Toyota’s next dip in production won’t be quite as low as they’ve recently been, turns out you might be able to skirt Tesla’s driving score requirement for its beta software if you’re an influencer, and Vinfast hopes to be selling cars in the U.S. by this time next year. All that and more in this Friday edition of The Morning Shift for October 15, 2021.
The Japanese auto giant had planned to build a million cars globally in November. Now it’s cutting that estimation to between 850,000 and 900,000 cars, for the same reason everyone else has. The thing is, a 15 percent reduction in volume isn’t quite as bad as it might seem, because Toyota’s November projections were increased to make up for far deeper cuts of 40 percent in October and September. From Automotive News:
But even with the cutback, the reduced output level still represents an all-time high for the month of November, Toyota noted. That is because in August, Toyota actually raised the November monthly target to 1 million units in an attempt to catch up from earlier setbacks.
[Global procurement manager Kazunari] Kumakura said the company could have reached 1 million units in November, had it not been for lingering supply chain woes.
November production last year, he noted, was 830,000 units.
Kumakura also predicted Toyota’s output will recover from December, and he said Toyota will do all it can to make up the lost volume later in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.
“We are now coordinating both internally and externally with our suppliers to see how much we can make a recovery in December and beyond,” Kumakura said. “We target a high production level for December and beyond, so we will try our best to make as many vehicles as possible.”
Kumakura also said he believed Toyota was “over the worst period.” He’s not the only executive from a carmaker to say that as of late. Hyundai U.S. CEO José Muñoz told the Detroit Bureau that he believed the “worst has passed,” and that the company’s projection for October production hasn’t deviated much from its initial target. All I can say is, don’t tease us with fantasies of the end unless you really mean it.
Some 972,723 cars were sold in Europe in September. The last time so few cars were sold on the continent, “Gangsta’s Paradise” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 charts for the year and Forrest Gump won the Oscar for Best Picture. It was 1995!
That’s according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, which pinned September as the third straight month of continual sales decline. Weirdly, the ACEA (the official acronym is based on the group’s French name, by the way) predicted sales volume growth of 10 percent in 2021. I don’t know who gave it that idea. From our friends at Automotive News, once more:
Market researchers now expect sales to be down this year after optimism in early 2021 when ACEA predicted growth of about 10 percent.
“We currently forecast that this year will not eclipse the desperately weak 2020 result,” LMC Automotive said in a report. “Our assumption is that sourcing issues will be with us throughout next year and continue to undermine the connection between positive underlying demand drivers and new-vehicle sales.”
All major European markets recorded double-digit declines in September, with sales in the U.K. down 35 percent, Italy shrinking by 33 percent, Germany down 26 percent and France down 21 percent.
Didn’t Toyota and Hyundai just say the worst of the semiconductor shortage was probably behind us? Here’s how both did in Europe in September, as it happens:
Hyundai-Kia, Europe’s fourth-largest group by volume, bucked the trend with sales up 27 percent. Kia’s registrations increased 56 percent and Hyundai gained 6 percent.
Toyota’s volume was down 18 percent with Toyota brand down 19 percent and Lexus down 11 percent.
For comparison’s sake, Volkswagen Group and Stellantis both slid by 30 percent. It seems not every manufacturer will see their way out of this one at quite the same time.
Invest in Tesla and have 176,000 Twitter followers! It really is that simple, according to Electrek and Tesla investor Ross Gerber. Gerber tweeted earlier this week at Tesla CEO Elon Musk that he was unable to improve his score in Los Angeles traffic. Miraculously, the next day, he had the latest “Full Self-Driving” beta.
Supposedly, the only Tesla owners eligible to try its Level 2 driver-assist system are those who have a perfect safety score, which is measured by an arbitrary algorithm that has resulted in a lot of weird, joyless mundane drives.
We don’t know for sure if Gerber’s clout is why he received the update when he otherwise shouldn’t have — though it is why he thinks he received it. From Electrek:
As far as we know, this is the first time that someone outside of Tesla’s early access program and without a 100/100 driving safety score has received the FSD Beta update.
