Toyota mulls price hikes in the US and Europe due to rising production costs, Tesla employees are privy to the Twitter acquisition of Elon Musk, and Abarth thought driving was fun, small cars were happy – who would have thought! All this and more in The morning shift for Tuesday, November 1st, 2022.
1st gear: Toyota eyeing price hikes as production costs boom
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everything is getting more and more expensive at the moment. While inflation threatens to wreak havoc In our grocery store, it looks like Toyota is about to jump on the price hike bandwagon soon too.
According to Automotive News, the Japanese automaker is considering raising prices here in the US and Europe as it struggles to keep up with spiraling construction costs. News follows that the company posted a loss here in North America last quarter. Automotive News reports:
Executives warned of the upcoming adjustments, saying they were necessary to offset rising input costs that pushed the Japanese juggernaut’s North American business into a regional operating loss last quarter. The big question is how much of a hike customers are willing to put up with.
“‘We’re really racking our brains trying to find a reasonable price level,’ Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said at Toyota’s quarterly earnings announcement on November 1st. “We have started to incorporate these higher prices into the vehicle as much as possible.”
“Price increases are also being considered in Europe, which also led to a regional quarterly loss. Toyota struggled to absorb a global cost spike of over $2 billion in the July-September period.”
Automotive News adds that Toyota has already raised “Prices in line with rising material costs and inflation.” But the new increases could be “more aggressive” to keep the company profitable.
2nd gear: Tesla employees implicated in Musk’s Twitter takeover
It finally happened after months of “Will he, won’t he” Tesla boss Elon Musk finally took over the reins on Twitter last week with a dramatic spate of layoffs and rumors of a reorganization in the way the social media platform verifies users. Now Musk is turning his full-time job into his hobby, pulling Tesla employees into the fray.
According to CNBCMusk pulled more than 50 employees from Tesla’s Autopilot team and brought them on board on Twitter. CNBC reports:
According to internal records viewed by CNBC, employees from Musk’s other companies are now authorized to work at Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from Boring Company (which builds underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (the one brain-computer interface).”
The employees left the ultimate goal of self-driving cars and the new mission of slightly fewer bot accounts at Twitter includes Director of Software Development Ashok Elluswamy, Director of Autopilot and TeslaBot Engineering Milan Kovac, and Senior Director of Software Engineering Maha Virduhagiri. CNBC adds:
“Several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla employees, who are now on Twitter, have been involved in code review on the social network, although their skills are not directly related to working on Autopilot and other Tesla software and hardware intersect with the languages and systems used to build and maintain the social network.”
3rd gear: EV batteries have many hurdles to overcome
It might feel like electric vehicles are the hottest thing since sliced bread, eh Automakers continue to introduce newer, shinier models with even more range. But according to a new report from Reuters, mass production of electric cars is facing a barrage of “supply chain and geopolitical headwinds”.
Reuters cites a report by S&P Global Mobility, which warned of a “slow” EV roll-out as “a fragile supply chain impacted by geopolitical tensions could hamper planned expansion of electric vehicle (EV) battery production.” Reuters reported:
The automotive industry information provider said the sales efforts of battery electric and hybrid vehicle OEMs will face strong headwinds as they scramble for raw materials, with annual market demand for lithium-ion batteries set at about 3.4 terawatt-hours (TWh) through 2030 is .
“S&P Global Mobility also said rising prices of critical battery metals are threatening the profit margins of suppliers and automakers as problems in the production of these metals are driving up component and vehicle prices.”
Reuters reports that the steps between excavation and assembly of EV batteries present what sounds like many steps is particularly challenging. It added that meeting current EV volume targets “will require a steep growth trajectory for an emerging industry.”
4th Gear: Workers at the GM battery plant want to join the UAW
Workers at General Motors’ Ohio battery plant, which opened in partnership with LG in August, face a struggle as they try to organize. More than 900 workers at the plant have reportedly signed cards authorizing the United Auto Workers union to represent them, but the move has not yet been recognized by either GM or LG.
Now, Automotive News reports that the UAW has petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to allow it to represent workers at the Ultium plant in Ohio. Automotive News reports:
The UAW said it petitioned the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of about 900 workers at Ultium Cells after a majority of the workers signed cards authorizing the union to represent them.
“By refusing to recognize its majority will, Ultium – a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution – has chosen to ignore democracy and delay the recognition process,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement.
According to ReutersAn Ultium plant representative said it “respects the freedom of workers to choose union representation and the efforts of the UAW to organize battery cell manufacturing workers at our Ohio manufacturing facility.”
Bloomberg adds that “organizing the Ultium plant would be the union’s first step into EV battery manufacturing.” Therefore, the UAW strives to ensure “good wages and benefits for the workers” at the Ohio plant.
5th gear: Abarth proves that fun driving makes you happy
If you’ve always wanted to prove that driving beautiful cars on fun roads can make you happy, then I’ve got good news for you. Fiat Performance Wing Abarth has conducted tests on a number of its fun little cars and studied the emotional responses of drivers. It turned out that happiness was the “strongest” emotion for drivers and passengers.
According to Yahoo Newsthe tests were carried out in Great Britain by Abarth and researchers at Loughborough (pronounced luff-bruh) University. The participants spun around a circuit in various Abarth cars, while the researchers used heart rate sensors and facial recognition to monitor their reactions. Reports from Yahoo News:
“In partnership with Loughborough University, the performance car brand ran the experiment on its F595, 595 Essesse and 595 Competizione models. Competitors were subjected to a series of driving challenges including hot laps and precision driving tasks at Mallory Park, Leicestershire.
“The results showed that the ‘strongest’ emotion experienced during the test was happiness, for both driver and passenger.”
Interestingly, it wasn’t just fun and games for the study participants. As they shotgunned alongside a professional driver who was pushing the car to its limits, they apparently experienced “brief bursts of fear and shock” as well as the happiness mentioned above.
Back: 65 years Mac’
Neutral: What Car makes YAre you happy?
If driving a cute little Abarth around a racetrack is enough to keep British drivers happy, what would it take to beef up an American gearbox? Is there a car that always brings a smile to your face when you see it or drive it?