Happy Friday, folks. We did it. Two work weeks down in 2023, and only 50 more to go. In celebration of this monumental achievement, today’s Morning Dump includes news about Cadillac’s EV effort, labor issues in the electric transition, and what’s happening at Jaguar—remember Jaguar?—these days.
There’s not a ton of new news today beyond some important stuff we hit last night thanks to our pervasive insomnia and insatiable thirst for clicks, but we’re gonna make it work anyway. We’ll get through this together.
Have You Seen This Car?
I’ve heard very positive, promising things about the Cadillac Lyriq EV. Of course, that’s all been from automotive journalist friends who have driven it in press-launch situations. I’ve seen exactly zero on the road. Have you seen any Lyriqs out there? I bet if you have, you’re based in Michigan and they’ve been company or company-adjacent cars.
That’s because even General Motors will cop to a “deliberately slow” launch of the important electric crossover; Cadillac only moved 122 of them last year despite technically releasing the car in the summertime. Even the dealers, who dealt with pressure pressure from Cadillac to invest in an EV-centric overhaul, are wondering where the damn thing is, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Now we know that at least part of the problem was software and quality control issues; the former of which has dogged many automakers as they transition to EVs. From that story:
Cadillac spokesman Michael Albano acknowledged there have been some software glitches on some of the first Lyriqs built and problems with a trim panel on the rear liftgate, but he said those issues have been resolved. He added that production will increase this year.
“With every launch — no matter the vehicle — there are learnings and other items that we fix along the way,” Albano said in an email to the Free Press. “We are constantly making improvements in the build process, materials and software.”
Albano said the reason so few Lyriqs have yet to make it to customers is because “we deliberately ramped up Cadillac Lyriq production slowly and methodically last year to ensure quality for our customers. Looking ahead, we will continue to ramp up production in 2023 in order to meet the strong demand for Lyriq.”
It’s all just very weird, given how the car debuted as a concept back in 2020 and supposedly “sold out” when orders opened in 2022 (although as the Freep notes, that ordering period was only open for two hours, which feels artificially low on purpose.) And it’s a massively important car for Cadillac, said to be the tip of the spear for the storied but troubled brand’s electric future. There are also obvious issues at work here, like the supply chain issues that have hampered EV production for nearly every car company.
There’s also the added problem of the government not yet classifying the Lyriq as an “SUV” to let it qualify for the new EV tax credits. GM’s working on getting that changed, and I don’t blame them there—the new credit system has been messy, arbitrary and deeply inconsistent.
The point is, GM made a big deal out of the Lyriq, and one way or another it’s been dragging ass in getting them into people’s driveways. That’s got to change this year or Cadillac will have a lot of angry customers and dealers on its hands.
Auto Sector Job Security In The EV Transition
It’s not as sexy as 0-60 times and “Watts To Freedom” mode, but one under-covered yet crucially important story in the EV transition is what will happen to all of the manufacturing jobs in the automotive space.
On the whole, EVs need less labor to assemble (and also fewer parts and labor to fix, which is a related problem) and that has unions and other groups worried for the future of this manufacturing sector’s job market.
Here’s Automotive News on how this subject came up at a recent financial summit:
As that story notes, EVs could create more labor hours than conventional vehicles—but a lot of that would be from battery cell manufacturing, not so much car manufacturing. (This is just my opinion, but it’s also why the U.S. battery and EV supply chain stuff in the Inflation Reduction Act is so important; the alternative is all of that gets ceded to China.)
A big part of this, panelists at that forum said, is guaranteeing decent wages and hours and investing in worker training so auto sector employees can stay on the cutting edge. For the sake of good manufacturing jobs in this country, let’s hope this happens.
The Jaguar F-Type Gets A Farewell Update
This week we covered the minor cosmetic updates to the Jaguar I-Pace (the electric one; the E-Pace is the non-electric crossover, and it’s okay if you can never remember this because nobody does) but that wasn’t all of the Jag news. The British automaker also dropped the F-Type 75 Edition, the final farewell for this sports car.
