Stellantis Isn’t Happy About All These Cheap Chinese EVs

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BMW will invest $1.7 billion to make EVs in America, automakers want a longer phase-in period for free-trade battery materials, the CEO of Stellantis wants higher tariffs on Chinese EVs sold in the EU. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Stellantis CEO Wants Greater Tariffs On Chinese EVs

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Photo credit: BYD

From BYD to Great Wall Motors, it’s been a big Paris Motor Show for Chinese cars. However, not everyone’s stoked to see models with names like Funky Cat in Europe. Automotive News Europe says that Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares wants to see higher tariffs on Chinese-built cars coming into Europe.

“Very simply, we should ask the European Union to enforce the same conditions in Europe for Chinese manufacturers under which we, the western manufacturers, compete in China,” Tavares told journalists at the sidelines of the Paris auto show this week.

Tavares said Chinese brands must pay tariffs of 10 percent to import cars into the European Union, while European automakers pay tariffs of between 15 percent and 25 percent to import Europe-built cars into China.

Higher tariffs on Chinese-built cars seem fair, so long as the tariff hike is commensurate with established Chinese tariffs for European cars. Level the playing field, why not? Tavares apparently isn’t the only person to feel this way.

“President Macron understands this but it has to be a larger front [from the European Union] to say we welcome the Chinese in Europe but only if they compete with us under the same rules,” Tavares said.

Given America’s manufacturing requirements for EVs to qualify for tax credits, global precedent exists if the European Union wants to pump the brakes on Chinese EVs.

BMW To Spend Big On U.S. EV Production

BMW i4 eDrive35
Photo credit: BMW

It seems like every automaker is announcing huge U.S. EV manufacturing investments, and now it’s BMW’s turn. Automotive News reports that the Bavarian luxury brand will spend $1.7 billion to make electric models at its Spartanburg plant in Greer, S.C.

The project includes domestic sourcing of next-generation batteries and a $700 million battery-pack assembly plant to be built in nearby Woodruff, S.C. It also requires construction of a new battery-cell plant in the state by Japanese battery-maker Envision AESC, although few details on that part of the project have been disclosed.

“Plant Spartanburg has been a cornerstone of the global success of the BMW Group,” BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse said. “The ‘home of the X’ is also becoming the ‘home of the battery-electric vehicle’.”

BMW did not reveal which electric models it will build at the plant — the automaker’s largest in the world.

But according to AutoForecast Solutions, U.S. production of the battery-powered iX5 crossover should start in late 2026, followed by the iX7 a year later. Production of the iX6 and iXM crossovers could begin in 2028.

Keep in mind that an iXM likely won’t be an M version of the current iX, but instead it’ll probably be an i version of the XM. Confusing, right? In any case, BMW’s Spartanburg plant has a long history of building SUVs, so going battery electric really is the logical next step for the facility.

Automakers Want More Time To Source Free Trade Battery Materials

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Photo credit: Volkswagen

It’s no secret that not every automaker is a fan of the EV tax credit structure brought in under the Inflation Reduction Act, and Reuters reports that several believe the timeline of phasing in battery sourcing requirements under the Inflation Reduction Act is unrealistic. From the news site:

The Inflation Reduction Act, as currently written, requires automakers to have 50% of critical minerals used in EV batteries come from North America or U.S. allies by 2024, rising to 80% by the end of 2026. Volkswagen Americas Chief Executive Pablo Di Si said the industry cannot move that fast.

“All of us source from different parts of the world and changing these long-term contracts, you don’t do that from one day to the next. We have 10, 15, 20-year commitments,” Di Si said at the Reuters Events auto conference in Detroit.

U.S. lawmakers need to create a more phased-in process that goes out to 2030 instead, he and Hyundai Motor Co Chief Operating Officer Jose Munoz said at the Reuters event.

On the other hand, Stellantis’ North American chief operating officer Mark Stewart is reportedly working to secure material capacity in free-trade countries, but has a warning for the rest of the automotive industry.

“At the end of the day, if we can’t make this transition to what consumers can afford, the industry’s going to collapse on itself,” he said. “We have to find a way to bring affordable tech into the equation.”

