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NYC Congestion Tax, Tesla FSD Kerfuffle, Lordstown vs. Foxconn - SAI Newsletter 25


Count Volvo (and likely Polestar) as the latest to join the NACS party. I was also told that one other major German OEM will be moving over to the Tesla plug as well – announcement is imminent. It’s impressive what Tesla’s been able to do and how much incremental revenue they’ll generate from the OEMs and the US govt now that it’s becoming the defacto standard. And if you’re wondering if it’ll be ‘O-FFICIAL,’ SAE is working to standardize it for use across OEMs. One of my biggest concerns in the early years of living in China was always the pollution. Beijing was REALLY bad in the mid-2010s but got SO MUCH better the last few years although the occasional bad day would flare up to remind you that, yes you live in China. We had purifiers in every room and just got used to the hum of the purifier and the cost of replacing the filters every 6 months or so. The pollution going on in the Midwest currently reminds of some of the China days. The rub here is that we didn’t bring back any of those purifiers with us when we moved so we’re just having to deal with the pollution in hopes that it goes away sooner rather than later. It's amazing what a sustained gust of wind can do to clean the air up. One MAJOR announcement that was made this week that’s worthy of a highlight up top - final approvals have been given by the US govt for the congestion tax to be rolled out in NYC as early as April 2024 for folks looking to drive into Manhattan. There aren’t that many details yet but you can point to cities like London, Singapore, Milan and Stockholm for how it could be implemented. London and Singapore are the OGs here. In addition, Singapore adds taxes, duties and fees that make it really expensive to purchase and own a vehicle in order to deter too many cars being on its roads. As in a $25K Honda Civic turns into a $175K purchase. Since Detroit is the Motor City, a car tax like that would never happen BUT the congestion tax and general restrictions of private passenger vehicles where in most cases just one person is in the vehicle is something more cities like Detroit should consider. In fact, 76% of us commuted to work alone in 2019 so the inefficiency of our transportation system is astounding. While cities like Paris have invested heavily to the tune of €250M to make their city more bike friendly, what is Detroit doing besides making passenger vehicles more hospitable? We can do better. Of course there will be pushback and screams of the tax (and it's a tax no matter what NYC markets it as) taking away our ‘freedoms.’ But a congestion tax doesn’t do that, it’ll just cost you more for that ‘freedom.’ One other important item of note is that as more cities around the world implement restrictions, we should see more innovation in mobility as more people will use public transit, ridesharing, micromobility and walking as an alternate mode(s) of transport in order to get to their final destinations.That's one of the important outcomes of these changes that I very look forward to. OK – that was my soapbox moment for this newsletter. Jumping off now. CHINA EVs & MORE We’ve been really bad about posting the pod the last several weeks but I will be doing a dump on Friday that’ll hopefully get us caught up through this week. Stay tuned for that and make sure to read the titles and summaries to see if there’s anything particularly interesting you want to learn about. For those that can’t join the live show, I invite you to listen to our recorded China EVs & More episodes at this site. And as always, we appreciate any feedback that will make the show better. Also, if there are any companies you want our thoughts on, let me know. BYD - #SongLComin – seen in camo but set to launch later this year. At ¥300K, (~$44K) it’ll be one of the more expensive products in BYD’s lineup and wants to do its damage in the midsize crossover segment. This is where the Tesla Model Y & the recently launched XPeng G6 live BTW. As a reminder, in real life it looks great. I wasn't able to jump inside, that'll be the next time I am in China, but it should do just fine when it does launch. TESLA - A Tesla STAN and FUDster jump in a Model S to test FSD. What happens next is exactly what you’d expect. There are ton of Tesla STANs out there that will do everything to bend the truth and facts to their will. A few of them are influential investors which turns annoying into potentially illegal. After undeniably disengaging the vehicle (its caught on video) and blowing through an intersection and almost getting t-boned by an SUV, said investor gets on TV and says the FSD ride was one of the best ever they’d had. Unfortunately, they recorded the drive. For those arguing that FSD is ready for the bright lights. One disengagement / hour is still too many. Autonomous vehicles need to drive better than humans. ALL THE TIME. FULL STOP.The bystanders on the road while you’re testing FSD didn’t sign up for beta testing Tesla’s software so putting them in harm's way is really something that NHTSA should address. My point is – if you’re wanting to use it on your commute, you’ve every right to. Just don’t record it and deny what’s been recording and tell us it’s better than any other software out there. We’re ONLY concerned with FSD and it’s still not ready for primetime. NEWS THAT GOT OUR ATTENTION THIS WEEK - AI worries cause more chips to be restricted for sale to China Inc? With the recent advancement and use of Generative AI for tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, it sure does look like the US is very concerned with AI being used in weapons that threaten national security. There was an announcement earlier this year that restricted high-end chips being sold to Chinese companies but this would take the restrictions even further. This would hurt companies like AMD and Nvidia as their bread and butter, high margin products are the AI chips and the high end chips used in servers. Its important to see how the restrictions actually play themselves out. This could be a trial balloon from the US govt to spot check reactions. - NIO aligns with Big Oil again. This time in China with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to expand their charging and swapping. Recall a few weeks back they also partnered with Shell for China and Europe. This should be of particular interest since CNOOC is one of the