I always really loved driving the F-Type. And it’s pretty old now, but you can still look really, really attractive and awesome if you’re lucky enough to be in one. Here’s a brief rundown from Car and Driver:
The F-type lineup became V-8–only in 2023, and the 75 Edition will be offered both for the 444-hp P450 and 575-hp P575 models. Although it’s difficult to see in the shadowy photos, the 75 edition brings badges depicting the F-type’s silhouette on the front fender, door sills, and center console. You can also find “75” emblems throughout the interior and an “R” etched into the R 75 P575 model’s quad exhaust pipes.
But what’s with these darkened-ass press photos? The F-Type may be old, but it’s still one of the best-looking cars on the road, full stop. Are they trying to keep this shit a secret?
Unfortunately, like a lot of Jag’s lineup, it was kind of left to stagnate for years; the last all-new models came out in the middle of the last decade. What’s happening at Jaguar these days?
Motor 1 recently reported Jaguar Land Rover is looking at a pretty decent year ahead in 2023, with more than 215,000 client orders. But that was heavily driven by stuff like the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport; it’s an open secret that Land Rover basically underwrites that whole operation. And an Automotive News look at its future lineup back in August wasn’t exactly promising, with a large and midsize electric SUV on the way mid-decade and the I-Pace left to soldier on seemingly interminably.
I won’t resort to 2000s-era car blog tactics here and start a Jaguar Death Watch (the real old-school heads know what I’m talking about) but you have to start wondering if Indian owner Tata’s starting to eye an exit for this brand so it can focus on the cash cow that is Land Rover. That’s purely speculation on my part. But this doesn’t feel great, does it?
(We need to come up with a better name for this column than The Morning Dump. I think it undercuts what classy, sophisticated gentlemen Jason and David are. Why, just the other day, I saw David lay his coat into a puddle of mud so a woman could walk across. The jacket had been dyed with motor oil, but still, impressive.)
Anyway, Jaguar and Cadillac’s troubles here bring up something I wonder about often. Which “legacy” brands can survive the EV transition? Mike Spinelli wrote a great column about this at The Drive last year. Topline: I think Cadillac will probably be fine, hopefully even great. I’m a lot less sure about Jaguar and Alfa Romeo.
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Seeing as how the Morning Dump is mostly posted with about a hour left in the morning, I’d agree it needs a retitle.
Tesla should buy Jaguar. Jaguar looks, and consistent panel gaps + Tesla tech and mechanicals. That would be a winner.
Meanwhile, Cadillac is the American version of VinFast.
Both companies are not-ready-for-prime-time players.
“the new credit system has been messy, arbitrary and deeply inconsistent.”
Messy? Eh, I guess you could argue that, but then in the very next section you said:
“it’s also why the U.S. battery and EV supply chain stuff in the Inflation Reduction Act is so important; the alternative is all of that gets ceded to China.”
Which is pretty much exhibit A for why this is not arbitrary and I’m not really sure how it’s inconsistent either. Everyone has to do the same thing to qualify for the credit. The fact that foreign automakers are not happy about it doesn’t automatically make it bad.
The Flush: Call it Morning Glory and for the final call it Postboned..
But you want classy. I am not classy
Is it sad that I find it refreshing that an EV manufacturer will delay or slow their roll out to make sure it is a good product?
I guess I got used to “ship no matter what” approaches that lead to Home Depot molding in engine bays.
Today it could be “Warm-up and Defrost”
If that Cadillac hits you, you’re likely to get razor burn.
I am actually pleased that Cadillac is doing a slow roll-out and debugging before wide release. This car is -important- for their future. It must deliver deliver a quintessential Cadillac experience; something that arguably GM has not been able to do properly since 1970. (Note -some might argue that the Escalade meets ‘The Standard’.) The Lyriq should be made of visibly high quality material, be effortlessly powerful, and not only problem-free, but annoyance free. It must not be recognizable as a tarted-up version of any other vehicle available from GM. I am not yet convinced that the General’s accountants will let the designers do the car without compromising too much but this shakedown release is a good omen. I am not particularly an American Car Guy, but I am rooting for Cadillac here.
The more nicer name for this feature?
Maybe: Autopian Transmission?