This is the key right here. If the future of new cars isn’t egalitarian, the motoring industry can’t sustain exclusively making playthings for rich people. Remember how some of the first modern-era electric cars were entry-level vehicles? It’s time we get back to that, whether it means building certain models outside of North America or sourcing battery materials from existing contracts with non-free-trade zones.

 

Tesla’s FSD Will Get Updates Soon, But Not Regulatory Approval

0x0 Model3 01
Photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In news that should surprise absolutely nobody, Reuters reports in its story “Tesla flags its cars not ready to be approved as fully self-driving this year” that Tesla’s FSD software won’t be properly autonomous anytime soon.

Musk told a post-earnings call on Wednesday that all FSD users in North America will get an upgraded version at the end of the year, adding that while its cars are not ready to have no one behind the wheel, drivers would rarely have to touch the controls.

“The car will be able to take you from your home to your work, your friend’s house, the grocery store without you touching the wheel,” he said.

“It’s a separate matter as to will it have regulatory approval. It won’t have regulatory approval at that time,” he added.

It’s almost like passing off a Level 2 advanced driver assistance system as self-driving won’t fly with regulators. Who’d have thought? While it’s entirely possible that updates can improve FSD, there’s a big difference between “will” and might. For now, the claim of this FSD update being able to let drivers go hands-off for whole trips without intervention should be treated with suspicion, especially given Musk’s track record of overpromising and underdelivering.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Can you believe it’s Thursday already? Since the week is flying by, let’s play a game. If you could change one automotive law, what would it be? Maybe you want higher speed limits on controlled-access highways, or a basic inspection every few years for basic safety items like brakes and ball joints, or signs marking intersections with high collision rates. Whatever the case, let’s hear it.

Lead photo credit: BMW

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74 Responses

  1. Traffic stops on highways.
    Police should be required to get on the loudspeaker and instruct the driver to continue down the road until the nearest exit, rest stop, or pull out.

    There are many places with inadequate shoulders and fairly high traffic that get traffic jams and wrecks because cops can’t drive a few miles after sitting and running radar for who knows how long.

  2. Chicken Tax is an obvious one.

    Nannies. Remove the required nannies. I don’t want stability control. I’m okay with ABS, but not stability control or traction control. At least, give me an option for their default behavior (aka default OFF).

    1. Why worry about the chicken tax? You can just establish a plant in the US, Canada or Mexico. Several companies have done it in the past, and others likely will in the near future. The chicken tax is a dead argument now.

  3. Replacing many stop signs with yield signs would speed things up. There’s no reason why a rural intersection that sees 10 cars a day needs a stop sign.

    If the cars are cheaper because of terrible labor practices, then tariff the daylights out of them.

      1. Two problems with that: Yield signs can allow one direction of traffic to proceed unimpeded (sticking random roundabouts in low traffic rural areas is one of the reasons people hate them), and swapping a few signs is a whole lot easier than redesigning every stop signed intersection. I’ve seen intersections that were designed for stop signs converted to roundabouts and it was such a disaster that they went back to stop signs within a year.

      2. I would say the safeness of them is debatable. some use them as an excuse to speed up and try out there nascar skills to see if they beat the person into the circle that is coming right at them. Others just use it as a stop sign with varying degrees of success.

      1. I know several who bought the Dart. It was actually quite good, for what it was. I still would buy one over a small automatic Honda, Nissan or Subaru because those are sold with CVTs. The only CVT I trust is the Hybrid Synergy Drive style that is used in Toyota and Ford hybrids. (I don’t recall, maybe Nissan hybrids used the same?)

        Given the difficulty of getting supplies necessary to make anything, Stellantis is doing what they should and only selling the most expensive, most profitable vehicles.

        1. The smaller Nissan hybrids use the same cvts that made cvts infamous. Jatco supplies all of Nissan cvts and the small Chrysler group cvts (I’m not sure if they continue to supply cvts for newer Stella this models).
          I’ve driven an accord with the CVT and it felt better driving than the jatco cvts. I have no clue about reliability.

