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0:00 Rivian Expects Big Drop in Battery Raw Material Prices
0:55 Mullen Automotive in Trouble
1:46 UAW President Calls GM’s Counter Offer “Insulting”
2:32 Ford Fast Tracks 8,000 Workers to Top Wage Rate
3:44 Acura Doesn’t Want GM Techs to Service New ZDX
5:58 Argo AI Founders Form New Autonomous Trucking Startup
6:55 Tesla’s Sales Soar in China
7:43 Cadillac’s Goddess Makes Return on Celestiq
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
RIVIAN EXPECTS BIG DROP IN BATTERY RAW MATERIAL PRICES
It looks like some relief is on the way for EV makers. Rivian’s CFO says she expects to see a significant drop in battery raw material prices that will start to have an impact late this year and into 2024. Prices went up in recent years due to short material supplies and strong consumer demand for EVs. But as those two things have started to turn in the other direction, prices are coming down. So, if automakers are spending less to build cars, they’re putting more money to the bottom line, which is especially good news for EV startups like Rivian and Lucid. And hopefully some of those savings will be applied to the sticker price of EVs because right now they’re too expensive for most people to afford.
MULLEN AUTOMOTIVE IN TROUBLE
However, the drop-in battery material prices probably isn’t going to be enough to save EV startup Mullen Automotive. The company announced it received a delisting notice from the NASDAQ exchange for its stock falling below the $1 minimum. Mullen is appealing to get another 180 days to turn things around, but as of this morning its stock was trading at $0.42 cents a share. Mullen is a bit of an interesting company, but it either failed to bring out its vehicles altogether or in very small numbers. It snatched up a number of failing EV startups, including the Coda EV, Bollinger Motors and Electric Last Mile Solutions or ELMS and it’s even trying to launch its own vehicle, called the Five. However, things are not looking good.
UAW PRESIDENT CALLS GM’S COUNTER OFFER “INSULTING”
We reported yesterday that it would probably happen and General Motors did make a counter offer to the UAW. It offered workers a 10% pay increase and two additional 3% annual lump sum payments over four years. It’s also offering a $6,000 inflation related payment, $5,000 in inflation protection over the life of the contract and a $5,500 ratification bonus. But UAW President Shawn Fain was not impressed and called the proposal “insulting” and says it will reduce the annual profit-sharing workers receive. So this isn’t a good sign a deal will be made before the contract expires next week on September 14th.
FORD FAST TRACKS 8,000 WORKERS TO TOP WAGE RATE
And Ford is trying to come out and look like it’s supporting its UAW members. Ford announced that nearly 8,000 UAW members are getting bumped up to the top wage rate. They’ll receive an extra $4.33 an hour on average, which works out to $9,000 a year. With overtime, it says that could increase to $10,000. But the exact increase depends on the specific job of the employee. Under the current contract, it takes 8 years for a worker to earn the top wage and that’s a provision the union is looking to eliminate in the new contract.
ACURA DOESN’T WANT GM TECHS TO SERVICE NEW ZDX
Acura invited us to a local event yesterday where we got to talk to some of the team that helped put together the new all-electric ZDX. Here’s the things that I found interesting. First, I got to talk to the exterior designer about the piano black roof on the Type S version. In person, it’s a very striking feature of the car. With all the pillars and even the roof rails in that deep black it almost fades away into the background. But a semi-polished accent, which was carried over from the concept, helps draw your eye back in and the designer said it helps give motion to the cabin. This is only a feature found on the Type S, which is the quickest and most powerful Acura SUV ever. All modes have the platinum-colored lower accent and the lower A-Spec version will come with a body-color roof. The ZDX is one of two EVs that Honda is getting from GM’s Ultium platform. The other is the Prologue. And like some GM vehicles, Acura says the ZDX will allow for hands-free driving, but instead of being called SuperCruise, it will use the name for Acura’s ADAS technology, which is called AcuraWatch. The EV will be sold in all 50 states, but dealers that wanted to get their hands on a ZDX had to agree to install chargers and train their staff before the EV launches, which will be early next year. Part of the learning curve will be a new digital sales model that will allow customers to make the entire purchase online, which will be the case with every Acura EV going forward. And lastly, I asked about crossover repair service between Honda and GM. Meaning GM could work on Honda EVs and vice versa. There’s a shortage of mechanics, especially good EV techs, and I figured they might want a bigger service net, but Acura shot that down pretty quickly. The brand wants nothing to do with GM service centers. If you’d like to learn more of the specs of the new ZDX, we covered that in a previous show and will provide the link.
ARGO AI FOUNDERS FORM NEW AUTONOMOUS TRUCKING STARTUP
The founders of Argo AI, the former autonomous driving unit backed by Ford and Volkswagen, are forming a new self-driving company called Stack AV. But instead of developing robotaxis, the new startup will focus on autonomous trucking. Bloomberg reports that Stack is backed by a more than $1 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank investment company. Like Argo, Stack is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and it’s already hired 150 employees and has a test fleet of trucks on the road right now. As you may remember, last year Ford and VW shuttered Argo because they say autonomous vehicles are still years away from reaching mass production and they didn’t want to invest more to keep it going. But Argo’s founders say self-driving delivery trucks show more potential for automation.
TESLA’S SALES SOAR IN CHINA
China’s car market had been slowing over the summer with sales dropping in June and July but last month they rebounded. According to the China Passenger Car Association, automakers sold 1.94 million passenger vehicles in August, up 2.2% from the year before and an increase of 8.5% from July. Thanks to tax incentives and other discounts, sales of new energy vehicles, which includes BEVs, PHEVs and fuel cell vehicles, shot up 34.5% last month and accounted for nearly 37% of the market. Tesla was a big benefactor and it’s market share nearly doubled to 13.2% in August and the Model Y was the best-selling vehicle in China.
CADILLAC’S GODDESS MAKES RETURN ON CELESTIQ
Cadillac’s Goddess is making its return on the new hand-built Celestiq electric vehicle. But not as a hood ornament. A reimagined version of it appears on the front-fender and on a controller on the center console as well as above the vehicle’s charge port. The Goddess hood ornament was first introduced in 1930 and was on most models until the mid-1950’s.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show and this week. I hope that you have a great weekend.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.