GM Is Shipping Full-Size Pickups With Worse Fuel Economy

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Photo: Chevrolet

A parts shortage means that GM is shipping full-size pickups with a missing fuel economy module, and that means worse fuel economy. Anything to get pickups out the door! All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 16, 2021.

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1st Gear: Chip Shortage Means No Fuel Economy Module

The global semiconductor shortage has been wreaking havoc across the car industry, with huge production cuts and factories getting shut down even here in the United States. Not shutting down: GM’s full-size pickup truck production. Nothing stands between America and its pickup trucks. Not a global pandemic, certainly not a parts shortage! Even if this means sending trucks out the door with worse fuel economy, as Reuters reports:

General Motors said Monday that due to the global semiconductor chip shortage the U.S. automaker is building certain 2021 light-duty full-size pickup trucks without a fuel management module, hurting those vehicles’ fuel economy performance.

The lack of the active fuel management/dynamic fuel management module means affected models, equipped with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine with both six-speed and eight-speed automatic transmission, will have lower fuel economy by one mile per gallon, spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said.

Malcho emphasized all trucks are still being built, something GM has repeatedly stressed it would try to protect as pickups are among GM’s most profitable models. She declined to say the volume of vehicles affected.

GM will likely have to use credits from past years that had greater efficiency to still meet its federal CAFE requirements for fleet-wide fuel economy. GM told Reuters it’s not worried about meeting CAFE for 2021, but if I was someone buying a new pickup, I’d be pissed about missing this module.

2nd Gear: What’s Up With Byton? Let’s Check In

Just last night, the Jalopnik slack channel blew up: Remember Byton? What’s up with it?

Well, the little startup that used to have the guy from BMW until he left claiming that the Chinese government had taken over the company, is getting another strange step closer (or more adjacent) to production. Byton is in partnership with iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, and Foxconn may be setting up a car factory here in the States, as Bloomberg reports:

Foxconn Technology Group will decide between Wisconsin and Mexico for the site of its first electric-car plant this year, making a big bet on the nascent business at a time when technology giants including top customer Apple Inc. are looking to expand into vehicles.

The Taiwanese manufacturer already has operations in the central U.S. state and the Latin American country, and could utilize its existing structures, Chairman Young Liu of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Foxconn’s flagship unit, said in a briefing in Taipei on Tuesday. Availability and affordability of skilled labor and engineering talent will be among the deciding factors, he said.

[...]

In January, Foxconn signed a manufacturing deal with embattled Chinese electric-vehicle startup Byton Ltd. with the aim to start mass production of the Byton M-Byte by the first quarter of 2022. A week later, Foxconn and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. said they would be joining forces to provide production and consulting services to global automotive enterprises.

Last month, Foxconn inked another deal with American EV startup Fisker Inc. on a car that will be built by the Apple partner and target multiple markets including North America, Europe, China and India. Production of the vehicle, which will be sold under the Fisker brand, is set to start in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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None of this is a clear announcement that anything, exactly, is about to happen. Still, I’m intrigued.

3rd Gear: VW Follows Tesla In Boast Quota

VW’s playbook in entering the world of electric cars is still just “copy absolutely everything Tesla does,” down to VW having its own copycat of Battery Day this week. Now VW is continuing on in that trend, mirroring Tesla’s capacity for boastfulness. It is not enough to build electric cars, you see. You have to spend all your time promising yet-grander EV plans to come.

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“VW eyes global EV lead by 2025 in platform push,” Bloomberg reports, with VW claiming it will be the largest manufacturer of electric cars in no time:

Volkswagen Group plans to widen cost-cutting efforts by standardizing key technologies as the German manufacturer seeks to accelerate a seismic shift toward electric cars to combat Tesla and keep traditional rivals such as Daimler at bay.

VW targets 1 million electric-vehicle sales this year and aims to become the global EV market leader by 2025 at the latest, the company said. By 2030, the share of fully electric vehicles in Europe is set to rise to as much as 60 percent of group deliveries.

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To put this in perspective, here’s how the two companies sit at the moment:

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If you are in the electric car business, you must scream “This is only the beginning!” always, forever.

4th Gear: Toyota Explains Why Switching To EVs Isn’t As Easy As You Think

Toyota is not big on the whole “electric car” thing, and is heavily invested in hydrogen instead. (Japan as a nation is big on hydrogen as well.) Does that make it very biased in this conversation? Of course it does! But you’re not going to hear this straight truth from a company like VW, which is heavily invested in you thinking EVs are just going to magically fix all of our transportation and climate problems at once.

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In any case, Toyota wants you to consider that making EVs is not particularly easy, as Reuters reports:

A senior Toyota executive will express skepticism before U.S. senators Tuesday about aspirations by rival automakers to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles, saying those goals must overcome many obstacles.

Robert Wimmer, director of Energy & Environmental Research at Toyota Motor North America, will testify at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

“If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance and affordability,” he will say according to an advance copy of his remarks.

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Alright, it’s less that Toyota wants you to think that making EVs is hard. It’s more that Toyota wants the government to think that and to cut it some slack.

5th Gear: NYC Taxi Protests Continue Into Day 8

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is hitting the streets today, as it has for the past week straight, protesting for debt forgiveness:

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The city’s response, so far, to its yellow cab drivers drowning in debt that the city only helped create is to ... give tens of millions to a hedge fund in Connecticut.

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Reverse: Hey, We Should Put People At The Top Of One Of Those

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Neutral: How Are You Doing?

I am building an elevated planter on my back porch because I will do anything — anything — to see something grow and flourish as Spring rolls in. Any tips are welcome!

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

pmb2012
NEBcruiser(now with FSD)

1st gear: If i were buying a Silverado 1500, I would certainly opt for the 5.3 w/o the displacement on demand feature. Cylinder deactivation systems always lead to problems long term. I actually just bought a Honda Odyssey last week and ordered a VCMuzzler II while sitting at a stop light on the way home.

4th gear: Toyota is historically right about stuff. They have been a leader in hybrid development, so it’s not like they’re a stick in the mud regarding fuel economy. All of Wimmer’s points are right- changing to electric isn’t flipping a light switch, it’s more like building a power grid.

Neutral: As stated, I sold my 08 E550 and picked up a 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring. This one previous owner van has a stack of service records which follow the factory maintenance schedule to a T. Talk about a switch! Not nearly as much passing power but a more relaxed driving experience. People let me over on the interstate now. My annual fuel spend will likely be cut in half, and I can finally load the kids with ease.