Stellantis issues an expansive Ram recall, a St. Louis Mercedes dealer gets a major fine, and Volkswagen may be having second thoughts about a new EV factory. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Thursday, November 17, 2022.
If you have a 2020-or-newer heavy-duty Ram truck, with a 6.7 liter Cummins engine, watch out for warning lights on your dash regarding transmission temperature. If your Ram is subject to Stellantis’s latest recall, that light may be the last warning you get before a full fire takes your truck down. From Reuters:
Chrysler-parent Stellantis is recalling 280,000 Ram heavy-duty diesel trucks worldwide for fire risks, a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a company statement showed on Thursday.
The recall covers 2020-2023 Ram 2500 and 2020-2022 Ram 3500 trucks. A build-up of pressure and heat inside the transmission may result in a transmission fluid leak that could spark a vehicle fire. The company has reports of 16 vehicle fires and one minor injury between March and October that may be related to the recall, but no crashes.
If you own a Ram that you think may be affected, we have a whole guide on navigating the recall process. Head over there, and stay safe.
A Mercedes dealer in St. Louis has been slapped with $1.8 million in damages, after two female employees filed a workplace discrimination suit alleging years of unequal treatment. That’s justice, baby. From Automotive News:
Denise Ligon and Dorothy Robinson were salespeople at the dealership, and said they worked in an unfair work environment that benefited male employees. Ligon began working at the dealership in 2000, and Robinson in 2015, court documents said.
Claims from the two women include sexist remarks, being held back from sales and being required to unfairly split commissions with male employees.
Robinson, who is Black, argued that in addition to sexism, she experienced racism after the company passed her over for promotion in favor of a white man.
Tri-Star Imports Inc., the owner of Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis, denied the allegations in court documents and said the women didn’t take advantage of the “preventive or corrective opportunities provided by Tri-Star to avoid harm.”
The women reported their conduct to leadership multiple times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. They were told by dealership president Tom Hennekes on June 1, 2018, that their complaints were being investigated, but did not provide additional information.
Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis did not immediately respond for comment.
If you’re in a workplace where people are treated unequally, due to their gender presentation or sexuality or race, do what you can to stand up for the people getting the short end of the stick. It’s a good habit to get into.
Back in March, Volkswagen announced a new plant that would build its Trinity luxury EV sedan concept. Now, the company is taking another direction — wondering if it can just build the car at its preexisting factories. From Reuters:
Volkswagen Chief Executive Oliver Blume is reviewing plans to build its planned Trinity electric vehicles (EV) factory, a source told Reuters on Thursday after Manager Magazine reported he wanted to ditch the proposals.
The management still plans to bring the vehicles to market with new SSP software, the source said, adding the question was whether a new factory was needed in Wolfsburg or the assembly line at Wolfsburg’s main plant could produce them.
Volkswagen, the world’s second-biggest carmaker, had planned to officially start production of its flagship electric sedan at the new factory in 2026.
Manager Magazine reported that Blume wanted to delay this until 2030.
The SSP model platform planned for the whole group will probably no longer be launched with the Trinity plant as originally planned, the magazine reported.
Launching new EVs is hard, and launching a fancy sedan in this SUV-hungry market isn’t exactly an unimpeachable recipe for success. Volkswagen’s caution here is, at the very least, understandable.
Musk is in the midst of a trial right now, over his $56 billion compensation package from Tesla. During his time on the stand, the fan of “sickkk memes” seems to have talked about scaling back his workload — quitting not one, but two jobs. The first is his role as CEO of Twitter, per Reuters:
Elon Musk said on Wednesday he expected to reduce his time at Twitter and eventually find a new leader to run the social media company, adding that he hoped to complete an organizational restructuring this week.
However Musk later said in a tweet that he will continue to run Twitter until it is in a strong place, though it will “take some time.”
Musk’s tweet came after former CEO Jack Dorsey said that he will not accept the role of Twitter CEO. In a reply to a Twitter user when asked if he would take the position of CEO, he said “nope.”
Tesla investors have been increasingly concerned about the time that Musk is devoting to turning around Twitter.
And the second, according to board members, is his role at Tesla. Also from Reuters:
James Murdoch, a Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) director, testified in court on Wednesday that CEO Elon Musk has in the last few months identified someone as a potential successor to head the electric carmaker.
When a plaintiff’s lawyer asked him to confirm that Musk has never identified someone as a potential successor CEO, Murdoch said, “He actually has,” adding that happened in the “last few months.”
Some Tesla investors are worried about whether Musk can focus adequately on his role as CEO of the world’s most valuable carmaker now that he has been running Twitter Inc after a protracted buyout that at one point he tried to scrap. Murdoch testified that Musk has had some Tesla engineers work at Twitter, a situation the board is monitoring.
It’s always interesting to see the World Of Elon, a land of magical ideas and engineering swings for the fences, collide with the World Of Business — where investors go to make money. Just know that neither one is great to its employees.
Everyone’s getting in on the autonomy game now, and Stellantis doesn’t want to be left behind. Rather than cede ground to GM and Super Cruise, Stellantis is now buying an entire AI company for autonomy. Take that, Ford and Chevy. From Automotive News:
Stellantis has agreed to buy aiMotive, a developer of advanced artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicle driving software, to advance its technology development efforts, the company said in a statement.
No financial details of the transaction have been disclosed.
The deal also supports Stellantis’ ambition to generate around 20 billion euros ($20.75 billion) in additional annual revenues by 2030 from software-enabled product offerings and subscriptions.
The startup will operate as a subsidiary of Stellantis, maintaining its operational independence and culture. Founder László Kishonti will remain as CEO. Kishonti is a 2019 Automotive News Europe Rising Star.
The startup will continue selling three areas of its technology product portfolio, including aiData, aiSim and aiWare, to other partners, the statement said.
It really sucks that automakers have goals based on subscription income now. No one wants that. It only caters to corporations, and only does the least harm to lessees. Stop this, stop it now.
Today, baristas from more than 100 Starbucks stores nationwide are on strike. They’re fighting for a fair contract negotiation process, after a string of illegal firings, abandoned bargaining sessions, and other union-busting efforts from Starbucks corporate. Support your local baristas!