Each week TheDetroitBureau.com reports on the biggest news and events happening in the auto industry and relays those stories in its weekly the Headlight News podcast. The roundup includes news, features, reviews and more.
While the semiconductor situation is improvingly slightly, some automakers are still feeling the heat. Toyota has been forced to cut production at its San Antonio, Texas truck plant — just as it’s kicking off the introduction of its new full-size Tundra pickup.
Some of the other stories you need to know about include:
- U.S. new vehicle sales were down in January as automakers continue to play catch up with inventory levels while struggling with semiconductor and other shortages. Sales were down 9%, but Hyundai managed to post a 10% gain while Ford basically hit break even;
- The lack of new vehicle inventory has forced buyers to consider ordering their new vehicles. In fact, nearly half of new vehicle buyers are planning to do just that — even after things return to normal. The Cars.com study that found those results also noted the percentage of consumers looking to start and finish their new vehicle purchase continues to rise;
- Tesla recalled more than 817,000 vehicles last week after it was found the seatbelt reminder wasn’t working properly. The company, which also had to recall more than 50K vehicles equipped with the full self-driving beta due to a problem with rolling stops, will correct the problem with an over-the-air update;
- The world’s oldest automaker changed its name, shifting from Daimler AG to Mercedes-Benz Group, which basically what the world already calls the company anyway; and,
- Change is in the wind … wind reduction anyway as Rolls-Royce announced it’s changed its famous hood ornament, the Spirit of Ecstasy. It’s now slightly smaller and more aerodynamic as every little bit helps in the shift toward electrification.
The financial power of Detroit’s automakers was on display as GM and Ford posted hefty profits for 2021 — and investors didn’t care, noted Executive Editor Joseph Szczesny. Both posted big income numbers for 2021 and offered even better forecasts; however, the stock prices of each fell on the news, showing that investors have higher expectations for the legacy automakers.
After a getting a first look at Kia’s big battery-electric offering, the EV6, during a splashy debut in New York City’s Times Square, Publisher Paul Eisenstein got behind the wheel of the South Korean automaker’s impressive offering. The handsome beast offers all of the benefits of a skateboard platform, especially more interior space. It provides the expected benefit of instant power, but the overall performance exceeded expectations. Check out the full review in the podcast.
The second week of February is the glidepath for a rarity these days: an in-person auto show, this time the Chicago Auto Show. Managing Editor Strong says the show offers the potential for plenty of new with scheduled press conferences from Ram, Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Chevrolet and Ford.
TheDetroitBureau.com will also continue its series of stories dedicated to Black History Month on Tuesday with a piece about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and its impact on the UAW and the auto industry. The second piece is a profile about McKinley Thompson Jr., Ford’s first black designer, who helped bring the original Bronco to life.
Executive Editor Larry Printz reveals the bane of many motorists existence, auto insurance, began this week in 1898 when Travelers Insurance sold the first auto policy to Dr. Truman Martin of Buffalo, New York. Martin used his car to handle house calls and his vehicle was insured against collisions with horses. The policy cost $12.25. In 1920, the ToyoKojo firm is created. It later becomes Mazda. Ferrari, Mercury, GM make important moves as well during this week.
Find out more the industry’s history and more by listening to TheDetroitBureau’s latest edition of the Headlight News podcast by clicking here. And look for a new episode every Monday!