The order books for the 2022 F-150 Lightning have been shut down, Nissan’s destruction of Datsun is complete and Hyundai has mastered the art of making a profit as an automaker this decade. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Monday, April 25, 2022.
1st Gear: “Due To High Demand”
If you had your heart set on an F-150 Lightning but hadn’t yet placed your order, you’ll either have to choose one assuredly marked up on a dealer lot or wait for the 2023 set to roll in. The landing page for Ford’s full-size electric pickup now carries a disclaimer that reads “Due to high demand, the current model year is no longer available for retail order. Contact your dealer for more information. ”
That doesn’t stop you from building a 2022 F-150 Lightning, mind – it just makes it sort of a pointless activity. The truck officially begins reaching customers tomorrow, April 26. And to be clear about the markups, even those who have been early to lock in their preorders have still had to pony up thousands above sticker. Sometimes, it’s annoying but not too egregious, like an extra $ 5,000. In more extreme casesit’s $ 30,000 if you want to be included within the first run of deliveries.
This sucks, but it’s also entirely predictable. Ford expects to begin taking orders for the 2023 Lightning this summer, according to CarsDirect, with the vehicles reaching dealers in the fall. If you’ve ordered one, why not tell us what your experience has been like thus far in the comments?
2nd Gear: Renault Wants A Hit Of That EV Stock Bump
Can you blame it? Last week, reports emerged that the French carmaker is considering selling some of its Nissan shares. Simultaneously it may also list its EV-making business separately from the rest of the company that makes vehicles with internal combustion engines, according to Reuters.
French carmaker Renault said on Friday all options were on the table for separating its electric vehicle (EV) business, including a possible public listing in the second half of 2023.
Thierry Piéton, Renault’s finance chief, said any plans were subject to approval from its alliance partner Nissan, but made clear the Japanese carmaker was “in the loop” as Ranault [sic] weighs up its options.
Renault has been pushing ahead with plans to split its electric vehicle and combustion engine businesses as it seeks to catch up with rivals such as Tesla and Volkswagen in the race to cleaner driving.
If any of this sounds familiar, Ford basically did the same thing in early March, spinning off its EV business into a business named “Ford Model e” and the arm responsible for its gas-powered offerings as “Ford Blue.” That moved sort of made sense for Ford; I mean, if you ignore the dumb branding, these days Ford really is a company built on two pillars: trucks and off-roady SUVs, like the Bronco, Maverick and F-150; and the battery electric side of things, spurred along by the Mach-E and Lightning. Yes, of course the Lightning kind of straddles both planes, but those two types of products tend to court different demographics.
It’s a little different for Renault – a company that has only ever really made weird city cars, small crossovers and work vans. Renault only has one thing, and its future EVs, like that slick-looking Renault 5 revival, seem to represent the natural evolution of the brand. Such a move would strike me as a little desperate, then, and I’m totally going to be keeping score on how many of these “brand reinventions”Actually takes root in the electric era.
3rd Gear: Datsun Is Done, For Real
Did you remember that Nissan revived Datsun almost a decade ago as a house for its budget cars in select markets, like Indonesia, India and South Africa? Did you think that Datsun was already dead? You’re excused for that pang of déjà vu, because Nissan did announce that Datsun was winding down back in 2020. The company just didn’t get around to ending production until March of this year. From Automotive News:
The last plant producing Datsun vehicles has ended production of the cars, less than a decade after former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn resurrected the brand with grand visions of mass volume.
The Chennai, India, joint venture operated by Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault, ceased output of the Datsun Redi-GO five-door subcompact in March, Nissan said.
The move closes a chapter on Datsun that once saw the brand’s vehicles produced and sold in Russia and Indonesia, in addition to India. Datsun output in Indonesia and Russia ended in 2020. Datsun cars were also sold in South Africa, among other select markets.
Winding down the brand was part of the Nissan Next revival plan unveiled in 2020. The goal was to focus on the company’s core brands, mass-market Nissan and premium player Infiniti.
Two years on I’d say Nissan is making some inroads back to relevancy – probably not as swiftly as it would’ve hoped, but the sorta-new Frontier, sorta-new Z and actually-new Ariya are helping that along. Infiniti, not so much. Maybe Infiniti should be next.
