More and More People Are Falling Behind On Their Car Loans

John Lawler, CFO of Ford, says delinquencies are "maybe a leading indicator."

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Photo: Steve DaSilva

People are falling behind on their car loans, Toyota is idling production lines, and Audi is suing NIO over copyright infringement. All that and more in The Morning Shift for June 16, 2022.

1st Gear: Surely This Bodes Well For The Economy At Large

Ford’s CFO, John Lawler, said on Wednesday costs to make the Mustang Mach-E were going up, and also that loan delinquencies are creeping upwards thanks to “economic pressures.” With interest rates from the Fed on the rise, and the hashtag #StockMarketCrash continually trending on Twitter, those delinquencies could be yet another sign of economic turmoil to come. From Automotive News:

Ford Motor Co. CFO John Lawler on Wednesday said auto loan delinquencies are beginning to rise in what he called a “dynamic” economic environment.


“We’re looking for every data point we can to get a read on where the consumer is and where they’re headed, given the inflationary issues, economic pressures,” Lawler said at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference. “We are seeing some headwinds when it comes to delinquencies as maybe a leading indicator.”

Still, he said the uptick was not yet a concern because delinquency rates have been at historic lows for about the past year.

“It seems like we’re reverting back more towards the mean,” Lawler said.


Lower inventory, paired with lower incentives and higher average transaction prices, has the industry in a better position than in previous years should the economy enter a recession, he said.

“It’s a completely different environment heading into what could be a potential recession than anything I’ve seen in the past,” Lawler said.


With a recession on the horizon, there’s only one reliable way to ensure your money weathers the storm: Chevrolet Corvette NFTs. Note: Steve is not a qualified financial advisor. Please do not buy the Corvette NFT.

2nd Gear: Toyota Is Idling More Production In Japan

Toyota has been on a production-cutting tear as of late, and it seems there’s no end in sight. The company is suspending yet another production line in Japan for the next few weeks. From Reuters:

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said on Thursday it plans an additional domestic factory line production suspension in June and July due to semiconductor shortages and a COVID-19 outbreak at one of its suppliers.


It now said it would produce 750,000 vehicles worldwide for the month. It did not disclose how many vehicles it aims to produce for July.


This time, it cited staffing disruptions at a supplier due to an outbreak of COVID-19 and a production equipment defect at another supplier.


Poor Toyota, seeing issues with both staffing and equipment at its suppliers. That 750,000-unit production target is likely about a 15% reduction from pre-pandemic levels, though that may change based on which particular sub-brands are affected.

3rd Gear: Audi Sues NIO Over Car Names

NIO offers two models called the ES6 and ES8. Audi sells two cars called the S6 and S8. According to the latter, those are too close for comfort. From Reuters:

Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Audi has filed a lawsuit in a Munich court against Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio (9866.HK) over an alleged infringement of Audi’s trademark rights, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.

According to Audi, Nio’s decision to name two of its models ES6 and ES8 infringes Audi’s trademark for its own model designations S6 and S8, Handelsblatt reported.


Nio, a premium brand which so far has made most of its sales in China, entered the Norwegian market in May last year and plans to launch in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark before the end of the year.


The ES6 has been around for years, and the ES8 even longer, but it seems Audi didn’t have an issue until NIO started moving a bit closer to Volkswagen’s home turf. This is the problem with alphanumeric car names — there are only so many letters and numbers to pick from.

4th Gear: Electric Truck Buyers Are Putting Deposits On Everything

A new study has confirmed what the rest of us always suspected: If you take refundable deposits for your fancy new electric truck, people will throw down their money without necessarily intending to actually buy the vehicle. From Automotive News:

Electric truck consumers are using refundable reservations to pre-order more than one EV and keep their options open, according to a new survey conducted by battery health analysis firm Recurrent.

The study, released Monday, surveyed more than 200 consumers who had at least one pending EV reservation between April and May and found purchasers tended to over-order electric trucks due to concerns over whether the manufacturer would actually fulfill the purchase. Eighty-nine percent of Tesla Cybertruck reservations overlapped with another truck pre-order, and 100 percent of Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevrolet Silverado EV pre-orders customers had also reserved another vehicle, according to the results.


The study found that nearly 50 percent of consumers who had reserved either the Tesla Cybertruck or another vehicle intended to redeem the pre-order.


Electric cars don’t seem to follow the same trend, but EV truck buyers simply seem to want an EV truck — regardless of who actually builds the thing. The market is truly a race to reach buyers, and one in which Tesla is falling further and further behind.

5th Gear: Sony And Honda Are Tying The EV Knot

It’s wedding season, and while the rest of us are looking for flights and continually forgetting to actually send in our RSVPs (I’m sorry, Lydia, I promise I’m coming), Honda and Sony have finally taken those electrified steps down the aisle. The two companies are forming a joint venture called Sony Honda Mobility Inc., to combine both companies’ capabilities into one new automaker. From Automotive News:

TOKYO – Honda Motor Co. and Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. have inked an agreement to set up a “high-value-added” electric vehicle joint venture this year under the name Sony Honda Mobility Inc. that will deliver a “new generation of mobility and services.”


The 50-50 company will be established this year with the goal of starting EV sales and providing mobility services in 2025, the companies said. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

Yasuhide Mizuno, currently a senior managing officer at Honda, will be the chairman and CEO of the new company. Mizuno was formerly Honda’s chief officer for automobile operations before being tasked to head the Honda-Sony JV Prep Office, a change that took effect June 1.


Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe has said the initial enterprise is expected to be small, but that it is an important step in trying out new business models for an industry under siege by change.


I had been trying to figure out whether “Hony” or “Sonda” sounded better, but I think Sony Honda Mobility is probably a stronger name than either one. Still, I wish I could’ve listened in on the meeting where they picked which company name went first.

Reverse: It’s A Jeep Thing

On this date 77 years ago, a butterfly flapped its wings. Now I get blinded on the highway by chrome-bumpered mall crawlers. Thanks, Willys.


Neutral: What’s Your Recession Plan?

Personally, I’m going to mount some huge gas tanks into the hatch of an Integra and start doing raids up and down the Gulf Coast, which I am henceforth renaming Gastown, in a perfect melding of The Fast And The Furious and Mad Max. Did you know the villain costumes for Road Warrior were almost entirely assembled out of pieces purchased from bondage shops and sports supply stores? Related question, anyone have any bondage shop or sports supply store recommendations in New York City?