Ford's Starting To See Light At The End Of The Tunnel

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Ford is quickly ramping up production, Elon Musk really wants Semi production to start already, and Ford and Volkswagen remain smitten with each other. All that and more in The Morning Shift for June 10, 2020.


1st Gear: Production At Ford Is Returning To Normal

The automaker said Wednesday that by early next month production will return to pre-pandemic levels. That is, I assume, barring any new coronavirus spikes. Ford has had a rough time with restarting production, and it wasn’t even a week into the rush to get new F-150s out the door that the UAW was calling conditions unsafe amid fresh COVID cases. This is a pretty confident statement from the company’s COO, though.

From a Bloomberg wire report (and not online yet as far as I can tell):

The factories will be producing at levels they were prior to the Covid-19 outbreak by July 6, Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley said Wednesday at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference. The automaker is boosting output at key pickup plants this week.

Ford has forecast a $5 billion loss for this quarter tied to a two-month shutdown of its North American factories and significant volume declines in every region. The automaker expects introductions of models such as the redesigned F-150 pickup and new electric Mustang Mach-E to be delayed by roughly the span of time its plants were down.

“We see no other delays beyond the shutdown period,” Farley said.

After resuming U.S. production on May 18, Ford is starting to add overtime work at its F-150 factories to meet strong demand for pickups. Farley said plants are beginning to resume third shifts.

This is reason for cautious optimism, though the usual caveats apply.

2nd Gear: Tesla Wants To Ramp Up Its Semi Production

I was tempted to lead with this but the Reuters report is so thin as to be almost meaningless. The wire service got a copy of a memo sent by CEO Elon Musk, which said that Musk wants to bring the Semi up to “volume production.” But that’s about all it said, with few details and no timetable.


From Reuters:

Tesla Inc’s chief executive Elon Musk said that it is time to bring its Semi commercial truck to “volume production”, as the U.S. electric vehicle maker ramps up vehicle production after a brief virus-related shutdown.

“Production of the battery and powertrain will take place at Giga Nevada,” Musk said in an email seen by Reuters.

He said most of the other work will probably take place in other states.

The last we heard about the Semi was in April, when Tesla said it was pushing back production to 2021, after previously saying that it would start production in 2019, and then 2020. That news came in an earnings report, which seems a little more reliable than this memo, which has more of the air of a CEO impatiently pounding his fist on his desk as underlings nod and say, “Sure, boss.”


Anyway, I’m not the only one who’s skeptical.


3rd Gear: Mary Barra Doesn’t Think Everyone Will Be Using Electric Cars For Roughly A Few Decades

This might explain why GM has been so slow to develop electric vehicles, despite being the best-positioned American automaker to do so, having first shown the production model of the Volt in 2008, meant to be a series hybrid off the rip. The EV1 came before that, even, along with, er, the EV Chevy S-10. But if the CEO doesn’t believe electric cars will be a real thing anytime soon, you can bet the rest of the company won’t be terribly urgent about making them.


From Bloomberg:

CEO Mary Barra said American drivers will go electric, but it will take a long time for most of the 250 million vehicles on U.S. roads to be battery powered.

“We believe the transition will happen over time,” Barra said on “Leadership Live With David Rubenstein” on Bloomberg Television. When asked if all cars will be electric in 20 years, she said that may be too soon. “It will happen in a little bit longer period, but it will happen.”

That outlook underscores the tricky task Barra will have budgeting billions for new models and deciding which of them will run on battery power. Following inroads made by Tesla Inc., GM is one of the most aggressive automakers when it comes to electrifying its lineup. It currently sells just one EV in the U.S. but is developing more than 20 plug-in models, including a Cadillac crossover and a Hummer pickup that will both debut by the fall of 2021.


4rd Gear: Ford And Volkswagen Are Also Teaming Up On Vans And A Pickup

The two have already teamed up on electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. This latest partnership has been in the works for some time and is aimed wringing profits from the commercial market, which include customers like governments.


From CNBC:

Production of the vehicles is expected to begin as early as next year and continue through the life cycles of the products. The automakers did not disclose exact time frames for production of the vehicles, which were announced Wednesday as part of finalizing agreements between the two sides.

Products will include a city van created and built by Volkswagen; a 1-ton cargo van engineered by Ford; and a Volkswagen medium-sized pickup that will use the platform of the Ford Ranger.

“In light of the Covid 19 pandemic and its impacts on the global economy, more than ever it is vital to set up resilient alliances between strong companies,” Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said in a release. “This collaboration will efficiently drive down development costs, allowing broader global distribution of electric and commercial vehicles, and enhance the positions of both companies.”


“Billions” in cost efficiencies are expected to be saved between the two, though that’s what they always say.


5th Gear: Honda Is Still A Bit Staggered By That Cyberattack

Production has resumed at most of its plants, though not everywhere, including at parts of its plant in Ohio. The apparent ransomware attack this week crippled Honda’s global operations. But yesterday the company said it was beginning to return to normal.


From Automotive News:

The automaker has not offered details on the factories at which it was forced to suspend production after the network disruption began on Sunday. American Honda, the U.S. sales arm, said some factories were forced to shut down in North America because of a loss of computer connectivity.

The company acknowledged Tuesday that the IT disruption was an outside attack.

“Honda has experienced a cyberattack that has affected production operations at some U.S. plants,” the company said in a statement. “However, there is no current evidence of loss of personally identifiable information. We have resumed production in most plants and are currently working toward the return to production of our auto and engine plants in Ohio.”


Reverse: Laughs Were Had


Neutral: How Are You?

And when do you think the Tesla Semi will see the light of day?

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.




Decades from now, if ever. The range/battery weight/charging time tradeoff for a vehicle pulling 80,000 lb across the entire country on a tight schedule is insurmountable with current technology.