China's Military Has Banned Teslas: Report

Illustration for article titled China's Military Has Banned Teslas: Report
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China’s military is not a Tesla fanboy, the global chip shortage continues to hobble automakers, and Toyota. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 19, 2021.

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1st Gear: China’s Military Bans Teslas From Its Complexes

The concern, ostensibly, is data collection, which normally I would cast a skeptical eye at but not in this situation since Tesla is all about data collection.

From Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. cars have been banned from Chinese military complexes and housing compounds because of concerns about sensitive data being collected by cameras built into the vehicles.

The order, issued by the military, advises Tesla owners to park their cars outside of military property, according to people familiar with the directive who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The ban, relayed to residents of military housing this week, was triggered by concerns that the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicles is collecting sensitive data via the cars’ in-built cameras in a way the Chinese government can’t see or control, one of the people said.

Images of what was purported to be a notice about the ban were also circulating on Chinese social media. Multi-direction cameras and ultrasonic sensors in Tesla cars may “expose locations” and the vehicles are being barred from military residences to ensure the safety of confidential military information, the notice said.

A representative for Tesla in China declined to comment on the military’s move. China’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a fax sent after after business hours.

Practically speaking, this probably isn’t much more than a day of bad press for Tesla, but it is still slightly funny.

2nd Gear: Meanwhile, Tesla Will Have A New Competitor In Geely

Reuters has the hot exclusive, which includes the fact that Geely plans a new luxury electric marque to take on Tesla. There are few things more exciting in this world than a new car marque.

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Reuters report also includes the new marque’s name. I promise you that you will not be able to guess it in a million years.

China’s Geely plans to roll out electric vehicles under a new marque with different branding and sales strategies, people familiar with the matter said, as the Volvo owner looks to take on its main EV rival Tesla with higher-end vehicles.

The brand, positioned in the premium segment and named “Zeekr”, will be housed under Geely’s to-be-launched EV entity Lingling Technologies, according to three people, who declined to be named as the plan is not yet public. Reuters reported the plans for Lingling last month.

Geely, the owner of Volvo Cars and 9.7% of Daimler AG, will roll out models under the new marque based on its open-source EV chassis, announced in September and called Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), the sources said.

It will be a new attempt to go up-market by Geely, and backs founder and Chairman Li Shufu’s long-held ambition to make premium cars “like Mercedes-Benz” in a bid to take on EV leader Tesla Inc.

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Zeekr? Zeekr!

3rd Gear: Oh, Nothing, Just Some Potential Bribery By A Toyota Subsidiary In Thailand

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits companies doing business in the U.S. from bribing officials overseas; Toyota said in a filing on Thursday that it might have run afoul.

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From Bloomberg:

The Japanese automaker is cooperating with investigations that may also lead to fines or other sanctions by the U.S. Department of Justice or Securities and Exchange Commission, according to an SEC filing Thursday. The agencies are responsible for enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits companies from paying bribes to foreign public officials.

“Toyota works tirelessly to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in each country where we operate,” Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said in an emailed statement. “We take any allegations of wrongdoing seriously and are committed to ensuring that our business practices comply with all appropriate government regulations.”

The scope, duration and outcome of the investigations are unknown at this time, according to the filing.

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If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying, I guess.

4th Gear: The Chip Shortage Continues To Dog Ford

Here’s is the company’s new statement from last night, all of which is pretty interesting because this is what it looks like when a multinational corporation cries uncle:

  • The global semiconductor shortage – combined with parts shortages created by the central U.S. winter storm in February – is prompting Ford to build F-150 trucks and Edge SUVs in North America without certain parts, including some electronic modules that contain scarce semiconductors. Ford will build and hold the vehicles for a number of weeks, then ship the vehicles to dealers once the modules are available and comprehensive quality checks are complete
  • Ford is canceling the night shift today and both shifts Friday at Louisville Assembly Plant due to a semiconductor-related part shortage. Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair production is expected to resume Monday on short shifts, with full production scheduled to resume Tuesday
  • In addition, we are taking further down days at our Cologne plant, suspending Fiesta production March 1-16 as well as March 22
  • The costs tied to these actions are covered in the financial updates we previously provided. We said that if the semiconductor shortage scenario is extended through the first half of 2021, the shortage could adversely impact Ford’s adjusted EBIT by between $1.0 billion and $2.5 billion, net of cost recoveries and some production make-up in the second half of the year.
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Up to $2.5 billion! That is the kind of number that will make a company like Ford sit up and take notice.

5th Gear: Nissan, Too

The global chip shortage is going to leave a dent.

From Automotive News:

In Smyrna, Tenn., production of the Murano crossover will be suspended through Monday. Meanwhile, weekend overtime to build the Rogue crossover, Maxima sedan and Leaf electric hatchback has been canceled.

Nissan will idle the Altima sedan line at the Canton, Miss., factory through Monday and cancel weekend overtime on the NV commercial van line. A Nissan spokesman said output of two pickups — the Titan and Frontier — will not be affected.

In Aguascalientes, Mexico, output of the Versa subcompact and Kicks compact crossovers will be halted through Tuesday.

“We continue to work closely with our supplier partners to assess the impact of supply chain issues and minimize disruption for vehicle deliveries to our dealers and customers,” Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said late Thursday.

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One question I’ve asked myself through all of these chip shortages and production halts is how much this will affect consumers, and, after some deep thought, I decided “not that much,” or not nearly as much as the weeks-long pandemic-related production halts last spring, which resulted in inventory shortages and a surge in the used market. Still, as it lingers on, you begin to wonder.

Reverse: Vern Schuppan Born

The Australian once won 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Neutral: How Are You?

I’m getting an oil change on the Fit this weekend, slightly ahead of schedule because of reasons involving a credit card discount. Before you say anything, it’s very exciting you do your own.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

DISCUSSION

StalePhish

RE: 1st Gear.

TeslaCam records the front facing camera, side-facing front fender cameras, and backup camera to a flash drive while in motion. Also SentryMode records the same cameras while the vehicle is stationary. It’s probably a rule on most bases, even in the U.S., that still photography and video are not allowed since happenings on the base are confidential. Tesla also has an opt-in feature where certain video clips may be sent back to Tesla HQ for quality assurance purposes, such as the video of why a driver may have disengaged Autopilot, which could inadvertently send videos of confidential military hardware to Tesla.