Watts Up: EV News of the Week, December 11, 2022
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.
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]
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- EBFlex Good. This was Ford's way of culling the number of dealers they have. It was ridiculous and the requirements were unnecessary. Yet another huge hit to Ford's pointless EV push.
- Dukeisduke So we have to wait until 2025 for a crappy turbo four coupled with an electric motor, instead of the torquey 4.0l 1GR-FE?
- Raven65 This was basically my first car - although mine was a '76. My Dad bought it new to use as a commuter for his whopping 15-minute drive to work (gas is too expensive!) - but it was given to my sister when she left for college a couple of years later - and then she passed it down to me when I got my license in 1981. It was a base model... and I mean BASE... as in NO options. Manual 4-speed (no o/d) transmission, rubber floor (no carpet), no A/C, and no RADIO (though I remedied that within a week of taking ownership). Dad paid just over three grand for it. Mine was a slightly darker shade of yellow than this one (VW called it "Rallye Yellow") with the same black vinyl "leatherette" seat covers. Let me tell you, the combination of no A/C and that black vinyl interior was BRUTAL in the SC summers! Instrumentation was sparse to say the least, but who needs a tach when you have those cool little orange dots on the speedo to indicate redline in gears (one dot for redline in 1st gear, two dots for redline in 2nd gear, three for 3rd). LOL! It wasn't much, but it was MINE... and I LOVED it! It served me well through the remainder of high school and all the way through college and into my first "real job" where I started making actual money and finally traded it in on a brand new '89 Nissan 240SX. They gave me $300 for it!!!. I wish I still had it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
- Analoggrotto Telluride is still better
- Arthur Dailey So how much more unreliable is a 50 year old Italian made vehicle in comparison to a 5 year old Italian made vehicle? After 50 years wouldn't most of the parts and areas most prone to failure have been fixed, replaced and/or addressed?Asking for a friend? ;-)