Ferrari has stabilized over a year after the death of Sergio Marchionne, the UAW is worried about a federal takeover, Tesla shows its first China-made cars, and a lot more in The Morning Shift for Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.
1st Gear: Ferrari’s New(ish) CEO Finally Speaks
Louis Camilleri took over as CEO of Ferrari in July 2018 following the death of Sergio Marchionne, and, in contrast to Marchionne’s outspoken style, Camilleri was seen as having a somewhat softer touch. Ferrari stock has soared in the time since, its Formula One team is doing a bit better, and its future as a luxury brand seems to be more tightly focused.
All this time Camilleri, a veteran of Philip Morris, has not been speaking to the press, but he spoke to The Wall Street Journal last week, comparing Ferrari to the tobacco giant because it was “managing a company which is part of an industry going through major transformation and how to keep ahead of that transformation.”
That analogy might be a little too spot-on, but, anyway, here’s more from the WSJ:
Electric cars have fewer moving parts than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, potentially making it harder for Ferrari to showcase its engineering prowess, which has produced cars that can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 2.4 seconds and can hit top speeds above 200 miles an hour.
“The perception is that the battery is a leveler; it’s up to us to be sure we can differentiate,” Mr. Camilleri said.
Ferrari has begun to dabble in hybrids—this year it released its first series production plug-in hybrid, the SF90 Stradale—and has set a target to have three of every five new Ferraris be hybrids by 2022. Mr. Camilleri said the first fully electric Ferrari should arrive between 2025 and 2030, with the precise date depending on the speed of technological advances.
Ferrari also wants to become more competitive in Formula One, where it has for decades tested technology that eventually makes it into its production cars. Camilleri said that it was hoping to do that through stability, taking the smallest of swipes at Marchionne, who was famous for berating employees in public.
Ferrari this season once again came up short against rival Mercedes, but the team won three races in a row for the first time since 2008, an improvement Mr. Camilleri linked to better moods.
“Mercedes has had a lot of stability, and we’ve had something of a revolving door,” Mr. Camilleri said. “People were afraid of taking risks because if they made a mistake they could get their head chopped off,” he said.
Camilleri also told the WSJ that Ferrari would tighten its focus on Ferrari-branded merch, which is (despite all the tacky jackets and hats out there) a fraction of its business now but could be 10 percent of its profits within a decade. Fancy Kristen will be really into all of it.
2nd Gear: The UAW Knows That The Walls Are Closing In
The union, which led GM workers on a strike that lasted over a month and is now negotiating new contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler, has also been embroiled in a corruption scandal, separate from all of that. Thirteen people have been charged so far by federal prosecutors in the probe, which involves illegal kickbacks, and has threatened to put the union into federal receivership.
But! After UAW President Gary Jones took a leave of absence last week, and his replacement, Rory Gamble, told Automotive News that he is trying to fix it. As the outlet writes, previous presidents of the union have said many of the same things and it hasn’t gone as planned.
From Automotive News:
Gamble said he’s planning a number of reforms and could outline them as early as this week. Without providing specifics, he promised to do more than what the union’s previous two presidents did through their “clean-slate” agendas, which included stricter vendor procurement processes and a new legal counsel. Both predecessors have since been implicated in the scandal.
Gamble admitted he’s “worried” about the possibility of racketeering charges that could place the UAW into federal receivership.”I’m confident with the plans and controls we’re going to be putting into place, the different mindsets, we can fix this thing,” he said in an interview hours after Ashton was charged. “But the government’s going to do what it’s going to do.”
America’s autoworkers deserve better than the UAW, so perhaps federal oversight in this case is a good thing. The UAW sure as shit has had more than a few chances to fix things on its own, even if Gamble says they will try again.
Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, which represents workers at Ford’s Kentucky Truck and Louisville Assembly plants, is confident Gamble can fix the union from within.
“We’ve got to get our membership back behind the UAW,” Dunn said. “Whether you’re a president or a vice president, the only thing we should be focusing on is being exemplary leaders.”
Gamble, 64, said he plans to do just that, especially in light of the dues money that prosecutors say was misspent on extravagant vacations, champagne, cigars and golf clubs.
