The Ford Mach E Rollout Is Not Going As Planned

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The 2021 Ford Mach E is taking so long to get to customers that Ford is kicking payments back to some early adopters and free charging to others. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 4, 2021.

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1st Gear: Ford Is Taking Its Sweet, Sweet Time With The Mach E

I’m sure we will all look back on this as a stepping stone when the electric F-150 comes out, but the Mach E rollout has been a slow one. How slow? Ford is compensating its earliest buyers for their delay, as Automotive News reports:

The automaker sent a letter Tuesday to some 4,500 Mach-E buyers informing them of the delay as their electric crossovers undergo additional quality checks. Ford said the buyers would receive an extra 250 kilowatt-hours of free charging for the trouble.That number includes 1,500 buyers who have already received their vehicle.

Additionally, Ford said it would cover the first month’s payment of up to $1,000 for 150 buyers who have experienced more than one delay.

[...]

It’s not the first delay for the new vehicle; Ford in January said “several hundred” crossovers were undergoing additional quality checks that would delay delivery by up to eight weeks. A spokeswoman said the company was able to deliver those vehicles sooner but that it’s possible some of those who learned of their delay in January also received this week’s letter.

The last customers you want to piss off are the first ones, though I’m sure Ford is working with a very understanding crowd. Electric cars seem to attract “early adopter” types who are willing to make sacrifices for what feels like living in the future before everyone else.

2nd Gear: Somebody Forgot About Georgia

The LG/SK battery fight that pits GM’s battery supplier against Ford and VW’s ended with a whimper last month when the Feds ruled in favor of LG with a few years of delay for SK’s 10-year ban in the United States. Nobody was all that happy with the ruling, and people are only getting more mad as the days wear on.

A new wrinkle: It appears everyone forgot that SK is in the midst of building a battery factory in Georgia, and the Biden Administration certainly doesn’t want to hamper new green jobs, does it? Reuters lays it all out:

The U.S. Transportation Department will analyze the impact of an electric vehicle battery trade ruling against SK Innovation Co. on President Joe Biden’s green transportation goals, the nominee for the department’s No. 2 position said.

[...]

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said the ruling “seriously threatens” the viability of SK Innovation’s $2.6 billion Georgia plant with 2,600 planned workers, currently under construction.

The senator called the ruling “a severe punch in the gut” for Georgia workers and Biden’s push for EVs.

Biden has 60 days to reject or allow the ruling to stand.

It’s never a bad thing to help the environment, is it Biden?

3rd Gear: FedEx Is Thirsty

Everyone got momentarily happy and then bummed that the new mail truck will be an electric vehicle, but actually almost all of them won’t be electric at all but instead spec’d with internal combustion engines. What a high-visibility gaff!

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Eager to capitalize on the confusing press, FedEx claims that it will go all-EV, as Automotive News reports:

FedEx Corp. is planning to make its entire fleet of delivery vans fully electric by 2040, the company said Wednesday.

The move is part of an effort to become carbon neutral that same year, with the company planning to plow $2 billion into the global effort.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company will take a phased approach to electrifying its fleet. By 2025, 50 percent of its purchases of new delivery vehicles will be electric, rising to 100 percent of all purchases by 2030.

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I can’t be mad at FedEx going electric, but the somewhat long-lead timetable for this rollout makes this look more of a publicity thing than a climate commitment thing.

4th Gear: I Guess Nobody Faces Consequences Anymore

Trump’s Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao got tied up in a corruption scandal so mundane I’m not even sure I have the ability to explain it. (Thankfully, my old colleagues at Splinter did a good job.) Pinning Chao down didn’t happen during the Trump Administration itself, but a new Department of Justice investigation held a bit more hope. Oh? What’s this? It won’t do jack shit? Forget it then, as Reuters reports:

The U.S. Justice Department declined to investigate or prosecute then-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao after the inspector general’s office referred allegations of potential misuse of office for review, a report made public on Wednesday said.

[...]

The report focused largely on Chao’s actions related to her family’s shipping business, the Foremost Group, which was founded by her father and whose current chief executive is her sister.

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The report found no basis to open formal investigations into allegations she steered grant funds to Kentucky, the state represented by her husband Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. An analysis by the inspector general found that Kentucky “did not receive a disproportionate amount of DOT grant funds as a whole.”

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A particular focus of the report involved Chao’s personal credit card, which makes this all seem like small potatoes. I guess we don’t care about corruption or government accountability at all!

5th Gear: Let’s Check In On Vroom

I sort of thought that there would be nothing but ballooning profits in the world of selling cars online, but Vroom had a poor fourth quarter even with record online sales, as Automotive News reports:

Vroom late Wednesday reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $60.7 million, compared with a net loss of $42.7 million in the year-earlier period. E-commerce revenue surged 43 percent to $284.95 million, as online units sold jumped 74 percent to 11,022. Total unit sales, including wholesale and other units, jumped 41 percent to 19,797. Total revenue increased 14 percent to $405.8 million.

But Vroom’s total gross profit per unit fell in the quarter, dropping $145 to $1,016. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 45 percent to $78.1 million.

[...]

For all of 2020, Vroom posted a net loss of $202.8 million compared with a net loss of nearly $143 million in 2019. E-commerce revenue increased 56 percent to $915.5 million, as e-commerce unit sales soared 82 percent to 34,488.

Total revenue increased 14 percent to nearly $1.36 billion, as total unit sales rose 21 percent to 62,981. Vroom’s total gross profit in 2020 shot up 24 percent to $71.5 million. E-commerce gross profit ballooned 89 percent to $60.9 million.

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Vroom shares fell on the back of this news. I would have assumed that running a business involved in an industry so clearly on the rise would be a no-brainer, but maybe it’s harder than it looks.

Reverse: African-American NASCAR Legend Wendell Scott Starts

Scott made his debut at Spartanburg on March 4, 1961, beginning a career that I could never even imagine. He was the first Black driver to run in NASCAR full time, and the first Black driver to score a win.

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Neutral: How Are You?

I can’t get out of my head that I saw a Triumph Mayflower parked in a Brooklyn driveway some years ago but failed to make any note of where exactly it is. Will I ever find it again?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

DISCUSSION

3rd Gear: I don’t think you realize how big companies work.

Early 2021. Specs for new EV vehicle are finalized and sent out for bid.
Mid 2021. Bid packages from various vendors opened. None of the bids will be exactly what FedEx asked for.
Late 2021. Negotiations based on prices and modifications to pick a vendor

Early 2022. Vendor selected. Other Vendors demand chance to re-bid.
Mid 2022. Re-bids complete. Re-evaluation
Late 2022. Final PO Sent.

Early 2023. Vendor sends details of what they are going to build.
Mid 2023. Fedex reviews the details and wants changes.
Late 2023. Everyone on same page, Vendor allowed to make some vehicles.

Early 2024 First 10 vehicles made. They don’t work right. Need to fix.
Mid 2024 Vehicles working properly. Fed Ex does their own testing.
Late 2024. Vehicles accepted by FedEx. Full production started.

2025. New EV vans are showing up at the Depot. Hopefully, Fed Ex has figured out the Charging system installation before then and the plugs are compatible.