The Tesla Cybertruck Is Falling Behind

A handful of automakers have beaten Elon Musk's Tesla to the EV pickup punch.

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Photo: Tesla

Tesla is now well behind in the rest of the pack when it comes to the EV truck market, Stellantis is laying off workers at a Michigan stamping plant and Polestar has some pretty big sales goals for its upcoming vehicles. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

1st Gear: Tesla Is Falling Behind

Tesla’s Cybertruck is now not expected to enter production until the fourth quarter of next year, and that means it will be at best the sixth EV pickup truck to hit the market behind the Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer EV. We also cannot forget about the upcoming Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra EVs. That being said, there are some signs of life from the truck. From Automotive News:

When the Cybertruck was revealed in 2019, Musk promised production by 2021, beating rivals. In March of this year, Musk said Tesla plans to finish development of the pickup this year and start production in 2023.

Meanwhile, Ford said it delivered 201 Lightnings to dealers in May. Rivian had 1,145 R1T registrations in the first four months of the year, according to Experian, and GMC had 159 through April. Rivian and GMC don’t report monthly sales.

Ford has even ribbed Tesla fans by including a charging adapter for early Lightning buyers that allows the pickup to use its battery to charge a stranded Tesla. Also, one of the first Lightnings delivered went to a customer who canceled his Cybertruck order since the Ford EV arrived first.

For now, Tesla fans are hanging on Musk’s every word about Cybertruck development, confident that Tesla’s EV leadership will produce a superior vehicle that’s worth the wait.

On Twitter, Musk responded with the comment “Cybertruck body,” as well as a video of Idra’s NEO 9000 Giga Press being assembled in Italy. And in response to a video of the Cybertruck prototype in California, he wrote, “It will be our best product ever imo,” meaning “in my opinion.”

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Tesla being Tesla, and Musk being Musk, it’s hard to take words at face value. We still haven’t really seen any sort of Cybertruck concept that even sort of resembles something that would pass DOT standards. But hey, only time will tell. The fanboys will just have to keep watching people show off in their R1Ts.

2nd Gear: Polestar’s Lofty Crossover Goals

Polestar is confident its going to sell a whole bunch of its upcoming Polestar 3 and 4 crossovers. The Volvo EV spinoff company said it expects to have enough production capacity to make over 160,000 of the vehicles by 2025. A majority of those cars will make their way to the U.S. market, led first by the Polestar 3. That car is set to go on sale in early months of 2023. From Automotive News:

Polestar expects to sell 24,000 of the crossovers globally next year, increasing that to 67,000 in 2024 and 77,000 in 2025, according to company figures.

The midsize vehicle features design elements that include a sloping silhouette and headlight and rear light styling that are distinct from other Polestar models.

“With this car, we bring the ‘sport’ back to the SUV, staying true to our performance roots,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said this month.

The U.S.-made crossover is designed on a new all-electric platform developed by Volvo for its next-generation vehicles, with dual motors and an expected range of 372 miles, based on the European Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure. Once the technology is approved, the new platform will also offer eyes-off, hands-off autonomous-driving capability.

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3rd Gear: Stellantis Has Layoffs Coming

Stellantis NV is making an undisclosed number of layoffs to its Sterling Heights, Michigan stamping plant. It employs about 2,000 hourly workers who make various parts for Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles. A spokesperson for the company said the indefinite layoffs are being made in order to run the plan in a “more sustainable manner.”

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This came after United Auto Workers Local 1264, the union which represents employees at the plant, posted on Facebook telling members layoffs would be done based on seniority. The plant produces stampings and assemblies for hoods, roofs, liftgates, side apertures, fenders and floor pans. From The Detroit News:

Unifor Local 444, the Canadian autoworkers union representing employees at Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, on Tuesday also posted on Twitter that the Chrysler Pacifica plant will idle next week because of insufficient parts.