4th Gear: Hyundai Did More With Less
In last Thursday’s Morning Shift, we shared that Hyundai was expected to report sturdy profits due in some part to the relative weakness of the South Korean won. Hyundai did exactly that, posting a 19 percent rise in quarterly profit for the early part of 2022. More interestingly, it managed that despite selling fewer cars, because that’s what its takes to make a profit as an automaker in this decade. Courtesy Automotive News:
Hyundai Motor posted a better-than-expected 19 percent rise in quarterly profit as favorable exchange rates more than made up for higher raw material costs and a drop in vehicle sales caused by the prolonged global chip shortage.
The company’s global car sales slid nearly 10 percent in the first quarter and Hyundai warned it expects further supply chain disruptions due to the lockdowns in several Chinese cities.
Like other automakers, Hyundai has raised prices to cope with soaring raw material expenses and logistics costs such as sourcing chips, and analysts expect further vehicle price hikes.Net profit climbed to 1.6 trillion won ($ 1.3 billion) in January-March. Analysts expected a 1.4 trillion won profit, according to a Refinitiv SmartEstimate. “Robust sales of SUV and Genesis luxury models, declining incentives, and a favorable foreign exchange environment helped lift revenue … despite the slowdown in sales volume,” Hyundai said in a statement.
Hyundai also pulled off a good showing despite suspending operations in Russia – a country where it’s only second in market share to Renault, via AvtoVAZ.
5th Gear: Europe Wants To Track Batteries’ Carbon Footprint
A group of 11 German companies, including BMW and BASF, have agreed to fund a battery passport system that traces that carbon footprint of batteries sold in passenger and commercial vehicles in Europe, Reuters reported Monday.
A European Commission proposal due to be discussed later this year states that rechargeable electric vehicles, light transport and industrial batteries sold in Europe must disclose their carbon footprint from 2024 and comply with a CO2 emissions limit from 2027.
They must also disclose the content of recycled raw materials in those batteries from 2027, followed by requirements to use a minimum share of recycled cobalt, lithium, nickel and lead from 2030.
The German consortium is the first project in Europe to attempt to design a digital product to meet these regulations, Germany’s economy ministry said.
Batteries could carry a QR code linking to an online database where EV owners, businesses or regulators could access information on the battery’s composition.
This software will encompass “a common classification and standards for gathering and disclosing data on the batteries,” because European Union law will likely necessitate manufacturers employ such a system in two years’ time and it’d behoove them and their suppliers to work together on a solution. It’s basically the opposite of the fingers-in-ears stonewalling carmakers are doing around right to repair in this country.
On this day 63 years ago, a household name started in the making. Take it away, This Day In Automotive History:
Mario Andretti, made his US racing debut on this day in 1959, just four years after emigrating to the USA. The superstar driver started his racing career in Italy several years prior. It all began in 1953, at age 13, when he joined Italy’s Formula Junior racing league. Mario and his twin brother Aldo were born in Rina, in Montona, Istria, formerly the Kingdom of Italy, now Croatia. After the move to the US, Mario and Aldo took jobs at their uncle’s auto garage in Pennsylvania. There they earned money to purchase and modify a 1948 Hudson Commodore.
On this day in 1959 the brothers entered the car into a dirt track race near Nazareth, Pennsylvania, making their US racing debut. Mario won the race! Between him and Aldo, they’d capture four wins in their first four starts. The early success behind the wheel allowed Mario to quickly work his way up the racing ladder.
As someone who grew up around those parts of Pennsylvania – and right across the river in Jersey – it trips me up to think about my geographical proximity to the Andretti story sometimes.
Neutral: Is It Just Me Or Are Modern Headlights Too Bright?
Since late last year I’ve been suffering from light sensitivity for some reason of which no optometrist has yet been able to explain. It makes driving at night a pain especially, and the headlights of new cars are particularly blinding. That’s just a problem for me, but I’ve heard quite a few people complain about how intense modern headlights are to face in opposing traffic. Have you noticed a difference?