Watts Up: EV News of the Week, December 11, 2022

Jo Borras
by Jo Borras

Despite what brands like Toyota or Honda would have you believe, there is a legitimate distinction between electrified vehicles that run on gasoline and fully electric vehicles. That said, it’s a distinction that’s tough to explain to the sort of normies who think of Priuses (Prii?) as “electric” cars – and, since the normies out-number the car enthusiasts by a wide margin, the biggest news of the week has to be the leaking of Chevy’s first ever “electric” Corvette.


The 2024 Corvette “ERAY” briefly appeared on the Chevrolet website in the form of the “ERAY Visualizer,” which allowed visitors to configure the all-wheel drive, hybrid Corvette to their liking with 13 exterior colors, a half-dozen interior colors and trims, and a full complement of wheel options. Everything you’d expect, in other words, from a Corvette configurator.

Most significant, however, is that some photos seem to show a button that can turn the brake regen (where the car’s forward momentum is converted back into electricity to help charge the battery) on and off, presumably to give the ERAY a more “natural” feel around a racetrack. There also seems to be an auto-start button as well, which — despised as that feature may be — seems to be a sign of the times as OEMs push to meet ever more stringent emissions standards.

WHO’S NEXT

The electrified Corvette ERAY is generally expected to lead the charge (sorry) in a spinoff of Corvette as a brand unto itself, with an all-electric Corvette sedan expected to take the fight to the Porsche Cayenne and the sportier versions of the Tesla Model S and Mercedes-AMG EQE. An electric Corvette SUV is expected soon after.

In addition to the Corvette, it seems like two more iconic GM nameplates are set to join the EV Revolution with electrified spinoffs of their own, with an “inside source” at GM reportedly telling Car and Driver that both the Camaro and Escalade nameplates would follow in Corvette’s footsteps, becoming their own, fully electric pocket brands.

It’s expected that a smaller, five-passenger, fully electric Escalade would sell well in both the US and China, and is believed, internally, to make more sense as the Cadillac brand continues to reinvent itself as “ the Standard of the World” with upscale products like the LYRIQ and $300,000, hand-built CELESTIQ EV.

Or, you know, nobody liked “ESQALADE.”

THERE IS, SOMEHOW, EVEN MORE GM NEWS

GM and LG Chem have committed to invest $275 million more into their joint-venture battery plant, called “Ultium Cells LLC,” creating 400 new jobs. Note that that’s not 400 total new jobs, it’s 400 more than the originally projected 1,300 jobs, bringing the total number of projected new hires at the Spring Hill, Tennessee battery plant to 1,700.

“This investment will allow us to provide our customer GM more battery cells faster and support GM’s aggressive EV launch plan in the coming years,” said Tom Gallagher, Ultium Cells LLC vice president of operations. “Ultium Cells is taking the appropriate steps to support GM’s plan for more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by mid-decade.”

The ink on the check had barely dried, however, before the next round of GM news came – employees at the company’s first Ultium battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, have voted overwhelmingly to join the United Auto Workers union (UAW), with staggering 98 percent vote in the affirmative.

“Our entire union welcomes our latest members from Ultium,” says UAW President Ray Curry, in a statement. “As the auto industry transitions to electric vehicles, new workers entering the auto sector at plants like Ultium are thinking about their value and worth. This vote shows that they want to be a part of maintaining the high standards and wages that UAW members have built in the auto industry.”

The UAW vote comes after weeks of controversy surrounding a proposed union rail strike over paid sick days, and may or may not signal something of a renaissance in America’s labor movement – though whether or not that’s seen as a good thing probably depends on the value of your stock portfolio.

SPEAKING OF STOCK

Elon Musk’s expert handling of his newly-acquired social media platform, Twitter, seems to have led some of the banks who financed the purchase to feel … let’s say “less confident” in Elmo’s ability to pay them back.

Bloomberg is reporting that the Morgan Stanley-led group that provided Musk with some $13 billion in high-interest, unsecured debt is considering a deal that would effectively see $3 billion converted into lower-interest margin loans backed by Elon’s shares in Tesla (TSLA).

