Nokia could brick Mercedes-Benz production in Germany if it wants to, GM’s China sales slip for first time in practically ever, and Uber is exploring new means of labor exploitation in California. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, August 19, 2020.
Nokia has won a lawsuit over in-car mobile connection technology against Mercedes-Benz, and it now holds the legal power to shut down the automaker’s German production if it wants. From Bloomberg, via Automotive News Europe:
The court said it had to side with Nokia because Daimler wasn’t willing to abide by existing rules for so-called standard essential patents. “The facts show that Daimler and its supporters in the case aren’t willing to take a license,” the court said in a statement.
The ruling potentially could allow Nokia to stop Daimler from selling vehicles in Germany, but doing so would require Nokia to post collateral of 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion) in a separate proceeding. Daimler said it didn’t expect Nokia to seek a sales ban.
Carmakers in Europe are dependent on the technology to enable their autos for e-connectivity. Nokia seeks to charge fees per car instead of granting auto-parts makers licenses for the components they produce. As a result some suppliers, including Continental and Robert Bosch, are supporting Daimler in the litigation.
Supposedly, at least in regard to current specific components found on many modern luxury cars, Nokia has a lot of weight in supplying many of the world’s automakers. The crux of the issue here is how Mercedes-Benz pays for in-car mobile connection technology developed by Nokia.
The problem for Mercedes is that its friends, like BMW, have already agreed to pay what Nokia asks, again from Bloomberg:
The Finnish company wants Daimler to pay royalties based on each car sold, but Daimler argues that the fees would be too high. It wants Nokia to license the technology to the suppliers of the equipment used to integrate mobile devices in its vehicles, which would then charge the German carmaker.
Daimler and some of its suppliers, including Continental, have asked the European Commission to go after Nokia, claiming the Finnish company missuses its market power. Auto-parts makers also see their business model at stake so they joined the suit to defend Daimler against Nokia.
Nokia has said its license model has been accepted by other carmakers, including BMW and Volkswagen Group.
In reality, Nokia likely will not move to stop Mercedes from producing cars in Germany as a result of the suit. That’s mostly because it would have to offer up billions in collateral to do it in some weird legal maneuvering. Nokia still has two other open cases against Mercedes over similar issues, so I have a feeling it’s not done yet though.
The Chinese government is likely looking to pour more money into electric vehicle incentives over the next few years to help build its car market back up in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic. General Motors has adopted a new strategy around that to help get its sales back on track.
General Motors Co is planning an electric car offensive in China with more than 40% of its new launches in the country over the next five years set to be electric vehicles (EVs), the U.S. carmaker said on Wednesday.
GM’s electric vehicles, many of which will be all-electric battery cars, will be manufactured in China with almost all parts coming from local suppliers, the company said in a statement released at its Tech Day event in Shanghai.
GM’s China sales peaked to over 4 million units back in 2017, but has since experienced its first declining sales trend in the local market in the last 20 years. The company did not announce which models specifically it plans to introduce, nor how many. It’s also unclear if this new plan is an amendment to the automaker’s previous promise of introducing over 20 new electrified vehicles by 2025.
Just ask what Chinese Buick drivers want and deliver it.
Now that the State of California has gone and classified ride-hailing app drivers as full-on legitimate employees of a company, which they’ve always been, companies like Uber and Lyft claim to be struggling to find a way to make their business model work in the state. You know, now that they have to treat their workers like people.
In another sign that a new law in California could force dramatic changes to ride-hailing in the state, Uber Technologies Inc. said it’s considering licensing the brand to independently operated franchises. The move would create distance between the ride-hailing company and its drivers and would serve as an alternative to classifying them as employees.
Uber said the model would look similar to its black-car operations in the early days. “Drivers would likely earn a predetermined hourly wage for their time on-app, but in exchange, fleets would likely monitor and enforce drivers’ activity and efficiency, for instance by putting drivers into shifts, dictating where and when they drive, and enforcing trip acceptance criteria,” Matt Wing, a spokesman for Uber, wrote in an email. “We are not sure whether a fleet model would ultimately be viable in California.”
A franchise-like setup would be very similar to any Jimmy John’s or Chick-Fil-A you’ve enjoyed in the past, where, despite some careers spanning years, “negotiated” worker contracts, and millions of corporate funding in posters that try to convince you that you like your job instead of just making sure you do, you ultimately get paid an hourly rate that’s mostly just to make sure you show up tomorrow.
No healthcare. Nothing to address the concern of California lawmakers over the motivations of the companies and their unwillingness to support their workers. Instead, Uber, Lyft and others will yet again reinvent new ways of usurping labor law.
Maybe localized transportation works better as a service to society with incurred costs?
Despite killing all of its other non-crossover, non-SUV, non-truck U.S. cars, Ford will reportedly keep the Mustang around for another generation lasting at least eight years, according to Auto News.
Despite the current car being the best-selling muscle car in America for the last six years in a row, Ford wants the next Mustang to look more like growth, rather than a dying American dream:
The next-generation Mustang is expected to be moved to the same rear-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive platform shared by the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator, which could mean a slightly larger silhouette.
Suppliers have been told that annual production volume for the next-gen pony car will tally just under 100,000 vehicles a year: Coupe volumes are projected at 77,000, and up to an additional 20,000 convertibles are planned, suppliers say.
I wonder if it’d be a marketing negative or positive to mention that the Mustang sits on a crossover platform now?
Elon Musk is now the fourth-richest person in the world. You hate to see it.
The outspoken entrepreneur is now the world’s fourth-richest person after Tesla Inc. shares surged 11% on Monday, closing at a record high and boosting Musk’s net worth by $7.8 billion.
The rise vaulted the Tesla co-founder past French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault, the wealthiest non-American on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Musk’s $84.8 billion fortune puts him within $15 billion of Mark Zuckerberg, No. 3 on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.
He better put all of it on free internet and cheap spaceflight, is all I’m saying. Should probably try to feed or house a few million people too, if he finds time to care.
What was the last generation of good cars without all of the complicated communications bullshit?