The long-discontinued Dodge Dart reappears on the sales charts, Georgia says no to Rivian manufacturing incentives, Lordstown Motors starts production of its electric truck. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Alright, Who Bought A Dart Last Quarter?
Customers must be really desperate for new cars right now. Stellantis recently released its third-quarter sales figures and some very strange anomalies stand out among the legions of Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Wranglers that made it into customers’ driveways.
Let’s start with the strangest number in this report, three. As in, Stellantis reported the sales of three brand new Dodge Dart sedans, a car that’s been discontinued in America since 2016. Did a handful of dealers just forget that they parked Darts somewhere? Were these cars local parts runners on dealer plates that were never registered? Is this just a result of auditing past Dart sales numbers and realizing that a few mistakes were made?
Next come numbers five and seven, the number of brand new Fiat 500Ls and Fiat 500s reportedly sold last quarter. Both of these Italian runabouts exited production after the 2020 model year. I know that Fiats aren’t the most rapidly-selling cars in America, but two years on dealer lots seems a bit excessive. However, if you did buy a brand new Fiat 500 last quarter, good job. The 500 is a fun little car that enjoys a bit of a thrashing in Italian tradition, the sort of car we sorely need in the marketplace now.
Needless to say, we’re reaching out to Stellantis for clarification on these figures to learn exactly what the hell is going on. While a handful of Fiats languishing on lots for two years doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief, what’s going on with the Dart sales figures?
Georgia Court Says No To Rivian Incentives
When a big company wants to build a new facility, it’s often wooed by incentives from jurisdictions that want facility investment. I say often because that’s not always the case. Reuters reports that proposed incentives for a new Rivian plant in Georgia have been struck down in court.
“We remain undeterred in our efforts to bring high-paying, American manufacturing jobs to Georgia, and are currently assessing all legal options,” the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties and Georgia Department of Economic Development said in a joint statement.
Morgan County Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell on Thursday rejected the agreement between the local development authority and the Amazon.com Inc-backed EV company on grounds that the proposal did not appear feasible and failed to establish that it would promote the welfare of local communities.
While this news is definitely a shame for Rivian, it’s not difficult to rationalize the court’s decision. Looking at Rivian’s financial forecasts, things aren’t exactly smooth sailing. Slow deliveries and high expected losses are bad signs with talks of a recession swirling, even if making vehicles often requires an astonishing burn rate.
Lordstown Motors Finally Starts Truck Production
Lordstown Motors recently announced the start of commercial production for its Endurance electric pickup truck. To be a bit more precise, two saleable units have been made. Two trucks isn’t many, but Lordstown is setting its sights low and planning to deliver just 50 trucks this year. That’s a very reasonable number, provided everything necessary comes through, as Lordstown explains.
FMVSS crash testing has been completed successfully, and EPA and CARB applications have been submitted. We also continue to accumulate test miles on the vehicles, finalize other certifications, and complete software updates as we work to ensure the best experience for our customers. We expect to deliver approximately 50 units to customers in 2022 and the remainder of the first batch in the first half of 2023, subject to raising sufficient capital.
So, not out of the woods yet, but not exactly vaporware. I have a feeling that Lordstown will have a smoother ride than many EV startups due to contracting manufacturing to Foxxconn. Actually building cars is incredibly difficult and costly, so if it can be outsourced to another corporation, that’s one less thing for a car brand to worry about. In a way, it could signal a new automotive paradigm. With brands like Fisker, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz outsourcing production of certain models to Magna, it’s not without precedent and could allow for more agile, localized vehicle development and production.
The Chip Shortage Drags On
In “no shit” news, Reuters reports that Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares expects the chip shortage to continue on into 2023.
“The situation will remain very complicated until the end of 2023, then will ease a little,” said Tavares, adding that “semiconductor manufacturers have an interest in making business with us again, especially as they’re raising prices”.
It’s a crap, yet, completely expected bit of news, although the chip shortage could be less of an issue in the near future than it’s been this year. Rising interest rates could put a damper on new car demand as cheap loans dry up, while the rising cost-of-living has been pricing some shoppers out of the new car market entirely. I wouldn’t be surprised if new vehicle demand takes a hit next year, which should help automakers rebuild inventories.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Tuesday and my word, are we really in October already? The month of Drake and costumes of things that were never supposed to be sexy is upon us, which means that some of us in northern climes will soon be tucking our favorite cars away for the winter. What’s one last adventure you’d love to have with your summer toy before it gets stored safely out of the salt?
Lead photo credit: Dodge