The Truth About Cars » organizing committee The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » organizing committee UAW Sets Up Organizing Committee At Tesla Motors’ Fremont Assembly Plant Tue, 07 Jan 2014 16:27:23 +0000 Workers at Tesla's Fremont plant celebrate the 1,000th Model S body built, 2012.

Workers at Tesla’s Fremont plant celebrate the 1,000th Model S body built, 2012.

United Auto Workers president Bob King has said that the labor union is interested in organizing Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, California and that a group of workers at the site have set up an organizing committee for the UAW. That factory is where Tesla assembles the battery powered Model S. Tesla has prided itself in being different from Detroit and its headquarters’ location, the Silicon Valley, is not exactly a labor hotbed.

While under King the autoworkers’ union has been more collaborative than confrontational with automakers, should the UAW organize Tesla that would undoubtedly affect the corporate culture at the EV startup. “Elon [Musk]‘s attitude was always, ‘We’re going to Silicon Valley-ize the car business,’ ” Karl Brauer, with Kelley Blue Book told the “If he goes union, he’s going to take a huge step toward falling in line with the industry that he used to make fun of.”

It’s a testy subject. Despite King’s comments, when contacted by the San Francisco Chronicle, the UAW’s public relations director would not comment. Neither would Tesla, nor many of their employees. For Musk’s part he seems ambivalent. When Tesla purchased the Fremont facility from Toyota (which had formerly operated it with General Motors as the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (Nummi) plant) Musk said, “on the question of the union, we’re neutral.”  However, Tesla Motors’ last annual financial report listed possible union activity under business “risks”: “The mere fact that our labor force could be unionized may harm our reputation in the eyes of some investors and thereby negatively affect our stock price. Additionally, the unionization of our labor force could increase our employee costs and decrease our profitability, both of which could adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.”

In August, King told WardsAuto that Musk had repeated his neutral position at a meeting with union representatives, but that other Tesla executives were less open to the idea of an organized labor force. Musk, King said, was “very open and said he would respect what the workers wanted. But his operating management has done the opposite.”

Tesla’s Fremont plant is the only remaining car assembly plant on the West Coast. When it was called NUMMI, it employed 4,700 workers, most recently building Tacoma pickups and Corolla sedans. Current employment is estimated to be about 2,000, many of who are experienced autoworkers, having worked at the facility under prior management.

Employee reviews of Tesla posted online mention a fast pace and long hours. That’s typical of many Silicon Valley startups, which typically focus more on engineering than manufacturing. While work hours are a traditional wedge issue that labor unions use to rally workers onto their side, the frenetic pace in Silicon Valley is part of the culture there. “Engineering lends itself to a different style of self-starters, independent-minded people, survival of the fittest,” said Art Pulaski, head of the California Labor Federation labor union. “Manufacturing is different.”

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London Olympic Committee: EVs Are Gimmicks Fri, 20 Nov 2009 22:26:44 +0000 We are not amused (courtesy:Reuters)

We didn’t want a big fleet of electric vehicles. We’re only just over two years or so away from the games and time is running out to create a viable network. Many of the vehicles will be used for around 18 hours a day. It’s hard graft, and we knew BMW could supply the vehicles to meet these demands.”

Paul Deighton, CEO of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) explains to Autocar why the games won’t be relying on electric vehicles in 2012. Nissan had presented a bid to be the games’ official vehicle supplier which proposed using Leaf EVs for over half the planned fleet. A “small proportion” of BMW’s winning fleet proposal will be electric MINI Es, and all proposals were required to achieve a fleet average of 120g/km of CO2. But that hasn’t stopped Nissan from getting petulant.

Nissan spokesfolks tell Autocar:

As part of our proposition, more than half of the vehicles we were going to supply would have been Leafs. Through LOCOGs decision, London has missed out on a significant opportunity to build confidence in electric vehicles in the UK. We have the vehicle and we had the chance to do something with it in the UK.

Nissan reps went on to say that the chances of quickly implementing an electric infrastructure in the UK have taken “several steps back.” London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has committed to installing 25,000 EV charging stations across the city by 2015, tried to see the upside.

We hope that BMW, through this sponsorship agreement, will take the opportunity to demonstrate their long term commitment to electric vehicles and showcase their new MegaCity [aka BMW's long-rumored Neo-Isetta EV] car at the 2012 Games.

In an industry that always has something around the next corner, it’s interesting to see a window emerge for the viability of electric vehicles. After all, if the Olympics thought an EV-heavy fleet was practical, they’d have done it. Having attended an Olympic conference on sport and the environment (don’t ask…), I can say there’s not an eco-gimmick that PR-happy organization won’t try. The city of London was behind the idea. Unless BMW put a 7-series in every LOCOG member’s driveway, Nissan’s EVs simply weren’t up to snuff.

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