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CAR Discusses This Week's Hot Topics

Michigan Business Network
May 20, 2022 9:00 AM

carsThis week, EV batteries were a topic of focus as we saw significant investments in domestic battery production in the US and news regarding battery recycling. There were also some interesting developments in the autonomous truck space. Lastly, we review the latest headlines for used cars and car digital retailing.

As the microchip crisis continues to plague the automotive industry and beyond, we have migrated all news updates related to the shortage to our website. You can stay informed on the automotive impact of the global chip shortage by visiting here.If you missed Carla's previous Hot Topics email, you can read it here.We would love to hear from you and welcome your questions at any time. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts with us on hot topics, or if you would like to ask us a research question, please reach out to Katie Ramsburgh.

Hot Topics of 5/16/2022 - 5/20/2022

EV Batteries and Battery Recycling

My thoughts:

EV batteries and their recycling is quite the dilemma. All automakers are moving to EVs quickly, but some headwinds need to be considered in terms of supply of raw materials. Stellantis’s CEO is one of the few talking about this issue, but it’s very real. In the US, we are very constrained for raw materials and raw material refining. With the future plans for the EV explosion, we don’t have the capacity here in the US for battery manufacturing and/or EV production. Our manufacturing capacity needs to be greatly enhanced as does our ability to have access to raw materials.At present, automakers are forging their own partnerships with raw material suppliers to be certain of supply. This will continue, but the US must support the supply chain for raw materials for EV. Manufacturing incentives are needed to as well as mining possibilities. Further, we need to be able to do this sustainably and safely – this requires new thinking and research. Never before have we needed research in this area, and academia needs funding to make these breakthroughs.Beyond this, we MUST have recycling centers in place for batteries. If we can recover the raw materials, this will alleviate some of the stress for raw material mining and refining. Again, we need research dollars to improve this process, and it’s far from easy. Lastly, in general, we need to do a better job of recycling in the US overall. As a country, we are far behind the leaders and have much room to improve. Starting with how we manufacture and package products to end of life, we must do better!

Self-Driving Trucks

My thoughts:

As the world struggles with driver shortages and supply chain issues, the emphasis on autonomous trucking is expected and needed. Truck driving has always been a challenging career, further compounded by multiple choices for alternative career paths. It is great to see companies working on the “concerns” such as weather conditions and “fail-safe” actions. From a public perspective, the idea of a semi-truck without a driver is disconcerting unless there is confidence in the safety of all on the roadway.From my viewpoint, we will see autonomous trucking on “wide open” roads at first, and it will take time to expand to more urban areas. When we think about the urban areas, it makes sense to right-size and right-propulse the products in a hub and spoke concept. This means robotics and autonomy may be utilized in smaller products such as robotic delivery vehicles, drones, and VTOLs.I’m quite optimistic about this activity and truly believe it’s needed to support the supply chain issues we face globally. 

Used Car Market and Digital Retail

My thoughts:

Okay, so the fast expansion of the online used car market has hit a peak for the time being. Several factors have contributed to the poor performance of the used car market lately, including lack of vehicles, inflation, and interest rate increases. This downturn is further compounded by the automakers creating their own used car direct platforms, which some consumers may feel more comfortable with than utilizing CARVANA or others. When we see companies quickly moving to layoffs, this is a sure sign that their business model is seriously facing a free cash flow concern, and it has happened fast, maybe due to expansion being too fast. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this over the next few weeks.It was only a matter of time before the automakers began to see the “threat” of these companies. At first, it may have been thought that their was no threat as consumers wouldn’t shift to this new way of purchasing, but they were totally wrong. Consumers appreciate the simplicity of the process, and now they are fighting back. Who will win, or how will all co-exist? Stay tuned…..

Bailo-2 (1)-1Best Regards,

Carla Bailo
President and CEO
Center for Automotive Research

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