The Commendatore’s days would start with a shave at a barber shop, a visit to his mother and a couple of hours holding court in his office with no papers on his desk. At noon, he’d enjoy a leisurely Italian lunch – with plenty of wine, of course. Then off to the factory in Maranello to bully the underlings. At the end of the day…. well, read the book.
My goodness! Who’s got time for that now?
The World of Cars is buzzing today. We have Los Angeles Auto Show events, lots of action at GM, a new Toyota Camry and lots more. Let’s dive in!
The shape of things to come. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
GM sticks it to Tesla
General Motors has acquired a key U.S. supplier to Tesla’s giga-casting projects, Reuters colleague Nori Shirouzu reports. His summary of GM’s thinking: “If you can’t beat them, buy them.”
Normally, the acquisition of a small, specialty supplier like Tooling and Equipment International would not be big news. But TEI’s expertise in complex metal casting processes has made it a key part of the supply chain behind Tesla’s use of large castings to replace scores of stamped metal parts in vehicle bodies.
Last month, CEO Mary Barra told investors GM was slowing some future EV projects to incorporate new cost cutting ideas. There is “simplification that we can do to the vehicles that makes them easier to build,” she said.
Barra and other top GM executives started their careers in the 1980s as their then-bosses were missing the boat on the significance of the Toyota Production System. GM and other legacy automakers took years to catch on, while Toyota and other Japanese automakers used their lean production cost advantage to gobble up market share in the United States and other markets.
The end result: GM and the former Chrysler descended into bankruptcy.
The chances that Tesla has developed an equally disruptive 21st Century version of lean production are too great for legacy automakers to ignore – including Toyota.
The crisis at General Motors’ Cruise robo-taxi operation in San Francisco is intensifying, and now Detroit is stepping in.
Cruise announced late Tuesday that GM’s chief counsel and head of public policy, Craig Glidden, will become Cruise’s Chief Administrative Officer. Cruise’s legal and policy teams, communications and finance will now “report directly to Craig,” Cruise said in a statement.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt remains in place, but the staffers working on the robo-taxi operation’s most pressing challenges will be accountable to Glidden. Glidden will report to Cruise’s board, a company spokesman said.
Cruise is under investigation by California regulators for the handling of its response to an Oct. 2 accident in which a Cruise automated car dragged a pedestrian down a San Francisco street. Federal regulators are also investigating Cruise’s technology.
Cruise has less than nine months of cash left if it keeps losing money at the rate it did in the third quarter, according to GM’s financial filings. The robo-taxi company has now halted all operations on public roads.
Cruise’s board, controlled by GM, will hire an independent safety expert “to perform a full assessment of Cruise’s safety operations and culture.” The Cruise board also has expanded the scope of a previous assessment of the causes of the Oct. 2 accident to “include a comprehensive review of our safety systems and technology.”
The stepped-up response to Cruise’s crisis mirrors some of the actions Barra took early in her tenure as GM’s CEO, when the automaker faced civil and criminal investigations of its mishandling of defective ignition switches tied to 13 deaths.
Investors could learn more about the financial plans for Cruise on Nov. 30 when GM’s Chief Financial Officer is scheduled to brief a Barclay’s conference.
UAW workers on strike last month at GM’s Texas Escalade plant – REUTERS/James Breeden
The UAW goes down to the wire at GM
A lot of United Auto Workers union members at General Motors are turning thumbs down at the “record contract” negotiated by union President Shawn Fain and his team. But the contract was still narrowly winning as of Wednesday morning.
UAW workers at the Arlington, TX factory that builds Cadillac Escalades and Chevy Suburbans backed the deal in a big win for Fain.
Until Arlington’s UAW Local 276 reported results Wednesday morning, things were looking dicey for the UAW bargaining team.
At GM’s Spring Hill, Tenn. Manufacturing complex, 68% of the members of Local 1853 who cast ballots voted to reject the 4 ½ year contract – which offers 25% base wage increases, a return of cost-of-living-allowances and enhanced retirement benefits. A majority of UAW members at GM’s Tonawanda, NY engine factory also voted no.
Overall, however, the GM contract still had a 52% to 48% “yes” vote – before counting the Arlington results.
At Ford, the contract is winning by a 2-to-1 margin. Positive votes now coming in from units of UAW Local 600, the mega-local which represents Ford’s Rouge truck factory and several other operations, could seal the deal.
Stellantis, meanwhile, isn’t waiting for ratification to start cutting costs to offset higher union wages. It will offer buyouts to half its U.S. salaried employees.
Hyundai said it will give raises to its U.S. production workers that match the headline numbers the UAW negotiated in Detroit.
Toyota’s all-hybrid Camry
Toyota unveiled the ninth generation of its Camry mid-sized sedan in Los Angeles on Tuesday – and simultaneously placed a big bet that mainstream U.S. consumers are ready to buy a hybrid.
About 15% of the best-selling sedan in the U.S. market currently sell with hybrid powertrains, Toyota’s North American brand chief David Christ said. When the 2025 models hit showrooms next spring, all new Camrys will be hybrids. (You want pictures? They’re here.)
U.S. climate policy is one reason for the move. Current Camry hybrids get 62% better mileage than conventional combustion models. That means less CO2 puffing out of the tailpipes. Lower emissions also mean Toyota can use its next-generation hybrid system to beef up performance.
Here’s what to watch: Current Camry hybrids are priced $1,500 to $2,000 above comparable combustion models. Will Toyota maintain that premium as it launches the new generation Camry, or pass along cost-savings from simplifying production to sustain sales volume?
Keep in mind, Toyota’s largest factory worldwide is the Georgetown, KY factory that builds Camrys for North America. Keeping production steady at this plant matters. Did we mention the UAW wants to organize Georgetown?
Renault CEO Luca de Meo has a message for the vultures waiting for him to sell shares in the French automaker’s Ampere EV unit for cheap: “We are not crazy.” The CEO said he’ll scrap the proposed Ampere IPO if investors aren’t willing to give him the 8-to-10 billion euro valuation he wants.
Xpeng reported a wider loss for the latest quarter, and blamed production start-up costs.
Volkswagen’s “20,000 euro EV” could come in the second half of this decade, CEO Oliver Blume said. Blume’s remarks come days after Reuters reported Tesla is working on plans to build a 25,000 euro EV at its Berlin factory. No pressure.
Sponsors are not involved in the creation of newsletters or other Reuters news content.