Automotive media highlights - April 2024

Automotive media highlights - April 2024

The Briefing

15 April 2024
10 minute read
  Key highlights
  • California’s state government is leading the way with strict emissions and EV legislation, which several other states are now considering. 
  • The Baltimore bridge collapse is having short-term effects on the global auto supply chain, but is not expected to cause significant delays in the long term. 
  • Automakers are continuing to capitalize on electric trucks despite a slowdown in the broader EV market. 
  • UK legislators are investigating the brightness of vehicle headlights as a safety measure. 
  • Tesla is making major changes after being plagued by poor sales and lawsuits. 

Federal and state governments in the US are enacting new legislation to encourage EV adoption. 

California recently became the first US state to adopt its own EV regulations and emissions requirements, despite challenges from Republican leaders in other states. This law will require all vehicles sold in the state of California to be either electric or hybrid by 2035 in a push for rapid EV adoption. 

Several other states have since voted on whether to adopt California’s new stricter EV and emissions policies. The New Mexico government voted to adopt these policies but were quickly met with challenges from a local car dealers’ association. However, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board voted to uphold the new regulations

State governments in Connecticut and Maine have also discussed adopting these new restrictions. However, neither state is moving forward with the legislation at this time. The Maine Board of Environmental Protection voted against these new rules, while Connecticut’s governor ultimately pulled a proposed bill to implement them. Challenges to these new EV regulations around the country have focused on consumer choice and high EV adoption costs. 

The New Jersey state government is implementing new EV legislation of its own, which could make EV adoption more expensive for the state’s residents. New Jersey EV drivers will need to pay an upfront registration fee of over $1,000 to support the state’s road infrastructure and maintenance. This fee is in lieu of paying gas taxes. 

At the federal level, the Biden administration is also pushing for more EV adoption. The EPA recently announced new stricter emission standards. These standards are intended to reduce tailpipe emissions by 50% by 2055. By making these changes, the federal government is encouraging automakers to increase their investments in hybrid and electric vehicles. 





The Baltimore bridge collapse could affect the auto supply chain in North America. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland is causing a ripple effect on the global supply chain. The auto industry is one of just many industries that are likely to be affected, although right now delays seem to be minimal. 

The Port of Baltimore is one of the most significant ports on the East Coast of the United States. Nearly 850,000 vehicles moved through the port in 2023. The port is currently closed indefinitely, which has caused significant logistical challenges for global auto brands that rely on the port as part of their operations. Notable automakers who rely on this port include GM, Audi, Bentley, Ford, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan, Mercedes, Jaguar, Volvo, and Lamborghini, just to name a few. Mazda is already considering moving operations to another port temporarily but does not expect significant delays at this time. 

Shipping companies that transport cars and trucks are anticipating financial losses from this disaster. For example, Norwegian shipper Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA has stated that they expect losses of anywhere from $5 million to $10 million as a result. 





The EV truck trend continues as new models are announced, but it may not be enough to boost EV sales overall. 

Electric trucks have been all the rage over the past few years as automakers have pushed back against stereotypes about EVs. Ignited by the hype around the Ford F-150 Lightning and Tesla’s Cybertruck, many automakers are capitalizing on this trend by announcing new EV models. 

Nissan and Mitsubishi recently announced that they will be partnering up to develop a new electric pickup truck. This truck would be produced in Mexico and marketed to the US market. This is one of several new car models that the brands plan on collaborating on. Early concept art for these new vehicles is sleek and futuristic. It’s unclear exactly when the pickup truck model will be released, but Nissan is aiming to add new vehicles to its US lineup by 2026. 

Chinese carmaker BYD has also recently teased an electric pickup truck called the Shark. While the brand hasn’t released many details about the vehicle yet, they have announced that it is designed for global markets and will be sold in Mexico. This is part of a broader trend of Chinese EV makers moving operations to Mexico in an attempt to gain a foothold in North America. 

While electric trucks may be trending, the EV market as a whole is cooling off. Many brands have been relying on the success of these trucks to finance broader EV development, but sales haven’t quite met expectations. Ford has recently announced that they will delay production of future electric pickup trucks in response to slowing EV sales. 


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The UK government plans to investigate the brightness of car headlights. 

An RAC study published earlier this year found that 89% of drivers think that car headlights are too bright. A strong headlight glare can make it difficult to drive safely at night. This led to an online petition with over 10,000 signatures urging MPs to address the issue. 


In early April, the Department for Transport announced that they will be commissioning an independent report on the problem. While this will take time to complete, it could lead to new headlight regulations down the road for auto companies operating in the UK. 

There are many factors that could be causing an increase in headlight brightness. One factor noted in the initial study is the popularity of raised vehicles like 4x4s. Headlights on these cars are set higher than other vehicles, making them more likely to cause a glare. Another notable factor is the increased use of LED lights, which are particularly bright. 




Tesla is making a pivot amid ongoing struggles. 

Tesla recently announced a significant pivot, canceling plans to build an affordable electric SUV and instead focusing on smaller robotaxis, which would be autonomous. The combination of this announcement and disappointing sales numbers caused Tesla stock to drop significantly at the beginning of April. 


Many investors are skeptical about the concept of a robotaxi, as autonomous vehicles have faced intense scrutiny in recent months due to devastating accidents in San Francisco. Existing Tesla models have an autopilot feature that has also been heavily scrutinized. In fact, the company recently settled a case where a customer died while using Tesla’s Autopilot system. This is just one of many court cases over the years that have focused on this technology. 

For years, Tesla has been one of the most-discussed names in the auto industry. However, it seems that this bubble could burst soon as the company continues to struggle. This could leave room for other EV manufacturers to step up and potentially compete with Tesla.

Final Thoughts: Questions to Stay One Step Ahead

For consultants in the auto field right now, staying on top of rapidly changing technology and legislation is a challenge. The industry as a whole has been focusing heavily on EVs for the past several years, but consumer adoption hasn’t kept up. Understanding how consumers react to these changes can help your organization stay ahead of the game.

Here are some questions to consider when collecting primary survey insights: 

  • EV legislation: Will consumers respond to tighter emissions laws and adopt EVs in the short term? 
  • Tesla: How have consumer perceptions of this brand shifted? Is there room for new challengers in the current auto landscape? 
  • Electric trucks: What types of consumers are most excited about electric pickup trucks? What are the barriers to the adoption of these new models? 

Interested in launching a study on these topics? Reach out to Potloc today to jumpstart a market research study for your strategic projects. 

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