Sterling Stamping isn’t alone in facing indefinite layoffs. The global microchip shortage and sluggish demand have resulted in indefinite shift cuts and layoffs at the Jeep Cherokee crossover plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and at Windsor Assembly. There, the company has extended the 1,800-person second shift through the end of the year, though a $2.8 billion commitment to Ontario facilities promises to return it to a three-shift operation in the coming years after retooling for an electrified platform starts next year.

The automaker in 2019 announced Sterling Stamping would receive a $160 million investment as a part of a $4.5 billion commitment to its plants in Michigan to support additional Jeep and Ram production. That was expected to create 80 jobs at the stamping plant.

It has 26 major lines of stamping presses ranging from 400 to 4,000 tons of capacity, according to Stellantis’ website. The facility has a capacity of 480,000 tons of steel and 14,000 tons of aluminum annually, water storage capacity of 900,000 gallons, steam capacity of 300,000 pounds per hour and compressed air of 25,000 cubic feet per minute. Products ship inside the U.S. and to Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.

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4th Gear: Toyota Is A Wacky Place

Akio Toyoda, the longtime President of the biggest automaker in the world, told shareholders he’s already working to foster and develop potential successors. He’s got some pretty interesting requirements for who that person will end up being.

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Anyone following in his footsteps must have “unshakable conviction on why Toyota exists” and a firm understanding of the company’s philosophy, Toyoda said, adding that his goal will be to “rejuvenate” management with the move. From Automotive News:

Toyoda has sought to reform Toyota’s corporate culture, spending more time with younger executives, and cutting back some senior positions.

The brief question-and-answer moment shines light on a topic that’s been top of mind for some Toyota investors and analysts over the past few years: Who is in line to replace the automaker’s current president who, over the past 13 years, has captained its rise to record profit and pole position as Japan’s most valuable company.

Toyoda, grandson of the founder, is the second-longest tenured head of a major automotive company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He took the reins at Toyota in 2009, shortly after Elon Musk assumed his post at Tesla.

Steps in March to create a new “executive vice president” role has fueled mild speculation on the company’s succession plans, and whether the three men selected for the position — CFO Kenta Kon, Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda and Chief Human Resources Officer Masanori Kuwata — are being groomed as candidates for the top job.

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While all this is happening, the company is being a bit of a goofus with the takeup of electrification. According to Reuters, the company is pushing back on critics who say it has been too slow to embrace electric vehicles.

At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, the world’s largest automaker by sales doubled down on its position that it would stick with technologies including fuel cell vehicles and hybrids that have for the past two decades made it a leader in cleaner cars.

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Ah yes, fuel cells: the hottest commodity in the car market.

“The goal is carbon neutrality,” Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told the meeting, responding to questions submitted by Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, which also asked Toyota to refrain from lobbying to undermine the transition to BEVs.

However, “customers need to choose,” Maeda said, in order to popularise electric cars that include plug-in hybrids. A variety of options should be available and the automaker should not narrow those down, he said.

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This right here is some galaxy brain thinking.

5th Gear: CAT You Believe Another Company Is Moving To Texas?

Caterpillar, the company that makes all sorts of heavy construction equipment among other ventures, is moving its global headquarters from suburban Chicago to Suburban Dallas.

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It’s not exactly an unprecedented move. The company already had office space in Irving, Texas, so they’re just moving more folks down there. All in all, 230 employees will be impacted by the move. However, it’ll still have more employees in Illinois than any other state. From CNN:

“We believe it’s in the best strategic interest of the company to make this move, which supports Caterpillar’s strategy for profitable growth as we help our customers build a better, more sustainable world,” said Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby in a written statement.

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Annoyingly, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is very happy about the move, but he did add the company isn’t getting any sort of incentives from the state for the relocation.

Reverse: Stay Up There!

They’re not bringing their best people, those Canadians.

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Neutral: Suh Dude?

I was just in Savannah for the first time ever. It’s a different kind of heat. Did you guys know a place could exist with absolutely no wind? Me either.