Listen to “AD #3649 – OEMs Likely to Retaliate Against UAW; Tesla Makes It Harder for Legacies to Compete; Mercedes Faces Defeat Devices Accusation” on Spreaker.
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0:00 UAW Shuts Down Three D3 Assembly Plants
1:00 OEMs Likely to Retaliate Against the UAW
2:34 Biden Admin Could Prep SBA Loans for Suppliers
3:40 Tesla Makes It Harder for Legacies to Compete
4:53 Bosch Signs Fuel Cell Buy-Back Plan
5:36 Hyundai Takes Elantra to the Nth Degree
6:40 Rivian Outshines Other EV Startups
7:54 Mercedes Faces Defeat Devices Accusation
8:47 Renault Has Electric Van in All Size Segments
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
UAW SHUTS DOWN THREE D3 ASSEMBLY PLANTS
It’s on. The UAW launched its strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis by shutting down three assembly plants in the wee hours of the morning. That includes GM’s plant in Wentzville, Missouri, which makes the mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks; the Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio which makes the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator; and Ford’s assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan that makes the Bronco and Ranger. By choosing plants in three different states, the UAW is making sure it’s going to maximize its leverage and media coverage. GM and Ford complain that they never got a serious counter offer to their final proposals, while the union says they did. So if they can’t even agree on who offered what, no wonder they couldn’t come to an agreement before the contract expired.
OEMs LIKELY TO RETALIATE AGAINST UAW
So what comes next? UAW’s Shawn Fain will likely be personally visiting the workers who are on strike, keeping their morale high, and he’ll be threatening to shut down more plants to slowly increase the pressure and pain on the automakers. But the car companies are probably not just going to sit down and take it. No doubt they’re rallying the troops. Yesterday, on Autoline After Hours, Marek Masters, a labor expert and professor at Wayne State University, laid out what the automakers may do.
“What they could do, is maybe not a lockout per se, but they could say “if they’re going to shut down certain plants we need to shut down the others, because we’ve got to protect our property, we’ve got to protect our facilities, and we’re going to shut them down so that you just can’t pick us off. So we don’t want to take new orders, we don’t want to start new processes and have you strike the next day right in the middle of this, and have to lose product and have to go through all that and suffer additional losses because we can’t plan.’ You can’t just shut a plant down and re-open it easily. So i would say you want some more predictability of your operations and say ‘if you really want to make this a test of economic wills, then let’s make it a test of economic wills.’”
By the way, Marek Masters gave us a lot more insight into this labor struggle and you can learn about everything he said by watching that show on our website or YouTube channel.
BIDEN ADMIN COULD PREP SBA LOANS FOR SUPPLIERS
One of the biggest concerns about this strike is that hundreds of small Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, who are already under financial distress, could collapse completely. These are suppliers who were financially crippled because of the big drop in production volume due to the Covid pandemic and chip shortage. With interest rates so high right now they can’t even afford to borrow the money they need to keep their operations going. And the UAW strike could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. So the Biden Administration is looking at providing these suppliers with emergency low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Or it may ask the Labor Department to provide grants to those companies to cover the cost of their workers. The strike is putting the Biden Administration in a bind. President Biden says he’s the most pro-labor president ever, but a prolonged strike could hurt his reelection chances. So if this strike goes on for more than two weeks, it’s going to spill over into the political arena.
TESLA MAKES IT HARDER FOR LEGACIES TO COMPETE
And while the legacy automakers are struggling with a legacy union, Tesla is showing the world that it’s a lot more than just a car company. Tesla operates a platform, called Autobidder, that uses AI to trade electricity stored in its energy assets around the world, including Powerpacks, Powerwalls and Megapacks. The system controls over 7 GWh of battery storage and according to a LinkedIn post by the head of Autobidder, it’s returned over $330 million in trading profit to owners and operators, which includes Tesla itself. So, if Tesla and its partners build up a big enough storage system, it could be electric utilities that are paying them to store and supply power. It’s moves like these that are going to make it even harder for legacy automakers to compete against Tesla
BOSCH SIGNS FUEL CELL BUY-BACK PLAN
Sustainability is one of the biggest buzz words you hear in the auto industry. And the latest example is that Bosch entered into an agreement with the German-based truck rental company Hylane, to buy back fuel cell stacks it made for their hydrogen trucks once they’ve reached the end of their useful life. Bosch will then have the stacks recycled by a third-party to recover the platinum inside. The supplier will then use that platinum to make new fuel cell stacks. The recycling process can recover at least 95% of the platinum and Bosch says recycling can save more than 95% of CO2 emissions generated by platinum mining.
HYUNDAI TAKES ELANTRA TO THE Nth DEGREE
Hyundai’s performance brand, called N, just celebrated its 8th birthday. The automaker poached the head of BMW’s M division, Albert Biermann, who’s now a technical adviser with the Group, to build up the N brand, which is becoming popular with enthusiasts. And those enthusiasts are the ones providing feedback to the company and that directly lead to some of the improvements being made to the Elantra N. One such thing is reprogrammed engine software that optimizes the use of high-octane gas for better performance. The software for the suspension and stability control systems were also changed. And there’s a bunch of other improvements, including to the steering, the cooling for the engine and brakes, to the spoiler and to various mounts and bushings. This new Elantra N will be the first N model that Hyundai offers in China, which joins the U.S. and Australia as Hyundai’s other performance markets. Sales should kick off soon.
RIVIAN OUTSHINES OTHER US EV STARTUPS
EV startups are struggling to gain traction in the U.S. due to Tesla’s price war and legacy automakers introducing more electric models. But Rivian is doing the best among the startups. According to Experian, 2,750 Rivian’s were registered in July and in the first seven months of the year, it was more than 18,000, and that doesn’t include the vans Rivian builds for Amazon. Since most startups don’t report monthly sales, the registration numbers help tell the story of what’s going on. Lucid Motors registered 348 EVs in July and nearly 3,800 from January to July. VinFast only had 19 in July and its seven-month total is just 170. And Fisker, which delivered its first vehicle in the U.S. in June, had 30 registrations in July. But while the startups are struggling, EVs are growing fast in the U.S. Of the 9.1 million vehicle registrations through July, EVs accounted for 7.2% of them, which is up from 4.9% a year ago.
MERCEDES STILL INSTALLING DEFEAT DEVICES?
This is something that’s surprising to still see happening in 2023. Mercedes may be forced to recall vehicles in Germany because they have emission defeat devices. Germany’s transport authority KBA says it found three devices installed in cars built under the Euro 6 standard, which is the EU’s most recent and strictest limits. The European Court of Justice says the devices are illegal under certain conditions and ordered Mercedes to fix the problem or face a recall. Mercedes says it’s cooperating with the investigation and believes it has a software update that can take care of the issue. I wonder if this would have any impact on vehicle performance, like the VW diesel software updates did. And if it does, it could lead to another lawsuit from customers.
RENAULT HAS ELECTRIC VAN IN ALL SIZE SEGMENTS
With the new Trafic E-Tech, Renault has an all-electric version of its vans in each size segment. It will be offered in two lengths and two heights. All versions are powered by a 90 kW or 122 horsepower electric motor, which gets its juice from a 52 kWh battery pack. It has a range of 297 kilometers or 184 miles or with an Eco mode that limits power and top speed to 90 km/h or about 55 MPH the Trafic E-Tech can go 322 kilometers or 200 miles. At the moment, the battery is only able to charge with AC power of up to 22 kW, but Renault says DC charging of 50 kW will be available next year. Orders open next month and deliveries start before the end of the year.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day 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.