CX Insights - Trend Watch - Automotive Industry (ICYMI May 2022)
ICYMI - As we approach the middle of 2022, electric vehicles and their ecosystem continue to dominate the news. May was no exception and interestingly, two themes seem to have dwarfed all others. The first is about Tesla positioned as the OEM to beat, or at least as the current benchmark for sales. Moving forward, design, performance and customer experience will be key drivers in crowning the next EV leader for sure. The second is all about investments flowing into electrification, which is probably only matched by infrastructure investment in the USA.
Tesla vs. The World
It’s common knowledge that when one thinks of electric vehicles, they think of Tesla and Elon Musk. For better or worse, Tesla has created a benchmark for EV success that other OEMs are determined to reach, which has given the competition a common goal to surpass. They’re going about it in different ways, as shown below:
Ford trollface engage: During the Kentucky Derby, Ford released a commercial celebrating International Workers Day (May 1). While the sentiment was there for the day itself, the true purpose of this ad seems to be potshots at Tesla CEO Elon Musk – watch the footage here and judge for yourself.
Tight race between Tesla & VW, says CEO: Last year Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess laid the gauntlet down on his company, challenging them to keep pace with Tesla’s EV production to win the EV market by 2025. With Tesla now opening factories near Berlin, the stakes have never been higher, not just for VW but for BMW and Mercedes-Benz as well.
Hyundai looming large in the EV race: While Tesla may be the face of EVs, Hyundai is solidly in second place with U.S. EV registration. This is all by design, as Hyundai’s long-term plan is to become the global EV leader by the end of the 2020s. With models like a Genesis EV and new assembly plants coming to the U.S., it’s looking like Hyundai dominance could be inevitable.
- The enemy of my enemy is not my friend: Even though the Detroit Three are united in challenging Tesla in the EV space, this doesn’t mean their decades-old rivalry has died out. In fact, GM, Ford and Stellantis are competing to outdo each other with show-stopping headlines, with news of an EV Chevrolet Corvette and Ram truck brand attempting to “steal the thunder” from Ford’s F-150 Lightning launch.
A Look at How Investments Are Unfolding
It’s true that competition is healthy in any setting, and from competition breeds innovation. But let’s not forget that in the road to market leadership, at the end of the day there can only be one brand at the top. Every OEM knows this and they’re determined to make sure it’s them. The easiest way to gauge where each OEM stands is how they’re investing their capital into EV solutions, and it appears that all of them are looking at the USA as the next battleground for EV dominance. Here’s a look at where many of them stand with their investments as of May 2022:
- Factorial overhaul for Stellantis: Chrysler parent company Stellantis has major plans to renovate its existing Canadian factories and build new in the Midwest. We’re talking over $5 billion to make two Ontario assembly lines shift to EV production, a battery R&D lab also coming to Ontario and a joint venture with Samsung to build a battery plant in Indiana by 2025.
- GM EV batteries coming soon: In previous blog posts we discussed how General Motors is seeking to create its own in-house lithium battery solutions due to global shortages. GM CEO Mary Barra recently outlined how GM intends to do so, with at least four new plants either under construction or opening later this year wholly dedicated to crafting this precious resource.
- Ford spending big on new jobs: Ford plants in Ohio, Michigan and Missouri are undergoing massive renovations in preparation for a massive EV production push – $3.7 billion worth of expansions, in fact. The demand is high, as the electric F-150, Amazon vans, E-Transit commercial vans and more are gaining traction in mainstream favorability. It also means over 6,000 jobs created for the storied automaker.
- Hyundai & Kia Getting Even Bigger: While both OEMs already have a substantial footprint in the U.S., that’s not stopping them from announcing a $7.4 billion investment in all EV production. While many OEMs are focusing on lithium battery solutions for energy, Hyundai is looking at hydrogen stations as an alternative energy source. Their aim is to make hydrogen stations as commonplace as they are in California – and with that, break their Nexo model into the mainstream.
- Nissan debating a third U.S. plant: Don’t count out this Japanese automaker from the EV race! With two plants in Mississippi and Tennessee, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta has made comments hinting at a third U.S. plant wholly dedicated to EV production being more likely than not.
... And Europe:
- VW scouting for prime U.S. real estate: Brownfield and greenfield locations are top of mind for VW CEO Herbert Diess as the company announced its intent to build its EV Scout brand in the U.S. Word broke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the OEM added that it also intends to invest $7.5 billion to expand its U.S. product line over the next five years. This news is paired with VW’s announcement that it is hiring 1,000 new employees at its Chattanooga plant for a third shift workforce wholly dedicated to producing three EV models.
We Also Asked: What's In The Frunk?
While Tesla was the first EV to feature a frunk (front trunk), Ford is looking to make the term infamous. It’s doing so with a massive marketing campaign centered around three videos: A Frunkin Cookout, A Frunkin Performance and A Frunkin Design. All of them feature the Ford EVs’ usefulness, as one can plug various electrical appliances and devices into the F-150 Lightning’s power outlets anywhere. Watch them for yourself and see what you think!
For further information on how we got to where we are, I encourage you to check out our previous ICYMI blog posts throughout 2022 and 2021.