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0:00 China Limits EV Graphite Exports
1:22 GM: UAW Workers Get $100,000/Year, $1 Million Retirement
3:08 EU Car Sales Up 14 Months in A Row
4:09 Renault Recommits to Auto Shows
5:05 Buick Launches Low-Cost EV In China
6:02 Honda Bringing Back Civic Hybrid
6:51 Holy Moly! A Plaid Model 3?
7:30 DS Puts ChatGPT In Cars
8:25 Electric RV On BrightDrop Van
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
CHINA LIMITS EV GRAPHITE EXPORTS
China stunned foreign battery makers this morning when it announced it’s going to limit exports of graphite, which is used in EV battery anodes. China processes 90% of that graphite, and this could quickly affect battery production in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea. It’s not a complete ban, but China says that with EV battery demand soaring worldwide, it has to protect its supply chain and national security interests. Reuters reports that China pretty much stopped mining graphite for environmental reasons and is turning to synthetic graphite instead. As a result, it says by 2025 there is going to be a shortage of graphite. This limiting of exports is going to have a near-term impact on battery makers, but you might want to check out a couple of interviews we did at the Battery Show in Michigan last month for a couple of longer-term solutions. One is with an American company called Anovion that’s making synthetic graphite. The other is a Canadian company called NanoTerraTech that is converting wood waste, like sawdust and bark, into battery grade graphite.
GM: UAW WORKERS GET $100,000/YEAR, $1 MILLION RETIREMENT
OK, now over to the UAW strike. It’s Day 36 and there are some important updates to cover. GM, Ford and Stellantis collectively laid off another 270 workers due to the ripple effect of the strike. By our count there are now over 40,000 UAW workers on strike or laid off. Gerald Johnson, the head of manufacturing for General Motors, put out a video yesterday detailing the offer the company has on the table.
“Here’s an example. The majority of our workers will make $39.24 an hour, or roughly $82,000 a year by the end of this contract. We know that with built in bonuses, profit sharing and the opportunity for overtime, this means many will earn more than $100,000 a year. This will put team members in the top 25% of full time American workers.”
Johnson went on to point out that GM pays 30-40% higher wages than the transplants or Tesla, and that its retirement plan means a worker with 30 years of service will have $1 million in savings.
So will that be enough to satisfy UAW president Shawn Fain? We’ll know more later today. Fain says he has an announcement to make late this afternoon.
Meanwhile, UAW workers that were on strike at the supplier ZF settled for a 13% wage increase that brings Tier 1 workers to $23 an hour by the end of the contract, while Tier 2 workers get a 22% increase.
EU CAR SALES UP 14 MONTHS IN A ROW
Looks like the auto industry in Europe is turning the corner. September new car sales were up for the 14th month in a row. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, sales were up 9% last month compared to a year ago, and most of that growth came from EVs and hybrids. Pure EV sales were up 14% and now make up 15% of the total market, while hybrids did even better, posting a 30% increase and EVs and hybrids combined account for over 50% of sales in the EU. But diesels have really fallen out of favor with consumers. Less than a decade ago they accounted for more than 50% of the market but that tumbled to 12.5% market share for diesels in September. And while overall car sales are improving, they’re still 20% below pre-pandemic levels.
RENAULT RECOMMITS TO AUTO SHOWS
Auto shows around the world have been dying off, but could that be changing? Following its successful launch of new models at the IAA Munich show, Renault says it’s now going to get back to exhibiting at major international auto shows. It says auto shows are becoming showcases for big advances, like EVs and ADAS, that can be seen by large groups of people. I’d argue that’s always been the case, but good to see Renault feels that way again. The Group and its brands will go to the Geneva and Paris auto shows next year, plus all major shows in areas where it sells cars.
BUICK LAUNCHES LOW-COST EV IN CHINA
Buick just launched a low-cost version of its E5 electric crossover in China. Called the Pioneer, it has a starting price of $23,200, which is $5,500 cheaper than the previous lowest priced version. The E5 is based on GM’s Ultium platform and the Pioneer features a 68.4-kWh lithium battery pack and a 180-kW electric motor. It has a range of 545 kilometers or 338 miles based on the Chinese test cycle. Yet despite the lower price, it still has some decent features, like an infotainment system powered by Qualcomm’s SnapDragon chips, Apple CarPlay, navigation, a voice assistant and safety technology like forward collision warning, lane centering and adaptive cruise control.
HONDA BRINGING BACK CIVIC HYBRID
As the growth in EVs slows, hybrids are starting to get a lot more attention. Honda is going to fill a gap left when it dropped the Insight by coming out with a hybrid version of the Civic next year. It will be offered as both a sedan and hatchback and will feature Honda’s two-motor hybrid system, which is paired with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. The sedan will be made at Honda’s plant in Ontario, Canada, while the hatchback will be made shortly after at its plant in Greensburg, Indiana. It expects the model to do quite well, eventually representing over 40% of all Civic sales in North America. The most efficient Civic right now is rated at 36 mpg, but we expect the Civic hybrid to be around 50 mpg.
HOLY MOLY! A PLAID MODEL 3?
When Elon Musk was asked if Tesla would ever do a Plaid version of the Model 3, he said no. But that could change. Tesla released the owner’s manual and parts catalog for the updated Model 3 Highland and someone searching through it found an intriguing image that features the badge for Ludicrous Mode as well as references to a different suspension, sport brakes and new wheels. We may not have to wait long to get confirmation if this version is on the way. The updated Model 3 Highland is expected to launch in Europe and China before the end of the month.
DS PUTS CHATGPT IN CARS
Well here’s another one for the automotive history books. DS Automobiles, a division of Stellantis, announced it’s integrating ChatGPT technology into its cars in Europe as part of a six-month pilot program. It’s available on all DS models with the DS IRIS SYSTEM at no extra cost but it will be limited to 20,000 owners for the trial period. The ChatGPT tech can be used to have more complex interactions with the car, even asking it to make up a quiz or create a children’s book to read. DS isn’t the only automaker experimenting with the generative AI tech. As you may remember, Mercedes was the first automaker to integrate ChatGPT into its cars for North American customers back in June. And GM is working with Microsoft to explore different uses for the technology as well.
ELECTRIC RV ON BRIGHTDROP VAN
A Detroit based startup called Grounded is now offering an EV RV based on GM’s BrightDrop electric van. Called the G2, it has 250-plus miles of range from a 165-kWh battery and the roof is equipped with a 640-watt solar panel, which is used to power some of its features. Those amenities include an induction stove, hot water, indoor shower and more. But it ain’t cheap. The G2 starts at $195,000 and deliveries start this month.
But that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for joining us and I hope you have a great weekend.
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