Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: UAW President Dennis Williams Is Mad Offline
In a wide-ranging interview given by Williams on Tuesday to The Detroit Free-Press, the union boss says that he’s “angry” at Ford over their plan to make electric vehicles in Mexico, in addition to being mad at President Trump for not speaking out on the issue. Williams also thinks the Republican tax bill, which passed Congress on Wednesday and now just awaits Trump’s signature, is bad, in part because it gives corporations an “incentive to outsource.”
From the Freep:
“We’ve had 17 plants close. You visit empty plants, you see empty fields. You see devastation of neighborhoods and schools with no tax base. It disrupts police and fire and destroys family units.”
What’s frustrating, he emphasized, is that he believes Ford and other companies really care about workers, and can do better. He doesn’t understand why both autonomous and electric vehicle projects can’t be done in the U.S.
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said the company’s decision to build autonomous vehicles stateside is a good investment and part of a strategy that benefits workers. “That’s really the bottom line.”
And then there’s the tax bill:
The idea that tax savings will result in long-term investment such as manufacturing is false, Williams said. Wealthy people who benefit from changes will seek quick returns in property and stocks, he predicted.
Draining the coffers to benefit a few hurts more than just union members, he said. “We’ve got to have taxes to build roads, sewer, water and the electrical grid.”
At the same time, he noted the ratio of CEO-to-average worker pay has jumped from 40% a generation ago to 300% today. In fact, CEOs earned 335 times the pay of the average worker in the U.S., nearly triple their counterparts in the United Kingdom in 2015, according to the Harvard Business Review.
The $1.5 trillion tax bill might not be signed by Trump until January, though at this point it is inevitable.
2nd Gear: UPS Is The Latest Company To Make A Very Low-Stakes Bet On Tesla
UPS has pre-ordered 125 of the new Tesla semis, which would represent a tiny fraction of their fleet. UPS owns about 108,000 vehicles in total, according to the company, and the Tesla semis won’t materialize, let alone get delivered, for a few years yet. So UPS is doing what everyone else is doing: keeping their eye on things, should Tesla actually deliver.
The Tesla trucks will cost around $200,000 each for a total order of about $25 million. UPS expects the semi-trucks, the big rigs that haul freight along America’s highways, will have a lower total cost of ownership than conventional vehicles, which run at about $120,000.
Tesla has received pre-orders from such major companies as Walmart (WMT.N), fleet operator J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc (JBHT.O) and food service distributor Sysco Corp (SYY.N)
“As with any introductory technology for our fleet, we want to make sure it’s in a position to succeed,” Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director for automotive maintenance and engineering for international operations, told Reuters.
Phillippi said the 125 trucks will allow UPS to conduct a proper test of their abilities. He said the company was still determining their routes, but the semis will “primarily be in the United States.” Tesla will provide consultation and support on charging infrastructure.
The order is the biggest yet for the Tesla semi, though “biggest” in this context is relative.
3rd Gear: The UAW Has Fired An Untold Number Of Officials Over Millions In Misused Funds
The case has led to four federal indictments, two of those being union officials. Around $4.5 million in money that was supposed to go for a training center is said to have (somehow) found its way into the pockets of UAW and Fiat Chrysler officials. UAW chief Dennis Williams said Wednesday that “several” officials had been terminated over the case, but did not specify exactly how many.
From Automotive News:
“We will never tolerate this type of misconduct,” Williams said during a briefing with journalists about the state of the union at the UAW’s Solidarity House headquarters. “Based on the information we have, we believe several former UAW officials acted in a clear violation of UAW policy. This is not acceptable and the actions of a few individuals should not be held against the entire union and its membership.”
Williams said federal officials have not interviewed him regarding their probe.
The union, he said, continues to cooperate with federal officials handling the investigation. Federal officials say $4.5 million in training center funds was siphoned to union and company officials through the use of credit cards, charities and other means.
Williams declined to comment further because of the ongoing federal probe and an internal UAW investigation.
A colorful indictment from July alleges that the money paid for a lot of things, like a $315,000 Ferarri 458 Spider, a bunch of jewelry, and two ink pens both worth $37,500.
4th Gear: Motor Executive Becomes Different Motor Executive
Nissan North America has a new chairman! He’s from Renault, where he was an executive. His name is Denis Le Vot, and he replaces Jose Munoz, though Le Vot will report to Munoz under a new leadership structure, meaning that things may not change all that much. Munoz was credited with achieving an ambitious goal of capturing 10 percent combined market share for Nissan and Infiniti, and Le Vot will be expected to remain similarly ambitious.
From Automotive News:
Munoz has run North America as a strong hands-on chairman since Jan. 2014, overseeing every aspect of Nissan’s business here from sales and marketing to manufacturing planning to meeting regularly with Nissan and Infiniti dealers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Munoz also took a hands-on role in identifying Le Vot as his replacement here over the past year of searching.
Munoz’s global role as the automaker’s global performance chief, which he was promoted to in late 2016, requires him to travel the world overseeing the results of every region, brand and product initiative.
The Nissan executive board in Yokohama, Japan, approved the appointment in a meeting on Tuesday.
5th Gear: GM’s Plant In Oshawa, Ontario, Will Keep Assembling 2018 Silverados, For Now
The production will be based on demand. Whether the plant will eventually produce the 2019 Silverado is still a bit up in the air, according to union officials. GM has been spending billions on upgrades for Oshawa and other plants ahead of the launch of the new Sierra and Silverado, the latter of which was unveiled last weekend.
From Automotive News:
“Oshawa will be building current model (K2) pickups that helps us meet customer demand while we are in transition to next-generation (T1) pickups,” GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright wrote in an email to Automotive News Canada. “This strategy will help us meet customer demand as we transition our production and introduce our exciting new models into the market starting later in 2018.
Reverse: ‘The Graduate’ Makes The Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider A Star
The graduation present for Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) was, you might remember, the Duetto.
Alfa Romeo had been making racecars for decades—even Enzo Ferrari drove an Alfa before he began building his own racers—but had never sold very many in the United States. (American customers preferred larger cars, and when they did buy smaller sports cars they tended to buy them from British manufacturers like MG and Triumph.) But the 1967 Duetto Spider, a two-seat convertible roadster, was a real beauty: It had a sharp nose and a rounded, tapered rear end, glass-covered headlights, and what designers called a “classic scallop” running down the side. It handled well, could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 10 seconds, and got 23 miles per gallon of gas.
Though the Duetto Spider was a great car and a pop-culture icon, Americans still weren’t interested in buying it. The model—with new names like the Spider Veloce, the Quadrifoglio and even the Graduate—stayed on the market until 1994, without much sales success.
Neutral: What Do You Think Of The New Tax Bill?
The New York Times has a helpful breakdown. Spoiler alert: It is very, very good for corporations.