Tesla acknowledged another potential problem with many of its cars, the first American-made Kia Sportage was built, and GM. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 3, 2022.
1st Gear: Tesla Says 817,143 Teslas May Have A Seat Belt Chime Problem
That is about a third of the number of cars Tesla has built, ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in documents that certain 2021 and 2022 Model Ss and Xs would be recalled, as well as “all” Model 3s and Model Ys.
NHTSA describes the problem thusly:
On certain MY 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles and on all MY Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, a software error may prevent the chime from activating upon vehicle start under certain circumstances. This condition is limited to circumstances where the chime was interrupted in the preceding drive cycle and the seat belt was not buckled subsequent to that interruption (e.g., the driver exited the vehicle in the preceding drive cycle while the chime was active and later returned to the vehicle, creating a new drive cycle).
This condition does not affect the audible seat belt reminder chime from activating when the vehicle exceeds 22 km/h and the driver seat belt is not detected as buckled. The condition also does not affect the reliability and accuracy of the accompanying visual seat belt reminder at any point.
NHTSA also said that Tesla is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue. The fix is an over-the-air software update.
A firmware release will correct the software error, so that the audible seat belt reminder chime will reset if it is interrupted while chiming. Firmware release 2021.43.101.1, which includes this remedy, was introduced in Model 3 and Model Y production on January 27, 2022, and in Model S and Model X production on January 28, 2022. Separately, firmware release 2022.4.5, which also includes this remedy, will deploy over-the-air (“OTA”) to delivered vehicles in early February 2022. No further action is necessary from owners whose vehicles are equipped with firmware release 2021.43.101.1 or 2022.4.5 or a later release. New vehicles will not be delivered to customers without 2021.43.101.1 or 2022.4.5 or a later release.
Tesla does not plan to include a statement in the Part 577 owner notification about pre-notice reimbursement to owners because there is no paid repair relating to the underlying condition and owners will receive the remedy free of charge with an OTA firmware release.
It was only on Tuesday when we were talking about Tesla disabling a rolling stop feature in its cars, because they were designed to break the law in some circumstances. Tesla should probably just tell its customers that its cars are in perpetual beta.
2nd Gear: Upstart Union Wins Vote At GM Plant In Mexico By A Landslide
The union, known as SINTTIA, will replace the Confederation of Mexican Workers, which has represented the workers for years but which also has been accused of depressing wages. The vote this week amounts to a massive victory for workers at the Silao plant, which makes Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. It was also a long time coming.
The union, SINTTIA, beat three rivals by a wide margin, including Mexico’s biggest labor organization that had held the contract for 25 years.
The vote by several thousand workers was required under a Mexican labor reform underpinning a trade agreement with the U.S. and Canada, and was closely watched by the U.S. government, some members of Congress and the UAW.
The federal labor center said SINTTIA won with 4,192 votes out of 5,389 valid ballots, in an election with almost 90 percent turnout.
Many workers hoped to push out the Confederation of Mexican Workers after voting last year to dissolve their contract with the group in a vote monitored by U.S. officials under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal.
CTM had held the Silao contract since the plant opened in 1995 and is aligned with the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico for decades.
It received 247 votes in this week’s election.
SINTTIA won despite, Bloomberg reports, some bullshit shenanigans ahead of the vote.
SINTTIA Secretary General Alejandra Morales said that on Sunday, two men and a woman visited her home to threaten her and the union’s committee. She and the committee were told to not show up at the voting process or else their safety would be at risk, Morales said in a phone interview. The people wouldn’t identify themselves, she said.
Morales showed up anyway, as did the union’s committee. Morales, who works in the plant’s painting area, reported it to local authorities who said they’d look into it. She did not know who was behind the threats.
“We hope the vote goes on without issues, and that whatever the workers choose is respected,” she said.
Unifor also claims that the CTM is trying to buy off workers, allegedly offering employees 500 pesos (about $24) for their vote. They get paid if they show the union a photo of their ballot, said Mohamad Alsadi, director of international department of Unifor, which represents Canadian auto workers but has a presence in Mexico to support SINTTIA.
“We are aware of at least three pictures that people took,” Alsadi said in an interview. “They were offering 500 pesos prior to the vote. They went to their homes prior to the election to offer money.”
You can read more about the situation in Silao here.
