The COVID-19 Joint Task Force comprised of Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) has announced that it will be removing mask mandates for vaccinated employees. After meeting on Monday to discuss changes within state and federal health policies, the group decided masks should be made voluntary items for staffers. They could not get the rule change to coincide with the date the decision was made, however.
Lineworkers will instead be waiting until July 12th to pitch their masks in the trash bin so they can be deposited upon beaches and sea beds around the world. Of course, if a government agency (city, state, or county) wants to uphold old mandates or introduce new ones, the COVID-19 Joint Task Force said it would automatically comply. But that might not matter if employees have already decided to stop observing pandemic protocols.
Stellantis plans to extend the typical summer downtime at a couple assembly plants while relaunching production at Windsor Assembly next month. The Canadian van factory will be see two shifts returning on July 5th, while its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico will be idled due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. This has become a common tactic within the automotive industry, with our doubting it’ll be the last occasion we’ll be reporting on extended summer vacations.
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. appears to have lost its technology chief to Amazon. Ken Washington was hired into Blue Oval after a stint with Lockeed Martin in 2014 and will be leaving the automaker next month to become vice president of software engineering for the tech giant.
There is plenty of electrification news this week, despite the brunt of consumers remaining seemingly disinterested in the automotive segment that’s entirely dependent upon batteries. General Motors recently announced that it would be increasing its EV investments through 2025 to $35 billion, noting that some amount of the funding will also be going toward autonomous vehicle development.
Meanwhile, Stellantis confirmed that it’s planning a quartet of battery-driven automobiles offering more utility than the pint-sized Fiat 500e. Those vehicles aren’t supposed to see assembly until 2024 and there are lingering questions about where the firm plans on building battery plants. But the UILM union has confirmed that the upcoming models are likely to be midsized and built at the company’s Melfi plant in Italy.
The semiconductor shortage marches onward with no real end in sight. Supply chains remain a tangled mess following a year of pandemic-related restrictions and demand remains ridiculously high as we unnecessarily network and digitize increasingly more consumer goods (e.g. toothbrushes).
Though this website is really only concerned with the pace of automotive factories — most of which seem operating at the industrial equivalent of driving on the shoulder with the hazards on. The global number of vehicles lost in announced shutdowns and line slowdowns as a result of chip shortages is swiftly closing in on 3 million and estimates have it continuing on unabated for the rest of 2021.
Stellantis appears interested in testing America’s appetite for extremely small and highly European EVs. The formerly PSA-owned rental company Free2Move recently posted the silhouette of the Citroën Ami accompanied by text hinting that the vehicle would be imported for use in Washington, D.C.
Launched in 1961, the Ami (French for “friend”) started life as a petite four-door, front-wheel-drive economy car that came in numerous body styles. While it has the honor of being one of the first vehicles in history to adopt rectangular headlamps was, and widely known as the “premium” alternative to the triumph of minimalism that was the Citroën 2CV, it was by no means a swift or lavish automobile. Its ability to reach 60 mph was highly dependent upon the incline of the road and how much cargo it was hauling.
Federal prosecutors Tuesday unsealed new criminal charges that named several Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) officials accused of conspiring to cheat U.S. emissions tests and defraud customers buying their diesel-powered products. The indictment was opened in the Eastern District of Michigan, identifying FCA diesel senior manager Emanuele Palma (42) and two Italian nationals employed by FCA Italy SpA — Sergio Pasini (43) of Ferrera and Gianluca Sabbioni (55) of Sala Bolognese.
Palma had been charged previously and becomes a co-conspirator in the alleged plot to develop a 3.0-liter diesel engine used in FCA vehicles that could flummox emissions tests allowing the automaker to sell vehicles that did not adhere to government regulations. The motor started appearing inside engine bays in 2014, including popular models like the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
American automotive brands have never really caught on with the typical Japanese consumer. While we’ve done numerous dives trying to understand why the gist is that our tastes don’t typically overlap and they generally prefer to buy domestic. Foreign marques are comparatively rare, frequently German, and are generally owned by those looking to flex their status with an imported luxury vehicle.
U.S. brands that were on the market began retreating as they began pulling smaller automobiles from their lineup. But Jeep has stuck it in there and things are reportedly beginning to pay off. The automaker’s distinctive styling seems to be resonating with people in Asia and it’s really the only historically American nameplate that’s managed to find an audience in the Land of the Rising Sun.
The industry is having to stall more plants to contend with the semiconductor shortage that’s currently making it more difficult for you to get everything from a smartphone on up to your next vehicle. Ford Motor Co. recently informed employees that its Dearborn truck plant (easily one of its most profitable facilities) would need to be idled through the weekend to create a buffer for semiconductor chips. Worse yet, it’s not the first time the automaker has had to stall output of the F-150 this year. Ford has also started manufacturing trucks without all the necessary components, stating it would hold vehicles for a few weeks to account for supply chain delays.