I like the name but then again I have a juvenile sense of humor.
Pretty much any brand can survive to EV, provided it is done right. That is key right now. Not randomly using a name for a sports car as a SUV or if using the same market make sure it works.
“There’s also the added problem of the government not yet classifying the Lyriq as an “SUV” to let it qualify for the new EV tax credits. GM’s working on getting that changed, and I don’t blame them there—the new credit system has been messy, arbitrary and deeply inconsistent.”
And right there is why GM is slow-walking it. Customers are expecting to get an EV credit for these. If the dealer takes delivery and then tells the customer “oh yeah, sorry, no $7500 for you”? The customer is justifiably pissed, the dealer looks bad, GM looks bad, and the sale is likely lost. Those credits, accounting sham that they are, are a big deal for customers.
I would bet you that somewhere, there is a parking lot full of hundreds if not thousands of Lyriqs a window sticker away from delivery.
A big part of this, panelists at that forum said, is guaranteeing decent wages and hours and investing in worker training so auto sector employees can stay on the cutting edge. For the sake of good manufacturing jobs in this country, let’s hope this happens.
And because America is so deeply, irreparably broken? Instead we’ll get low-paying, low benefit, union-busting jobs. And workers will be told their pension is gone, their 401k (itself a sham) is gone, here’s two resume writing classes, and here’s an application form for the local Amazon warehouse.
but you have to start wondering if Indian owner Tata’s starting to eye an exit for this brand so it can focus on the cash cow that is Land Rover.
You know what the longest running production car in the world is? The Hindustan Ambassador. A license built version of the Morris Oxford series III. It was built, with basically no meaningful changes whatsoever, from 1957 until 2017. Oh sure, they added a nicer steering wheel eventually. But they didn’t even change the engine in it until they were forced to.
Tata will insist they’re “super modern” and “advanced.” They’re not. They’ve been building the Tata Telcoline pretty much unchanged since 1988. Nearly their entire commercial truck line has been unchanged – not even the engine – since 1986. Their most advanced products are 10-20 years behind Europe because guess what?
The home market can’t afford it. Airbags? In an India market commuter car? You must be joking. Crash testing? No thank you. Emissions equipment on trucks? Don’t be silly.
They have no idea whatsoever how to be an international car company and they focus too much on the ‘growing’ home market. Which is still very much third world.
A market where the most popular car is the Suzuki Maruti Alto 800 which has the equivalent of an AM tuner (FM, USB, 3.5mm, and basic phone only,) first gen airbag for driver with an optional passenger airbag, front ABS only, just added seat belt chimes, just added rear door child locks, has an 800cc CNG engine, and costs $5018USD. New.
They have absolutely no idea whatsoever what to do with a high dollar, high technology European sportscar. Tata has to let Jaguar do it’s own thing, because they are still very obviously beyond clueless. So what will happen is that JLR’s people will go to Mumbai, they will say “we need $50M to develop a new sportscar that will sell for $80k,” Tata’s executives will ask why they aren’t building an $8k car, and the F-Type will lumber on unchanged.
You can very much see this in their entire EV strategy. They had rights to all of JLR’s research and technology, and a rather advanced EV program there. Instead they took all that R&D money and dumped it into starting from zero with their India-based “Ziptron” sub-brand, producing a 1990’s-class 72V AC motor with a whole 213km (133 miles!) of range that costs about $16,000USD in the Tigor.ev.
“Topline: I think Cadillac will probably be fine, hopefully even great. I’m a lot less sure about Jaguar and Alfa Romeo.”
Cadillac will certainly be fine, as well as all of GM.
Ford is in deep shit if they don’t get away from ‘all trucks all the time,’ to say the least. Nevermind their approach of “just stick batteries in what we have.”
Alfa Romeo, I’m not even a little worried.
Why? Because we’ve been over the FCAtlantis style in depth. They heavily leverage technology sharing, and focus each brand on it’s own unique identity. You’d have no idea whatsoever the Giulia shares it’s platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee unless I told you. Which I just did. The WL is based on Giorgio. (Hemi swap all the Giulias!) Or how about the excellent Giulietta sharing bits with the truly awful Dodge Dart and the Fiat 500. And speaking of the Dodge Dart; it shares the C635 transmission with the Alfa 4C.
