People are buying EVs more than they were before, Elon Musk said some more weird shit while in Germany and Ford dealers cannot wait to talk financing around a fire pit at future Bronco showrooms. All that and and then some in this Friday edition of The Morning Shift for August 13, 2021.
Although it doesn’t seem like much, 2.5 percent of all new vehicles registered during the first half of this year happened to be EVs. At the same time in 2020, EVs made up 1.5 percent of new registrations. And if you look at it in terms of raw numbers, more than double the number of new EVs hit the road in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020: 214,111 vehicles, versus 98,351 over the same period last year. The data was shared by Automotive News and gathered by Experian.
Those may seem like modest gains amid the greater automotive market. But if that trajectory continues, it should allow carmakers to hit the goal of half of all new car sales being emissions-free in the U.S. by the start of the next decade. Per Edmunds’ Jessica Caldwell, quoted in the story:
“You have to keep the most aggressive stance to prepare, because things could come along in [the] 2024 [presidential election] and change and then could change again in 2028,” she said. “That’s why they’ve taken it upon themselves to create targets for themselves that are aggressive.”
It makes sense. Setting a target imposed by an administration with a relatively aggressive plan like this one, only to walk it back should a Republican get elected next, only sets you up to spend more money struggling to catch up if the party majority flips again. In the interest of globalization, it’d also help manufacturers to take a similarly aggressive stance toward carbon emissions in the U.S. as they’ve had to in Europe, lest they miss the days of building entirely different cars for different continents.
Anyway, as you’d suspect, Tesla dominated that 2.5 percent share of total registrations, making up two-thirds of it. Then the Chevrolet Bolt comprised just under 10 percent, while the Mustang Mach-E sat third with about 5 percent.
2nd Gear: Now Presenting The Most Uncomfortable Meeting Ever, Featuring Elon Musk And The Future Chancellor Of Germany
That Gigafactory in Germany might be pumping out EVs as soon as the spookiest month of the year, Elon Musk said Friday. Hopefully. Actually, the more I read this, the less I think he believes that. From Reuters:
“We’re looking forward to hopefully getting the approval to make the first cars maybe in October if we are fortunate,” Musk said on a visit to the plant with Armin Laschet, Germany’s conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor.
And then Laschet said this:
“Sometimes one has the impression that inventing something new is technologically easier than dismantling bureaucracy in Germany,” he told reporters, standing side-by-side with Musk.
To which I imagine Musk responded with a hearty laugh, probably a little too boisterous to deflect the discomfort and steamroll over the more honest, nervous laughter that he would’ve otherwise expressed.
You thought we were done here? Oh, things got weirder, my friend:
The CEO called for a periodic review of regulations at local, state, and federal level in Germany, and at EU level, to determine if they are a net benefit.
With ever-more rules, he warned, “eventually people will not be able to do anything at all.”
“It cannot always be about problems every day. Do you want to wake up every morning and everything’s just a problem? Musk asked. “(I want) people to be inspired about the future, and don’t forget to have children — that’s important.”
You know Elon, I was really on board with you per your stance on “problems.” But then you told me to have kids and now I’m just creeped out, man.
The city of Khabarovsk sits just 19 miles from Russia’s border with China and is home to 577,441 people. It’s also a burgeoning hub for electric vehicles due to that proximity, as a fascinating story from Bloomberg explains:
More than a fifth of all electric vehicles imported to Russia between January and May were sold in Khabarovsk and other areas of eastern Russia — even though the region claims just 4% of the nation’s population, according to data from the Moscow-based analytical agency Autostat. The country’s capital, home to at least twice as many people, accounted for just 14% of EV sales.
Dmitry Unagaev, a resident of Khabarovsk interviewed in the article, entered the realm of EV ownership with a Nissan Leaf, at a very reasonable price:
With Asia literally next door, the locals have easy access to cut-price used electric cars imported from Japan. Unagaev’s first battery-powered vehicle was a used Nissan Leaf. Models from 2011 to 2013 typically cost from 400,000-600,000 rubles ($5,500- 8,200), according to ads on a popular car website in Russia. Unagaev eventually upgraded from the Leaf to a second-hand Tesla.
But it’s not just a matter of plentiful EV selection. Low electricity prices and the high cost of gasoline in the region have accelerated EV sales, too:
Russia’s Far East also enjoys low-cost electricity, which is subsidized to stimulate economic development in the region. At the same time, due to insufficient local refinery capacity, fuel prices are typically higher than the Russian average — a premium of 6% as of late July, according to the Federal Statistics Service.
Khabarovsk is almost like a window into the future, where the conditions are just right for EV adoption to take off because EVs are more economical to own and run than ICE cars. The only question is how long it will take for the rest of the world to look like it.
Can you blame them? Apparently, Ford wasn’t planning to build standalone Bronco centers, but dealers came to the company asking for some kind of plan to capitalize on the hype.
Earlier in the year, Ford shared official renderings of what these stores may look like, and they were weirdly chic — like Volvo dealerships, except maybe with more faux fireplaces. I am amused that rather than populate these computer-generated models with new Broncos, Ford’s artists filled them up with copies of the 2004 Bronco concept.
This week, Ford Authority was able to shed a little more light on the program. It’ll be entirely optional — dealers won’t need to have dedicated Bronco buildings to sell and service Broncos — and there will be a fair amount of flexibility in how each one may approach their setup, as Bronco brand chief Mark Grueber told the site:
“We offer a whole range of what they can do, everything that we call a pylon to the parts wall for accessories and the display for the Bronco,” Grueber added. “Some dealers are even converting their existing facilities, like their used car building or something else of that sort. And then there’s a few that are going one step further and are building a whole new facility or building for that.”
Having a dedicated Bronco center may also help dealers secure more Bronco inventory, though not much more, by the sound of it. Not that Ford has much to offer at the moment.
With all Tesla’s bad press in China, you’d expect the government to look at the data collected by cars with a little more scrutiny these days. Apparently some of those measures are now taking effect. From Reuters:
Automakers need to get regulatory approval for both when they need to export critical data and before they update in-car systems, according to a new policy published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on its website.
The policy does not include lines of punishment should companies fail to follow the rules.
The requirement that software updates must go through the government is the one that especially sticks out to me. It’s not surprising at all, but it seems like a lot of red tape to crawl through. And although we don’t yet know the repercussions for breaking these rules, I suspect nobody’s angling to be the first to find out.
Nigel Mansell won the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix 32 years ago today. And he did so in spectacular fashion, with a stunning pass on Ayrton Senna for the lead as Senna was passing a backmarker. I’m forbidden from embedding it here because Formula One Management™ frowns upon people spreading joy about their product, but you can watch it on YouTube.
I drove a super secret Toyota at a track last week — OK, actually, it’s not that secret at all, it was the new GR 86. You’ll hear what I think of it next week! Anyway, it was my first time on a track in my life, and I won’t lie, I was more terrified than excited before I started. But then I did a lap, and another, and another and even though I was very slow, I was also very quickly addicted. Those of you who have tracked a car before, got any stories to share? Can you remember what that first time was like?