If you missed my previous Hot Topics email, you can read it here.
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Hot Topics of 4/19/2021 - 4/23/2021
- G.M. and LG announce another $2.3 billion EV battery plant
- GM to build $2.3B battery plant for electric vehicles in Tennessee, creating 1,300 jobs
- Union, automakers headed for fight over battery plant wages
- Biden kicks off electric vehicle push with South Carolina plant 'tour'
- South Korean battery makers reach last-minute settlement
Clearly, to meet the climate goals stated by corporations and the Biden administration, we need to have more batteries produced to meet vehicle production plans. And as supply chain woes continue and have the potential to expand to other components globally, it is clear that the US needs to produce more batteries. Additionally, we should consider the circular economy and design these plants holistically by including a recycling facility.
Beyond this, it was good to see SK and LG reach a settlement. Most likely, SK will change its design as quickly as possible to avoid the royalty payment. It will be interesting to watch as batteries become commodities how much competition amongst the battery companies will remain. The customer won’t care what the battery “brand” of their product is, so once we hit the right $/KW-hour, will it even matter?
Tesla Crashes and Vehicle Safety
- Two people killed in fiery Tesla crash with no one driving
- Texas police to demand Tesla crash data as Musk denies Autopilot use
- Elon Musk's driverless dreams hit as Tesla Autopilot accidents pile up
- Scrutiny of Tesla crash a sign that regulation may be coming
- Tesla Vehicle Safety Report Q1 2021: Accidents On Autopilot Worsening
- Honda, Verizon Team Up To Use 5G To Make Cars Aware Of Safety Risks
- Auto industry group seeks update to federal safety tests
The Tesla crash this week has prompted a lot of discussion about the following topics:
- Do customers understand the actual capabilities of their “pilot” systems, and is it explained well enough to them?
- Are the automakers using the proper nomenclature for these systems to not make the customers believe their vehicle can do something that it really can’t?
- After using these systems regardless of their name, do customers relax too much and trust too much?
- Do the automakers have the proper protocols in place to be certain the customer is alert, engaged, and ready to take over immediately?
- Do the automakers have the proper backup systems and redundancies should the customer be disengaged, or should there be a malfunction of the feature?
- Should more regulations/policies/standards/guidelines be put in place for these systems – starting with ADAS and then through to HAV’s?
- How do we ensure the agencies that make these regulations, etc., move fast enough?These organizations take years to generate policies, but technology is moving far faster – this isn’t acceptable.
I don’t have the answers, but I believe we all must work together to solve these puzzle pieces. The customer needs to understand their system lest we obtain unwanted results with dire consequences.
Microchip Shortage Updates
- Chip issue nets bipartisan support
- Should I Worry About New Car Shortages?
- SEMI and Center for Automotive Research Announce Collaboration to Harmonize Semiconductor and Automotive Supply Chains
- Chip shortage to plague auto industry for next year: AutoNation CEO
- Biden meets today with executives on chip shortage as U.S. auto industry feels the pain
- Ford details new production cuts due to global chip shortage
- Subaru suspends U.S. output amid chip shortage
The chip shortage is not going to go away quickly. Disruptions are being reported daily. The chip shortage, along with the petrochemical and rubber shortages, indicates that we need to reconsider how we manage and study risk. As we know, the Chinese have been buying up rubber for a year – what did their analysis of the industry show? What metrics were they watching to move swiftly?
It’s obvious we shouldn’t return to keeping large volumes of inventory, but there may be certain components and/or raw materials we should have readily available. The story becomes quite complex when we think about lean manufacturing with risk assessment. SWOT analysis may hold the key here, but with these shortages and lessons learned, the industry should be rethinking how risk assessment is conducted and what parameters to study.
COVID-19 Production and Return-to-Work Impact
- Michigan’s worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 outbreak is starting to affect automotive production
- Latest COVID-19 surge hitting Ram truck production at Stellantis
- Ford Pushes Return To Work Plans For Salaried Employees To This Fall
- GM’s new remote work plan for employees is ambiguous, yet surprisingly simple: ‘Work appropriately’
Michigan has been surging, but thankfully, it appears this week our numbers began to go down. 50% of the US population now has at least one dose of the vaccine, and this bodes well for herd immunity, but we have a gap to fill. Even with the vaccine readily available, we have a significant number of folks who are choosing not to vaccinate. In the US., we all must respect the personal choice and decision of others, knowing it may cause the pandemic to last longer. In the meantime, companies are responding appropriately and keeping non-essential workers out of the workplace. I don’t expect this will change until late summer or fall. And even after that, hybrid conditions will rule.
Earth Day 2021
- Electric Vehicles Could Be The Norm By Earth Day No. 75
- Happy Earth Day: Electrify America offers free EV charging today
- Earth Day: Lamborghini receives the Green Star award
- Earth Day: Test an Electric or Hybrid Vehicle at I-5 Cars, Get a Tree Planted
- Porsche – World Earth Day: action day for climate protection
- Hyundai Celebrates Earth Day with Hydrogen Campaign Film
- Honoring Earth Day and Helping Customers Achieve Their EV Innovation Goals
This Earth Day was one of the best Earth Days in the US for several years. We have rejoined the Paris accords, and the industry is moving forward as never seen before to produce zero-emission vehicles. We have seen several automakers come forward with clear dates about their net-zero carbon footprint plans. Not only automotive but the energy sector, agriculture sector, and more are jumping forward to do a better job for the environment and the future of our earth.
I would like us all to consider what we can do better. If you don’t recycle, start. If you don’t compost, learn more about it. If you eat meat, go meatless one day/week. Take a look at the packaging you buy and see if there is a more sustainable product on the market - I keep hearing about bar shampoo/conditioner but am not yet convinced. Start small and see how good it makes you feel. After living in Germany and Japan, recycling is part of my family’s DNA, and I’m proud to say that my recycling bin is about 4 – 5 times more full than my regular garbage every week. But I’m sure I can do more as we all can.
President and CEO
Center for Automotive Research
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