So yeah. Alfa Romeo is going to be fine. FCAtlantis has spent a lot of time and money to ensure their long-lived EV platforms aren’t just “tack batteries in what we have” and have a lot of flexibility. (The Tonale/Hornet is a short-lived platform. SCCS is on the way out after 18 years, to be replaced by STLA Medium.)
The name is obviously HTFFTT for How the Fred will I Fill This Thing, which every writer on the rota (wrota) probably thinks. Could put turbo on the end for a car look. Or even turbo? to show you are all university types…
Alfa Romeo will be fine. Peugeot and Citroën are dragging themselves ever so slowly over the all electric line, seem to have sorted out the motors which are now dropped into thermal cars, and say soon, will have a specially all electric design of their very own. Like three years.
Then they will let the Italians copy it.
I’m gonna double comment today as my neph who is a truck driver up in Wyoming just sent me this link :
And no, this is not from The Onion. It’s an actual newspaper there. Them Yellowstone boys don’t play around, lol
The fact that the bill is firmly co-sponsored by a “Mr. Boner” does make it hard to believe it didn’t come from The Onion.
The Morning Commute (even if you WFH)
Jaguar will totally survive. It may get passed around to a couple of different owners during the EV transition, but when the entire world is driving EVs, brand heritage will be a big factor in differentiating them, so I have no doubt that there will be a Jaguar branded EV on the road 50 years from now.
Go old school. Call it The Morning Rush.
The Morning Crank…wait, nevermind.
I didn’t like morning dump when it started, I get it, I’m not too prudish but you have this awesome font and “Autopian” as the name which to me calls back the old GM Motoramas, all chromed and tailfin’d, and then first thing to read calls to the toilet…, not the best option.
Starter Lap? Maybe just The Starter? Ignition Coil? Distributer Cap?
Someone else said Daily Driver that sounds good.
The thing about the gears on the other site was clever, since we could easily write which story we were responding to. Sorry, I don’t have any useful ideas; all I’ve been able to think of thus far is “Morning Wood.”
I think Buick has some pretty good ideas, and I admire the gumption they’re putting behind their full EV transition, but let’s be honest, they have a mountain to climb if they want anyone to pay attention to them. Like, their products are going to have to be absolutely FLAWLESS in terms of styling, performance, and reliability. While I wish the best to the last of the BOP brands, I just can’t see it happening, and that’s a shame
The job security thing during the electric transition is definitely a thorny issue, and it’s not just cars. Over in my corner of the industry, Massachusetts just passed a bunch of state-specific building code amendments that mean new residential construction, as well as major additions and renovations, will basically have to be all-electric starting in 2024. Like, you can still have a gas stove if you want, but even then you still have to have all the wiring in place, and the service capacity, to support an electric stove. You can only have gas if you’re willing to pay for it on top of the mandatory electric system. The requirements for heating are similar—the state is pushing heat pumps hard, and they’re also about to require that new homes have dedicated clear roof space for solar installations, with wiring already roughed in to the roof, plus a 50-amp circuit for an EV charger in every garage bay.
Now, this is fucking awesome for my company, since rooftop solar, heat pumps, and EV chargers are literally the three things that we do. It’s inevitably going to drive a ton of demand for the products we install, and will help expand our industry, enabling us to grow the company and hire new workers. (We’re employee-owned too, so double yay—the new policy doesn’t just mean that the CEO gets to buy a bigger boat and a fourth house.) It’s good for the environment too, and is kind of non-negotiable if the state is going to hit its carbon goals in the coming years. The future is definitely electric, and Massachusetts is embracing that future.
However, this stuff is probably going to add about $9,000 to the cost of a new house, and when you add in the other mandated efficiency upgrades (the ones that don’t touch my industry directly) it totals up to around $40,000. Efficiency is almost always a good investment, but the upfront cost here is pretty significant, and if you hadn’t heard, we’re in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. We’re already not building enough new housing units, and the ones we are building are mostly high-end ones that only really serve people with the kind of income that means they were always going to be fine anyway. Upping the price of a new home by forty grand doesn’t help that at all.