Meanwhile, Chrysler has made a similar announcement about its minivan output as Windsor Assembly faces another chip deficit. Unifor Local 444 recently stated that the facility would be staring down the barrel of a four-week shutdown starting next week. Considering Chrysler’s minivans literally just dealt with a three-week stall over the chip shortage, union workers are understandably upset. Days earlier, General Motors Canada also announced that its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, will likely remain idle until the middle of April.
Dodge has long been synonymous with high levels of horsepower. Modern-day marketing materials practically scream it into your ear, acknowledging the company’s historic penchant for providing ludicrous amounts of power for hysterically low prices. The reality is a bit more complicated, however. While Mopar brands were indeed offering some of the best bang-for-your-buck muscle cars, back when they were a tad more novel, some of the fastest machines actually came from General Motors and Ford.
Today’s situation is very much the same. When the rest of the industry started downsizing powertrains, Dodge was still trying to squeeze even more juice from its colossal V8 engines — installing them anywhere they might fit. Rivals quickly got wise to its attempt to corner a segment just about everyone else had abandoned, resulting in gems like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 or Ford Shelby GT500. But with everyone now back on board with the concept of displacement meaning power, Dodge has decided to change tactics.
What if it manufactured the V8 offering the smallest amount of horsepower imaginable?
Stellantis is reportedly bringing back a controversial policy that would have skilled trade workers doing 12 hour days for 7 days a week as a way to maximize shift coverage. The original arrangement had staff pushing long hours only to be rewarded with a full week off. But it was temporarily nixed after workers complained about the schedule and fretted over how the change might impact benefits. An alternative schedule prioritizing flexibility was created, though the automaker (still owned by FCA at the time) stressed that it needed more tradespeople working on the weekends to help avoid production gaps.
The 84 hour week is now back, with Stellantis testing it out at Sterling Heights Assembly, where the Ram 1500 is manufactured. However, it doesn’t appear to have grown in popularity.
Jeep is laying off 150 workers that would have otherwise been employed at its Belvidere Assembly Plant, which actually produces the Jeep Cherokee instead of the long defunct, full-size Plymouth. Based on the timing, this decision appears to have something to do with the FCA-PSA Group merger that formed Stellantis.
The Cherokee Nation has requested that Jeep change the name of some of its vehicles. While you can probably guess which ones are causing offense, it should be stated that the automaker has been utilizing the Cherokee name to evoke a sense of power and natural harmony for over 45 years. But nobody is going to argue that native peoples have a decided advantage in who has first dibs on the title, especially in a time of unprecedented tensions regarding what’s deemed racially insensitive.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, certainly seems to think Jeep crossed a line. This is actually the first time the group has ever asked Jeep to change a vehicle’s name, though Jeep has also gone on record numerous times to defend its use.
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- SilverHawk Only if they keep it focused on what a corvette represents, in a similar way as to what Porsche has done. Badge engineering using lower tier platforms is not acceptable. Don't even think about it, GM!
- Jeff S E-Vettes are coming to your nearest Chevrolet dealership. I reserve judgement on this I will have to see these and see the pricing. So far Lyriq is about the only GM vehicle I have any interest in.
- Kukala J. Machus GM has an extensive history of bad decisions.....and it continues.
- FreedMike Assumption: GM is making this "brand" into a Porsche competitor, which I think is a great idea. The problem is how to fit a Porsche-esque dealer experience into a Chevy dealership. I don't see that happening - the hoity-toity types who buy Porsches aren't going to want to rub elbows with the brodozer and "get me bought on a Trax with my 530 score" crowd. The ideal situation would be a standalone store, or a Tesla-esque "boutique" store. I also could see this being an add to Cadillac stores. The problem is that I don't see the Chevy dealers who currently make money selling Corvettes giving up the business willingly.So, unless GM comes up with some kind of separate sales channel for this, I vote thumbs down on viability.
- Stuart de Baker Wyoming is the 9th largest state, but has the lowest population of any state, and so with ~580,000, it's the most sparsely populated state. Of course they're not interested in EVs. And the ranges do tank in the frigid Wyoming winters. Anyone who is in a one car family, and drives long distances with any frequency, is not going to be buying an EV at this point. I'm saying this as someone who thinks that global warming is the biggest, most urgent problem humanity faces right now, and I live in the Boston area. But I'm a one car person, I drive long distances multiple times a year, and I love my Civic (stick).