Toyota has a fix for the bZ4X electric crossover, Porsche is now Europe’s most valuable automaker, Ford raises F-150 Lightning’s starting price again. 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.
Toyota Figured Out A Fix For The bZ4X
It’s taken months, but Toyota is finally able to resume sales of its bZ4X electric crossover. If you need a refresher on this alphanumeric soup of a vehicle, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Just as Toyota released its first in-house, high-volume electric vehicle for the U.S. market, the wheels literally fell off. According to Toyota’s official defect information report, the Japanese manufacturer found that “After low-mileage use, all of the hub bolts on a wheel can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle.” Toyota ended up offering buyback packages and other compensation like loaner vehicles with free fuel due to this issue of wheels coming loose. It was a disaster, but Automotive News reports that it should finally be over.
Production of the remedied bZ4X was to set resume on Thursday, Toyota Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda said while announcing the fix. Sales in Japan will restart Oct. 26.
U.S. sales will reopen shortly, Maeda said, without offering a concrete timeline. In overseas markets including the U.S, we will resume the sale in a sequential manner,” he said.
It appears that Toyota just didn’t consider vehicle weight and drivetrain torque strongly enough, which seems really odd. From Automotive News:
The fix is rather simple. Here’s word of a remedy, directly from Toyota’s mouth.
For all subject vehicles in the U.S., the hub bolts will be replaced with newly designed hub bolts with washers and the wheels will be replaced with improved ones. The remedy will be provided by Toyota dealers at no cost to the customer.
Hub bolts with washers require a complete wheel bolt redesign to retain thread turns. New wheels are supposed to feature increased friction of the wheel mating service so it grips the hub nicely. It’s definitely strange and confidence-shaking that Toyota overlooked the wheel bolts and mating surfaces on the bZ4X, but a return to showrooms is exactly what Toyota needs given the company’s slow-moving EV plans.
Porsche Is Now Europe’s Most Valuable Carmaker
While an initial price dip is expected with any IPO, Porsche’s back on the upswing quite quickly. Reuters reports that the sports car brand is now the most valuable car manufacturer in Europe.
Although Porsche shares had fallen below its listing price on Monday to 81 euros, in line with a wider fall in markets, they had risen to 93 euros ($91.95) at 1023 GMT, giving the sportscar brand a market valuation of 85 billion euros.
Porsche’s share price regained momentum after investment banks involved in its flotation had purchased almost 3.8 million shares for 312.8 million euros as part of the so-called greenshoe option, designed to support a listing.
The rise pushes Porsche’s valuation beyond Volkswagen’s 77.7 billion euros. Mercedes-Benz DE> comes in third among European carmakers with a 57.2 billion euro valuation, followed by with 47.5 billion euros and Stellantis with 39.7 billion.
Overall, it’s a neat flex for Porsche, although valuation isn’t exactly the most meaningful metric in the world. All it really shows is strong investor confidence, unsurprising given Porsche’s prominence.
The Ford F-150 Lightning Gets Another Price Hike
Ford is once again raising the price of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, although this time it’s only on the base model. Pricing for the fleet-spec Pro trim is up to $53,769 including a hefty $1,795 freight charge. That’s $5,000 more than the price announced in August, which in turn is up $7,100 from the original starting price from when the Lightning first launched. Automotive News was first to break this story, and it reached out to Ford for comment, receiving a fairly standard response.
The spokesman said the Pro trim was the only model to see an additional increase for now, citing “ongoing supply chain constraints and rising material costs.” He said Ford would continue to monitor pricing.
The automaker said that inflation-related supplier costs during the third quarter will run about $1 billion higher than it had expected. Separately, it expected to finish the period with 40,000 to 45,000 unfinished vehicles waiting on parts, most of which will be high-margin pickups and utility vehicles.
Ford likely wants to keep its balance sheet on as even a keel as possible, and increasing base prices is just one tactic the company can use. However, increasing base prices can come at a cost. While the F-150 Lightning definitely features a more traditional form than the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV, if Chevrolet sticks close to the projected $40,000 base price, the bowtie electric truck should really put a squeeze on Ford.
GM Settles Allegations Of Violating U.S. Law
The car business is often a predatory one, so it’s not exactly surprising to hear Reuters report that GM Financial has allegedly broken the law in a big way.
GM Financial was accused of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by illegally repossessing 71 servicemembers’ vehicles and by improperly denying or mishandling over 1,000 vehicle lease termination requests, the Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
GM Financial has agreed to pay $3.5 million to the affected servicemembers and a $65,480 civil penalty to the government, the Justice Department said, adding that the company will pay at least $10,000 to each of the 71 servicemembers who had their vehicles unlawfully repossessed.
Allegedly mishandling more than 1,000 lease termination requests seems absolutely insane, and an effective fine of around $3.5 million dollars feels like a slap on the wrist considering how much of a nightmare this may have been for customers. What’s more, this settlement only covers servicemembers. What about members of the general public? Did they also allegedly get shafted by GM Financial?
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Thursday, which means that the weekend is just around the corner. Today, let’s talk tools. Beyond the normal sockets, spanners, impact wrenches, and grinders, what specialty tool has saved you the most time and headache in the garage? I might have to go with trim removal tools on this one, for properly removing panels without breaking interior clips has saved me a ton of time running around for replacement clips. What’s your lifesaving specialty tool?
Lead photo credit: Toyota
Wobble adapters are definitely an underrated part of the toolkit. They’re like a halfway point between a U joint adapter and an extension. You don’t get as sharp of an angle, but it preserves way more of the torque and control.
I’m gonna go with almost the opposite of a specialty tool, here: my Leatherman Skeletool CX. It’s always in my pocket, and more times than I can count it has saved me the trouble of getting out from under the car to grab a tool I hadn’t expected to need. If I suddenly need to cut some tape, grab a rogue fastener, cut a wire, hold a bolt in place while I undo a nut, tension a ziptie that’s in an awkward spot for my fingers, pry up a plastic fastener, pop open a retainer clip, undo a screw, give something a smack, or push down the tab on an electrical connector, my Leatherman is there for me. It also opens my beer when I’m done with the job. Best tool I’ve ever bought.
Specialty tool that has saved me the most time and headaches? My phone.
I think I’ve commented before that Toyota with EVs is like Sony saying why would anyone want plasma when they could buy a trinitron?
Dunno if it’s corporate hubris or a Canute-like belief in “superior” engineering trumping consumer desires (and not throwing shade at their obviously well-engineered vehicles, the odd wheel bolt notwithstanding)
And current EVs are basically plasmas. They’ll eventually get phased out for something that works better. So if a company wants to skip this period of fumbling in the dark, I don’t see a problem. Just like how there are plenty of LCD makers now that never sold a plasma TV at all.