Plus, this is going to have a negative impact on some of the more traditional trades—think plumbers and gasfitters. These are highly skilled workers, often small business owners, and they can’t just turn around and become electricians overnight even if they want to. They’ll probably still be fine in the short term as there has long been way more work for them than there are workers to actually do it, but they’ve gotta be feeling kinda gut-punched right now. And hey, we’ve got a massive electrician shortage too—who’s gonna do all this extra electrical work, when we don’t have enough people to do the work that’s already out there? (Me, that’s who. I’m a year out from my license, and feeling pretty good about my future career prospects.)
Anyway, like I said, it’s a thorny issue. I can’t help but think that this super-necessary transition could have been a lot smoother if we’d started it about thirty years ago, but I was about seven back then so I didn’t really get a say. Here we are, staring down the barrel of a global crisis the likes of which our species has never faced before, and we’ve gotta do something. Whatever we do, I have a feeling it’s going to be both too much and not enough. Things are already getting choppy, and there’s more turbulence ahead. Buckle up.
I am imagining there will be plenty of jobs for people who can keep ICE-engined cars running down the road, Cuba-style.
Because for affordability they’ll have to, just like the Cubans.
Don’t forget all the extra electrical capacity needed to switch every flippin’ thing on earth to electricity. The jobs issue wouldn’t be as bad if we weren’t in a breakneck, headlong RUSH for no good reason. All these changes will mean nothing for the climate while China continues to pump out crap into the air.
Does that mean we shouldn’t do them? No, we should. But not at a pace that makes no sense. Let the grid mature to handle the load. Let people start shifting shots. Let the technology mature so it’s more useful (and let’s hope all these charges we’re putting in – supposedly – aren’t obsolete 10 years later when better tech comes along).
Government mandates are rarely a good idea.
Agree on the aerodynamic styling convergence, ever since all SUVs and crossovers gained the sunshade-appearing-but-for-aero-purposes roof extension above the hatch glass (same with the extension on the top of pickup tailgates) I’ve been calling this future homogenous perfectly aerodynamic shape the automotive singularity. Which isn’t really what singularity means, but I think it sounds snappy.
When Hyundai dropped the Ioniq 6 looking like a VW XL1, that was the point I’m marking as the beginning of this future.
I think singularity is appropriate. A black hole from which no unique design or style can escape.
This was meant to be a reply to v10omous’ thesis comment, fail
+1 on the Morning Dump retitle, I think there was plenty of calls for that when it debuted. The Morning Shift with it’s gear theme was subtle enough of a poop-joke that it didn’t come off so, I dunno, crass? I’d offer suggestions, but you have many people in your employ much better at smithing the words than I, I’m sure you’ll come you with something.
My guess: GM and Ford do okay once their marketing cracks the code on selling flyover country on EV pickups. Stellantis too. On board smoke generator so a brah can still roll coal on any Prius who dares drive on the same road? “800v smoke generator with more capacity than Chebby or Ferd!” Hey, it would scratch the itch of filling up the truck with something flammable!
The Japanese brands are stuck so far up Denial without a paddle or plan. Their dedicated EV’s so far are a joke. Honda is having GM (!) build their first EV for North America. Toyobaru can’t keep the wheels on theirs. And Mazda? Compliance car. Nissan seems to be in the best position thanks to Renault. But they have a looooong ways to go to shed their “anyone with a pulse gets financed” stigma.
H/K have good products but gawdawful dealers. Folks who have the choice of zee Germans or Tesla won’t put up with being four-squared and “no test drive until a $500 non-refundable deposit”.
And, the post 2005 startups. Tesla will be fine. Rivian may shift to commercial vehicles. Lucid is backed by King Bone Saw so they’ll be okay overseas.
That doesn’t mention the dark horses like VinFast or any of the large Chinese automakers eyeing NA.
It’ll be interesting for sure. Check back in a year to see how it goes!
