In “The Graduate,” a family friend of Dustin Hoffman’s loafing, libidinous Ben Braddock informs him that the future is “Plastics.” Today, it might be fair to say that the future is “Electrons.” Specifically, it seems the world is going to need more electricians to help guide those electrons if we’re ever going to have a charging network robust enough to support all of these electric cars.
America may not suddenly be on the verge of swapping all of its cars for EVs, but more EVs are coming and it already feels, anecdotally, like there isn’t enough infrastructure for the ones we have now. Automakers suddenly bolting to Tesla’s NACS standard in the United States is proof of this, but a new report shows statistically that it’s as bad as people guessed.
Also on tap for today’s Morning Dump: Gigacasting is the word of the year in the automotive sector and two big players are once again looking at Tesla and thinking: If you can’t beat’em, copy’em. Today’s news dump will then detour into a bit of a union update before landing on a little bit of history.
Broken EV Chargers Need Electricians We Don’t Have
I was en route to Chicago in an electric car when I bumped into a technician for a large charging network (I won’t say which because I did not identify myself as a reporter). I’m glad he was there because, in fact, the first charger I attempted to use was out of service. Was he there to fix it?
Nope! He was en route to a charger in another state and was just stopping to charge himself. I inquired as to why the stations I visit always seem to be broken and he explained that there weren’t enough technicians to work on them. In fact, he and fewer than a dozen technicians were responsible for a huge area that covered around 50,000 square miles. Was the pay bad? Nope. Pay and benefits were great but, as he explained, these are extremely high-voltage systems and not just anyone can work on them.
This was confirmed by a report today in Automotive News about the shortage of electricians:
Imagine if one-in-every-five trips to the gas station you couldn’t get a pump to work and the other pumps were full of cars that might be sitting there for another 20-30 minutes. It’s frustrating and it happens all the time.
What’s the cause? Again, from the report:
That’s a lot of electricians.
In general, America has a shortage of skilled labor. Our sister company Galpin Motors is always keeping an eye out for talented automotive technicians, which is something we should probably touch on some other day. So, if you’re an aimless high schooler pondering what you should do, consider becoming an automotive tech or an electrician who can fix EV chargers.
Ford And Hyundai Make A Deal With Tesla’s Gigacasting Supplier
I’ve already touched on how “gigacasting” is the hot new word in automotive. Here’s how I previously described it:
Gigacasting—which is technically a Tesla term catching on in the wider world—does away with the lots-of-small-castings part by, instead, casting one giant piece. In theory, this has a lot of advantages. If you can make one big cast and skip the labor and energy involved in making a lot of little parts and putting them together you can make cars a lot faster.
Yes, it’s a Tesla neologism, but it’s a good one! Tesla currently uses Italian company IDRA to supply its gigacasting machines. Guess who also now has a contract with IDRA?
A ‘gigapress 6,100’, which produces a clamping force of over 6,000 tons, with the Ford brand printed on it, had been assembled and was being tested in IDRA’s plant in Travalgiato, near Brescia, northern Italy during an industry event organised by the company on Tuesday and Wednesday.
An even bigger press, the 9,000, IDRA’s largest and newest model — the size of a small house or a tennis court — was being tested nearby but without the client’s name printed on it.
A source close to the matter, however, said it would be shipped to Hyundai group, adding both it and the one for Ford would initially be used only for R&D purposes.
The source said IDRA was also about to sign a supply contract for two 9,000 presses with a premium automaker in Europe, its first with a European group.
It’s a good time to be a gigapress maker.
GM, Unifor Reach A Deal To End Strike
It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Unifor going on strike against GM in Canada. Because it was yesterday. The strike is over, according to The Detroit News:
In a Tuesday statement, Marissa West, GM Canada president and managing director, said: “This record agreement, subject to member ratification, recognizes the many contributions of our represented team members with significant increases in wages, benefits and job security while building on GM’s historic investments in Canadian manufacturing.”
Larry Savage, a labor studies professor at Brock University in Ontario, said in a statement: “GM realized Unifor had significant leverage and the union clearly demonstrated it was willing to use that leverage to preserve the pattern in Canada.”
Is this another excuse for me to run another photo from Unifor’s Twitter account of them doing that weird, meek solidarity gesture?
Happy 40th Anniversary To Audi Sport
I’ll admit, Audi Sport doesn’t quite have the cachet that M or AMG have, but what Audi Sport does have is a history of building amazing cars and winning races. It’s also the 40th anniversary. Here’s a bit from their press release:
quattro GmbH has existed since 1983, and in 2016, it was renamed as Audi Sport GmbH: Today, the wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG is shaping the sporty and exclusive image of the premium brand with the four rings even stronger than ever. “We look back proudly on the past 40 years and want to be even stronger in the future. To this end, we will selectively expand our model portfolio and our other service offerings together with AUDI AG. The sales records of recent years clearly underline our ambitions,” says Rolf Michl, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.
The Big Question
What’s your favorite Audi product of all time? [Ed Note: If you don’t answer Quattro or first-gen TT, then maybe just tell us your thoughts on technician/electrician/hands-on labor in the U.S., and the complicated way it’s portrayed in the context of college-degree-requiring office jobs. -DT].
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