Listen to “AD #3630 – ONE Uses LFP Battery As Range Extender; Ford Trains White Collar Workers To Do UAW Jobs; Acura Unveils Its First EV” on Spreaker.
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0:00 UAW’s Fain Says D3 Not Bargaining Seriously
0:59 UAW Strike Could Cost D3 Billions
1:37 Ford Trains White Collar Workers to Do UAW Jobs
2:02 Toyota bZ4X Lease Cheaper Than Camry
3:06 ONE Uses LFP Battery as Range Extender
4:51 North American EV Supply Chain Grows
5:41 Will Farley Race Mustang GTD At Le Mans?
7:57 Acura Unveils Its First EV
9:13 Acura Teases New Electric Supercar
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
UAW’S FAIN SAYS D3 NOT BARGAINING SERIOUSLY
The closer we get to the deadline for the UAW contract, the more chatter we keep hearing from both sides. UAW President Shawn Fain tells Reuters that GM, Ford and Stellantis are still not bargaining seriously over the union’s demands. One of those demands is the restoration of defined-benefit pensions. Fain says the cost of doing that is close to what the car companies are already paying union workers for their 401K retirement plans. Ford, for example, puts over $2,000 a year in the 401K plan for each worker. But shareholders would likely revolt since retiree pension costs are what helped push GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and crippled Ford financially during the Great Recession.
UAW STRIKE COULD COST D3 BILLIONS
However, if there is a strike, even a short one, it will cost the car companies hundreds of millions of dollars. The Anderson Economic Group estimates a 10-day strike would cost Ford $325 million, GM $380 million, and Stellantis $285 million. But if the union strikes all three at the same time, the losses would balloon to $1.8 billion for the automakers, and could cost $5.6 billion including losses to dealers and consumers.
FORD TRAINS WHITE COLLAR WORKERS TO DO UAW JOBS
Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reports that Ford is quietly training white collar workers to run parts plants so its dealers will continue to get service parts in case of a strike. They’re getting training for safety and material handling, such as driving fork lifts. Ford asked employees to keep this a secret, but, obviously, someone leaked it to the Free Press.
TOYOTA BZ4X LEASE CHEAPER THAN CAMRY
It’s now cheaper to lease an all-electric Toyota bZ4X than a Camry Hybrid. In Northern California, Toyota’s advertised lease deal for a Camry Hybrid is $469 for 36 months with $3,000 due at signing. While a bZ4X lease is $389 with $5,000 at signing. That works out to $552 a month for the Camry and $528 for the bZ4X. While that’s not much of a difference, the bZ4X’s MSRP is $12,000 higher than the Camry Hybrid. So Toyota is clearly taking advantage of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which allows EVs to be exempted from North American sourcing requirements and qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit if it’s leased. The loophole lets automakers classify the EV leases as commercial transactions.
ONE USES LFP BATTERY AS RANGE EXTENDER
Here’s an intriguing idea for a range extender for EVs: a second battery that charges the first battery. That’s what Mujeeb Ijaz, the CEO of a company called ONE, or Our Next Energy, told us on Autoline After Hours. He says this will allow for long distance towing or 80-mile an hour driving on the highway. So, its hybrid or dual chemistry battery, which is called GEmini, doesn’t go through the same duty cycle and it can be made a lot cheaper. Take a listen.
“Interestingly Gemini is cost-modeled out at about $50 a kilowatt hour right now. That’s lead acid battery level. That’s cheaper than the lowest cost I could have predicted for where LFP will ever get to. LFP, if I go to where the lowest cost centers are in the world are in China, you can make a LFP cell in the mid-$60 per kilowatt hour range. We can make an anode-free cell for $50 a kilowatt hour here in the US, And that’s us just getting started. As time goes on I think we can improve that.”
That $50 a kWh Mujeeb is talking about is at the cell level. At the pack level, it would still be under $100 per kWh. And if you want to learn more about how ONE is getting that cost down, be sure to check out that show on the Autoline website or our YouTube channel.
NORTH AMERICAN EV SUPPLY CHAIN GROWS
The North American supply chain for battery materials is really starting to build up. Yesterday, Ford, South Korean battery maker SK On and cathode material producer EcoProBM, announced they’re investing $885 million to build a cathode manufacturing plant in Quebec. Production is scheduled to start in the first half of 2026 and it will have the capacity to produce 45,000 metric tons of cathode active material a year for NMC batteries. That’s enough to support 225,000 EVs annually. Quebec is becoming a popular location for battery and EV production because almost all of its electricity comes from hydropower, meaning it’s carbon free.
WILL FARLEY RACE MUSTANG GTD AT LE MANS?
I think Ford CEO Jim Farley just built his dream toy. We teased it would unveil a new mid-engine version of the Mustang and here it is, the Mustang GTD, which will come out late next year or early in 2025. And really, we should say this is a front-mid-engine sports car, meaning the engine is mounted in the front but it’s shoved really far back. The GTD is basically a $300,000 road-legal version of the Mustang GT3. It starts out life as a Mustang Dark Horse at Ford’s Flat Rock assembly plant before being shipped off to Multimatic where it’s fitted with a carbon fiber wide-body package, a completely unique front and rear adjustable suspension setup, carbon ceramic brakes, wide wheels and tires and an optional aero package. Instead of the GT3’s naturally aspirated 5.4L V8, the GTD will feature an 800+ horsepower supercharged 5.2L V8 with a dry sump oil system and a redline of over 7,500 RPM. All that power is fed through a carbon fiber drive shaft into a rear-mounted 8-speed transaxle. Ford says it’s targeting a sub 7-minute lap time on the Nurburgring. In fact, Jim Farley said “I’ll take track time in a Mustang GTD against any other auto boss in their best road car.” We had a hard time coming up with any company that even has a car that could compete with the GTD and there’s probably only a handful of auto executives that could match Jim Farley’s bronze level FIA license, which is to say that he’s a pretty darn good racer. Those execs include Akio Toyoda, Carlos Tavares and Mark Reuss. And we wonder if Farley himself will strap on the racing gear when the new Mustang GT3 heads back to Le Mans next year.
ACURA UNVEILS ITS FIRST EV
Acura pulled the wraps off its first fully electric model, the ZDX. This is one of at least two SUV EVs that Honda is getting from its deal with GM. The other is the Honda Prologue. Designers did a pretty good job of styling the ZDX to match the other models in its lineup, despite being based on the Ultium platform. It will be offered in both rear- and all-wheel drive with the top Type S version making an estimated 500 horsepower. Like GM’s EVs, the battery pack is 102 kWh, and the ZDX will get an estimated 325 miles or 523 kilometers of range in rear-drive configuration. The interior is highlighted by two 11-inch display screens. The instrument cluster sits, tucked away in the dash, while the infotainment screen floats, set out proud at the front. Acura says it’ll start taking orders for the ZDX later this year and deliveries will start early next year. The rear-drive model will start around $60,000, while an AWD Type S is expected to start in the $70,000 range.
ACURA TEASES NEW ELECTRIC SUPERCAR
Speaking of Acura, it also teased a sleek new concept that looks like it could be an EV supercar. It’s meant to be a preview of certain design elements of its EV future, but that’s about all we have for now.
And that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for tuning in and I hope you have a great weekend.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.