Tesla says its top lawyer is still around, Florida is making life worse for everyone, and General Motors sees market opportunities in some place called Europe. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Thursday, August 18, 2022.
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that David Searle, Tesla’s acting legal head, had left the company. Searle had been overseeing a probe into the company’s supply chain, specifically its sourcing of glass, that had reportedly gotten Tesla workers fired. The company, however, has its own version of the story: “Nuh-uh.” Also from Bloomberg:
Tesla Inc. on Wednesday denied a report that it has parted ways with the law department leader heading an internal inquiry into purchase orders at the electric vehicle maker.
David Searle left his position as Tesla’s head of legal less than a month ago, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. But Tesla denied the report in a tweet later Wednesday afternoon and Searle’s LinkedIn profile showed he is still at Tesla. It was unclear if Searle was reassigned within the company.
“This Bloomberg article is false,” Tesla said in a tweet. “David Searle has not left Tesla.”
“Bloomberg!” said I, “facts unstinted!—prophet still, if web or printed!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by the sources you unfurl—
Tell this corporate employer if, within its open foyers,
It shall lose a sainted lawyer by the name of David Searle—
Lose a rare and radiant lawyer by the name of David Searle.”
Twoth the Tesla “Nevermore.”
Florida is a hotspot for vacation travel, and as such its skies are generally black with swarms of passenger aircraft. But the state is also home to restricted military airspace, rocket launches, and plenty of storms — all of which wreak havoc on flight plans. From the Wall Street Journal:
Airlines flying in and out of Florida one recent weekend had a lot to navigate.
Over the Gulf of Mexico, military exercises restricted airspace for flights trying to go east and west. A thunderstorm encroached, threatening an important route over the Gulf. Short staffing at an air-traffic-control center near Jacksonville limited north-south traffic.
And a space rocket prepared to launch over the Atlantic, temporarily cutting off routes to the east.
Such is the Florida obstacle course, jamming up airspace over some of the most popular vacation spots in the U.S.—and cascading travel problems across the rest of the country.
Across the country, one-fifth of daily flights on average were delayed reaching their destinations in the first six months of 2022. Nearly all of the major hubs in Florida did worse, including Miami, Orlando and Palm Beach, according to data firm FlightAware. Cancellation rates were also above the national average at the airports serving Tampa Bay and Fort Myers and some other hubs in Florida.
The Federal Aviation Administration attributed about 1.6 million minutes of delays to traffic-management initiatives such as ground stops at its air-traffic-control center near Jacksonville—the same facility Spirit highlighted as a trouble spot—during the first six months of the year. That is more than four times the delays linked to the Jacksonville site for 2019.
As always, the Florida swamp is cause for all evils in this world. Also, it’s too humid. Not sure which is worse.
GM has, historically, not done so hot in Europe. Now it wants back in, hoping its EVs appease sophisticated European tastes better than any Silverado could. But is the company ready for that? Maybe not, according to analysts. From the Detroit News:
Five years after exiting the European market, General Motors Co. is examining how to return as an electric vehicle player.
The move makes sense, experts say, but to be successful in a region where it struggled for years — especially during its final 20 years of ownership — will require a game plan to sell and service the right kinds of EVs for that market. Establishing the plan and distribution network will take time, experts expect, placing any GM larger scale reentry in the latter half of the decade.
“If you look at their production footprint for electric vehicles based on what we know now, they don’t have the capacity to deal with getting into Europe at volume before the end of the decade,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst for S&P Global Mobility. “I don’t think we’re really talking about a near-term scenario.”
Success in Europe might also mean a different product mix for GM. As much as I want to see a Hummer EV attempt to navigate narrow Italian streets, I can’t imagine anyone wants to be the one doing the navigating.
Geely is a massive, global company, but that scale can quickly become a liability when faced with supply chain interruptions and inflation-based downturns in consumer spending. The company is feeling the heat of the global economy right now, but claims its number is coming up soon. From the Financial Times:
Chinese carmaker Geely Auto said its profits had more than halved as a semiconductor shortage and Covid-19 restrictions hit demand for vehicles and disrupted production.
Pre-tax profits dropped 55 per cent to Rmb1.3bn ($191mn) in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2021, the group said on Thursday. Total vehicle sales fell 3 per cent to 613,845, though revenues rose 29 per cent to Rmb58.2bn.
Car sales were one-third of its annual target of 1.65mn vehicles, but the group expected demand to recover during the second half of the year and said it planned to hit its target.
The carmaker faced “huge disruption to the supply chain, especially in the first half of 2022 thanks to sporadic outbreak of the pandemic,” said chief executive Gan Jiayue.
As much as we all dream about running the perfect enthusiast-focused car company, I don’t envy the people behind the scenes at any automaker right now. It’s a tough time to sell cars.
Contract bargaining rarely seems to be a fun process, but Harley-Davidson and its workers can now step away from the table happy — having signed a deal that both sides seem pleased with. Crucially, it removed the company’s tenure-based, tiered wage system. From Reuters:
Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) and union employees at the manufacturer’s York, Pennsylvania, facility voted on Tuesday night to ratify a five-year contract agreement for wage increases and improved benefits for plant workers.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents 1,300 Harley workers and 2,500 Boeing employees, said in a statement that members’ resilience had secured a better contract. Union employees voted unanimously to reject a tentative contract between Harley and IAM officials in June.
The union did not detail all changes in the contract, but said the agreement ended a two-tier wage system, in which Tier 2 workers were paid $5 per hour less than Tier 1 workers who were hired before 2010.
“The solidarity paid off, and together the membership won the day, eliminating the two-tier wage system,” Kermit Forbes, district representative for IAM, said in the statement.
The new wage structure hasn’t been published online, but it’s enough to keep Harley-Davidson workers in the factories, building bikes. Rest assured, your CVO Electra Road Street Wide Tri Glide is still coming.
Andy managed to snag himself an apartment on the UES, but I’m still hunting. There are so few apartments in New York City that can be afforded on a single auto writer’s salary, I’m starting to consider vans. It’s bad out here, folks.