Tesla buyers happen to be a loyal bunch, lots of people hope we’ll see the Model 2 this Wednesday and Nissan expects to have no less than six electric cars built in the United States by 2026. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 27, 2023.
1st Gear: Tesla’s Gain, Ford’s Loss
S&P Global’s Automotive Loyalty Awards for 2023 are live, and some of the results were predictable. For example, General Motors once again claimed the “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” spot for the eighth year in a row, which is probably just as indicative of GM’s staying power as it is of the fact that GM comprises many brands, and it’s sort of difficult to avoid them in this country.
More surprising is that Tesla displaced Ford at the top of the “Loyalty to Make” category. This is the first time Ford hasn’t claimed that designation since 2008, a title it mostly owes to the continued dominance of the F-150. Mercedes and Subaru also took home hardware as well From Automotive News:
Elon Musk’s automaker also scored repeat wins for “Highest Conquest Percentage” and “Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make.” It won “Most Improved Loyalty to Make” and two segment model loyalty awards for the Tesla Model 3 sedan and the Tesla Model Y crossover.
This year’s awards show that electric vehicles are starting to gain more of a foothold in the industry, in terms of market share, [Vince] Palomarez [S&P Global Mobility product manager] told Automotive News.
Mercedes-Benz won “Most Improved Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make” award — the brand’s launch of the electric EQS contributing to its ability to retain loyalty to brand and BEVs or hybrid powertrains.
Subaru also won “Overall Loyalty to Dealer” for the first time — 38 percent of Subaru owners buy their next vehicle from the same dealer.
According to S&P Global, Tesla’s success can be owed to “ethnic consumers” who “comprised 40 percent of personal vehicle registration in 2022.” It’s a little weird that S&P is plucking the same language Shop Rite uses to condense every kind of cuisine that isn’t Italian into one aisle to describe nearly half of all car buyers, but I digress.
To S&P, “loyalty” occurs when a household “acquires a second vehicle of the same make, model or manufacturer,” either to replace or supplement a previous purchase. Taken another way, Tesla has been around long enough and matured as a brand to the point where it can claim a sizable number of repeat buyers. They grow up so fast.
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2nd Gear: Hope for the Model 2 Burns On
Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company had “too much on [its] plate” to work on the mythical $25,000 Model 2. But we’re due to hear Musk’s “Master Plan Part 3” on Wednesday as part of the automaker’s Investor Day, and it’s there Tesla fans hope the company will finally share a breakthrough about the long-awaited, entry-level car. Not that there’s any confirmation that’s going to happen, mind. From Reuters:
Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid said Tesla might announce a cheaper car with short driving range for the Chinese market, but a long-range, affordable car that would appeal in the U.S. market will probably take some time due to slow ramp up of its own batteries.
Musk said last year in a podcast about minerals, titled ‘Getting Stoned’, that the new master plan, building on earlier ones for vehicle launches and developing solar and energy storage businesses, is about how to “scale” and get all the materials needed to make batteries for vehicles and energy storage systems.
The fundamental determinant “of the rate at which we can transition to sustainability is the rate at which we can grow the output of lithium ion batteries,” he said in the interview.
Although there is some sign sky-high lithium prices may be easing, Musk has said lithium costs could force Tesla to make its own supply of the electric vehicle battery metal.
Look — I’m not saying everyone can afford a Model 3 right now, but at $42,990 it’s currently $5,000 cheaper than the average new car. Throw in the $7,500 federal tax credit and it’s almost $12,500 below the average. However low Tesla could theoretically go with a Model 2, when you consider inflation and that the typical new car costs $11,000 more than it did five years ago, $25,000 seems like wishful thinking. But this is the car that’s supposedly going to change everything, so the hype cannot die.
3rd Gear: Nissan Will Get its Credits in 2026
In three years’ time, Nissan expects to have six fully-electric models undergoing production at its U.S. plants in Tennessee and Mississippi, per Automotive News. We already know that two of them are the Leaf and Ariya, and the remaining four are unannounced nameplates that will be sold at both Nissan and Infiniti dealers. All will qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit.
Nissan’s efforts to tap into the tax credits offered under the Inflation Reduction Act will be achieved through compliance with rules on final assembly, content from foreign entities of concern and the localization of battery components and minerals, COO Ashwani Gupta said.
