Foley Weekly Automotive Report - November 2021 - 4

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley & Lardner LLP

Foley Weekly Automotive Report

This report helps automotive suppliers inform their legal and operational decisions to help address challenges and opportunities. 

Key Developments

  • U.S. new light-vehicle sales in November are forecast to reach a SAAR of 13.6 million units, according to estimates from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
  • Light-vehicle production declined by 20% in Mexico last year, and could fall by an additional 5% this year, according to the Mexican Automotive Industry Association.
  • In a statement last week by the COVID-19 Joint Task Force, disclosure of vaccination status is still voluntary for hourly union employees of Ford, GM, and Stellantis.
  • Canada signaled potential disagreement with the U.S. over the interpretation of the USMCA’s rules of origin for vehicle components, and Mexico may pursue an arbitration panel over auto content rules.
  • Electric vehicles and low emissions technology:
    • As part of its Ambition 2030 strategy, Nissan will invest $17.6 billion in electric vehicles and battery development over the next five years and set a goal to achieve 50% of its global sales from electric vehicles or hybrids by fiscal year 2030.
    • LG Energy Solution secured $1.36 billion to fund the expansion of its North American battery production capacity; the location of the potential expansion was unclear. LG has a battery cell plant in Holland, Michigan.
    • Solid-state battery technology faces a number of technological hurdles, which are expected to result in difficulty achieving mass market adoption this decade.
    • Rental car companies expect to increase electric vehicle options in their U.S. fleets, while noting challenges such as higher upfront costs, as well as the need to increase access to vehicle charging.

Market Trends and Regulatory

  • The World Health Organization assigned the Greek letter omicron to a new SARS-CoV-2 “variant of concern” that originated in South Africa’s Gauteng province. It will be a number of weeks before researchers understand the potential impact on therapeutics and vaccines. Global markets fell sharply on Friday in response to the update, but recovered some of the losses on Monday. Several countries imposed travel bans on a number of southern African nations, and countries including Japan and Israel banned foreign visitors.
  • In commentary prepared for an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged Congress to support domestic semiconductor manufacturing by approving $52 billion in funding for the CHIPS Act.
  • Beginning in January, the Biden administration will require COVID-19 vaccines for essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders.


  • Low vehicle inventories have recently contributed to higher profit margins for automakers and dealerships. However, several tier one suppliers are experiencing decreased profitability due to light-vehicle production reductions, as well as limited visibility into production shutdowns.
  • In a recent interview, Mazda emphasized its commitment to the U.S. market, discussing its upcoming CX-50 crossover vehicle and joint-venture plant with Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama.

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services

  • Hyundai plans to test a Level 4 autonomous vehicle in Seoul next year as part of its upcoming “RoboRide” mobility service.
  • Baidu received approval to charge fees for its Apollo Go robotaxi service in Beijing, and the company plans to expand to additional cities in China next year.

Electric Vehicles and Low Emissions Technology

  • Rivian will postpone deliveries of its R1S SUV by four to six months, from a previous target of January 2022.
  • Tesla intends to invest up to 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million) to upgrade equipment and optimize production lines at its Shanghai facility; the site is reported to be approaching its capacity limits.Separately, CEO Elon Musk indicated in a tweet that Tesla’s Model S Plaid sedan could launch in China next year.
  • Australia-based Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. will supply lithium hydroxide for Stellantis’ EV batteries in Europe beginning in 2026, as part of a five-year agreement announced this week.
  • Sales of fuel-cell heavy trucks in China reached 435 units in January-October, and consultancy Roland Berger predicts the market could surpass 50,000 units by 2030 if fueling infrastructure improves and vehicle costs decrease.

Prepared by Julie Dautermann, Competitive Intelligence Analyst

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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