three largest petrol companies in China so their reach and footprint is significant and they, like all other oil companies are in a mad dash to re-invent themselves before they are transitioned out of relevancy. - Audi wants to reduce development time of their vehicles from 48 months > 30 months. Let me say this to the Audi CEO Duesmann, 30 months is still going to be too long. From Jan to March, Audi sold 3K EVs. Tesla sold almost 90K vehicles …in March alone. I am really not sure what the major malfunction is at some of these European brands. I mean, they see what's happening in China. They are getting the clocks cleaned and aren't likely to get much if any of the share they lost even if they can miraculously speed everything they're doing up just to keep pace with the competition in China, their most important market. It was time to push that panic button a few years ago. Now it's time to get new management in place. One that understand digital, software and speed. TRENDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - Baby Mamma Drama between Lordstown and its contract manufacturer Foxconn. Lordstown this week filed for bankruptcy protection while suing Foxconn for breach of contract. Foxconn agreed with Lordstown in late 2021 to acquire the Lordstown factory from Lordstown Motors, make an investment in them and build their small pickup, the Endurance, all in one fell swoop. It seems this slow moving trainwreck has finally crashed. Lordstown realizing that, at $65K, their Endurance would never be profitable, requested to Foxconn to stop production while they looked for another partner to share costs. This had to exacerbate an already disastrous situation. Where each goes now is anyone’s guess. I don’t think they will be able to reconcile their differences but I also don’t think Lordstown has any real IP to sell to other automakers either. Foxconn now has a massive assembly plant sitting on their books that generates them zero revenues and no real promising customers. As for Foxtron, the plan was to ALWAYS ship that brand’s products to the US to be sold. Don't let them try to convince. you otherwise. The Taiwanese market is too small for Foxconn and since imports from Taiwan wouldn’t have massive tariffs and if the product was reliable with good quality, it could have begun selling the TW made Foxtron vehicles as early as next year. For those that think that Foxconn ONLY wants to be a CM to other automakers, they are sorely mistaken. - Lucid is selling IP (and parts) to Aston Martin that should help both of them better compete as the global market pushes the premium segments further into the EV space. Additional revenue is welcome for any struggling startup but Lucid’s problem is more about production. This is really a big boost for Aston although I could see this relationship getting even deeper in the future if both continue to struggle. A key common tie they both share – ownership stakes in both by the Saudi govt’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). PIF owns about 18% of Aston Martin while it’s a majority shareholder in Lucid with 60%. INTRODUCING - The Changan Qiyuan brand. For Changan this makes three NEV brands: Avatr, Shenlan (both JVs with Huawei & CATL) and Qiyuan. And for Ford, one of its foreign JV partners in China – still just one EV product, the very poorly selling Ford Mustang Mach E. By now, you know that Ford always had a challenging relationship with Changan and the fact that they are building cars that would compete directly with the Ford JV products illustrates how far / deep those challenges go. - Interstellar Brand. From SAIC’s Maxus truck brand which will launch its first product an EV pickup truck in 2024. With the Ford Ranger starting production in China soon, are we going to have a ‘Pickup’ fight?? Interstellar’s product is an EV so it’s not an apples to apples contest but we should know by the end of this year how popular pickups are, in particular, Ford’s. BY THE NUMBERS - €20B. That’s how much Porsche will be investing battery technology and digitalization of its new products. Leading the way will be its SUVs like the Cayenne which comes none too soon. The premium EV SUV segments are getting crowded in China especially with Volvo, Polestar and Lotus newly launched products joining alongside the other significant players like NIO, Yangwang, HiPhi and LiAuto. China is Porsche’s largest market and new products from these competitors threaten to derail Porsche’s streak of positive growth since entering the market in 2001. - 9%. That’s how much share of the NEV space China EV Inc is forecasted to take by the end of this year. For those European analysts that said China EV Inc would have a tough time gaining traction – I point to that. And we’re still in the early innings too. So you still have time to change your ‘expert analysis’ on this. #ChinaEVInccomin

_________________ This weekly newsletter is a collection of articles we feel best reflect the happenings of the week or important trends that have effects on the global automotive and mobility sectors. We also provide a point of view that we hope educates and sparks debate. The Sino Auto Insights team


Sino Auto Insights is a Beijing, China-based market research and advisory firm that specializes in assisting companies analyze, strategize, and develop products and services that will shape the future of mobility and transportation.

Members of our team have experience working in Detroit, Silicon Valley as well as here in China across multiple sectors and functions as entrepreneurs as well as working at larger companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, GM and FCA, and many others.

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1 Comment

Jeff Sherman
Jeff Sherman
Jun 29, 2023

" Autonomous vehicles need to drive better than humans. ALL THE TIME. FULL STOP."

Not if you want to avoid millions of accidents and save thousands of lives.

Perfection is the enemy of good.... If FSD is better than humans 99% of the time. Probably not good enough. 99.999% Probably well past good enough.

What does the data currently tell you? It tells me that Tesla's with FSD are already in fewer accidents than the avg car. Is that good enough? Perhaps not. As FSD now improves at an even faster pace... it will soon be well past good enough, and ready for prime time.

PS. 49% of humans drive worse than the avg human. Now think of how bad…

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