Automotive

Tesla Is Trying To Stay A Step Ahead With The Model S Plaid


Illustration for article titled Tesla Is Trying To Stay A Step Ahead With The Model S Plaid

Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model S Plaid will debut at an event Thursday night, Volkswagen thinks the global chip shortage might soon ease, and Jim Farley. All that and more in The Morning Shift for June 10, 2021.

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1st Gear: Tesla And The Model S Plaid

I went to a Volvo event in Manhattan Tuesday night, and at some point the conversation drifted to the theory that Tesla buyers are cannibalizing Tesla sales, i.e. the Model Y is selling well because early adopters of the Model 3 are selling their cars and trading up, much like one might do when the new iPhone drops.

I have heard this theory before, but instead of Model 3 owners buying Model Ys it is potential Model S owners buying Model 3s. I’m not sure how much there is to it — the point of Tesla is to sell as many cars as possible, no matter who is buying — but I do know that competition for Tesla in the electric vehicle space is rising fast.

There is the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Volkswagen ID.4, the Audi E-Tron, among others, and coming are cars like the Volvo C40 Recharge and the Cadillac Lyriq. In the higher reaches of the luxury space, there is the Mercedes EQS and the Porsche Taycan, to which Tesla will reply at an event tonight with the Model S Plaid, which starts at $129,990.

The Model S Plaid is basically the second-generation of the Model S, though Tesla would never call it that, given that it doesn’t believe in the concept of model years. A longer-range version called the Model S Plaid+ has been canceled, meanwhile, as Tesla starts to navigate a new EV landscape.

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Analysts say Tesla needs the Model S Plaid to be another hit, per Reuters:

“The Model S has not been changing a lot in terms of looks over the past almost decade. I think Tesla has to offer consumers something more,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director at car information provider Edmunds said.

[…]

“The Model S Plaid is definitely intended to help reduce the migration of current Tesla owners out of Tesla,” said Ed Kim, vice president at consultancy AutoPacific. “I think what we’re seeing now is that Tesla can no longer operate in a vacuum.”

He said Model S Plaid is a low-volume, halo model aimed at showcasing the automaker and generating excitement around the sedan, with Tesla needing to successfully roll out new models like Cybertruck and Semi trucks to expand its customer base.

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The Tesla shorts still may not be wrong about Tesla in the long-term, though in the near-term probably not enough has been said about how little resistance Tesla has faced from the legacy automakers. That is all changing, and it’ll be fascinating to see how it goes.

2nd Gear: The Fight Over Oil In Norway Has Turned Ugly

Norway is one of the most EV-saturated car markets in the world, but Norway also harvests lots of oil, a contradiction at the heart of a debate over its climate policies. That debate, Bloomberg reports, has also turned pretty ugly.

Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, the Green Party politician who’s a vice mayor of Norway’s capital Oslo and a strong voice for climate policies, has received a stream of hate messages, threats, and racist comments on social media.

[…]

The oil and gas sector employs about 200,000 people and has filled the coffers of the $1.4 trillion sovereign wealth fund, which will underpin the welfare of generations to come. Enforcing decline on the industry could have a bigger and more lasting impact on Norwegians’ lives than any climate policy to date, and the issue looks set to provide some of the most heated moments in the election campaign.

Yet one of Berg’s fiercest defenders against online abuse happens to be her chief political rival, Petroleum and Energy Minister Tina Bru of the oil-friendly Conservative Party. “I CAN’T STAND IT ANYMORE,” Bru posted on Facebook in May, along with screen shots of abusive messages sent to Berg. “Shut up!” A few days later, police decided to investigate the matter.

There’s a reason why the attacks struck a nerve. Bru has also experienced online abuse because of her support of onshore wind power, underscoring how sacred the oil industry is to Norwegian voters. The two women come from different ends of the political spectrum, but are allies in pushing for more clean-energy investments—they just disagree sharply on how quickly the shift needs to happen.

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It’s sort of comforting to know that even in progressive countries everyone sometimes gets a little too heated.

3rd Gear: It’s Peugeot’s Turn To Be Scrutinized For Possible Emissions Fraud

Peugeot is way late to the Dieselgate party, but it apparently has finally shown up, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Stellantis STLA -0.38% NV, the auto giant that owns the French brand, said late Wednesday that the judicial court of Paris had ordered it to pay a bail of €10 million euros, equivalent to $12 million, and provide a bank guarantee of €30 million euros to cover potential damages. The probe related to the sale of diesel vehicles in France between 2009 and 2015.

Two other Stellantis subsidiaries, Fiat Chrysler and Citroën, have been summoned to appear before a court in Paris in the coming weeks as part of the same investigation, the company said.

All three subsidiaries “firmly believe that their emission control systems met all applicable requirements at the relevant times and continue to do so,” Stellantis said.

A French judicial official confirmed the filing of preliminary charges, which allege Peugeot engaged in fraudulent practices that made its diesel-powered vehicles dangerous to human and animal health.

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4th Gear: Jim Farley

Ford CEO Jim Farley has really been taking a victory lap as of late, and some of it is deserved. Ford has been on a bit of a hot streak with the F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, and Maverick. That said, most (all?) of those decisions were made before he took over last October. Farley is the first to point this out as he sat down for interviews lately in what seems like an effort to boost Ford’s stock price.

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His latest interview is with The New York Times, though Farley doesn’t reveal much beyond that he thinks the Maverick will do well, and that there might be other Mavericks in the future.

Mr. Farley expressed confidence that the Maverick would be a hit, saying he could envision Ford producing a family of Maverick variants, including an electric model.

“The electrification of the industry is a big change, and I think it wasn’t clear until we launched Lightning and Mach E that Ford was going to be a winner in this new electric reality,” Mr. Farley said. “Now investors are betting on Ford, and what they’re telling me is, ‘The strategy is attractive, Go execute it, Farley.’”

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Make an electric regular-cab Maverick, Ford, the people need it.

5th Gear: Volkswagen Says The Chip Shortage May Have Reached Bottom

VW will be happy when the chip shortage is over, though it also says that chip shortage may never really end, and that the real gift may be the friends we made along the way.

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From Reuters:

Volkswagen Group expects a shortage in semiconductor supply to ease in the third quarter but sees the bottlenecks continuing in the long term, a board member told Handelsblatt newspaper.

“At the moment we have reached the lowest point. We are facing the toughest six weeks,” Murat Aksel, VW’s head of procurement, told the newspaper in an interview.

He said he expects an around 10 percent shortage in chips over the long term because building up production capacities takes up to two years.

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Reverse: Cue Jokes About Cops And Donuts

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Neutral: How Are You?

The Volvo event was ostensibly to show off the new all-electric C40 Recharge, and Volvo had the only C40 Recharge in the States on show. It looked as slick as it needs to be to compete with the likes of Ford, Tesla, Volkswagen, and the rest. Of course, Volvo insists there isn’t anything quite like the C40 Recharge currently in the American market. I was just happy to go to a car event and for it to feel sort of normal.

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