Automotive media highlights - January 2024

Automotive media highlights - January 2024

The Briefing

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22 January 2024
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7 minute read
  Key highlights
  • Tesla’s stock dropped significantly at the beginning of 2024 amid concerns about finances, supply chain, and product functionality. 
  • Luxury car brand Lamborghini set a sales record in 2023 and expects growth to continue in 2024. 
  • Hertz plans to pull a significant portion of electric vehicles from their rental fleet and replace them with gas cars. 
  • Electric versions of commercial vans and RVs are starting to hit the market, providing exciting sustainability opportunities for business owners. 
  • Pothole-related breakdowns are increasing in frequency, and more extreme winter weather could make the situation worse. 

Tesla stagnates amid a potential downturn for the EV industry. 

Leading EV company Tesla has lost $94 billion in market valuation in the first two weeks of 2024 as concerns mount about the company’s long-term future. The company made several price cuts on its cars in 2023 in an effort to boost sales — but continues to struggle. There were also reports last year of defective parts on brand-new cars. Tesla blamed these failures on vehicle owners, saying they “abused” their cars, but there is research from Reuters indicating Tesla leadership may have been aware of these defects and dismissed them. 

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This devaluation comes right as cold weather has swept through the US and many EV owners are struggling to charge their cars. While Tesla’s vehicles have fared slightly better than other EV models in the freezing temperatures, there have still been reports of abandoned Tesla models at charging stations throughout the Midwest. 

These aren’t the only challenges Tesla is facing moving into 2024. The company has temporarily stopped production at its factory in Berlin due to parts shortages stemming from conflict in the Red Sea. There is no indication yet of when the factory will resume production. 

 

 

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Lamborghini topped a huge sales record in 2023 among renewed interest in the brand. 

Luxury car brand Lamborghini broke their sales record in 2023, selling over 10,000 vehicles. This was a significant milestone for the automaker, marking a 10% increase from their 2022 sales volume. The United States was the largest market for Lamborghini in 2023, while the Urus SUV was their most popular model of the year. 

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These sales numbers indicate that despite volatile economic conditions around the globe, demand for luxury vehicles remains. Lamborghini is releasing their newest vehicle, the Revuelto, this year. This powerful vehicle is the first true hybrid model that Lamborghini has ever released, and it’s already posting strong sales numbers. 

As Lamborghini’s sales numbers increase, they may be subject to emissions regulations in the European Union. Right now, low-volume luxury car brands are granted some exceptions to the EU’s strict emissions standards, but Lamborghini’s new sales numbers mean they will have to adhere to tighter regulations to remain on the market in the EU. The brand seems amenable to this change, as they have already expressed interest in expanding their electric and hybrid options. 

 

 

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Hertz pulls EVs from their rental fleet with plans to switch back to gasoline-powered rentals. 

In October 2021, car rental giant Hertz took a bold stance on electric vehicles, announcing plans to purchase thousands from Tesla and Polestar. However, the company has recently announced that it plans to sell 20,000 electric vehicles, which represents about one-third of its total EV fleet. This decision has sparked concerns across the automotive industry as many vehicle manufacturers transition to electric options. 

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The company cited maintenance difficulties and low customer demand as reasons for this sale. Repairing EVs after a crash is much more expensive than repairing a standard gas-powered vehicle, which made the rentals financially unsustainable. Additionally, many consumers have avoided EV rentals due to concerns about charging. 

However, it’s not all bad news for the EV rental market. In mid-January, auto conglomerate Stellantis signed a deal with Sixt, an international rental car company based in Germany. With this deal, Sixt will buy over 250,000 cars from Stellantis brands, a portion of which will be electric vehicles. Sixt plans to have its entire European fleet electrified by 2030. 

 

 

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New electric vans and RVs make a splash in the market. 

Many people associate the concept of electric or hybrid vehicles with small, compact cars. However, this year, many larger electric vehicles designed for commercial use are hitting the market. This is positive news for climate-conscious businesses that want to convert their fleet to electric vehicles in the coming years. 

For example, Kia plans to launch a line of commercial vans called the Platform Beyond Vehicle, or PBV. These vans have a futuristic look that stands out among more traditional vans. The interior has a modular design so users can configure it in many different ways. Another exciting commercial van offering is Ram’s ProMaster EV. This new commercial van is part of Stellatis’s overarching Pro One campaign, which focuses on expanding commercial vehicle offerings across their brands. 

In addition to commercial electric vans, we could also see electric RVs hit the market in the next few years. Auto startup AC Future recently announced the concept for their electric Transformer House, or eTH. This ultra-modern camper will be all-electric, with expandable walls for a larger living space. The company is currently aiming for a late 2025 launch. 

 


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Pothole-related car breakdowns are increasing — and climate change isn’t helping. 

Potholes aren’t just annoying to drive around — they can also cause serious damage to your car. According to the Royal Automobile Club in the United Kingdom, car breakdowns and incidents caused by potholes are increasing. There were 29,377 reported breakdowns in 2023 caused by potholes. This leaves drivers in the UK 1.5 times more likely to experience a pothole-related incident than they were 15 years ago. 

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Many cities in the US, Canada, and other northern countries experience pothole problems. Unfortunately, these issues don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Potholes are caused by water in the pavement freezing and thawing during the winter season, which puts wear and tear on the road. As climate change gets worse and winter weather becomes more intense, we can expect to see more severe potholes in the coming years. 

Opportunities for deeper insight

Over the past several years, the automobile industry has focused heavily on electric vehicles, with plenty of new models hitting the market. However, consumers aren’t taking to these vehicles as quickly as many manufacturers had hoped. Recent trends prove that there’s still demand in the market for more traditional options. 

Areas of particular interest include: 
  • Rental vehicles: What can companies do to help consumers rent electric vehicles more comfortably? Why do so many people still prefer traditional options while traveling? 
  • Luxury cars: How can luxury manufacturers continue to appeal to consumers despite economic ups and downs? How can these manufacturers adapt to sustainability regulations without compromising style and quality? 
  • Road maintenance: How do poor-quality roads affect driving habits? How do potholes affect driving behavior? 

Interested in launching a study on these trends for due diligence or strategic missions? Potloc helps you unlock reliable insights at the speed of consulting. 
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