“We have to show them a continued process and make sure everybody’s doing what they need to be doing to protect their interests and protect their dues money,” Gamble said. “I don’t expect them to wave their hand and say, ‘Those guys are OK.’ I expect to go out and re-earn their trust.”
3rd Gear: Tesla Has Arrived In China
Tesla’s Shanghai plant is the only car plant wholly-owned by an automaker outside of China. Should Tesla succeed long-term, this plant will need to succeed as well, given that China is the world’s biggest car market and has aggressively shifted to electric cars.
Tesla’s so-called Gigafactory 3 was built at lightning-speed, with construction beginning in January and production beginning, well, apparently now. Bloomberg reports that the first Model 3s have rolled off the line—painted blue—and have also gotten to the driving hands of the most important people in the room, the local auto journalists.
(I kid, auto journalists are always the least important people in the room).
Assembled in Tesla’s new Shanghai Gigafactory, which broke ground in January, the first Model 3 sedans came in blue and were emblazoned with the brand name in Chinese characters. Select local media were invited late last week to test drive the vehicles, which start at about $50,000.
The plant isn’t anywhere near full capacity—Tesla is still trying to get the proper permissions from local authorities—but Chairman Robyn Denholm has said that it hopes to get that before the end of this year. It’s not Tesla’s fault, but the timing of all this is less than impeccable.
4th Gear: Honda’s CEO Voices Some Uncomfortable Truths
Our fully electric and autonomous future is still over a decade away, many (smart) people have been saying for a while now, in the face of other people insisting that it is just around the corner or already mostly here.
You can put Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo in the former camp, according to an interview he gave Automotive News.
“The hurdles to battery electric vehicles and complete autonomous driving are still quite high,” Hachigo said in an interview last month at Honda Motor Co.’s global headquarters here.
When it comes to electrification, Hachigo said, Honda will focus on gasoline-electric hybrids, not full EVs, through 2030. And with self-driving cars, Honda will prioritize incremental advances that offer real-world safety at affordable prices, rather than fancy functions and costly lidar systems.
To hear Hachigo tell it, Honda isn’t trailing rivals, it’s just more realistic.
“I don’t know whether other manufacturers are becoming too optimistic or not, but apparently the approach in going about these regulations differs from one company to another,” he said.
Honda’s lineup in Europe will be fully-electrified by 2022, and Europe will also get the delightful Honda E, but those moves are aimed more at compliance with that continent’s stricter emissions regulations than a full commitment to electrification, since, as Hachigo says, the technology simply isn’t here yet.
5th Gear: Mini Might Expand Beyond BMW Dealerships
Mini isn’t doing so great in the U.S., which isn’t surprising considering that Americans prefer giant SUVs and trucks these days over small cars, but its new Americas chief Michael Peyton has a plan to change that. And it actually makes some sense.
Mini, in short, wants to fix its dealership experience for customers, which could also mean expanding beyond the BMW dealerships where all but one Mini dealer is based.
Per Automotive News:
Differentiating the Mini brand and customer experience within a larger BMW store will be critical.
Dealers are expected to maintain Mini-branded showrooms and dedicated sales and service employees in the consolidated locations.
“A lot of Mini customers don’t necessarily want anything to do with BMW,” Peyton said. “So the importance of separating the consumer experience and making sure we have those exclusive touch points — that’s something that has been a learning.”
Mini’s product pipeline will evolve with changing consumer preferences. Executives have hinted that crossover-type models are coming.
The all-electric Mini Cooper SE will come to the U.S. early next year, and it’s a lot of fun, but even Mini doesn’t have world-beating expectations for it, with a view towards selling only about 2,000 of them by the end of 2020. Mini sold 43,684 cars last year, down from 2013 peak of 66,502, and sales numbers are down even further so far this year. Mini’s rough patch may get a whole lot rougher.
Reverse: RIP To Hundreds Of Chargers
Neutral: Will Ferrari Ever Only Make Full-Electrics?
Hybrids for sure, but it’s really hard to imagine a Ferrari that has dumped internal-combustion engines for good.