  4. The wave of popular demand is surging, the automakers are riding it, and dragging all of us out with the swell. Into a pie of half-baked technologies, unready for prime time. Yes, there will be a time when this is the answer, or part of it, but we’re not there yet.

    1. The challenge is: this is the only way to get to prime time. You have to go through extensive real world testing in unscripted environments. If you want it in time for when “this is the answer” (e.g., when you can’t drive safely anymore due to age) then this is the process. Nothing else works.

    1. Fully agree. I’ve thought for years the population as a whole would benefit from mandatory behind-the-wheel training every four years, vs. “come in for a new picture, and glance at the vision test”, or in some places (TX, looking at you…) “just go to the DMV website, say nothing has changed, send us some money, and we’ll see you in four years”.

      Will it cost to add examiners? Yes, and license prices can increase (amortized over four years, should be fully manageable) to compensate.

      Will it save on insurance costs, due to fewer accidents caused by bone-headed drivers? I surely think so.

      Will some people be forced to find alternate transportation until they can suppress their bad habits enough to not fail? Probably (This is where it goes off the rails most quickly; nobody wants to admit they might not be the great driver they think they are…)

      Is any one state willing to even approach this idea, given that licenses are fully transferrable and valid across state lines? Not a chance in hell.

      1. For the initial license, I agree that the current tests are a joke. My daughter just passed the TX test a couple of months ago and even she said it was easier than it should be.

        As for retesting for renewing, I think this should be more of a point-based system. Get x number of tickets since your last renewal, then you need to pass a driving test. Found liable for a car accident? Driving test. For those of us driving every day without issue, a driving test is just yet another annoyance. But if you demonstrate a lack of understanding or willingness to follow the laws, then prove you know how to drive.

        1. I would rather the inconvenience of an occasional driving test if it meant fewer incompetent drivers on the road. Too many people do not deserve to be on the roads and we need to weed them out.

      2. Licenses are “fully transferrable and valid across state lines”? Sort of, but I’ve moved states that required me to take a new road test after 30 days. You want to live in the state but hold another state’s license? That’s going to be a problem, the first time you get stopped, or register to vote. Sure, outsiders can drive through, but having a few dangerous drivers on the road doesn’t negate the fact that your own state’s drivers (the majority) are better.

    2. A big part of the problem is that if you can’t drive in many places, you’re screwed. The US decided to make their transportation system fully reliant on cars/trucks, so the testing/licensing is as minimal as it needs to be to ensure pretty much anyone can do it. If good public transportation was available in most places, we could talk about more stringent testing/licensing standards.

    3. At a glance, not a bad idea.
      But speaking for me and only for me: having a stranger, never mind an authority, in my car for the test unnerved me so fucking much. I failed my driver’s test 4 times before passing.

      About 12 years and roughly 80,000 miles (7 of those years and 60,000 of those miles primarily in a conversion van) later, and I do not have a single accident or ticket to my name.

      I think the car-centric-ness of our culture needs to be addressed before we can try something like this. And I still shudder at the thought of taking that kind of exam again.

  5. Setting aside the previously mentioned regulatory harmonization across a number of acceptable standards, apparently it’s difficult to get a Caterham kit in Canada. I already have a motorcycle license, I’ve accepted a certain amount of peril, I’m not sure why it matters if I have two wheels or four when I’m piloting a deathtrap. So, more kit cars!

  6. If I could change one automotive law it would be getting rid of the “Chicken Tax” tariff.

    Here’s a list of runner ups:

    Electric car noise makers

    The Footprint rule

    The 25 year old import rule

    Mandatory Car insurance (NH doesn’t have it and it also has the lowest car insurance rates in the country)

    Mandatory Backup Cameras

    That stupid anti drunk driving technology mandate for new cars starting in 2026 at the latest

    and many more….

      1. No clue, I assume you gotta go the lawyer route.

        All I know is when the government mandates you purchase something the companies that sell said something can charge whatever they want to for it because you have to buy it.

