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Weekly roundup: Ford averts UAW strike, Fisker expands dealer network, Cruise leadership shakeup

Earlier this week: Ford narrowly averted a UAW strike at its Kentucky Truck Plant by reaching a tentative agreement. A ratification vote is pending for the facility’s 9,000 employees. Meanwhile, wholesale used vehicle prices fell in early February. This was despite a rise in demand. It happened as new vehicle supplies began to recover, easing pressure on the pre-owned market. In the electric vehicle sector, startups Lucid, Rivian, and VinFast reported mixed Q4 earnings. Lucid and Rivian had varied performances while VinFast had the least losses. Fisker has added four dealer partners in the U.S. This is part of a shift away from direct sales and a strategic move towards a Dealer Partnership model. Additionally, GM’s Cruise faces a leadership change. Carl Jenkins was the VP of robotaxi hardware development. He resigned without a public reason. This shows ongoing challenges in the self-driving car industry.

Here’s a closer look at these top stories and more headlines to stay on top of this week in automotive industry news.

The UAW has confirmed it has reached a tentative agreement with Ford at the company's Kentucky Truck Plant, narrowly avoiding a strike.
Ford CEO Jim Farley

1. UAW strike on hold after Ford reaches tentative agreement with union

Ford has reached a tentative agreement with United Auto Workers (UAW) members at its Kentucky Truck Plant, narrowly avoiding the deadline to prevent another labor strike. Earlier this week, the UAW announced it would stage a strike at the factory if the automaker failed to produce a, now five-month overdue contract, before early morning Friday, February 23. This morning, local union officials confirmed the deal had been arranged, with less than two days to spare. Although a strike is no longer set to occur this week, the facility’s 9,000 employees still need to hold a ratification vote to approve the tentative agreement. UAW members will cast their votes from February 28 through March 1. Read More

Wholesale used vehicle prices declined from January as did supply, possibly signaling an unexpected surge in pre-owned demand.2. Wholesale used vehicle prices dip in early February but demand rises

Wholesale used vehicle values declined in the first two weeks of February, following similar drops in listing prices and inventory levels seen across the pre-owned market throughout January. According to Cox Automotive, the month-over-month decrease in pre-owned auction prices was 0.9%, while the year-over-year drop was 13.8%. In early 2023, used vehicle prices were heavily inflated, driven up by restricted inventory levels and unappeased demand, both in the new and pre-owned market. But over the last 12 months, new vehicle supply shortages have largely disappeared thanks to renewed automaker production. The resulting increase in consumer choice led to a re-balancing in demand, easing inventory pressures for pre-owned cars and causing their prices to drop. Read More

Electric vehicle brands Lucid, Rivian, and VinFast posted financial results this week that underscored the market's current struggles.3. Electric vehicle startups post mixed Q4 earnings results

Three electric vehicle startups, Lucid, Rivian, and VinFast, posted their fourth-quarter results this week amidst a backdrop of souring forecasts on the battery-powered car segment, fueled by lower-than-expected sales and stagnating consumer interest. Lucid reported quarterly revenues of $157.15 million on Wednesday, down roughly $100 million from 2022. Rivian rapidly outpaced its competitor on a sales basis and, while its financial performance was worse in comparison, made notable year-over-year improvements in terms of cost-efficiency. Out of its competitors, Vietnamese electric vehicle brand VinFast suffered the lowest amount in terms of losses, but its financial performance was more mixed on a year-over-year basis than Lucid or Rivian. Read More

Fisker, an EV startup, has signed four new dealer partners in the United States as part of a strategic shift in its business model. 4. Fisker signs four U.S. dealers partners as part of strategic EV shift

Fisker, an electric vehicle (EVs) startup, has signed four new dealer partners in the United States as part of a strategic shift in its business model. Mills Automotive Group, Ourisman Fisker, Classic Fisker, and Long Island Fisker have joined the Dealer Partnership program, which Fisker announced on January 4 to switch from selling directly to consumers in North America. The Dealer Partnership model offers Fisker vehicle pricing without haggling and excellent customer service to dealer partners in bigger market regions, enabling them to maintain pricing without worrying about local competition. Read More

