Pete Buttigieg sparred with Elon Musk, Ford says it has a recycled ocean plastic first, and Renault. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 8, 2021.
1st Gear: The Renault Zoe Is A Small Electric Car That Is Also Apparently Not All That Safe
Renault sells lots of Zoes in Europe, which is a land where electric cars are valued and respected, unlike America, which is a land that looks at electric cars with deep suspicion, for mystical reasons only known to Americans. Anyway, here’s video of the Zoe’s Euro NCAP crash test:
Reuters has some words about it:
French carmaker Renault on Wednesday received a blow for its popular Zoe electric model, as the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) gave it a zero-star safety rating in tests that are standards for Europe.
The carmaker, which is cutting costs and working to turn around its performance after overstretching itself over years of ambitious global expansion, also received a one-star rating for its lower-cost electric Dacia Spring model.
“Renault was once synonymous with safety,” Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said in a statement. “But these disappointing results for the ZOE and the Dacia Spring show that safety has now become collateral damage in the group’s transition to electric cars.”
Renault said in a statement the Zoe was a safe vehicle, which met all regulatory safety standards.
“These standards are constantly evolving and are becoming more and more strict in all areas, especially in terms of security,” the company added. “Renault is therefore continually improving its offer in order to comply with the regulations applicable where its vehicles are sold.”
It is almost unimaginable that in the U.S. the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would call a new car from GM or Ford hot dog shit in terms of safety, and then GM or Ford would release a statement saying that it simply couldn’t keep up with all these complicated new standards, but that says more about NHTSA than anything else. An interesting thing happens when you start actually regulating automakers and calling them out on their shit, which is that they get better and the world doesn’t end.
2nd Gear: Pete Buttigieg Enters The Arena
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has thoughts about federal EV subsidies, which is that they should end, along with federal subsidies for oil and gas. This is a position that, like almost every Elon position, is half-right, in that subsidies for oil and gas absolutely should end, while subsidies for EVs should increase, since EV makers like Tesla haven’t so far been able to sell an affordable electric car, and the point is to replace the ICE fleet to help do nothing less than save the planet.
Anyway, this has all come up because of the Build Back Better bill currently being considered by Congress, which increases subsidies for EVs in the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was moved to defend the bill Tuesday, after Elon ran his mouth on Monday, according to Bloomberg.
“We think it’s very important to fund EV charging stations and to also make sure what’s in the next Build Back Better Act to buy down the price of electric vehicles,” Buttigieg said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking at the same event on Monday, Musk took aim at the Build Back Better Act, a centerpiece economic policy measure backed by President Joe Biden now pending before the Senate.
“I would say honestly I would just can this whole bill,” Musk said in a Monday, slamming excessive federal spending. “Don’t pass it. That’s my recommendation.”
“Do we need support for gas stations? We don’t,” Musk said. “There’s no need for support for a charging network. I would just delete it. Delete. I’m literally saying get rid of all subsidies. Also for oil and gas.”
Buttigieg countered Tuesday that the Biden administration is committed making sure the transition to electric cars will happen quickly enough to meet the president’s climate goals, will be done in a way that is equitable and benefits U.S. workers.
“Of course we believe in the benefits of union jobs,” he said. “These are things that don’t happen on their own.”
In the era of late capitalism, Elon’s pitch is to go back to unfettered capitalism. He probably also thinks meat inspections are unnecessary. Tesla stans, this is your guy.
3rd Gear: BMW Is Shoring Up Its Chip Supply
Every automaker is desperate for chips these days, now and into the future, given the shortage. I expect many of them to overcorrect and be awash in too many chips this time next year. Or not. Supply chain stuff is notoriously difficult in any case, even for the purported masters of it, companies like Apple and Toyota.
The automaker said Wednesday it signed an agreement with Inova Semiconductors and Globalfoundries Inc., guaranteeing the supply of “several million” chips per year. The components will provide controls for ambient lighting systems that will first be used in the BMW iX electric sport-utility vehicle.
“We are deepening our partnership with suppliers at key points in the supplier network and synchronizing our capacity planning directly with semiconductor manufacturers and developers,” Andreas Wendt, a board member responsible for purchasing, said in a statement.
BMW’s deal is another sign automakers are sidestepping traditional partsmakers to instead deal directly with semiconductor manufacturers to secure vital chip supplies. Stellantis NV on Tuesday unveiled a nonbinding accord with Foxconn owner Hon Hai Technology Group for the design of four new families of automotive chips.
The chip shortage is the biggest story in the automotive world at the moment and has been for months, but also the least interesting.
4th Gear: VW Is Doing The Same But For Batteries
Volkswagen said Wednesday that it has new agreements to get raw materials to make batteries, part of its plan to spend billions on EVs.
At the core of the three agreements, which are part of VW’s 30 billion euro ($34 billion) plan to build battery plants and procure materials, lies a planned joint venture with Belgian chemicals and recycling company Umicore (UMI.BR). read more
The venture aims to supply cathode materialsto Volkswagen’s European battery cell factories, which it plans to build by 2030. It will start production in 2025 with 20 gigawatt hours (GWh) for VW’s plant in Salzgitter, Germany, which it plans to build with China’s Gotion High-Tech (002074.SZ).
The joint venture’s goal is to reach annual production capacity of up to 160 GWh by the end of the decade, enough capacity to power approximately 2.2 million battery-powered electric vehicles.
The EV rush is on.
5th Gear: Ford Says It Has The First Car With Parts Made From 100 Percent ‘Recycled Ocean Plastic’
That car would be the Bronco Sport, which is a car with a healthy imagination. Ford is very proud of itself.
Wiring harness clips in Ford Bronco™ Sport models are made of ocean-harvested plastic – commonly referred to as “ghost gear.” The strength and durability of the nylon material equals that of previously used petroleum-based parts but with a 10 % cost savings and requiring less energy to produce. The small parts represent a large first step in the company’s plans to produce other parts of recycled ocean plastics on other models.
Invisible to vehicle occupants, the Bronco Sport’s wiring harness clips, which weigh about five grams, fasten to the sides of the Bronco Sport second-row seats and guide wires that power side-curtain airbags. Despite spending time in saltwater and sunlight, the material is as strong and durable as petroleum-based clips, Ford testing shows.
Spurring jobs creation throughout the development process, the plastic material is collected from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea by DSM Engineering Materials. Items produced using plastics collected from the oceans include a wide range of consumer goods, but not until now have automotive parts been on that list.
The process begins with DSM harvesting discarded nylon fishing nets. The plastic is washed of saltwater, dried, and extruded to form small pellets, which are then injection-molded by supplier HellermannTyton into the desired clip shape. Ford is already planning additional parts using recycled ocean plastics, including transmission brackets, wire shields and floor side rails – all stationary parts with strength and durability demands that the material can meet or exceed.
This is good, for sure, and I’m also happy about the recent trend of automakers starting to get rid of leather, I just wish they would do it and not issue a self-congratulatory press release whenever they make a wiring harness clip more sustainable. Actions speak louder than words, etc.
Reverse: Albert Kahn
Neutral: How Are You?
I’ve spent the last five days driving across America and I made it to Los Angeles and the trip was mostly fine, though it included the most shambolic attempt at a tire rotation I have ever seen at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change in Flagstaff. More on this in a minute.