Good morning! It’s Monday, October 23, 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.
1st Gear: Calculating The Cost Of A Used EV
It’s easy figuring out how much you can sell your gas-powered car for, you just look at the mileage and check if it’s been in any major crashes. While stuff like that hits the value of an electric vehicle, its longevity, and therefore its value, is also affected by its battery life and it turns out that’s much harder to put a price on.
Now, a race is on to find an accurate way to measure the life of the battery in a used EV, according to a new report from Reuters. As the market for used EVs continues to grow, Reuters reports that a wave of startups are coming up with new tests that can calculate how much battery life a vehicle has left. This would then let potential buyers know if they’re in for a bargain or a world of pain. Reuters reports:
Until recently, there was no way to measure battery health, hampering used EV sales. But that is changing as companies rush to scale up EV battery tests – some of which take just minutes.
One of them is Altelium, a UK startup that has a developed an EV battery state-of-health test and certificate launching this year in more than 7,000 U.S. car dealers and over 5,000 UK dealers through dealer service providers including Assurant and GardX.
“If the second-hand car market doesn’t work properly, the new car market doesn’t work properly and the electric transition won’t happen,” said Alex Johns, business development manager at Altelium.
The reason tests like this are so essential is because the way you drive and charge an electric car impacts its battery health massively. Things like overcharging, running completely flat or using solely fast-charging stations can all hit your battery health, meaning that when the time comes to sell your EV, you may be handing off something with 90 percent battery remaining, or something with closer to 60 percent.
As the battery accounts for roughly 40 percent of an EV’s cost, its condition should have a massive influence on the price you pay.
2nd Gear: UAW Makes Progress With GM and Stellantis
The United Auto Workers strike against America’s Big Three has just rolled into its sixth week, but both parties finally might be taking some baby steps towards a resolution. In his latest update to union members, UAW president Shawn Fain decided against further expansion of strike action and said that progress was being made with General Motors and Stellantis… but not Ford.
In an update on Friday, Fain accused Ford of “pretending” that it didn’t have the money to offer union workers a better deal, according to the Detroit Free Press. After gradually expanding its walkout, the UAW put expansion on hold on Friday, but Fain said that members should “stay ready to stand up” as bargaining continued. The Free Press reports:
Fain insisted the car companies have “money left to spend” as proven by richer offers made this week by GM and Stellantis to catch up to Ford’s current offer, which had been the best on the table. But Fain took an especially hard line against Ford in his presentation saying “billionaire Bill Ford” talked down to members this week, implying he would have to close the Rouge Assembly facility, where it builds its F-150 pickups, if squeezed too tight on money, while announcing this week a $600 million dividend to shareholders.
There’s good news to take from Fain’s remarks, as it sounds like the light could finally be visible at the end of the tunnel. In his address to members, he called for unity and solidarity as “right before a deal is when there’s the most aggressive push.”
Fain’s comments came just days after GM said that “substantial movement” had been made between the automaker at the union. Stellantis has also called negotiations “productive” in recent days.
3rd Gear: Toyota Is Back In Business
After insufficient disc space shuttered its factories and an explosion at a supplier led to backlogs, Toyota may finally be getting back in business now. Production appears to have resumed at the Supra-maker’s plants in Japan, according to a report from Automotive News.
An explosion at a plant that makes suspension springs for Toyota sparked chaos in its supply chain last week, but now Automotive News reports that the automaker hopes to have all its production up and running once again by October 26. The site reports:
Beginning Tuesday morning, three production lines across two plants will resume operations, followed by four lines across three plants in the evening. The last remaining production line will go back online Thursday morning, Toyota said.
The explosion at the Chuo Spring factory last week initially forced Toyota to shut two of its production plants. In total, the stoppage bright five production lines to a halt, impacting the assembly of cars like the Toyota Coaster minibus.
The stoppage was the second production halt in just three months for Toyota. Back in August, all 14 of Toyota’s domestic assembly plants stopped work because of a system malfunction.
4th Gear: Volvo Calls For Fossil Fuel Ban
More than 130 companies with a combined income of more than $1 trillion have called on political leaders to set a timeline for the phase out of fossil fuels. Ahead of this year’s Cop28 climate summit, companies including Nestle and Volvo have written to U.N leaders calling for rich countries to dramatically reduce their fossil fuel use over the next 12 years.
Richer countries should pledge to cut their fossil fuel usage by 2035, the letter says, so that they can then invest in improving infrastructure in poorer nations so that they too can kick fuels like coal, diesel and gas by 2040. The letter, which was shared in a report from Reuters has been signed by 131 international companies, including Volvo, Nestle, Heineken and IKEA. Reuters reports:
“Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change,” the companies wrote in the letter, which was coordinated by the non-profit We Mean Business Coalition, which is pushing for greater climate action globally.
“To decarbonise the global energy system, we need to ramp up clean energy as fast as we phase out the use and production of fossil fuels,” they wrote.
During the Cop28 conference in Dubai next month, scientists are set to warn that we aren’t doing enough to prevent the worst of the climate catastrophe that’s coming our way. As such, they are likely to reinforce calls to cut global fossil fuel usage, which Reuters says could be the “thorniest” issue on the agenda.