It’s a bad sign when more choice results in less desire, but that seems to be the case with electric cars. More new electric cars and trucks are hitting the market seemingly every week and, yet, a new survey shows that fewer and fewer potential consumers think of those vehicles as something they’d like to own. What’s going on here?
We’re going to explore that in this episode of The Morning Dump, as well as look at the curious case of ZEEKR’s IPO and what it portends for Chinese electric car companies looking to reach outside of their home market.
Plus, more proof that now is the right time to buy a Stellantis product and, hey, President Joe Biden thinks all auto workers in the United States might get unionized. Or, at least, it’s convenient for him to say that.
The One Chart That Shows How Bad It Really Is For Electric Carmakers
Other than the difficult-to-parse colors, I enjoy this chart from S&P Global Mobility that shows a survey of about 8,000 global participants and their openness to purchasing either an electric car or a hybrid car.
What’s amazing to me, here, is that in 2021, at the height of the pandemic, 86% of respondents were open to purchasing an electric vehicle and a whopping 93% were willing to consider a hybrid. In the two years since, according to the survey, consumer desire for electric vehicles has dropped to just 67%, while hybrid purchasing desire slumped to 72%.
Why is this happening? Thankfully, the survey also breaks down some of the reasoning. It’s not necessarily charging networks, as only 46% of the respondents said they were worried about charging time. It’s also not just range anxiety, as most respondents would be content with a car producing less than 300 miles of range.
All of the above are factors, but the biggest factor is affordability according to the study:
[P]rice fatigue has set in, driven by rising interest rates and inventory shortages that have only recently seen relief, said Brian Rhodes, director of connected car and vehicle experience for S&P Global Mobility.
Depending on where an EV is manufactured, changes to the tax-credit program in the US now force consumers to lease – rather than purchase – many models. Frequent media reports about charging network reliability shortcomings have not helped either. At this point in the evolution of EVs, adding more models simply cannot cancel out these issues.
I underlined that last bit because it’s so important. The constant drumbeat of $50-60k EVs is a bummer if you’re even considering something like this, which is why vehicles like the $35k Volvo EX30 are so important.
Granted, since 2019, consumer purchase for both of these drivetrain types has risen and, frankly, the world cannot support 67% of the world buying a new EV yet so there’s still plenty of room for EVs to grow.
Chinese Automakers Need The United States, Too
Here’s a small complaint: Zeekr apparently had a drive of some of their vehicles at Monticello Motor Club, not too far from me, recently. I wasn’t invited. This is a shame. I really want to get inside that Zeekr 09 and try it out.
Why would Zeekr be trying to appeal to journalists in the United States, anyway? Because the Geely Auto-owned company wants to build goodwill ahead of a potential listing on the New York Stock Exchange. This is seemingly part of Geely’s strategy with its subsidiary companies and it makes a lot of sense from a financial standpoint.
The problem is China. Or the United States. Or Taiwan. It all depends on your perspective, but China’s government ultimately gets to decide which companies do or do not list, and the United States gets to decide how particular it wants to be about regulatory issues. Taiwan fits in because Taiwan is, historically, the issue that China and the United States can’t agree on, but it’s also just a proxy for the general interoperability of the two companies, which has been low lately.
The listing of Zeekr isn’t just a big deal for Geely, it’s also an important test of whether the relationship between the U.S. and China is chill or chilled. Here’s Reuters on the big picture:
The listing could mark the first major float in the U.S. by a Chinese company in two years, after the delisting of ride-hailing giant Didi Global from the New York Stock Exchange.
Didi had angered Chinese regulators by pushing ahead with its $4.4 billion New York listing despite being asked to put it on hold.
The episode, together with a longstanding audit dispute between China and the U.S., stalled Chinese companies from seeking U.S. listings. Only six mainland China-based companies launched U.S. IPOs in 2022.
Since then, however, Beijing has softened its stance towards companies looking to list internationally, unveiling a set of rules earlier this year to revive such listings, after the U.S. accounting watchdog and China resolved the audit dispute in December 2022.
I just want some sweet, sweet vans.
There Are So Many Stellantis Products On Dealer Lots
The ongoing saga of Stellantis building cars that American consumers seemingly do not want continues. I joked earlier this year that a strike was probably good for the automaker because it meant it had an excuse to stop building cars it couldn’t sell, but that seems like less of a joke today.
In spite of the strike, the total supply of unsold inventory nationwide across all brands (on lots or in transit) rose to 2.4 million vehicles, up about 62% from last November, when supply constraints were still plaguing the market. Given the current pace of sales, Cox Automotive estimates that this represents a 67-day supply (a good supply is considered somewhere close to the 60-day range).
For Stellantis, though? The Dodge brand is up to a whopping 186-day supply on average, followed by Chrysler at 135 days’ supply, Ram at 129, and Jeep at 123.
While Ford, Lincoln, and Buick are all above the national average (and Toyota and Honda are way below it), no automaker is quite in the position that Stellantis is. So, if you need a new car, expect deals at your local Dodge/Ram/Jeep/Chrysler dealer.
Joe Biden Wants UAW Deals For All U.S. Autoworkers
Donning a bright red UAW tee over his usual shirt-and-tie, President Joe Biden was full of spit and vinegar when he arrived at Belvidere, Illinois yesterday. You can see the above speech and judge how much of it is spit and how much of it is vinegar.
Here’s the key thing he said, after applauding the recent tentative deals:
“But I’m a little selfish, I want this type of contract for all autoworkers, and I have a feeling the UAW has a plan for that,” said Biden. “The future of the automobile industry will be made in America by American union workers.”
That sentiment should be no surprise to anyone who regularly reads this morning news roundup, though whether the UAW can accomplish this or not remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether or not the union will officially endorse President Biden, though a meeting like this points to that potentially happening.
The Big Question
Rank the reasons why you wouldn’t buy an EV from the following: