Behind The Wheel News

News from Ford, Audi, GM, Electric Vehicles, and the Chip Market

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

EVs Only in Ford’s Future?

Lightning EV pickup books 20,000 orders within hours of intro.

According to Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley, the recently introduced 2022 F-150 Lightning was “just the beginning of a whole new era at Ford.” The automaker introduced the vehicle in a flashy ceremony at its Dearborn headquarters a day after President Joe Biden toured the plant that will build it.

That new era could eventually mean Ford is jumping on the all-electric bandwagon. While the company hasn’t set a target date like its rivals — including General Motors — it’s definitely on that path, noted Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of the Americas and international markets group.

Electrifying Ford’s golden goose, the F-150, is critical to the company. The gasoline-powered F-Series truck line generates $42 billion in revenue a year — more than McDonald’s, Nike and Starbucks — and is responsible for most of Ford’s profit.

Ford took about 20,000 reservations for the 2022 F-150 Lightning within 12 hours of the electric pickup’s debut and will limit production during its first year, according to Farley.

The automaker is banking on the Lightning to draw in new customers and convert electric vehicle (EV) skeptics. Farley believes the electric F-150 could serve as a proxy for how mainstream buyers will accept battery power.

2022 Audi R8
2022 Audi RS Q8

Audi Announces Model Year 2022 Audi Sport Updates

Audi of America has announced updates for its Audi Sport lineup for the 2022 model year, including the addition of a number of requested features customers are eager for and can anticipate seeing in the U.S. starting late this summer. The changes include:

  • All-new RS design packages that enhance performance attributes and underline sporty sophistication.
  • Dynamic ride control now available as an option on RS 6 Avant and RS 7 models.
  • Race-inspired, flat-bottom steering wheel now standard for RS 6 Avant and RS 7 models.

The 2022 model changes introduce new “RS design” packages for the RS 5 Coupe and Sportback, RS 6 Avant, RS 7 and RS Q8. The content supports an RS-specific character that amplifies performance textiles and design components. After a brief absence, a flat-bottom steering wheel with hands-on detection is now standard on all RS 6 Avant and RS 7 models.

Chip Shortage Throws Wrench into the Car Business

Americans are shopping for cars in near-record numbers, but the world’s computer-chip shortage has left dealers with the fewest offerings in decades. The market mismatch is driving up prices, and many buyers expecting to drive new cars off the lot have to wait weeks or months for their vehicles to arrive. Some showroom models sell for thousands of dollars over the sticker price.

In the meantime, certified used vehicles have seen prices jump by approximately 25 percent on average since the shortage took hold. The unprecedented surge in prices for used cars has been the biggest contributor to the surprise jump in U.S. inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The cost of previously owned sedans, pickups and sport-utility vehicles soared 10 percent in April alone, the fastest climb ever in data going back to 1953. It accounted for more than a third of the 0.8 percent increase in the consumer price index, which was four times the level economists estimated.

With fewer new cars being made amid the worldwide shortage in critical semiconductors, both retail consumers and rental car companies have gone to the used-vehicle market to get the wheels they need. Wholesale prices have soared as a result, up 54 percent in April from a year earlier at Manheim, the nation’s largest vehicle auction house.

GM Looks to Restore EV Tax Credit

General Motors wants the federal government to change the rules so that GM and Tesla customers are no longer excluded from a $7,500 federal tax credit that’s still available to buyers of electric vehicles from every other manufacturer.

Steve Carlisle, president of GM North America, said the automaker is simply asking the Biden administration to go back to a level-playing field as GM prepares to roll out an abundance of EVs in the coming years and is electrifying its entire lineup by 2030.

Washington state, one of the first to establish a sales tax credit for EV purchases, eliminated the credit several years ago.

Will EV Repairs Cost Less?

Consumers’ expectations, coupled with a trepidation of auto dealership service departments, is that the waves of electric vehicles hitting the market will need fewer repairs. Not really, says Renee Stephens, data firm WePredict’s vice president for automotive, citing conventional thinking: “The cost of EV service is less than for gasoline-powered and hybrid vehicles, right?”

She answers her own question by saying, “Wrong.” Her firm’s aggregated repair data indicate EV parts and labor currently cost twice as much as other vehicles.