Making new automotive history
|Making new automotive history|
Once in a while we produce an issue that's fit for a time capsule.
Monday's Automotive News is one of them. Page 1 carries three stories. Each will surely fascinate any student of auto history who comes across them 100 years from now.
One of the stories nods to ages past from the start. It begins: "General Motors has been the top-selling automaker in the U.S. for the past 90 years, a stretch that began in the Great Depression, spans 15 presidential administrations and has withstood countless crises, including the company's humbling bankruptcy."
That streak, as we point out, is under threat by a disruption of seismic proportions: the global microchip crisis. Heading into the fourth quarter, GM finds itself trailing Toyota Motor North America by about 90,000 sales.
Dealership buy-sell deals are the stuff of sketchier statistics. But you'll be hard-pressed to find any month like the one we've just witnessed.
The latest megadeal adds the 54 new-vehicle stores of Larry H. Miller Dealerships (No. 8 in the U.S.) to the holdings of No. 6 Asbury Automotive Group. The $3.2 billion transaction caps a month in which bigger rivals of Asbury — Group 1 and Sonic Automotive — announced huge deals of their own.
And there may be more to come.
"I do expect that this is just the beginning of mega-transactions being announced over the next 12 months, said Erin Kerrigan, of Kerrigan Advisors.
And then there's Ford. The creator of the mighty Rouge complex made another manufacturing mark last week by announcing the largest single investment in its history. It includes the company's first factory on vacant land in more than 50 years.
And what a footprint it is. A total of 5,100 acres on sites in Tennessee and Kentucky, with three battery factories and an assembly plant for electric F-Series pickups. The price tag, shared by Ford and battery partner SK Innovation: $11.4 billion.
That third Page 1 story ends with words from Bill Ford himself.
"It's a huge stake in the ground for what we believe will be the future," he said. "And we want to make sure we're at the forefront of that future."
No one knows how Ford's bet will turn out. But those historians flipping through the Oct. 4, 2021, issue of Automotive News a century from now will.
“Technology has progressed to the point where mass [EV] adoption is going to be very likely. It’s really a confluence of technology and also customer awareness. There’s great pull from Mach-E and Lightning from customers. Are there lots of questions we’re going to have to answer along the way? Of course, but it’s a huge stake in the ground for what we believe will be the future, and we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that future.”
- FORD MOTOR EXECUTIVE CHAIR BILL FORD
In Monday's Automotive News:
Help wanted: Auto companies are not holding their breath that an onslaught of job seekers will soon break down their door. Instead, to lure workers back to an industry that was already having trouble attracting them, companies are stepping up recruiting efforts — offering signing bonuses, cash for referrals, social media advertising and even Spanish-speaking assembly lines. Automotive News talks with industry executives and consultants to get a read on why the labor shortage continues to haunt the auto sector.
Growth catalyst: Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said the company’s plans to go public via a reverse merger with special-purpose acquisition company Gores Guggenheim, expected to value the Swedish EV maker at $20 billion, are just the launching point for the young brand’s global ambitions. The CEO said the Volvo affiliate, which has two models for sale, plans to launch three more models by the end of 2024. It is operating in 14 markets now and expects to be in 30 by the end of 2023.
Stellantis prioritizes making EVs in Europe: The decision, driven by the shortage in microchips, comes as demand for electric cars accelerates in Europe.
Rivian details $1 billion loss: In its IPO filing, Rivian also revealed new details about its pact with Amazon, underscoring how the startup has tied its future to one of its biggest benefactors.
Chicago-area auto mechanics’ strike ends: The eight-week strike ended Sunday after union employees voted by a slim margin to accept a tentative four-year work contract from the association representing their dealerships of employment.
Alexandra Ford English named first Ford director of global brand merchandising: The 33-year-old board member and daughter of Executive Chair Bill Ford will “create an expanded collection of branded offerings for passionate fans of the Blue Oval,” according to the company.
A selection from Daily Drive:
Oct. 5, 1959: Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole is on the cover of Time magazine, hailed as the father of the rear-engine Corvair.
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