By on December 1, 2021

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has said that the growing pressures being placed on automakers to shift toward electric-vehicle production are unsustainable and run the risk of the public getting subpar products at decidedly higher price tags. While we’ve seen automotive executives lambast new energy vehicles before, it’s grown rarer as governments around the world have continued incentivizing their existence and investors have been pouring money on startups delivering literally nothing more than the mere suggestion of more electrification.

Tavares’s words come from the Reuters Next conference, running counter to the event’s prevailing narrative of encouraging technological progress and social change. Attendees tend to be political officials, heads of finance, NGO leaders, and business executives sympathetic to the cause. But the Stellantis CEO definitely went off-script when he listed some of the shortcomings of electrification, adding that he felt the costs were “beyond the limits” of what was realistically feasible. It’s his belief that pursuing electrification at the current pace doesn’t take into account the larger financial picture.  (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2021

Nissan Motor Co. has confirmed plans to invest 2 trillion yen ($17.65 billion USD) over the next five years to accelerate its electric vehicle development program. Like most major manufacturers, the automaker wants to launch a bevy of electrified products over the next decade and derive a relevant portion of its income from EVs.

As explained by CEO Makoto Uchida on Monday as part of the “Nissan Ambition 2030,” the plan is to launch 23 new vehicles with some amount of electrification while it attempts to implement solid-state batteries into three concept vehicles that supposedly foreshadow future lineups. These include the battery-electric “Surf-Out” lifestyle pickup, “Max-Out” sports convertible, “Chill-Out” regular car, and “Hang-Out” adventure crossover. Though all three appear to be little more than drafts of vehicles Nissan would eventually like to build, boasting technologies that we’re not sure are feasible. For example, the Hang-Out is featured with a polygonal purple awning that oozes impossibly out of the vehicle’s roof. It lacks realism, which ended up being a central theme of the Nissan Ambition 2030 presentation that was broadcast on Monday(Read More…)

By on November 8, 2021

Cadillac is expected to have lost one-third of its U.S. dealerships this year — going from nearly 900 physical locations at the start of 2021 to an estimated 560 by year’s end.

But there’s allegedly no need to worry about the brand because this is part of a planned electric offensive. Last year, Cadillac asked dealers to spend the capital necessary to install charging stations, update their service centers, and retrain staff to better tackle EVs or take a buyout before the automaker’s first battery-driven car (the Lyric crossover) hits the market early in 2022. It would seem that a meaningful portion of the whole decided to bow out, which Cadillac seems totally fine with.  (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2021

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has been facing off with the company’s German workforce for weeks over the changing nature of the business. VW vowed to transition itself toward an all-electric lineup following the 2015 diesel emissions scandal. But the necessary steps to get there haven’t been universally appreciated.

The general assumption has always been that electric vehicles would result in massive layoffs across the industry by nature of their needing fewer parts than internal combustion vehicles. But Volkswagen seems worried that it’s falling behind smaller rivals and needs to take decisive action to make sure it’s not outdone by firms operating in the United States and China. The proposed solution is an industrial overhaul designed to fast-track VW’s electrification goals. Unfortunately, German labor unions are convinced that this plan would incorporate massive layoffs and have become disinclined to offer their support. The issue worsened in September when Diess told the supervisory board that a slower-than-desired transition to EVs could result in 30,000 fewer jobs.  (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2021

Back in February, there was some buzz that Volkswagen Group was seriously considering spinning off the Porsche brand or at the very least listing it on the stock exchange. While the rumors technically go back further than that, it wasn’t until early 2021 that outlets started citing anonymous sources claiming VW felt it had become too bloated with brands and wanted to shake loose some money whilst streamlining the organization.

Not so, says Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. It always seemed suspect that the manufacturer would offload what has consistently become one of its most profitable brands, though an IPO didn’t seem out of the question considering how ridiculously well it has worked for other entities underpinned by hype (valid or otherwise). Diess has indicated that neither scenario looks plausible anymore, stating that VW isn’t all that interested in surrendering any amount of control right now.  (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2021

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has officially announced that his company would be moving house this week. Currently nestled upon the bosom of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, CA, the automaker has expressed its intent to establish a new base of operations in Austin, TX. While this situation has been a long time coming, it’s not quite the prompt walkout that everyone was predicting 17 months ago.

At the start of the pandemic, Musk found himself at odds with local officials pushing strict COVID lockdowns. The CEO had wanted to keep the all-important Fremont facility up and running at the start of 2020, suggesting workers could simply choose to stay home without there being any negative repercussions (or pay). Told again to shut down, Tesla sued Alameda County on the grounds that its orders were unconstitutional and violated a return-to-work mandate recently issued by Governor Gavin Newson. Before long, Elon Musk was openly confessing he was fed up with the state of California and would be relocating the business(Read More…)

By on September 13, 2021

With supply chain hiccups crippling the automotive industry’s ability to conduct business as normal, resulting in rolling production stalls and skyrocketing vehicle prices, manufacturers looked to be in serious trouble throughout the pandemic. But we learned that wasn’t to be the case by the summer. Automakers were posting “surprise profits” because people still needed cars. We also found out there’s been a growing appetite for expensive (see: highly profitable) models and the industry saved itself a bundle by not needing to pay for office space or line workers, as COVID restrictions kept everyone at home.

