I have seen a lot of headlines about how transitioning to EVs will cut jobs. I am less convinced than ever. That and more in The Morning Shift for October 13, 2021.
Again, we’ve seen a lot of stories about how carmakers building relatively simple electric vehicles as opposed to internal-combustion vehicles will cost jobs. It makes sense! Gas-burning cars have lots of little parts, like pistons, or valves. Somebody’s got to make those valves!
Somehow this never stuck with me, as you could just make more simpler EVs as opposed to fewer more complicated ICE cars and it’d all come out in the wash.
In any case, a new pronouncement from the head of the most ambitious electrification project going on right now, Herbert Diess at VW, makes all of this somehow even more confusing. According to Diess, VW stands to lose tens of thousands of jobs ... if it doesn’t switch to EVs fast enough. From Reuters:
Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess told a supervisory board meeting in September that the company could lose 30,000 jobs if it transitioned too slowly to electric vehicles (EVs), two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Competition from new entrants to Germany’s market, like Tesla, has pushed the company to speed up its transformation, Diess is said to have told attendees.
The U.S. EV maker plans to produce 500,000 cars a year in Germany with 12,000 employees, while Volkswagen’s 25,000 produce just 700,000 cars at its Wolfsburg plant.
According to the union, don’t expect this to happen. Per Reuters:
A spokesperson for Volkswagen’s workers’ council said that while they would not comment on whether Diess made the remarks, “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless”.
Another union spokesperson from the region of Lower-Saxony, which is Volkswagen’s second-largest shareholder, said such cuts were “out of the question”.
EVs have far fewer parts than an internal combustion engine car and so require fewer workers to produce. According to one estimate, 100,000 jobs in the German autos industry could be lost by 2025 as a result of electrification.
I don’t particularly buy that making EVs is easier or simpler than making ICE cars, at least if the biggest EV manufacturer in the world is anything to go by.
Reuters’ article is met with the headline “Volkswagen CEO warns shift to electric vehicles could cost 30,000 jobs -sources.” Take that as you will.
As much as we can enjoy debating the future of EV production, the present of EV manufacturing is not concerned with workers so much as raw materials. From Reuters:
“There is a serious question as to whether supply can keep up with demand across the battery supply chain,” says Daniel Harrison, an auto analyst at Ultima Media.
Until recently, Europe was seen as having lost the battery race to the dominant Asian manufacturers like CATL (300750.SZ) in China, South Korea’s LG Chem (051910.KS), and Japan’s Panasonic (6752.T), says Ilka von Dalwigk from EIT InnoEnergy, which has set up a company network funded by the European Union in the “European Battery Alliance”.
“Nobody saw that as a problem,” says von Dalwigk. “The thinking was that we can import battery cells.”
I don’t know how much of this is a problem for EV automakers at the very present versus facing their projections for the near future. Certainly current battery tech is a little spotty.
Did you know that when you are elected to public office as a lawmaker, you get to make laws that govern your country? You get to guide the course of the nation! Seems cool.
In related news, lawmakers are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to do some policy for once. Reuters reports:
More than 100 U.S. House lawmakers on Tuesday urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep a $4,500 tax credit incentive for union-built electric vehicles (EV) in a massive spending bill.
In a letter seen by Reuters, 107 Democrats urged Pelosi to retain the credit supported by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, the AFL-CIO and U.S. automakers. The $4,500 credit would provide a significant boost to Detroit’s three automakers — General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Chrysler-parent Stellantis .
“We strongly support leveling the playing field between non-union and unionized workforces by including the added $4,500 incentive to support union-made EVs,” the letter said led by Representative Thomas Suozzi.
This pro-union incentive has been pissing off Tesla, which is probably a good sign for anything in general.
It seems weird to have this option on the table and just ... not.
As car companies been having a hard time building cars, CarMax has had a very good time selling them. The new and used markets have both been surging, and CarMax has been busy. A good indication of that business is that it’s hiring some 3,700 people, as Automotive News reports:
CarMax, the nation’s largest used-vehicle retailer, plans to fill 3,700 positions by the end of the year, the company said Tuesday.
CarMax said it is looking to hire about 1,400 auto technicians and service operations associates, including detailers and painters. Auto technicians are paid $19 to $53 an hour, according to the company.
The company also wants to hire about 700 customer service consultants, assistants and managers who will work directly online and over the phone with customers. Pay for consultants is $18 to $20 an hour. Some of those positions are work-from-home eligible, CarMax said.
Roughly 70 percent of these positions will be dedicated to handling bumper-to-bumper warranties on 2006 Range Rovers.
Japanese cars are so small and efficient! Why is it that Americans keep buying big, ugly trucks and not cool little hatchbacks like people buy over there?
Well, gas costs about $5.30 a gallon over there now, as the Japan Times reports:
The average retail gasoline price in Japan climbed to its highest level in seven years earlier this week, reflecting a recent global surge in crude oil prices, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Wednesday.
The average price for regular gasoline stood at ¥162.10 ($1.4) per liter as of Monday, advancing ¥2.10 from Oct. 4 and hitting its highest level since October 2014, according to the ministry.
The rise is expected to deal a blow to household spending in Japan amid speculation that domestic travel will increase after the latest COVID-19 state of emergency through Sept. 30.
I do not think it is any stretch of the imagination that today’s hulking pickups would immediately all-but disappear off the road if we hiked up the gas tax.
My bike’s back brakes won’t stop squealing no matter how much I toe them in. I will try cleaning the rim and trying again, but god help me if I have to true this wheel one more time. Rebuilding my VW’s drum brakes took me less time than adjusting these cantis.