“We as Nissan are confident that we will be complying for IRA with localization starting in CY 2026,” Gupta said at a briefing on Monday about the company’s electrification strategy.
The U.S. localization plan will include making electric powertrains locally, including a possible revamp of the Decherd, Tennessee, engine plant to make EV units. Nissan currently imports completely built electric powertrains from Japan for the Leaf assemble in Smyrna, Tennessee.
The company might also consider using a second source for batteries in the U.S., in addition to its current supplier Envision AESC, which makes batteries at its Smryna, Tennessee, factory complex.
Localized mineral supply, Gupta said, will be the most difficult challenge.
“IRA is challenging, but on the other side, it’s an opportunity to accelerate the competitive electrification,” Gupta said. “The question is how we manage that transition to full localization.”
Because of IRA, Nissan expects more than 40 percent of its U.S. sales to be full electric by 2030, up from an earlier prediction of just 40 percent.
Technically that could mean 41 percent, but regardless, this will all become easier for Nissan once it completes its common EV platform. By 2030, the manufacturer expects to cover its entire EV range with just three modular powertrains.
4th Gear: This January Is Going Better Than Last for Toyota
If you told Toyota in January of 2022 that by this time next year it would be pumping out 9 percent more cars across all its global facilities, I feel like it’d take that. From Reuters:
Toyota Motor Corp boosted global vehicle production by 9% in January, it said on Monday, its first increase in two months even as the car maker continued to feel the strain from global chip shortages.
The company, which is the world’s largest automaker by volume, and other car manufacturers are still grappling with tight supplies of chips, although the constraint has eased from a year earlier, when pandemic-related lockdowns sharply hit supplies of semiconductors.
Toyota said it produced 689,090 vehicles globally in January, an 8.8% increase from the same month last year and just short of the 700,000 vehicles it previously said it expected to produce for the month.
Nissan and Honda produced roughly 224,000 and 280,000 fewer cars compared to last January respectively, so Toyota’s got to be doing something right.
5th Gear: Fisker Finally
It’s hard to think that the Fisker Ocean — a car I first saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020, mere weeks before we’d all get real familiar with the four walls in which we dwell — has still not been delivered to reservation holders yet. That’s due to happen this coming spring, by Fisker’s latest estimate.
Much like Faraday Future, the thing that continues to impress me about Fisker is how long the company’s been able to survive without delivering a single product. Despite this, preorders for the Ocean have been trending upward in recent months, as Reuters reports:
Fisker said reservations for the first model of Ocean rose to more than 65,000 as of Feb. 24, 2023, from 62,000 as of Oct. 31, 2022.
The company expects testing for homologation — the certification for roadworthiness — to be complete by March.
Fisker reiterated the production target of 42,400 cars with its manufacturing partner Magna International’s Austrian unit in 2023, but said the forecast is dependent on supply chain deliveries as per its projection and timely homologation process.
This news contributed to a 7 percent jump in the brand’s share price as of Monday morning. Of course, Fisker can claim one milestone Faraday Future cannot, as of yet: it’s built an actual car it intends to sell.
Reverse: This Is 1982
It was on this day 41 years ago that the 74th annual Chicago Auto Show opened its doors to the public. Alongside Nissan’s NRV II car of the future shown above, here were some of the standouts from that event, per 365 Days of Motoring:
Visitors enjoyed a close look at the sporty Dodge Daytona and Chrysler Laser. Concept vehicles that year included the Buick Questor, Ford Probe IV, Continental Concept 100 and Nissan NRV II research vehicle. Convertibles were coming back into fashion, with rag top models of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird. The Oldsmobile subcompact Firenza also made is debut, and a GM experimental, unnamed economy car, said to achieve 60 mpg. Chevrolet redesigned the Camaro for 1982, while Pontiac undertook comparable action with its Firebird. The new Camaro was nearly 10 inches shorter and 500 pounds lighter, with an all-coil suspension, and for the first time, a standard four-cylinder engine. The compound-curved backlight served as a hatch.
Neutral: Speaking of Future Nissans
Say what you will, but if I had to choose one reasonably priced electric SUV of the many out there on looks alone, it’d probably be the Ariya. If we brought other factors into it, then I’d have to imagine I’m going Kia or Hyundai.