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Tesla Is Declared Essential In California

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Tesla is essential, the UN says Carlos Ghosn’s arrests were “abuse,” and Cadillac dealers who don’t want to bother with electric vehicles are offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to not sell EVs. All that and more in The Morning Shift for November 23, 2020.

1st Gear: Tesla Is Essential

Tesla had a big dumb fight earlier this year over coronavirus restrictions, suing California officials after CEO Elon Musk had a tantrum on Twitter. It seems there won’t be any such donnybrook during this third wave of infections because California has deemed workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory to be “essential.”


From Reuters:

Workers at Tesla Inc.’s California vehicle factory are deemed essential and are not impacted by the state’s latest restrictions to curb a new surge in coronavirus infections, the California health department said on Friday.


Asked whether the order applied to workers at Tesla’s Fremont factory, the California Department of Public Health in a statement said it did not apply to employees deemed essential workers, with manufacturing listed as an essential workforce.

“The Critical Manufacturing Sector identifies several industries to serve as the core of the sector including Transportation Equipment Manufacturing Products,” the office said.


Under California law, local counties can impose more restrictive measures than mandated by the state. Alameda County on Friday did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement on Monday the county’s health department said it was following state guidance, but may act to restrict activities beyond the state’s requirements.


Whether you think manufacturing Teslas during a pandemic is essential or not is sort of beside the point, because this time around we all should know better.

2nd Gear: Cadillac Will Pay Dealers Who Don’t Want To Sell EVs

Cadillac aspires to be an all-EV brand by 2030, meaning that if dealers opt out now it is probably all said and done for that dealer. GM expanded on its big EV push last week, and it really feels like GM is serious this time.

From Automotive News:

Some dealers, on the other hand, aren’t ready to make that shift — or to spend at least $200,000 on the chargers, tooling and training that GM is requiring. They have until Nov. 30 to decide whether they’d rather just get out instead.


Many offers range from $300,000 to upward of $500,000, according to people familiar with the terms. Cadillac declined to disclose the dollar amounts and other terms, and dealers who accept a buyout must agree not to discuss it publicly.


Dealer lawyers and consultants said dealers who take the buyout can sell new Cadillacs through 2021 and can access the brand’s used-vehicle auction through 2024, unless other arrangements have been made.

Many smaller dealers, after years of feeling like GM wanted them gone, are no longer as eager to stand firm as the costly shift to EVs looms, said Stuart McCallum, who leads the automotive consulting and accounting practice for Withum accounting firm in Princeton, N.J. Some just hope to negotiate a more lucrative deal before agreeing to give up their franchise, he said.

“They’re looking at this as a godsend almost,” McCallum said. “There is wiggle room in the offer. It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it.”

For dealers who sell few Cadillacs a month, he said, a $300,000 to $400,000 payment might be equal to five to 10 years’ worth of new-vehicle profit.


3rd Gear: Hyundai Strikes A Deal With Ineos

Ineos, you’ll remember, is the SUV startup that pisses off just about everyone possible. Hyundai is happy to strike a deal with it.


From the Financial Times:

Hyundai and Ineos have struck a deal that could lead to the Korean carmaker buying hydrogen from the chemicals group.

In exchange, Ineos may purchase Hyundai’s fuel cell technology for its audacious entry into the car industry, with its debut vehicle the Grenadier, an off-roader based on the original Land Rover Defender.


Under the memorandum of understanding signed on Monday, Ineos and Hyundai will “jointly investigate opportunities for the production and supply of hydrogen as well as the worldwide deployment of hydrogen applications and technologies”.

Carmakers wanting to make hydrogen cars “have only achieved half the goal unless you have the ability to fill it up and are able to make it affordable”, said Mark Tennant, commercial director at Ineos’s automotive division.

Sae Hoon Kim, head of fuel cells at Hyundai, said: “Ineos’s move into the development of a fuel cell electric vehicle and hydrogen ecosystem marks yet another milestone towards sustainable and clean transportation.”


4th Gear: Carlos Ghosn’s Arrests Were ‘Abuse,’ According To A UN Panel

The once high-flying CEO of Nissan who is still in the middle of a spectacular downfall was actually the real victim here, a United Nations panel said. It feels like everyone involved in this case should declare a stalemate and cut their losses and go home.


From Bloomberg:

Carlos Ghosn’s detention for almost 130 days in a Japanese jail was neither necessary nor reasonable and violated the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman’s human rights, a UN panel concluded in a harsh critique of Tokyo prosecutors who led the case against him.

The decision to arrest Ghosn four times in a row so as to extend his detention was “fundamentally unfair,” the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in a report Monday posted on its website. The panel said that it would refer the case to the UN’s rapporteur on torture, cruel and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

“The repeated arrest of Mr. Ghosn appears to be an abuse of process intended to ensure that he remained in custody,” the panel said, pointing out that on at least two occasions he was arrested for the same alleged crime, only for a different time period. “This revolving pattern of detention was an extrajudicial abuse of process that can have no legal basis under international law.”


5th Gear: This Is From Last Week But

A subcommittee in the US House of Representatives is very mad about booster seat rules, following an investigation from ProPublica. As ProPublica’s investigation made clear, booster seats for kids weighing less than 40 pounds are a bad idea.


From ProPublica:

The scrutiny of car seat safety standards is part of a probe that the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy launched this year in response to a ProPublica investigation. That story revealed that Evenflo, manufacturer of the popular Big Kid booster, marketed the seat as “side impact tested” when the company’s own tests showed a child using it could be paralyzed or killed in such a crash.

Evenflo was able to make up its own side-impact safety tests for boosters and assert that they passed them, because NHTSA never enacted side-impact test standards for children’s car seats and boosters despite a 2000 law directing it to do so. The bar was so low on Evenflo’s test, records show, that the only way its booster could fail was if the child-sized dummy was thrown onto the floor during a simulated side-impact crash or the booster broke into pieces.

Evenflo’s general counsel could not be reached for comment but has said in the past that the company has been a pioneer in side-impact testing and that its seats are safe, effective and affordable. Evenflo, a subsidiary of China-based Goodbaby International Holdings Ltd., has sold more than 18 million Big Kid boosters.

In a pointed letter to NHTSA on Wednesday, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, and Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat, told NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens that the subcommittee “is aware that manufacturers continue to take advantage of this key regulatory gap and market unsafe booster seats.”


Reverse: Tony Renna Born

RIP Tony Renna.


Neutral: How Are You?

I got a little too hyped up about Thanksgiving and over-bought on the weekend grocery run. Will I be eating cranberry sauce every day for the next two weeks and pretending to love it? You bet I will.