Having considered the above, most automakers are seriously considering how they can further leverage this new modality. German manufacturers have even said they’re not that interested in going back to the normal way of doing things — instead electing to intentionally limit volumes and focus on high-end models that will yield the greatest return on investment. But it’s not quite the curveball it seems, as some companies were already ditching the volume approach.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2021

Cadillac’s instance that it be the first brand owned by General Motors to go entirely electric has resulted in a shrinking U.S. dealership network, though perhaps a healthier bottom line for GM in the long run. It may also foreshadow the trajectory of other brands committed themselves to EVs and give us a sense of what the dealer landscape might look like in a decade or two.

Over the last few years, American luxury brands have been attempting to grow in select markets they believe will bring in new, affluent customers by building experience centers that mimic high-end airport lounges. Cadillac even briefly moved its base of operations to New York City as a way to gain distance from its rustbelt background and ingratiate itself into high society. More recently, Lincoln introduced a Central Park-themed Navigator as both have been trying to lay down roots in parts of California after ceding a large share of the market to the competition decades earlier. But GM’s insistence that Cadillac become an all-electric brand (with Lincoln also targeting a glut of EV sales by 2026) seems as though it could create complications, even if the end result is a major victory.  (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2021

Genesis presented its vision a sustainable future on Thursday and settled upon total electrification, just like every other automaker. Hyundai’s luxury component plans to become a “100-percent zero-emission vehicle brand by 2030” but foresees the need to wait until 2025 to transition its fleet entirely over to battery and hydrogen power.

Does it mean anything? If the automotive industry’s prior promises of automated driving and EV sales are anything to go by, probably not. However, electrification has gotten a major kick in the pants over the last few years as governments have ramped up regulator pressures and the sector has been flooded with money to help the cause. So there’s certainly a chance, just like when you play the lottery.  (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2021

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.

“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.” (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2021

FedEx had kneeled before mankind, vowing to become a carbon-neutral business by 2040. That’s roughly eight years longer than it’ll probably take most of the population to forget that the promise was ever made. But this is the way of the world and we wager it won’t be long before it’s just easier to list the companies and governments that have not made informal, often empty commitments about the environment.

But, before we throw FedEx into the camp of blatant placation, let’s see what it actually has planned.

(Read More…)

By on March 2, 2021

Jaguar Land Rover has canceled several planned vehicles and opted to reassess its Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) after the company started fretting about the probability of unmet emissions requirements. Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mardell addressed investors on Friday to explain that all subsequent development of the platform would be postponed indefinitely. Ironic, considering MLA was supposed to be flexible enough to facilitate electrification and putting a lid on it means canceling the planned all-electric Jaguar XJ sedan and at least one unnamed Land Rover.

Rather than its intended purpose of underpinning all JLR products by 2025, the MLA platform is now said to be used exclusively on Land Rover’s larger SUVs. Meanwhile, the manufacturer has decided to prioritize its battery-focused Electrified Modular Architecture (EMA) as it tries to place a greater emphasis on electrification moving forward. Sadly, that means the $1.4 billion it spent in service of advancing MLA and finding a new partner that can help make Jaguar all-electric by 2025.

(Read More…)

By on February 25, 2021

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On Wednesday, Ford CEO Jim Farley told attendees of the Wolfe Research Auto Conference that the United States needs to start building batteries for the industry’s planned deluge of electric vehicles now that semiconductor shortages have revealed the dangers of needing to source essential components from the other side of the planet.

Farley is likely correct in stating that America really should be able to supply itself, and not just in regard to semiconductor chips. Pandemic-related lockdowns crippled countless industries by upsetting the balance of supply lines. Halfway through 2020, farmers were dumping millions of gallons of milk per day and plowing up fields of eatable vegetables as restaurants were shutdown; factories were idled as part shortages became commonplace; cleaning supplies and disinfectants became impossible to find.

But it’s hard to translate that into sympathy for Ford because, while all of the above was happening, the automaker’s leadership was saying that there was no good reason to manufacture its own batteries.

(Read More…)

By on November 13, 2020

Daimler Chairman Ola Källenius went against the grain on Thursday by admitting the company he’s been tasked with overseeing will become significantly smaller in five years. That’s normally not the kind of thing you want to telegraph to shareholders via the media but he’s convinced this is the best course of action for the business.

“The next five years we will become a smaller company,” Källenius told Reuters. “We will have a fundamental change in the industrial footprint on the powertrain side.”

The future of Daimler apparently involves a half-decade metamorphosis into a services-focused software company that just so happens to build vehicles. But the vehicles won’t be those internal-combustion jobs that you grew up around. Instead, they’ll be hyper-efficient electrics from Mercedes-Benz as it re-imagines luxury within the strict confines of environmental sustainability. As a byproduct, Daimler will need fewer employees to help manufacture automobiles. (Read More…)

By on November 5, 2020

As the U.S. election devolves into deciding which political party committed the most fraud, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said a victory by Democrat Joe Biden would be the ideal outcome for any German automakers seeking to mass-produce electric cars. Hardly surprising, considering the Biden-Harris campaign website says it would regulate the dickens out of fossil fuels, moving aggressively toward alternative energy sources and electrification while pressing other nations to do the same.

“A Democratic program probably would be more aligned with our worldwide strategy, which is really to fight climate change, to become electric,” the CEO told Bloomberg on Thursday.

(Read More…)

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