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
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
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
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
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.
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