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Carvana Wants You to Beg for Its Return to Michigan



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Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Carvana wants Michigan buyers to petition for its return, Volkswagen is going long on autonomy, and the joint Honda/Sony EV will be made right here in the U.S. of A. All that and more The Morning Shift for Thursday, October 13, 2022.

1st Gear: Carvana Is Putting Its Return to Michigan in Your Hands 

Carvana was recently kicked out of Michigan for a slew of reasons, primarily concerning the company’s seeming inability to provide titles in a timely manner. There were also concerns about forgery, destruction of documents, all that fun Sons of Anarchy stuff that only hurts car buyers. So Carvana, in its infinite wisdom, has decided those same buyers are going to help it get its Michigan license back. From Automotive News:

Carvana Co. launched a petition asking for support from consumers in Michigan after the company’s license to operate in the state was suspended last week.

In an email sent out Wednesday, the online used-vehicle retailer asked consumers to sign the petition “to support keeping Carvana and online, hassle-free car buying available without interruption in Michigan.”

Michigan’s Department of State said last Friday that it was suspending Carvana’s license for a multitude of alleged violations of the Michigan Vehicle Code, including repeated infractions pertaining to titles, registrations and odometers. Those were discovered during an investigation of several no-title complaints from consumers, the state said.

“I materially hurt you, so you should clearly help me continue doing that” is a bold strategy from Carvana. Let’s see if it pays off for ‘em.

2nd Gear: Volkswagen Bets Big on Autonomy

Everybody wants self-driving cars, right? I mean, everyone except car buyers, but what do they know about buying cars? Volkswagen knows better, of course, which is why it’s spending billions to develop more vehicular autonomy. From Reuters:

Volkswagen’s software unit Cariad will spend more than $2 billion and take a 60% stake in a new venture with Chinese technology firm Horizon Robotics, it said on Thursday, tackling two big challenges: software and the Chinese market.

The carmaker will invest $1 billion in Horizon Robotics and a further 1.3 billion euros ($1.26 billion) in the joint venture, with the transaction to be completed in the first half of 2023.

Together the companies will develop technology that can integrate numerous functions for autonomous driving onto a single chip that will be available only in China.

Developing new chips for cars is objectively a good idea, but focusing those chips around autonomy could mean a lot of effort spent on something many buyers just don’t want.

3rd Gear: That Honda-Sony EV Will Be Built in the U.S.

Two Japanese companies are collaborating on an electric car. Naturally, that car will be built in the United States, then exported back to Japan. Honda just can’t give up that sweet, sweet U.S. manufacturing. From Automotive News:

Honda Motor Co. and Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. are betting big on the future of electric vehicles in the U.S., planning to produce their new jointly developed EV at a Honda plant in North America and deliver it first to customers in the spring of 2026.

Sony Honda Mobility Inc. also plans to export the EV to Japan from North America.

The rollout prioritizes North America, one of Honda’s most important markets, because the U.S. is advancing quickly in electric vehicle development and market acceptance.

EV-friendly incentives and regulations, like those in California, also played a role.

In the age of the Inflation Reduction Act, manufacturing in America makes a lot of sense for EVs. Given the timing of this announcement, however, it’s likely that this was planned well in advance of that bill’s passage.

4th Gear: That Honda-LG EV Plant Will Receive $71 Million in Tax Credits

Oh, long time no see, Honda. Back at it again, collaborating with other companies to build electric vehicles in the United States. God, where have I heard that before? This time the joint venture is with LG, who will help build batteries in Ohio. From Reuters:

The state of Ohio said on Wednesday it plans to provide $71.3 million in tax credits for a new Honda Motor Co.and LG Energy Solution joint venture battery plant.

On Tuesday, the companies said they would commit to invest $3.5 billion and create 2,200 jobs in central Ohio, but said the overall investment is projected to reach $4.4 billion. Honda separately is investing $700 million and adding 300 jobs to retool three Ohio plants to build EVs and parts.

The department said it is also working with the Ohio Legislature “to invest $85 million in local water and transportation infrastructure upgrades to ensure the success of the project and benefit the local communities.”

See? What did I say about the sweet, sweet U.S. manufacturing? I just told you that Honda wouldn’t give it up.

5th Gear: Stellantis Slows Down the Wagoneer Factory

Microchips are in a bit of a shortage, if you hadn’t heard. The latest victim is Jeep’s Wagoneer plant, where the automaker may find itself putting together a few fewer Canyoneros as a method of parts rationing. From the Detroit News:

Jeep and Ram maker Stellantis NV is cutting the third shift at its plant that produces the Wagoneer SUVs in Warren, and some workers may see their hours cut, the automaker confirmed Wednesday.

In a statement, Stellantis spokeswoman Ann Marie Fortunate cited the global microchip shortage for the plant’s return to a two-shift operation “to improve production efficiency.” Full-time third-shift seniority employees will be redeployed to the other shifts. Part-time supplemental employees will see their hours reduced. The number of affected employees wasn’t included in the statement.

“No one is being laid off,” said Eric Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 140 that represents Stellantis employees at Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

It’s possible that, given the circumstances, this slowdown won’t affect the Wagoneer at all — instead, it could hit the Ram 1500 Classic. We already know that truck is on the way out.

Reverse: He’ll Yeah, Brother

Neutral: The Third-Gen Camaro Looks Good, Actually

Hard lines, shrouded headlights, and a more reasonable size than the current Camaro. I like it. Do you?

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