  7. I don’t even want to change laws, I just want some existing ones enforced:
    -Illegal lighting mods that blind oncoming drivers
    -Left lane camping, which in most places is already technically prohibited but never enforced

    1. Hell yes on the left lane camping. Almost everyday I get behind a Spectrum installation van going at or maybe 5 over the speed limit in rush hour traffic. Most of the time while dicking around on their cell phones. I just wonder if they train them that way or if it’s a prerequisite to be a shit driver.

    2. Adaptive headlighting was made legal recently, so hopefully that problem will begin to fade out over the years.

      The mods aren’t the problem, it’s that they don’t take the time to aim them properly (as I see it)

  8. Drunk drivers. First strike, lose your license for six months. Second strike, lose it for a year. Third strike, lose it forever. Nobody has the right to drive, it’s a privilege. You cry that you can’t work now? You chose this. Get a bicycle.

  9. We should be allowed to import and register any vehicles with lower safety standards by requiring additional insurance to make sure we were bearing our own risks.

    I also want noise ordinances enforced. A basic safety inspection should include a sound levels check. Every traffic stop should also include a sound check.

    The roads are a shared resource, and I’m tired of jackasses who don’t care about having peaceful spaces to relax. I’m also tired of overgrown children who don’t want to accept the dangers of motorcycling and therefore expect others around them to suffer willingly.

    My prior weekend car had a large V8, but it also had a quiet exhaust because I’m not a douchebag. I’m also a motorcycle rider, and I ride with factory stock pipes. Any additional danger of not being loud is mine to bear, just like owning an “unsafe” vehicle would be.

  10. I want to say raise speed limits.Here in australia they’re unbelievably low,heavily enforced and the courts outright reject any leniency.

    But truthfully i’d probably prefer higher driving standards be enforced.On average, drivers are now so shit nothing else works.No matter what draconian laws they make, it doesnt help.They just end up infuriating the good drivers while slowly degrading everyone’s driving skills.

  11. We know from diesel gate you can fool emissions testing at specific locations but much harder to do if they are scanning your car in normal, everyday use. I’d get rid of emissions testing fixed locations and change it to more remote scanning on the road but I would also combine it with implementing a safety inspection to maintain registration. Not envisioning anything as rigorous as Germany, but checking for basics like brakes, tire wear and for visible exhaust when it shouldn’t be.

    The hard part to reconcile for me is cars being necessary in parts of the US to live comfortably, it’s yet another enforcement that will disproportionately impact people already hurting.

  12. Get rid of emission testings. Serves no purpose, the vast *vast* majority of cars on the road today are not emitting anything over what they’re supposed to.

    Washington state did away with emission testing in 2020, saves everyone time and money.

    1. I’m confused. I’m in PA where emissions testing varies county-to-county. And you can tell the difference because there’s a LOT of “Pennsyltucky” straight-piping going on. One might not do a lot of damage, but if you put all the people straight-piping together, I’m guessing it’s a not-insignificant amount of extra pollutants in the atmosphere?

        1. I acknowledge this is all anecdotal–
          If I had to wager a guess, I think further from the urban areas the straight-piping is more likely voluntary. ESPECIALLY with diesels.
          But I’ve lived in nowhere-ish PA areas my whole life and cat thefts haven’t been things I’ve heard of, friend-of-a-friend, nothing. I’ve seen reports from Philly and the like, but even in my own family, we’ve owned 3 different E-series vans over the years and neither of the two cats in each ever got stolen.

  13. “This is the key right here. If the future of new cars isn’t egalitarian, the motoring industry can’t sustain exclusively making playthings for rich people. Remember how some of the first modern-era electric cars were entry-level vehicles?”

    This is the entire problem with subsidized, and forced EV adoption. even the entry level stuff was and is over priced with inadequate ROI when traded in due to high battery replacement cost. those living in large metropolis areas are not considering anyone except themselves when they try to force a square peg down a square hole that rounds out half way down.

  14. As far as laws –

    Total reciprocity on emissions, safety, and design conformity with regulatory bodies in other developed markers – eg, anything sold in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the EU should automatically be legal for private import into the US

    And, of course, higher speed limits on Interstates and stricter enforcement of other safety issue traffic laws besides just speeding, because there’s a lot more issues than that going on out there

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