3rd Gear: America Made A Kia Sportage
A 2023 Kia Sportage rolled off an assembly line in West Point, Georgia, the first-ever American-made Kia Sportage, according to Automotive News. Previously, Sportages sold in America have been imported from South Korea, so congratulations to America, I guess.
“Joining our tremendous fleet of SUVs, the all-new Sportage is poised to take the industry by storm with its cutting-edge design, adventurous capability and desirable in-car technology,” Sean Yoon, CEO for Kia North America, said in a statement.
The Sportage is the fourth vehicle to be assembled in the Georgia factory. The others are the three-row Telluride, the midsize Sorento crossover and the K5 midsize sedan. The Sportage shares a platform with the Hyundai Tucson, which began U.S. production last year at Hyundai’s Alabama plant.
The 2023 Sportage is the car’s fifth-generation, and a somewhat dramatic redesign. It is also, Kia says, “bigger” and “bolder,” which are both bad.
4th Gear: Ford And Lincoln’s 100th Anniversary Together
Ford bought Lincoln in early February 1922 for $8 million, which is about $131 million in today’s money. Modern Lincoln does not have the cachet in the U.S. that it once did, but it still does great business in China, like Buick.
Anyway, The Detroit News did up a nice big Lincoln retrospective. Here is a snippet:
Edsel Ford became the president of Lincoln shortly after Ford purchased the company on Feb. 4, 1922. He served in that role until his death in 1943.
“Father made the most popular cars in the world; I want to make the best,” he reportedly said of his vision for the brand.
He established a design department for Ford and Lincoln, and tapped Eugene “Bob” Gregorie to lead it. Some of Gregorie’s best-known designs, according to a biography provided by Ford, included the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr — the brand’s first mid-priced vehicle — and the Lincoln Continental, which was introduced in 1939 and helped launch the personal luxury car segment in the U.S. The Continental series spanned ten generations before Lincoln ended production of the nameplate in 2020 amid a shift toward SUVs.
Also instrumental to Lincoln’s legacy was Edsel Ford’s youngest son William Clay Ford Sr., who revived the Lincoln Continental nameplate in his father’s honor. The prototype of the Mark II — which would go on to become another classic design — was revealed the day before Christmas in 1954 and William Clay Ford Sr. reportedly drove it to his parents’ house on Christmas Day to show it to his mother.
The brand hit numerous other milestones in the ensuing decades, making the first presidential limousine, launching the Lincoln Navigator SUV in 1997, introducing its first hybrid electric vehicle (the MKZ Hybrid) in 2010, and last year introducing its first locally-produced sedan for the China market, the all-new Lincoln Zephyr.
Lincoln only sells SUVs in America, including the flagship Navigator, which starts at $76,705, which is a lot of money.
5th Gear: NHTSA May Have A Senate-Confirmed Administrator Soon, Or Not
The federal safety agency has been without one for almost half-a-decade now, because during the Trump administration they didn’t place a high priority on things like “federal regulation” and “safety,” two things the Biden administration seems more serious about. Still, confirmation of the NHTSA administrator must go through the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are experts at gumming up the works.
Steven Cliff has been NHTSA’s interim boss since January and is the Biden administration’s nominee to be the permanent pick, too. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reports, his nomination cleared a Senate committee vote, meaning that it can now be voted on by the full body.
What happens next? Well, no one knows, because the U.S. Senate is a broken institution.
Before tapping Cliff, Biden faced pressure to appoint a permanent NHTSA chief from safety advocates who cited an increase in U.S. traffic deaths despite reduced driving during the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, the agency has ramped up its politically fraught investigation of Tesla Inc. and may be on a collision course with the company over its controversial Autopilot system.
The committee also advanced several other Transportation Department officials, including Ann Phillips to lead the Maritime Administration, John Putnam to be the department’s general counsel, and Victoria Wassmer to be its chief financial officer.
Biden needed to renominate many of his transportation picks, including Cliff, this year after their nominations lapsed over the Senate’s holiday recess. The transportation nominees still face hurdles to confirmation.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has been stalling the nominations of Transportation and Commerce Department nominees since November, saying he will continue until the commerce panel convenes a hearing with the departments’ secretaries on supply chain bottlenecks. A Scott spokesperson said Tuesday the senator planned to maintain that hold.
Reverse: Beechcraft Bonanza
Neutral: How Are You?
About a year into the pandemic, I thought I had reached peak laziness, frequently forgetting to wear pants, for example. I regret to report that was not peak laziness.