NHTSA Thinks You’re Driving Too Fast

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The NHTSA wants you to slow down, the chip shortage shows the slightest sign of recovery, and Tesla sold a ton of Chinese cars. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Thursday, July 7, 2022.

1st Gear: NHTSA Wants You To Chill Out, Man

Remember March of 2020, when empty streets led to a series of Cannonball record runs? It sure seems like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does, because it’s cracking down on fast drivers. From Reuters:

“We have a new speed campaign that’s going to be kicking off in a couple of weeks,” NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff told Reuters Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview.

U.S. traffic deaths have surged since 2020. More drivers have engaged in unsafe driving and traffic data indicated average speeds increased during COVID lockdowns, NHTSA says.

Cliff wants speeding to “be as undesirable and seen as negatively as other types of bad” driving habits.

Cliff didn’t specify to Reuters what that campaign might entail, but it sounds like a messaging effort — more “speed kills” ads, not more laws.

2nd Gear: Semiconductor Supplies Are Still Bad

How many weeks would you wait for a bag of Tostitos? One, maybe, if you just got back from the grocery store and don’t want to go shopping again? You’re lucky, then, that you aren’t in the market for a different kind of chip. From Bloomberg:

The delivery times for semiconductors fell by a day in June, a sign of modest relief after chronic shortages that have plagued automakers and other industries for more than a year.

Lead times — a closely watched gap between when a semiconductor is ordered and when it is delivered — averaged 27 weeks last month, compared with 27.1 weeks in May, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. The measure was also 27 weeks in April.

Sure, automakers still have to wait 27 weeks for a microchip, but at least it isn’t 27 weeks and change anymore! Silver linings, right?

3rd Gear: Tesla Sold A Ton Of Chinese-Built Cars In June

Tesla now has factories in three countries, but the company’s Chinese arm lagged in May. Now, however, it seems Tesla Shanghai is back — massively outdoing its previous-month sales. From Reuters:

U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) sold around 78,000 China-made vehicles in June, preliminary estimates published by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed on Wednesday.

This was up 142{09e594db938380acbda72fd0ffbcd1ef1c99380160786adb3aba3c50c4545157} from May, when Tesla sold 32,165 China-made vehicles, and up 135{09e594db938380acbda72fd0ffbcd1ef1c99380160786adb3aba3c50c4545157} from a year ago.

Tesla ships cars globally, so those 78,000 cars weren’t necessarily sold in China. The plant produces Model 3 and Model Y EVs, many of which end up in the hands of U.S. buyers.

4th Gear: Rivian Had A Good Fiscal Quarter

Rivian, as it turns out, makes very good vehicles. It seems buyers are getting wise to that fact, and the company’s sales reflect it — Rivian sold over four times as many vehicles last quarter as it did during all of 2021. Their numbers are still relatively small compared to the rest of the industry but momentum is growing. From Reuters:

Rivian Automotive Inc. said on Wednesday it delivered 4,467 vehicles in the second quarter, a sequential rise of nearly four times, as a ramp-up in production and red-hot demand helped the startup electric-vehicle maker.

The company also said on Wednesday it was on track to meet its annual production target of 25,000 units after output jumped 72{09e594db938380acbda72fd0ffbcd1ef1c99380160786adb3aba3c50c4545157} sequentially to 4,401 vehicles in the quarter.

Rivian’s plans are heavy on vertical integration, which is the hardest way to start a new company but arguably the best. If you control all aspects of your supply chain directly, with minimal reliance on outside suppliers, you’ll similarly minimize unexpected issues.

5th Gear: Consumer Reports Says EV Interest Is Growing

EVs are a blast to drive, but not every buyer is convinced that they’re practical. The number of people who are convinced, however, seems to be getting bigger. From Automotive News:

A survey from Consumer Reports shows interest in electric vehicles and low-carbon fuels continues to be strong, but help from policymakers and automakers is crucial.

“Automakers need to make more classes of electric vehicles. Not just sedans; we need a whole breadth because people have different needs,” said Quinta Warren, Consumer Reports’ sustainability policy team leader. “We need to make the process of using incentives easy and add more incentives. I can file my taxes and get money back maybe a year after I bought my car. But for some people, that’s not feasible.”

The survey found 71 percent of Americans expressed interest in buying or leasing an EV. But within that group, 14 percent said they would definitely buy or lease an EV — a 10-point increase from the 2020 survey.

Consumer Reports still says, despite market interest, that more regulatory incentives are needed to really bring EVs into parity with ICE competitors. Simpler incentives would help too — does anyone really know how tax credits work?

Reverse: The Best Thing

Neutral: What Have You Been Reading Recently?

I need a new book to read on the subway to the office. Have you read anything good recently that you’d recommend?