Cruise has lost yet another key leader as it continues to navigate the fallout of a mishandled traffic incident last October.
Image Source: Tada Images/Shutterstock

5. Cruise VP of robotaxi hardware development abruptly resigns

Carl Jenkins, senior vice president for autonomous vehicle platforms at General Motors’ Cruise robotaxi division, has resigned, marking the latest in a series of leadership withdrawals at the embattled self-driving car subsidiary. The exit ends Jenkins’ six years with the company, during which he oversaw hardware development in partnership with General Motors. The former autonomous vehicle platforms chief announced his departure on LinkedIn on Thursday, February 15. However, neither the social media post nor an internal message from Cruise co-president Mo Elshenawy obtained by Reuters contained an explanation for the resignation. Instead, Elshenawy emphasized the future of the Cruise brand while still acknowledging that the news was unexpected. Read More

On the first episode of Loyalty-Based Sales Strategies with Jen Suzuki, we examine the role greetings play in the sales process.6. How to greet customers on the phone or in the service department

Welcome to the first episode of Loyalty-Based Sales Strategies with Jen Suzuki on CBT News! In this series, Suzuki, president of eDealer Solutions, veteran sales coach, and NADA Academy guest instructor, shares her expert insights into the car sales process along with valuable tactics that will help dealership teams drive unprecedented performance. Watch Here

To provide insights into current dealership marketing trends and the broader role of social media, Marc Lavoie joins us on Inside Automotive.7. How dealerships can leverage social media to build trust and drive sales – Marc Lavoie

In today’s landscape, nearly everyone is on social media, and it’s especially crucial for those in sales or dealership service. However, should the use of social media extend beyond these roles? To provide insights into current dealership marketing trends and the broader role of social media, Marc Lavoie, founder of Autobahn Digital and Puzzle Auto, joins us on the latest episode of Inside Automotive. Watch Here

Christine Vinatieri-Erickson joins Inside Automotive to discuss how the SDADA and the SDTA are tackling issues facing dealers and truckers.8. How state dealer associations are tackling EV headwinds — Christine Vinatieri-Erickson

On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Christine Vinatieri-Erickson, president of the South Dakota Auto Dealer Association (SDADA) and the South Dakota Trucking Association (SDTA). Erickson is a former state house and city council official, turned association leader and retail automotive lobbyist, leveraging her connections to support dealers and truckers across South Dakota. Now, she explains the latest automotive trends in her state and how her associations are working to make the car business better for buyers and sellers alike. Watch Here 

Ed Roberts joins us to provide insights into the current dynamics of fixed ops in the automotive industry on today's Inside Automotive.9. Defying industry challenges with innovative solutions – Ed Roberts | Bozard Ford Lincoln

As customers hold onto their vehicles longer, there’s a surge in cars entering the service lane. In this episode of Inside Automotive, we delve into the current challenges facing fixed ops. Joining us is Ed Roberts, Chief Operations Officer at Bozard Ford Lincoln and Author of Mile One, providing insights into the current dynamics of fixed ops in the automotive industry. Watch Here

Glenn Lundy joins us to discuss his recently released book titled The Legacy Titles: 12 Proven Principles to Scale Your Business 800 percent10. Former general manager shares universal business principles in new book – Glenn Lundy

Since running a dealership in Paris, Kentucky, and seeing 800 percent growth in 5 years, Glenn Lundy has since been working with dealers across the country to achieve similar results. Lundy, Automotive Expert, Founder of 800 percent Elite Automotive Club, Host of the Rise and Grind Morning Show, and Author, joins us to discuss his recently released book titled The Legacy Titles: 12 Proven Principles to Scale Your Business 800 percent – A Parable for Success, on the most recent episode of CBT Now. Watch Here

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