In a comment to Electrek, Gerber claimed that he is “one of the best drivers in the world” and therefore, the safety score is not representative of his driving.
He said that he believes Tesla sent him the update because “everyone in the media” follows him and he can spread information about the Full Self-Driving Beta update.
Influencers, take note!
The Vietnamese EV maker hopes to begin taking U.S. preorders for its e35 and e36 SUVs in the first half of next year, with deliveries before the end of 2022. That’s also contingent on the creation of a dealer network that the company hopes will reach 60-strong over the next 12 months. From Reuters:
The automobile arm of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, Vingroup (VIC.HM), Vinfast has an office in California and expects to inaugurate 60 U.S. showrooms next year, he said.
Vinfast has grand ambitions to launch EV sales in the U.S. and European markets next year, taking on Tesla (TSLA.O) and other automakers. Funding that plan is Vingroup, which was founded as an instant noodle business in post-Soviet Ukraine and now has interests spanning real estate, resorts, schools, hospitals and smartphones.
Founded in 2017, Vinfast is aiming to compete on vehicle size and price. The carmaker’s vehicles will also come with a battery leasing scheme that means the cost of the battery, one of the most expensive components of an EV, will not be included in the final price.
If you didn’t know, Vinfast is also the company that built rebodied BMW X5s with General Motors V8s for its domestic market. The more you find out about Vinfast, the more entertaining the story gets.
I’ve driven both the new Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ and they’re fantastic little sports cars, obviously. A story from Automotive News published today sheds a little insight on the company’s partnership. It doesn’t reveal anything profound, but it puts into perspective how manufacturers can still make the cars enthusiasts want to drive, if they work together to do so profitably.
“Quick show of hands,” said Michael Redic, the BRZ’s line manager at Subaru of America, during an August presentation to journalists in Amenia, a rural town about 20 minutes from the Lime Rock Park racetrack in Connecticut. “Who thought we would do another BRZ?”
Fun fact: I was at that very presentation and I’ll have you know I did not raise my hand! I never thought we’d get another BRZ. Granted, there are a lot of carried-over components in both new Toyobarus, but who cares? If a relatively lightweight, cheap old-school rear-wheel drive sports car is what you want, that’s exactly what those cars are.
Since , the GR 86 lineage, born as the Scion FR-S and later renamed the 86 after Toyota’s youth-oriented brand was discontinued, has had 79,680 sales through the first nine months of this year. Subaru has sold nearly 43,000 BRZs since its inception.
By sharing costs, Toyota and Subaru “are able to do this profitably,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “Though low volume, for Toyota it helps round out a full product lineup by having an affordable sporty car. For Subaru, it offers another side to the utility vehicles they are now better known for in the U.S.”
Lots of people lament the BMW basis for the new Supra. I know this isn’t an original take by any means, but it partnerships are the only way we can get these cars — which are very good, by the way — then by all means, keep them coming.
Everyone’s favorite weekly automotive magazine program premiered 35 years ago today, on October 15, 1985. I’m positive I’m not the only one with misty-eyed memories of waking up early on a Sunday morning and hearing the comforting voice of John H. Davis confidently educating me about the aggressive lip spoiler on the 2004 Toyota Corolla S. MotorWeek is a treasure. Happy 35th birthday. The show keeps an extensive archive on YouTube, so here’s a review of a Mercury Marauder I distinctly recall watching for whatever reason, back when it premiered 18 years ago.
Remembering MotorWeek has filled me with nostalgia for flipping on Speed Channel in the mid-aughts. For a quick hit of dopamine I can call up the network’s hype Formula 1 intro and that theme song I’ll never forget. I also recall a marathon of Speed Racer, and another marathon of WRC rallies that I believe was shown over New Year’s Eve. It might’ve been Christmas, I can’t exactly remember. Maybe one of you does. Either way, it made me happy.