GM hides a price hike within OnStar, Ford raises F-150 Lightning prices, Kia Optimas recalled for bonking occupants. 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.
GM Makes $1,500 OnStar Subscription Mandatory On Some Models
Imagine seeing a new car advertised for a fair price and waltzing down to a dealer that doesn’t charge markup, only to find a $1,500 line item on the window sticker appears for a telematics subscription you can’t opt out of. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, Automotive News reports that this is the reality Buick, GMC, and Cadillac Escalade buyers face thanks to a new required OnStar subscription.
The mandatory upcharge provides a three-year subscription to OnStar, GM’s long-standing in-vehicle safety, security and connectivity service. It’s included in the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of all Buicks and GMCs ordered starting June 2 and all Cadillac Escalades ordered starting July 18.
The $1,500 plan is listed on the window sticker as a separate line item along with other additions to the vehicle’s standard equipment, but there is no option to remove it or order the vehicle without it. Customers who decline to activate their OnStar service will not be given a price reduction, GM said.
“By including this plan as standard equipment on the vehicle, it helps to provide a more seamless onboarding experience and more customer value,” GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato told Automotive News in an email.
While price hikes are nothing new, most price hikes are fairly transparent. Even on the Buick configurator, this mandatory OnStar subscription is definitely somewhat opaque. For instance, a base 2022 Buick Encore GX lists for $25,595 including a $1,195 freight charge on Buick’s website. Select that trim on the configurator and net price jumps to $27,095 with zero explanation.
If an option is mandatory, it is therefore standard equipment and should be included in a vehicle’s MSRP. GM’s decision to conceal this price hike through a mandatory OnStar subscription listed as an option is deceptive, full-stop. A mandatory hidden charge doesn’t add “more customer value,” it drives customers away. Does GM really think that the person buying a base-model Buick Encore GX has an extra $1,500 laying around?
Ford F-150 Lightning Gets Massive Price Hike
The Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck has proven to be a hot commodity, with many reservation holders missing out on first-round ordering due to excess demand. Well, order banks are open again, although you’ll need to splash out significant additional cash to get an F-150 Lightning this time around.
Ford hasn’t released freight charges for new F-150 Lightning orders, so expect to add somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 to each of these prices. The fleet-spec Lightning Pro now starts at $46,974, up $7,000. The XLT trim now starts at $59,474, an increase of $6,500. Add the extended range battery, and MSRP jumps to $80,974, up $8,500. Moving on to the Lariat trim, standard range models get a $7,000 price hike to $74,474, while extended range models see a price increase of $8,500 and an MSRP of $85,974. Want a top-trim Platinum model? You’re now looking at $96,874, an increase of $6,000.
Wow, those are some enormous price hikes. Is there any extra standard equipment to somewhat offset the new pricing? Hardly. Standard range models see range increased 10 miles to 240 miles, and that’s it for no-cost changes. Right, let’s hear Ford’s justification for the new pricing.
Ford is adjusting the MSRP on the F-150 Lightning for the first time since it was revealed in May 2021 and has honored MSRP for all customer orders to date. Due to significant material cost increases and other factors, Ford has adjusted MSRP starting with the opening of the next wave of F-150 Lightning orders.
I shouldn’t be terribly surprised about the price hikes. Lithium is still quite expensive and with large battery packs of either 98 kWh or 131 kWh, a lot of resources go into manufacturing the F-150 Lightning. There is potentially some good news, though. Ford will be extending private offers to some customers who deferred their Lightning orders, although details on those offers aren’t exactly public knowledge. In the wake of these price hikes, I’m curious as to whether or not Chevrolet sticks to the expected $39,990 base price for its Silverado EV. If GM stays firm on expected pricing, the electric truck wars could get very heated indeed.
Volkswagen Reportedly Looking To Cut Board Positions
Another executive shakeup could occur at Volkswagen as Reuters reports that incoming CEO Oliver Blume plans to shrink the management board down to eight or nine people from the current 12. As for who could be cut from the team, the report has some ideas.
The future of China board member Ralf Brandstaetter is unclear, one of them said, as is that of IT chief Hauke Stars.
The posts of purchasing manager Murat Aksel and sales manager Hildegard Wortmann, meanwhile, could be at risk.
“One could ask why the purchasing manager of the VW passenger car brand also has to be on the group board,” the second source said, adding that also applied to Wortmann, who heads the group’s sales department in addition to Audi.
Up for discussion is also the wide range of tasks of technology head Thomas Schmall, who is responsible among other things for the group’s automotive suppliers, the development of a global network of battery plants and technology platforms.
You know what they say about having too many cooks? It seems like Volkswagen’s board has grown a bit too large, so shrinking the board should align nicely with the concept of lean management. Plus, Reuters claims that the majority-stake Porsche and Piech families are looking for calmer management, and a tighter board could help with that. Regardless of what happens, this will be an interesting saga to watch.
Don’t Get Bonked By A Kia Optima
Safety recalls don’t normally verge on slapstick, but Kia’s found a way for Optimas to bonk occupants on the head. As it sits, 257,998 Kia Optimas made between Aug. 12, 2011 and Sept. 27, 2013 have been recalled for headliner plates that might detach. Let’s delve into the NHTSA recall report and see what it says.
The subject vehicles are equipped with headliner plates designed as part of the energy absorbing structure of the headliner. Under certain circumstances, the headliner plate(s) may detach from the headliner upon deployment of the side curtain airbag(s), increasing the risk of injury to an occupant.
Talk about adding insult to injury, or should that be adding injury to injury? Kia reports one injury from falling headliner plates and head trauma is certainly something to take seriously. Thankfully, Kia has a plan to fix this issue and it seems incredibly low-tech.
The headliner plates will have an industrial-grade adhesive tape applied to the plates to provide additional adhesion to the headliner.
Taping up headliner plates may sound janky, but who am I to question this repair should it prove effective? Said tape was applied to 2014 model year Optimas and they don’t seem to be having this issue. Owners of affected Optimas are slated to receive recall notices in the mail between Sept. 26 and Sept. 30, right as the fix becomes available. Getting injured in a crash by your own car doesn’t sound fun, so this should be a recall worth getting done ASAP.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s officially Wednesday, and I’m starting to pack for our car show in Los Angeles on Saturday. Between shirts, jeans, camera gear, and contact lens solution, I’m starting to think about snacks for a five-hour flight. Where in a car or on a plane, I just can’t seem to beat beef jerky as a relatively low-mess bite to eat. Be it for a road trip or for a flight, I’d love to know what your favorite travel snacks are.
Lead photo credit: Buick