Nissan had an early lead, 10 years ago the Leaf was the only EV that was a real car you could really buy except the Tesla Model S at a hundred grand. They then squandered it through the Ghosnian stagnation that they kinda-sorta got away with in things like the Frontier but not so much in the fast-moving EV space.
I’m not so sure Tesla’ll be fine. Not with Melon speedrunning from the “Dearborn Independent” stage of billionaire decline to the Kleenex-box-slippers one.
Just call the morning column Shower Spaghetti.
Morning Starter Fluid. Brought to you by Start Ya Bastard.
How about just stealing the name and calling the column Start Ya Bastard
Seeing as how it’s going to be a running joke here for probably forever anyway, you can call it “The Morning Shower” and the “The Spaghetti” instead of “The Flush”
The “Morning Brake-Fast” could probably consist of some cold leftover shower spaghetti. I’ll show myself out.
Given the vehicles so many of the staff drive, “Breakdown” would probably be more apt.
Doesn’t it seem like the brands that will survive the strongest in a hypothetical all-EV future will depend more on who locks in battery contracts (or takes manufacturing in-house) much more than vagaries of styling or marketing?
Not to sound too much like an old curmudgeon, but EVs both depend more on a single component than ICEs, and also have less to distinguish themselves from each other in the driving or styling departments. BACK IN MY DAY, you could sell an oddball vehicle to oddballs and make a living doing so. Now it’s a bunch of cookie cutter shapes, all with the same range, same acceleration, and same tablet screen UI. Buying a car will be like buying any other appliance, where price is the overriding concern for most. Hence those who secure their batteries against supply disruptions will be best positioned.
I agree. There is a bland sameness to all electric vehicles that makes one brand difficult to stand out from the next. I don’t know how much “BRAND” will mean in 20 years, if indeed, we do end up going all EV everywhere.
I don’t see it. Compare Teslas (which do all look similar) to the Ioniq to the EV6 to the Polestar 2, 3 and 4 to the Volvo XC40. I see as much or more distinction there as with gasoline cars.
I think you’re right IF carbuyers behave rationally. In that case, the most successful manufacturers will be the ones who are able to design efficient dependable vehicles and crank them out in large quantities quickly.
But carbuyers are NOT rational. Selecting a car is frequently as much an emotional process as it is a financial transaction. That’s why I’m not as bullish on Cadillac since, right or wrong, they’re often seen as a brand for the elderly. Exceptions abound, but in general older people are more skeptical of newer technologies like electric vehicles, and younger people don’t want to drive the same car that their granddad drives to his country club. They could make some amazing vehicles, but if their marketeers can’t get people excited about them, then they’ll flounder.
I don’t have a good opinion on which brands will succeed and which will struggle in the migration to EVs, but it’ll have to be a company with the technical chops to design a solid vehicle, the manufacturing capability to get it made, and the ability to get consumers excited about it.
My thesis is that:
1) With all car prices rising, and EVs higher priced than ICE vehicles making more consumers price conscious than before.
2) Younger buyers caring less about driving and cars than their forebears
3) Aerodynamics being more and more important to car design, leading to convergence of styling
That car buyers will become more rational than ever before, and cars will gradually be seen as just another appliance. This doesn’t make me very happy, but neither do a lot of the trends in the current market.
Cadillac could change their brand name to Escalade, and forget about “Cadillac” forever… or split into two brands.
Escalade Lyriq, anyone? (Nah, it’s awful no matter what the brand name is.)
My hope is that at least one of the companies will see a business plan in providing skateboard chassis for a coachbuilding/kit car industry. As mainstream mfgs pump out their various shades of bland with little differentiation, I would expect there to be at least a niche, maybe even substantial, market for individuality. A smaller mfg that is struggling to differentiate may be persuaded to make this a reality.
That has the potential to be very cool if regulations allow for it.
I would love to see Tesla move to this space. What does everyone always commend Tesla for? Their powertrains. They still seem to be suffering from build quality issues despite some models being around for a decade, and there are no new models on the horizon (yes I know about the Cybertruck but it’s too polarizing to be a volume seller). I’d love a Tesla powertrain in another car.
You’re right, the Lightning, Lyriq and Leaf all look identical. It’s uncanny (rolling eye emoji).