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0:00 How Much Tesla Pays Factory Workers
1:14 U.S. Finds Massive Amounts of Lithium, Rare Earths
2:17 GM Hires from Silicon Valley
3:15 JLR Surprised by PHEV Demand
4:19 Kia Adds Another Hybrid to Its U.S. Lineup
5:11 Nissan’s Stock Sinks, While Toyota’s Soars
6:06 J.D. Power Ranks Lexus Best, Chrysler Worst
6:46 Electrify America Opens 1st Indoor Public Charger
7:28 VW Turning Sales Around in China?
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This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
HOW MUCH TESLA PAYS ITS WORKERS
Like most non-union auto brands building vehicles in the U.S., Tesla raised wages for workers after the UAW secured record contracts with the Detroit Three. And now we know how much of a pay bump Tesla’s factory workers got. According to internal documents viewed by Business Insider, they now earn between $22 and $39 an hour. Tesla splits its pay tiers into three regions based on cost of living expenses, so workers in Texas and Nevada earn a lower wage than employees in California. Workers are divided into seven levels and leads are divided into two levels. The higher the level, the more you make. Workers can move between levels every six months depending on their performance and the company’s results. And they’re eligible for a bonus every six months as well. UAW President Shawn Fain said it wants to organize Tesla workers, so it will be interesting to see if this pay raise is enough to keep them from joining the union.
U.S. FINDS MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF LITHIUM, RARE EARTHS
Some people said that EVs would never catch on in a big way because there aren’t enough raw materials to make the motors or batteries. But two days ago, a company called American Rare Earths, announced it found a mother lode of rare earth minerals in Wyoming. It says the site has 2.3 billion metric tons of rare earths and that it could become the largest mining site in the world for them. And today the Wall Street Journal reports that the Salton Sea in California contains enough lithium for the U.S. to become self-sufficient in the mineral, and could even account for 50% of all the lithium mined in the world. Production is scheduled to begin in 2027. This kind of reminds us of all the talk 20 years ago that the U.S. was running out of gas and oil, until a fracking revolution turned the U.S. into the world’s largest producer of those energy sources. It looks like the same thing could happen with rare earths and lithium.
DETROIT HIRES FROM SILICON VALLEY
The Detroit automakers are turning more and more to non-automotive people to lead their EV and software development. And now General Motors is the latest. The automaker announced it hired Kurt Kelty, a battery expert and former Tesla executive, to the newly created role of vice president of Batteries. Kelty will report directly to GM President Mark Reuss and he’ll be in charge of the company’s battery cell strategy including the use of raw materials; research, developing and investing in new technology; commercialization of cells and packs and end of life solutions.
JLR WARMS UP TO PHEVs
It should be becoming more clear that the auto industry is in a mad scramble to pivot to hybrids as a way to offset slowing demand for EVs. And here’s a few more examples. JLR has been so surprised by the success of plug-in hybrids that it’s comfortable in delaying the development of its upcoming EVs. Last year in Europe it sold over 45,000 PHEVs, an increase of nearly 70%. And so the company is working to make more plug-ins available, which could push back its EVs. CEO Adrian Mardell says “We are taking our time to make sure that we put the best vehicles we have ever developed into the marketplace.” And adds he will allow “a few more months” to get to that point for its first EV, which is an all-electric version of the Range Rover SUV that’s currently scheduled to launch later this year. The company calls it the “most refined Range Rover ever created” and says it has over 16,000 pre-orders for the model.
KIA ADDS ANOTHER HYBRID TO ITS LINEUP
And in other hybrid news, the Kia Carnival minivan is getting a hybrid powertrain for the first time in the U.S. The setup, which is the same in the Sportage hybrid, consists of a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 54 kW electric motor and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Combined they produce 242 horsepower and 271 lb.-ft. of torque. It will be interesting to see how this new setup sells compared to the 287 horsepower 3.5L V6, which is a carryover from before. Also new for the 2025 model year are a few styling tweaks, most notably the headlight design, as well as several tech and safety upgrades. Sales of the new Carnival are expected to start this summer.
NISSAN’S STOCK SINKS, WHILE TOYOTA’S SOARS
Toyota and Nissan are headed in completely opposite directions, at least on the Nikkei stock exchange. Yesterday, Nissan’s stock posted its biggest drop in 20 years. The stock fell nearly 12%, wiping out $1.8 billion in market value. Investors were spooked by Nissan missing its earnings guidance and by sinking sales in China, which only two years ago was Nissan’s largest market. Meanwhile, Toyota just seems to be going from strength to strength. Yesterday it set a record for the Tokyo stock exchange when its market cap hit 50 trillion yen. That’s $354 billion. Investors love the fact that Toyota is on track to post all-time record profits when its fiscal year wraps up at the end of March.
J.D. POWER RANKS LEXUS BEST, CHRYSLER WORST
J.D. Power released its Vehicle Dependability Study which we like to follow because it tracks quality problems after 3 years of ownership. Lexus and Toyota topped the list, followed by Buick, Chevrolet and Mini. At the bottom of the list, in descending order were Lincoln, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Audi and Chrysler in dead last place. J.D.Power ranks Tesla separately from the rest because it doesn’t get the same amount of data on them as it does the other brands. But based on what it does get, it puts Tesla close to the bottom, between Lincoln and Volkswagen.
ELECTRIFY AMERICA OPENS IN-DOOR CHARGING STATION
EV charging network Electrify America is trying to make the charging experience more convenient and comfortable. The company just opened its first public indoor charging station in San Francisco. It features 20 fast chargers that provide up to 350-kW of power. The station has a temperature-controlled lounge area with food and beverage vending machines, complimentary Wi-Fi and bathrooms. And the station is open 24/7 with round-the-clock monitoring and security. Electrify America says its plans to open similar stations in large metro areas across the U.S.
IS VW TURNING SALES AROUND IN CHINA?
Volkswagen’s sales in China have tumbled by about a million units over the last four years. But it put a bigger focus on the market, turning more to local development and it even hired a new CTO for China recently. And it looks like those efforts could be starting to pay off. According to figures released by the China Passenger Car Association, Volkswagen was the number 1 selling brand in China last month, even topping BYD. It sold just under 210,000 vehicles, an increase of 41.5% compared to last year. And ahead of second place BYD, who sold a little over 191,000 vehicles. But it still has to play catch-up in the EV segment. VW ranked number 6 on that list in January.
And that brings us to the end of today’s show. Thanks for making Autoline a part of your day and I hope that you have a great weekend.
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