Good morning! It’s Wednesday, September 13, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.
Time is rapidly running out for the United Auto Workers union to reach a deal with America’s Big Three. Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline, the union and Stellantis, Ford, and General Motors still need to agree on things like pay, benefits, and even the length of the working week. As the deadline looms, the UAW is still gearing up for a strike.
According to a report from Automotive News, the union may choose to strike at “targeted auto plants,” if a deal can’t be reached for new contracts with the big three before the deadline at 11:59 pm tomorrow (September 14). Automotive News reports:
The UAW is considering initially targeting only some specific plants for work stoppages at the three Detroit automakers, two sources briefed on the matter said, adding the strike plan could still change.
One UAW local described the plan on Facebook as a “stand up strike.” Fain, who briefed local unions on the talks on Tuesday, is set to announce the union’s strike plan Wednesday evening.
Despite the threat of strike lingering over America’s automakers, Ford remains hopeful that talks are going in the right direction. Boss Jim Farley said his company’s latest offer was the “most generous offer in 80 years,” according to Automotive News. The site reports that Ford’s latest offer to the UAW includes pay increases, the elimination of tiered wages, inflation protection, five weeks of paid vacation, 17 paid holidays, and bigger contributions to retirement funds.
However, Farley added that Ford was “absolutely ready for a strike,” if a new deal cannot be reached by tomorrow’s deadline. Clock’s ticking!
While it wasn’t stuck around the bargaining table with the UAW, Ford has been cooking up an updated F-150 that’ll go on sale next year. Interestingly, for the new model, Ford says it’s doubling down on production of the hybrid truck to combat slowing electric vehicle sales for the company.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, Ford has seen a “growing demand” for its hybrid Powerboost F-150 trucks, which were first introduced back in 2021. For the new model year, Ford will double production and cut prices of the hybrid truck to make it more appealing to more buyers. As Bloomberg reports:
Ford is seeing growing demand for the hybrid-powered of F-150, which currently accounts for one-in-10 deliveries of its top-selling model. By cranking up production next year, Ford said Tuesday it’ll offer the hybrid for a starting price of $55,000 plus destination and delivery charges — the same price as an equivalent gas-fueled model.
“We expect sales to roughly double,” John Emmert, general manager of Ford North American truck business, said in an interview. “As we get that scale, that allows us to sell it at price parity” with a conventional F-150.
While the hybrid F-150 starts at around $55,000, the base price for the all-electric F-150 Lightning has been slashed in recent months to try and entice new buyers to go all-electric. A Pro trim Lightning will now set you back $51,990 including destination, which is a big drop compared with the more than $60,000 it sold for at launch.
Here in America, we haven’t been hit with a wave of quirky, yet affordable, electric vehicles from China. But in Europe, cars from the likes of Nio, BYD, and Lynk & Co are lighting up the EV market across the pond. Now, the European Commission is investigating the import and sale of these cars, arguing that they are benefiting from state subsidies that make them more competitive.
According to a report from Reuters, Europe’s governing body has launched an investigation into Chinese EVs being sold across the bloc and is considering imposing tariffs on their import into the continent. The investigation will cover cars manufactured by Chinese brands, as well as models built in China for companies such as Renault, BMW, and Tesla. Reuters reports:
“Global markets are now flooded with cheaper electric cars. And their price is kept artificially low by huge state subsidies,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her annual address to the bloc’s parliament, seen by many in Brussels as a pitch for her re-appointment for a second term.
The Commission will have up to 13 months to assess whether to impose tariffs above the standard 10% EU rate for cars in the its highest profile case against China since an EU probe into Chinese solar panels narrowly avoided a trade war a decade ago.
According to Reuters, Chinese models sold across Germany were, on average, 29 percent cheaper than cars built in Europe. In France, Chinese cars were 32 percent cheaper, and in the UK there was a 38 percent price drop.
The influx of cheaper Chinese models has forced Europe’s carmakers into action, with firms like Renault pledging to “slash” production costs by as much as 40 percent to remain competitive.
California is one of several U.S. states hoping to ban the sale of gas-powered cars in 2035. However, its power to make such a decision is now facing a hurdle: The U.S. government.
In order for California to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars, it needs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive its powers in the state, which would void current emission regulations that are in force. Once the EPA is out of the picture, California would be free to set whatever targets it likes for emissions across the region.
If all that sounds like a great idea, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the Republican party is attempting to block California from taking these steps, as Automotive News reports:
The White House on Tuesday said it strongly opposes a Republican bill set to be voted on this week by the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent California from receiving federal waivers to set standards limiting the sale of new gas-powered motor vehicles.
The bill faces long odds of winning approval in the Senate, where Democrats have made boosting EVs a top priority. But it might pick up some Democratic support in the House, and the future of cars could be a potent political issue in the 2024 election for Congress and the White House.
If passed, the Republican bill would strip the EPA of the power to grant California a waiver to set its own emissions targets. Instead, this would force the state to stay in line with federal regulations, which have not yet set a date for a ban on the sale of new gas-powered cars.