GM Is Selling More EVs Than Tesla In China

Illustration for article titled GM Is Selling More EVs Than Tesla In China

Photo: GM

The Morning ShiftAll your daily car news in one convenient place. Isn’t your time more important?

GM has a successful EV, GM is investing huge in a startup, some GM dealers are kind of mad, and Tesla. All that and more in The Morning Shift for September 8, 2020.


1st Gear: GM Is Finding Success With Electric Overseas

It has the best-selling electric vehicle in China!

Via Reuters:

A micro electric vehicle (EV) by General Motors’ (GM.N) local Chinese joint venture becomes the most sold EV model in China, with 15,000 cars sold in China last month, followed by Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) 11,800 Model 3 sedans, industry data showed.

The model, the Hongguang MINI EV, is a two-door micro electric vehicle launched by the joint venture between GM, SAIC Motor Corp (600104.SS) and another partner, SGMW, in July.

The starting price for the Hongguang MINI EV is 28,800 yuan ($4,200), less than 10% of the 291,800 yuan starting price for Tesla’s China-made Model 3 vehicles before they get government subsidies.


People are really into a handsome electric car that you can actually afford? Interesting. Maybe GM should give that a go here. Just a thought.

2nd Gear: Meanwhile, GM Is Investing Big In Nikola

I try really hard not to gratuitously insult General Motors on this blog but they make it extremely difficult.


GM is getting a $2 billion stake in Nikola and the right to nominate one board member in exchange for in-kind services. GM will also supply Nikola’s fuel cells globally, except Europe, for its class 7/8 truck. Nikola makes battery-electric and hydrogen-powered trucks.

“When we look at the opportunity to continue to leverage our technology — the Ultium battery platform system as well as the Hydrotec fuel cell technology — this is a wonderful validation of our technology, and then bringing our engineering and manufacturing expertise to the table,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Nikola founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton said the partnership gives Nikola access to GM’s validated parts as well as its Ultium battery technology and a multibillion dollar fuel cell program.

“Nikola immediately gets decades of supplier and manufacturing knowledge, validated and tested production-ready EV propulsion, world-class engineering and investor confidence,” Milton said in a statement. “Most importantly, General Motors has a vested interest to see Nikola succeed.”


It’s not that this massive bet is wrong, exactly—it seems smart to hedge on hydrogen fuel cell technology because no one really knows how things will go in the next 20 years—but doing it with Nikola is … questionable. I guess GM really thinks that Nikola is doing something GM can’t do on its own. Hm.

3rd Gear: Also Meanwhile, Some GM Dealers Aren’t On Board With GM On EVs

GM is swiftly trying to pivot to EVs but some American dealers in places where EVs are an extremely hard sell are skeptical.


Via Automotive News:

General Motors is asking its U.S. dealers to sign an agreement committing to costly upgrades in anticipation of its coming deluge of electric vehicles, a request that has been opposed in swaths of the country where EVs remain a tough sell.

Some retailers are concerned the investment won’t pay off if their customers continue to have little interest in EVs — and they question the need for a separate EV agreement in the first place.

Only a third of dealers in Virginia signed the contract, according to the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. GM is “shooting a shot across the bow to see how we respond and what people say and think,” said the association’s president, Don Hall.


Members of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association also were skeptical of a separate EV agreement, President Bob Glaser said.

“They do not believe that all of a sudden when the factory comes out with a new car or a new line of cars that they should have to sign a separate agreement,” he said. “If I’m a Buick dealer, I should be able to sell all Buicks.”

In North Carolina, fewer than 1 percent of new vehicles sold last year were electric. But when demand increases, “you’ll see dealers lining up right away on this,” Glaser said. “The dealers are hoping that the OEMs will move in tandem with consumer demand.”


4th Gear: Out With The Robots At Tesla

Tesla has been very excited about its new Berlin factory for weeks now, where it is again trying to revolutionize car manufacturing. Or something!


Via Reuters:

Robots are not efficient enough for Tesla’s new car factory in Germany, which plans to replace hundreds of them with giant aluminium casting machines to build simpler chassis parts, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The electric carmaker has struggled to raise production volumes through hi-tech automation and was forced to fly in a new production line from Germany to Nevada in 2018 after robots failed to coordinate seamlessly at the U.S. factory.

For the new Model Y, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has said he will replace 70 components glued and riveted into the car’s rear underbody with a single module made using an aluminium casting machine.

That’s just the start of a new automation drive, with the vehicle’s front module and other parts to come, the source said.

“Will be amazing to see it in operation! Biggest casting machine ever made. Will make rear body in a single piece, including crash rails,” Musk said on Twitter on Aug. 13. He did not say where or when the new machine would be rolled out.

Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.

The casting machines are called, perhaps inevitably, Gigapress.

5th Gear: Canadian Auto Workers’ Union Is Ready To Flex

Contract talks are underway between Unifor (the Canadian auto workers’ union) and the Big Three. Tens of thousands of workers are ready to walk off the job if they don’t get what they want. First up will be deciding which company goes first.


Via Automotive News:

“I will announce the company that I believe will give Unifor the best chance to address our bargaining agenda and our vision for the industry, including job security issues, new product allocations and economic progress for our members” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in a statement. “We will also continue to push provincial and federal governments to be active participants in support of our efforts to secure our auto industry’s future. A future made in Canada.”

Contract talks with the Detroit automakers began at a local level in Toronto on Aug. 12.

The union’s membership has voted overwhelmingly to support strike action if needed. If a deal with the targeted automaker can’t be reached by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 21, Unifor can walk off the job.


Best of luck to Unifor, which represents around 20,000 workers in Canada for GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler.

Reverse: Zeppelin

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