Ford says it thinks it will make billions on its Rivian investment, GM dealers are getting a bunch of slow chargers, and “responsibly sourced gas.” All that and more in The Morning Shift for January 19, 2022.
1st Gear: It’s Come To This: ‘Responsibly-Sourced Gas’
This is like the fossil fuel equivalent of trying to sell people on the idea of a humane death penalty, or any other not-really-possible efforts to rebrand something fundamentally harmful. The harder you work to make it all seem safe and helpful, the more obvious it is that it’s not. Bloomberg has a good article on the new effort:
A growing list of companies is getting behind the concept of “responsibly sourced gas,” or RSG. The pitch: Some sources of gas are dirtier than others in terms of the methane emissions associated with production. Utilities under investor pressure to get greener might pay up for the ostensibly cleaner fuel, the thinking goes, making the certification worth the time and money. The idea is rapidly gaining traction among gas evangelists, with one pipeline company estimating operators producing more than a third of U.S. supplies are racing to certify at least some of their output as RSG.
It’s also raising hackles among environmentalists who worry that gas producers are seeking to profit by giving their fuel a green sheen without the energy sector doing the hard work of actually moving to cleaner alternatives such as wind or solar. RSG critics also question the role of the third parties offering certifications and warn that rewarding operators for plugging leaks or improving water use—while undeniably positive—sidesteps the fact that gas is still a carbon-intensive fossil fuel that shouldn’t have a place in longer-term U.S. energy goals.
“We should be doing all of those things and not asking for extra credit and a gold star,” said Cara Bottorff, a senior analyst at Sierra Club in Washington. “We definitely feel that it is a lot of greenwashing.”
2nd Gear: Ford Expects $8.2 Billion From Rivian Investment
Electric cars might not exactly have made their way out of the early adopter stage, but they are still doing good work on stock valuations. Ford thinks its investment in Rivian should be getting it a good chunk of change, as Automotive News reports:
Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday said it expects to book an $8.2 billion gain from its investment in electric vehicle maker Rivian for the fourth quarter of 2021 when it reports earnings Feb. 3.
The automaker carried a roughly 12 percent stake in Rivian when it went public in November after investing more than $800 million in the company. Although the two sides late last year canceled plans to jointly develop a vehicle, CEO Jim Farley told Automotive News that Ford was pleased with the company and happy with its investment.
All of this business reminds us that you don’t really need to make successful electric cars so much as tell the world about all the successful electric cars you’re going to be making.
3rd Gear: Ford’s Flat Rock Plant Down This Week
Speaking of Ford, the plant where they make the Mustang (the gasoline-powered one) is down this week due to supply chain problems, per the Detroit News:
Ford Motor Co.’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant is taking downtime this week due to supply-chain issues related to the global semiconductor shortage, the Dearborn automaker said Tuesday.
The plant, which builds the Ford Mustang, is scheduled to resume production next week, according to a company spokesperson.
The production cut is just the latest signal that the shortage of the crucial component that powers many of the automated and electronic features in vehicles will continue to be a challenge more than a year after it started.
All I have to add is Flat Rock is where a bunch of Bubble Era Ford-Mazda stuff went down, including production of the iconic Ford Probe and Mazda MX-6. We miss you.
4th Gear: Ford Brake Light Recall
Ford is also recalling a good 200,000 cars because their brake lights are staying on, as the Associated Press reports:
Ford is recalling about 200,000 cars in the U.S. to fix a problem that can stop the brake lights from turning off.
The recall covers certain 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize cars as well as some 2015 Mustangs. All were sold or registered in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii.
As you may have gathered by the list of states where this is going down, heat and humidity play a significant role here.
5th Gear: Charging
Charging an electric car is pretty simple. When you are at home or at work, you can plug into a Level 1 or Level 2 charger and slowly take in a few miles of range an hour, enough to cover your commute. When you’re out and about on a road trip or series of errands, you want a DC Fast Charger to slam your battery full of as much range as possible in 15 or 30 minutes. These are the two kinds of trips, these are the two kinds of chargers.What you do not need is a fast charger at home, or a slow charger out in the wild.
For some reason, GM is giving us the latter, as Reuters reports:
EV charging network and equipment company Blink Charging said on Tuesday it would supply EV chargers at General Motors dealerships in the U.S. and Canada.
Blink said it would collaborate with facility services provider ABM Industries to supply its IQ 200 Level 2 chargers to dealerships across North America. The press release didn’t quantify how many units are being installed.
Level 2 charging can generally provide a vehicle with about 18-28 miles of range per hour and is widely found in places of employment and commercial establishments.
How an 18 mph charge helps anyone driving around, I do not know. What are you supposed to do in that hour, sitting on the edge of town at a GM dealer?
This would at least let GM dealers have a slightly easier time keeping their own EVs charged, but that’s all.
Reverse: Why Even Have Cars If You Don’t Have Drive-Thrus
Neutral: How Are You?
I visited my home state of California this past week, and enjoyed my stay. Los Angeles looked the same as it always has, looking down as we landed on an endless stretch of suburban lawns and backyard pools. I took the drive up to NorCal (past groves of water-hogging almond orchards) to visit some friends around my hometown, who informed me that the state has been receiving nearly record low rainfall, and is still in a state of drought.