Tesla Is Bending On Price Yet Again

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Tesla has lowered its price on the Model S, sales in China are back up and NHTSA is worried about fires in the Chevy Bolt. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 13, 2020.

1st Gear: Tesla Is Just A Normal Car Company

It is again bending on price. Tesla spends a whole lot of time pretending that it’s not a normal car company but really, now that it’s past the whole startup phase, it is.


From Reuters:

Tesla Inc said on Tuesday it has cut the price of its Model S “Long Range” sedan by 4% in the United States, days after the electric-car maker reported record quarterly deliveries.

The company, which is expected to report third-quarter results on Oct. 21, cut the price to $71,990 from $74,990 in the United States. It also trimmed the starting price of Model S by 3% in China.

Earlier this month, the carmaker cut the starting price of its Chinese-made Model 3 sedans by about 8% to 249,900 yuan ($36,805).


Indeed, Tesla’s website shows that the Model S now starts at $71,990, though you can also order the Plaid version for $139,990. The Model S used to start at $79,990. Spend your money however you want!

2nd Gear: NHTSA Wants To Know What Is Up With Chevy Bolt Fires

Fires in electric vehicles are sort of a bogeyman that no one wants to discuss quite yet, though they are real, of course, and we’ll have to deal with them. Automotive News reports that NHTSA is interested in two Chevy Bolt fires.

The agency’s Office of Defects Investigation received two complaints regarding 2018 and 2019 model-year Bolt EVs that alleged “the vehicles caught fire under the rear seat while parked and unattended,” according to a document filed Oct. 9 by NHTSA. After conducting additional research, the agency found a 2017 model-year Bolt EV with a similar burn pattern in the interior rear seat area, NHTSA said.

One injury, from smoke inhalation, was reported. An estimated 77,842 vehicles from the 2017-20 model years could be affected, according to NHTSA.

“The safety of our products is the highest priority for the entire GM team,” General Motors spokesperson Dan Flores said in a statement Tuesday to Automotive News. “We are cooperating with NHTSA in their investigation, and we are conducting our own investigation into these complaints as well.”


I actually didn’t know NHTSA has an Office of Defects Investigation; now I want to work there.

3rd Gear: China

Quarterly sales are up there for the first time in two years, according to the Wall Street Journal. The big demand is for EVs.

Retail passenger-car sales in the country increased by 7.9% in the three months ended Sept. 30 compared with a year earlier, the China Passenger Car Association said Tuesday. For just the month of September, sales increased by 7.3% from last year, reaching 1.91 million vehicles, the Beijing-based body said.

The strong quarter, the industry’s first in two years, has raised hopes for a more sustained rebound through the end of the year after the coronavirus crushed a market already struggling with nearly two years of sales contractions.


The CPCA said auto makers’ sales of passenger cars to dealerships grew by 8.5% in September, while wholesale sales of new-energy vehicles, a category that includes electric cars, nearly doubled in September compared with a year earlier to more than 125,000 vehicles, marking the strongest rate of growth since April 2019. The group didn’t report retail figures for the category.


4th Gear: Also In China: Audi Has Big EV Plans

The plan is a new venture to build EVs. Audi is tying up with FAW, which is owned by the Chinese state.


From Reuters:

Audi has a long partnership with FAW, which is based in the city of Changchun in the northeast of China, the world’s biggest car market. The German firm also plans to make vehicles with Shanghai-based automaker SAIC Motor 600104.SS.

Audi said it would produce models based on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), a base developed with Porsche. It said the new venture would start manufacturing several models in China from 2024.

Audi aims to have electrified vehicles make up a third of Chinese sales by 2025. It sold 512,081 vehicles in China in the first nine months of 2020 and about 690,000 vehicles last year.


5th Gear: Man Retires

Let’s just call it for Toyota, one of its men has retired, according to Automotive News.

Randy Pflughaupt, 61, group vice president of supply chain management, will retire Oct. 26 after 38 years with Toyota. He will be succeeded by Keith Robertson, 51, vice president of demand and supply management for Toyota Motor North America, the automaker said. Robertson will report to Chris Nielsen, chief quality officer in North America.

Pflughaupt previously was group vice president of sales administration with Toyota Motor Sales, senior vice president of production control with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, group vice president of marketing and held several sales region leadership positions. Most recently, Pflughaupt played a vital role in the automaker’s ongoing response to COVID-19.


Reverse: Hijacking


Neutral: How Are You?

I forgot to mention yesterday that I went to Katz’s Delicatessen this past weekend, one of the few New York City institutions that really lives up to the hype. Before I die feed me some pastrami from Katz’s, best deli in the city by a mile.


Also, a programming note: Does it bother you that The Morning Shift includes links to sources that are behind paywalls? If so, why?