Tesla Is Still the Electric Car Maker to Beat, Says VW Boss

Car makers must adapt quickly if they want to keep up with Tesla, warns VW boss Herbert Diess.

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A photo of the front of an electric VW ID 4 car.
Photo: VW

The CEO of automotive giant Volkswagen warns that Tesla is moving “twice as fast” as the rest of the industry, chip shortages continue to hit car factories around the world and the Indy 500 tries to go green. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

1st Gear — Volkswagen vs Tesla

There are people out there that think of Tesla as the pinnacle of the electric car, despite numerous build issues and safety concerns. But, quality control problems aside, VW boss Herbert Diess also sees something in the American upstart that his firm should try and emulate.

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According to Bloomberg, the Volkswagen CEO said that Elon Musk’s car firm was “moving very fast,” adding that it was a “very focused” company able to move “twice as fast as the rest of the industry.” And, not wanting to be left in Tesla’s wake, Diess wants VW to catch up.

Despite the challenges of producing luxury cars for brands like Audi alongside more competitively priced models from VW and commercial trucks and vans, Diess wants the company to become more agile and efficient. So far, this has seen it open a new $2.1 billion electric vehicle plant near its German headquarters, and begin work to establish six battery factories in Europe. All of which, Diess hopes, will boost the company’s competitiveness.

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2nd Gear — Factory Shutdowns

It’s been a minute since we heard about the chip shortage, but after electric windows became an unlikely casualty of the supply chain, Stellantis has announced it isn’t out of the woods just yet.

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According to Reuters, the Jeep and Fiat automaker is preparing to close one of its factories in Italy for six days due to the shortage of chips required to build its cars. According to Marco Lomio, local head of UILM metalworkers union, the firm will close its Melfi plant in southern Italy between June 6 to 11 due to a chip shortage.

“UILM’s Lomio said the new stoppage, which affects almost all of Melfi’s more than 7,000 workers, adds to a holiday period already scheduled for most of Stellantis’ operations in the country starting on Thursday with Italy’s Republic Day, Lomio said.”

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The plant will stop operations on Thursday and will reopen on Monday June 13.

3rd Gear — Chinese Workers Kept Isolated

Carmakers with factories in Shanghai have begun warning workers at the sites that they may be expected to continue isolating with other employees until at least June 10th, according to Bloomberg.

“Tesla and Volkswagen plan to keep workers at their Shanghai factories isolated in so-called closed loop management systems until June 10, according to people familiar with the matter, even as authorities allow most residents to move freely around the city amid falling Covid-19 cases.”

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Covid-19 cases are beginning to ease in Shanghai, where some of its strict virus control measures are also being relaxed to try and “stimulate the country’s faltering economy.” Despite this, Tesla has informed more than 10,000 workers living in its “factory bubble” that they should be prepared to stay in the system until June 10.

“VW’s Shanghai factory, operated with local partner SAIC Motor Corp., also told employees that it would keep its closed-loop system in place until June 10, according to an internal notice seen by Bloomberg News.”

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4th Gear — CDC Appeals Mask Mandate Ban

Masks were required on planes, then masks weren’t required on planes, and now they might be required on planes once again. Do you follow?

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For US travelers, the mandate to wear a mask on public transport was lifted in April after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle from Florida struck down the policy, stating that it exceeded the Centers For Disease Control’s “statutory authority.” But now, according to CNN, the agency has filed a brief asking for this decision to be reversed.

“‘It is difficult to imagine a more direct way to control the spread of communicable disease than a measure that traps infectious particles to prevent their spread,’ the agency said in the brief, filed by the Justice Department as part of the appeal of the case to the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The Justice Department argued that the district court’s logic would mean the CDC would not have the authority to take on many other kinds of measures it has implemented to limit the spread of communicable disease, noting that the law in question has been used ‘to prohibit the capture, distribution, or release of certain animals to prevent the spread of monkeypox.’”

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Despite the new challenge from lawmakers, the mask mandate remains not in effect for travelers in the U.S.


5th Gear — Indy 500 is Going Green

The Indy 500 held its 106th running over Memorial Day Weekend, and what a race it was with Marcus Ericsson claiming his victory milk and a spot in the history books.

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But, did you know this celebration of all things speed is also trying to clean up its environmental credentials? This piece from AP News goes into great detail about the steps race organizers are taking to improve sustainability at the 500, which includes a goal to have carbon-neutral races by 2050.

Steps undertaken include a switch to more sustainable fuels, the running of renewable tires on each car and the use of electric vehicles to haul equipment over the race weekend. This year, the race also canned a planned balloon release because of fears over its impact on the environment. Keep up the good work, Indy!

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Reverse: Thunderbirds are Done

On this day in 2005...

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Neutral: On that note

I’m still not sure I’ve forgiven the makers of 2004's live action Thunderbirds movie for replacing Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce with whatever that monstrosity was.

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