July 25, 2024

Ram Ranked Highest and Dodge Ranked Lowest in Initial Quality by JD Power

Happy Friday! It’s June 28, 2024, and welcome to The Morning Shift, your daily digest of the latest automotive news from around the globe, all in one place. Here are the key stories you should be aware of today.

1st Gear: Ram Leading, Dodge Trailing: JD Power

The latest Initial Quality Study by JD Power is out, revealing some interesting results. Ram claims the top spot, while Dodge finds itself at the bottom of the list — with the exception of Polestar, which the study states is not eligible for ranking. As reported by Automotive News:

Ram secured the top spot in the J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study for the second time in four years, while Dodge dropped to the lowest position after leading the industry in 2023.

Porsche claimed the top spot among premium brands this year, moving up from second place last year behind Stellantis-owned Alfa Romeo, which plummeted to the bottom in 2024. Porsche now ranks seventh overall.

Chevrolet climbed to second place, advancing three spots from the previous year. Hyundai jumped to third place, a significant improvement from 17th place in 2023. Kia claimed fourth position, with Buick rounding up the top five.

GMC and Cadillac dropped out of the top 10. Ford improved from a below-average ranking in 2023 to ninth place this year.

The stark contrast in performance between two sibling automakers raises questions, with Automotive News suggesting that Alfa Romeo’s struggles may be linked to the Tonale. It’s possible that issues are arising with the Hornet as well.

2nd Gear: Elon Musk’s $56 Billion Compensation Dispute

Recall the shareholder vote on Elon Musk’s $56B compensation package? Despite being non-binding, the vote served as evidence in court after a Delaware judge initially blocked Musk’s pay. The case has now reached court. According to Reuters:

Tesla contends that Elon Musk’s $56 billion compensation victory stemmed from shareholder approval of the package, despite a judge invalidating it earlier this year, as per a court filing made public on Thursday.

The company’s filing came after Tesla shareholders ratified the 2018 stock options package two weeks ago. This vote followed a January ruling by a Delaware judge to void the compensation due to Musk’s undue influence in the negotiation process and the company’s misrepresentation to shareholders.

The outcome of this legal battle casts uncertainty over Musk’s future at Tesla, especially amidst declining sales and increased competition. Musk has hinted at exploring external projects if he does not secure a larger stake in the company.

Given the changing landscape for Tesla and Musk since the initial approval of the pay package — Tesla’s pivot to a robotics focus from just being an automaker, for instance — the impact of this new evidence on the court’s decision remains uncertain.

3rd Gear: Toyota’s Push to Enhance Driver Assistance

In China, consumers are increasingly seeking EVs with advanced driver-assist features. Toyota, however, lags behind in this aspect, reflecting in its lower sales figures in the Chinese market. Through a joint venture, the company aims to address this gap. According to Reuters:

A Chinese joint venture of Toyota is set to introduce the first electric vehicle model equipped with an advanced autonomous driving system similar to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology in the Chinese market next year.

Partnering with state-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), the joint venture aims to regain Toyota’s market share in China by catching up with local competitors in hybrid technology, battery advancements, and smart vehicles.

Toyota, which ranked fifth in car sales in China during the first four months of this year, witnessed a 22% decline compared to the same period in 2023, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Additionally, Toyota is working on developing new battery technologies to reduce costs for the bZ4X model, potentially giving consumers a compelling reason to choose it over other competitors.

4th Gear: Electrify America’s Efforts to Enhance Charging Infrastructure

The inconsistent and unreliable charging infrastructure in the U.S. poses a significant barrier to EV adoption, compounded by the multitude of apps required to operate these chargers. Electrify America is striving to address this issue through a new approach: ensuring that EV chargers actually function reliably. As reported by Automotive News:

Electrify America, a prominent EV charging network in the U.S., is taking proactive steps to address the poor performance of EV chargers, a long-standing concern in the industry.

Only 9% of EV charging attempts failed on the Electrify America network in the first quarter of this year, a decrease from 11% in the same period of 2022 and 2023, according to a J.D. Power analysis.

Improving charger reliability has been a focus for EV charging companies over the past year, as charging issues have negatively impacted EV sales. Non-Tesla chargers experienced a 20% failure rate in the first quarter of this year, compared to a 5% fail rate for Tesla Superchargers, known for their reliability, as noted by J.D. Power.

Electrify America has upgraded older charging equipment, some of which was installed in 2018, with more advanced chargers capable of fast-charging EVs equipped with the latest technologies.

The company has also taken control of the charging experience by developing its software in-house.

These efforts are aimed at transforming the EV charging landscape in the U.S., addressing the challenges faced by electric vehicle owners due to the inadequate charging infrastructure, ultimately enhancing the EV driving experience.

Looking Back: Understanding the Origins of Pride Month

A gentle reminder: The rights we celebrate during Pride Month were not granted through polite requests. LGBTQ+ individuals of earlier generations fought tirelessly, shed blood, and made sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Music Recommendation: SOPHIE – Reason Why

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