Fine in theory, but Tesla’s stock hasn’t exactly responded to its CEO’s Technoking’s purchase of Twitter in a positive way. The company has lost some 50 percent of its market cap since the start of 2022 …

… and, sure, the rest of the market had a bad year, too, but Tesla stock is doing far worse than the 29 percent on-average dip its peers are facing.

With consumer approval of the Tesla brand falling and ongoing troubles at the company’s factories in Germany and China impacting production, there’s no guarantee that TSLA will continue to even hold the value it has. Still, I’m sure that the Morgan Stanley-led group (which includes Barclay’s and Bank of America) would rather have something than nothing once this whole Twitter drama plays out, so the idea of a margin loan may be attractive enough to get them to back off the 11.75 percent interest rate they gave Elon to buy Twitter in the first place.

This isn’t a financial advice column, though. This has more in common with a Wendy’s Drive-thru window, so like – you do you.

IN OTHER NEWS

In other EV news, Maserati has officially unveiled the livery of its first-ever all-electric racecar. The car, set to compete in the FIA’s international Formula E series, looks stunning in its deep blue base color, with the team (dubbed “Maserati MSG Racing”) confirming both Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Guenther as drivers for Season 9.

Meanwhile, Lucid Motors – the metaphorical “Chevy” to Tesla’s “Ford” – is reportedly having a hard time converting its pre-orders into sales, and is reportedly calling customers trying to cancel their orders on the six-figure luxury EVs, escalating the “issue” up the management chain in an attempt to badger their well-heeled clientele into completing the order.

“When a customer asks to cancel their order,” a Lucid insider told … Insider (sorry, again), “the request is assigned to a Lucid ‘case owner,’ who must call the customer within 24 hours to "attempt to save" the order. If they don't reach the customer, they must try calling again three more times on consecutive days. Then, the case is passed up to a manager, to review ‘logged activities,’ call the customer within 24 hours, and then try calling again five more times, on consecutive days, if they don't make contact.”

That means that a customer trying to cancel their order could be called as many as 14 times – every day, for two weeks – by Lucid representatives trying to get them to reconsider.

I may not be the Best and Brightest, but I know this: if a company calls me 14 times, for any reason, they’ve pretty much guaranteed that I will never buy anything from them again. But that’s just me. Scroll on down to the bottom of the page and let us know what you think of that, and the rest of this week’s electric and electrified car news, in the comments.

[Images: Chevy, Yahoo! Finance, Maserati]

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Jo Borras
Jo Borras

I've been in and around the auto industry since 1997, and have written for a number of well-known outlets like Cleantechnica, the Truth About Cars, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can also find me talking EVs with Matt Teske and Chris DeMorro on the Electrify Expo Podcast, writing about Swedish cars on my Volvo fan site, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.

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 4 comments
  • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Dec 12, 2022

    "I may not be the Best and Brightest, but I know this: if a company calls me 14 times, for any reason, they’ve pretty much guaranteed that I will never buy anything from them again." This sentence describes my reaction to the constant annoying pop-ups on this site.

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Dec 12, 2022

      And it's even worse on mobile devices - you get that Volvo popup that you have to close.

      Speaking of over-contact, I have to give a shout out to Carnival Cruise Lines - every damn time I log onto their website, I get a call from this guy in Miami a day later.

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Dec 12, 2022

    Speaking of Twitter, this morning I was notified that my account was permanently suspended. The link to appeal the decision was invalid. I have no idea why I was suspended.


    So much for free speech on Elon's Twitter. F Twitter, and F Tesla.

  • Hermaphroditolog Good hybrid cars use ICE implosion mode.Mercedes-EQXX uses implosion turbines (turboexpanders) for regeneration from heat losses.
  • Kosmo I, for one, and maybe only one, would buy a 5.0 L, stickshift variant of the sedan/hatchback that is Ford's "Not A Mustang EV" tomorrow.I'd buy the sportwagon version yesterday.
  • Akear I am counting the days when Barra retires. She has been one long nightmare for GM. People don't realize the Malibu outsells all GM EVs combined.
  • Redapple2 you say; most car reviewers would place it behind the segment stalwarts from Honda and Toyota,........................... ME: Always so. Every single day since the Accord / Camry introduction.
  • Akear GM sells only 3000 Hummer EVs annually. It is probably the worst selling vehicle in GM history.
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