News Roundup: Lexus V8, Chip Storm, Insurance Refunds, More
In this week's news, Lexus could be bringing back high-performance, BC drivers should check for a cheque sometime soon, Hyundai, Kia, and Apple are apparently off again, while auto sales were down in January and computer chip shortages could make that situation worse.
The pinnacle of performance at Lexus has been the F badge for a few generations now, and while the V8-powered performance cars that have worn that badge have been gone for a while, a new report says that they’re coming back. Japanese auto mag Best Car says that the IS, LS, and LC could all get an F version very soon, each packing a turbocharged V8. The report says the IS F would get a 474 hp 4.0-litre, while the LS F would get 661 hp to take the fight to the Mercedes-AMG S63 and the LC would share that same engine and compete with a host of flagship performance coupes.
British Columbia’s private auto insurer ICBC has said that it will be sending out rebates to a wide range of customers to reflect a cost decrease resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns and changes to behaviour, The company said that lower claim costs and fewer collisions reported means they can return $600 million to customers with an active policy between April 1 and Spet 30 of last year. The rebates will be based on the amount paid, and doesn’t go to those with storage or per-km-based policies, but it will be around 19 per cent of customer premiums paid during that time. That means approximately $190 per customer, but that figure varies depending on your actual premium. Cheques go out in mid March.
A shortage of computer chips caused by increased demand for consumer electronics and hampered by production issues related to the pandemic is hitting the auto industry hard in recent weeks. General Motors has announced that it will stop production this week at its plant in Ingersoll, ON, as well as a plant in the US and one in Mexico. Ford had also said that it would be idling palnts in the US as well as its factory in Oakville, ON, for a similar period. Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the Stellantis minivan plant in Windsor, ON, said that the auto plant there would be idled for three weeks, again due to the same shortage. The semiconductor shortage is expected to affect auto production for much of the year, across manufacturers.
After a week of on again, off again talk of Apple and Hyundai or Kia joining together to build the Apple Car, a still unconfirmed project, that set stock prices of automakers aflutter, we have today what seems to be a final answer. Hyundai Motor Group, which controls Hyundai as well as Kia, says that it is not now in talks with the tech colossus to build its car. “We are not having talks with Apple on developing autonomous vehicles,” the company said in a statement to comply with stock market rules voering rumours. Though of course that doesn’t rule out conventional non-autonomous electric vehicles, which will probably lead to plenty of new rumours this week.
Auto sales in Canada fell sharply in January after making a significant recovery through most of late 2020. Sales were down an estimated 17.4 per cent to 90,980 units reported Desrosiers Automotive Consultants. Of the automakers that report monthly sales, Honda Canada, Subaru, Toyota Canada, and Hyundai-Kia all reported sharp declines. With much of the country under lockdown in January, that’s to be expected. Inventory shortages, related to last year’s demand and the shortages of parts including semiconductors, could also be contributing.