Listen to “AD #3595 – Uh-Oh, There’s Not Enough Lithium; Stellantis Builds Inventory For A Strike; U.S. Car Sales Surprisingly Strong” on Spreaker.
Follow us on social media:
0:00 Uh-Oh, There’s Not Enough Lithium
1:03 Stellantis Builds Inventory for A Strike
2:14 Audi Is Falling Short
3:21 Porsche Creates Its Own Software Division
4:45 Ford to Lay Off More Employees
5:26 U.S. Car Sales Surprisingly Strong
6:01 U.S. Traffic Deaths Drop For 4th Straight Quarter
6:37 VW Touareg PHEV Costs €94,000
7:17 Ford Super Duty’s Trick Tailgate
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
UH-OH, THERE’S NOT ENOUGH LITHIUM
Uh-oh, there might not be enough lithium to make all the electric cars the auto industry wants to make. Yesterday, we reported that a significant shortage in graphite is expected by 2030. Today, we;re reporting that lithium producers are warning they won’t be able to meet demand in the coming years. They say mining permit delays, labor shortages and inflation is impacting production. The president of mining company Lake Resources says he expects lithium demand to exceed supply by 500,000 metric tons by 2030. But even if more mines are built, there aren’t enough facilities to produce specialized lithium needed for EV batteries. That means automakers may have to use lower grade lithium, which will impact vehicle range or switch to lithium-free chemistries.
STELLANTIS BUILDS INVENTORY FOR A STRIKE
It sure looks like Stellantis is building up inventory to prepare for a strike by the UAW. It just warned employees at two of its most important factories that it’s going to invoke what is called “critical plant status.” That’s a part of the labor contract that allows the company to run its plants for 7 days a week with mandatory overtime of 9 hours a day or more. The two plants we’re aware of where this is being invoked are the Warren Truck Plant, which makes the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, and the Jefferson North Plant, which makes the Grand Cherokee and Durango. Both plants are in the Detroit area. The critical plant status starts on July 5th and runs to October 2nd. The current UAW contract expires on September 14 which is when many industry experts believe there will be a strike. Shawn Fain, the new President of the UAW and who calls the Detroit automakers “the enemy,” spent most of his career at what is now Stellantis, and we think Stellantis could be the most likely strike target.
AUDI IS FALLING SHORT
Audi isn’t living up to its potential. And that’s according to VW Group CEO Oliver Blume. He said it failed at defending Audi’s lead in key areas against key competitors as well as providing a competitive EV lineup, especially for China. Blume also said “severe software problems” have delayed the launch of exciting electric products. Even so, he says the luxury brand still has “huge potential.” Part of the VW Group’s strategy of putting a new steering wheel on the company that we talked about yesterday, includes a restructuring of its software division, Cariad. It’s now working much more closely with the VW and Audi brands to speed up development and implementation. The all-new Audi Q6 e-tron will launch next year on the group’s PPE platform, which supports up to nearly 1,000 horsepower, and Audi is also helping develop VW’s Software Defined Vehicles, which will be built on an all-new platform, called SSP.
PORSCHE CREATES ITS OWN SOFTWARE DIVISION
Both of those platforms will also be used by Porsche, including for the new all-electric Macan. However, Porsche’s name was rarely mentioned in VW’s new steering wheel plan. Since doing an IPO and technically becoming independent from the group, Porsche has acted much more like a skunk works program than we would have guessed. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s still very much tied in with VW, but it keeps operating a number of little programs that are completely separate. It’s doing some really interesting stuff with 3D printing, it’s closely involved with developing e-fuels and now it’s establishing its own software division. It’ll work on developing autonomous driving tech, vehicle-to-everything communication and connectivity solutions. The new division will be located near Porsche’s tech center in Italy, so it will be able to quickly test solutions in the real world. It’s moves like these that could help keep Porsche from failing to live up to its potential, like Audi.
FORD TO LAY OFF MORE EMPLOYEES
Ford is going to get rid of more people to cut costs. Last year, it laid off 3,000 salaried and contract workers in the U.S. and a few months back it announced it’s cutting 3,800 jobs in Europe. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Ford is going to do another round of cuts of its white-collar workers in the U.S. We don’t know how many but it’s expected to include workers from both its ICE and EV divisions. Ford wants to cut costs by $3 billion annually by the middle of the decade. And automakers are also worried about an economic downturn and possible recession next year.
U.S. CAR SALES SURPRISINGLY STRONG
And maybe there will be a recession in the US, but someone forgot to tell that to car buyers. Wards Intelligence says second quarter car sales will come in 18% over last year. It expects sales to total 4.1 million units. Car buyers defied the experts in the first quarter when sales came in 8% over last year. Put it all together and Wards says sales for the first-half of 2023 total almost 7.7 million units, up 13% from last year.
U.S. TRAFFIC DEATHS DROP FOR 4TH STRAIGHT QUARTER
Traffic deaths spiked during the pandemic in the U.S., but now they’re on their way back down. According to NHTSA, an estimated 9,330 people were killed in traffic accidents in the first quarter of 2023, which is a drop of 3.3% compared to last year and it’s the fourth straight quarter that deaths have declined. And that’s even with a 2.6% increase in vehicle miles driven over the same period. Usually, deaths increase the more people drive.
VW TOUAREG PHEV COSTS €94,000
Volkswagen is launching the plug-in hybrid version of the new Touareg. It must want people to view this more as a performance model because I’ve read two different releases on the new Touareg and neither of them mention anything about efficiency or range. Instead they highlight the turbocharged 3.0L 6-cylinder engine and electric motor that combine for about 460 horsepower and that the model will do 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. But the top Touareg model is still not cheap. It starts at just under 94,000 euros.
FORD SUPER DUTY’S TRICK TAILGATE
All this week we’ve been showing you the cool features on Ford’s all new Super Duty trucks. Well, here’s another one. Sometimes you’ve got to drop the tailgate on the bed to make more room for the cargo you’re hauling. But the backup camera is usually mounted on the back of the tailgate, so when you drop the gate all you see is the pavement below. That’s why Ford engineers came up with the idea of mounting another backup camera as well as a sonar sensor on the top lid of the tailgate, so that when you drop the gate, you still see what’s behind the truck and you can still get sonar warnings when backing up.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show and this week. I hope you have a great weekend.
Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website: WardsAuto.com
Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.