rivian walked back its proposed price hikes in the spring as a result of the initial backlash, only to float a different scheme of increases in August.
Meanwhile, on the production side of things, a plan to secure incentives for Rivian’s prospective $5 billion facility in Georgia roughly 45 miles east of Atlanta has been spurned by a local court, Fortune reported over the weekend:
Morgan County Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell rejected what is normally a routine request by a local government to validate a bond agreement, ruling Thursday that the development authority that brought the case hadn’t proved that the $5 billion plant, projected to hire 7,500 people, was “sound, reasonable and feasible” as is required under state law.
Trammell also ruled that under state law, Rivian should be required to pay regular property taxes because of its level of control over property it would be leasing from the development authority, undermining the reason that the legal action was brought in the first place.
Rivian declined to comment.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development and a local four-county joint development authority that recruited Rivian said they were “disappointed and respectfully disagree with Judge Trammell’s decision. They said they aren’t giving up on their plans, and are considering an appeal.
“We remain undeterred in our efforts to bring high-paying, American manufacturing jobs to Georgia, and are currently assessing all legal options,” the groups said.
Late last year, Rivian announced a plan to start up the plant in Georgia by 2024, eyeing 7,500 employees and annual production of 400,000 trucks on a 2,000-acre site. It’s received plenty of opposition from residents, and Judge Trammell isn’t confident that the company will have the money necessary to finish it.
Seven gigabytes worth of Ferrari internal documents were reportedly published online in recent days, according to an Italian newspaper. However, Ferrari itself says it has found no evidence of a data breach, and it’s still trying to figure out what exactly happened. Reuters, take it away, one last time:
Ferrari said on Monday some internal documents had been posted online and the luxury sports carmaker was working to identify how this had happened.
It will implement all the appropriate actions as needed, it said in an emailed statement.
Ferrari added it had no evidence of a breach of its systems or ransomware, and said there had been no disruption to its business and operations.
Earlier on Monday, Corriere della Sera newspaper, citing the Red Hot Cyber website, said Ferrari had been the victim of a cyber attack and seven gigabytes of documents, including internal ones, datasheets and repair handbooks, had been made public.
This isn’t the only run-in with hackers — or, apparently, as they’re called in professional circles, “threat actors” — that Maranello has experienced in 2022, Cybernews tells us:
Earlier this year, threat actors interfered with Ferrari’s entry into the NFT market. Threat actors took over the company’s subdomain and used it to host an NFT scam almost immediately after Ferrari announced it would mint tokens based on Ferrari cars.
Interestingly, RansomEXX published the [latest] leak less than a week after the Romanian cybersecurity firm Bitdefender became an official sponsor of Ferrari’s Formula One (F1) racing team.
That last part is very amusing, though. You have to hand it to the data thieves — they have a knack for seizing moments of peak irony.
The move I teased last week happened this weekend and it was a complete shitshow. I apparently amassed double the furniture and belongings I had previously in the last two years at my last residence, so the pokey 9-foot U-Haul van I ordered that had been sufficient in the past was definitely not enough this time! Always, always get the bigger truck.