Jeep plans more electrified options, Ford and Rivian want expedited battery material mining permits, a multi-vehicle crash spilled 300,000 tomatoes across a freeway. 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.
Jeep Will Announce More Electrification Plans On September 8th
Sure, we’re going to maybe get an electric Dodge Charger and an electrified Dodge Hornet. Eventually, all of the Stellantis brands will offer something electric. They may be great! But the only successful electric brand from the company formerly known as DaimlerChryslerCerburusFiatChryslerHomeDepotGasStationTV is Jeep. Seriously! One could argue it’s the only successful brand at all from Stellantis.
Toyota was the leader in plug-in hybrids (PHEV) for many years and the RAV4 Prime is the vehicle you buy if you want a good, efficient hybrid all-rounder. And then Jeep came out with the Jeep Wrangler 4XE and absolutely smoked it. Jeep followed that up with the Grand Cherokee 4Xe in North America, and 4Xe versions of the Renegade and Compass for markets outside of America.
What’s next? Jeep teased even more plans. We’ll find out soon but, given that America loves Jeeps, there’s no better brand to lead the company’s EV plans than the one seven slats in the front.
— Jeep (@Jeep) August 31, 2022
Ford And Rivian Want Easier Access To American Battery Materials
Speaking of EVs. While the Inflation Reduction Act has clear stipulations on battery material sourcing, it could be years before a stable domestic battery material supply chain is established. In an effort to speed things up a touch, Automotive News reports that Ford and Rivian want the U.S. government to expedite mining permits for EV battery materials.
In comments submitted Tuesday to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ford said the permitting process for mining projects that support high-capacity battery manufacturing “should be no longer than three years.”
“Today’s lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process makes it difficult for American businesses to invest in the extraction and processing of critical minerals in the United States,” Chris Smith, Ford’s chief government affairs officer, said in a letter to the department.
Current U.S. permitting requirements for critical mineral production can take up to 10 years, he said. “In contrast, Canada and Australia have adopted mineral permitting policies that enable producers to complete the process in two to three years, while maintaining stringent environmental standards.”
A lead time of up to a decade to grant mining permits would put America’s plan for home-sourced battery materials on the back foot. While it’s definitely possible to source battery materials from friendly countries like Canada, a steady stream of American-sourced battery materials would ensure domestic supply chain security and likely create jobs.
GM And LG Start Ultium Battery Production In Ohio
Speaking of making batteries, The Detroit Free Press reports that GM and LG have started making batteries in their Ohio-based Ultium battery plant.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine toured the $2.3 billion Ultium plant in Warren on Wednesday to see the battery cell manufacturing process first hand, Ultium spokeswoman Brooke Waid said. The plant, which employs about 800, is adjacent to GM’s former Lordstown Assembly plant. GM closed that plant and sold it to Lordstown Motors in 2019.
In a media statement, Ultium said it “continues to remain focused on training as it prepares to ramp up.” Once at full production, the plant expects to have created 1,300 new high-tech jobs.
As the name suggests, this Ultium plant manufactures batteries for the Ultium-powered vehicles like the GMC Hummer EV. While an expected 1,300 new jobs is good news, the United Auto Workers union is reportedly running into some opposition in its attempt to unionize the plant.
In a memo obtained by the Free Press in June, Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director of the GM Department, said the union had just started organizing at Ultium Cells, but the company’s leaders have denied the union the use of a “card check” process to organize.
A card check is otherwise known as a majority sign-up, and it often expedites unionization. If at least 30 percent of employees sign an authorization form, that form gets sent to the National Labor Relations Board for verification, and a secret ballot is arranged should verification prove successful. There are a handful of exceptions, but a card check is generally a simpler method of organization than attempting to unionize exclusively by ballot. Unionizing may be worthwhile given its historical benefits for auto workers, and battery plant employees should be allowed to unionize and enjoy the same benefits as assembly plant employees if they wish to.
Multi-Vehicle Crash Spills 300,000 Tomatoes
No, that’s not a typo. USA Today reports that a truck carrying tomatoes collided with another vehicle on Monday, spilling 300,000 of the fruits onto the highway.
Highway Patrol officer Jason Tyhurst said the wreck happened at 5 a.m. along Interstate 80 west in Vacaville, about 35 miles west of Sacramento and 55 miles north of San Francisco.
Tyhurst told USA TODAY a truck carrying 50,000 pounds of tomatoes collided with a vehicle and swerved, striking another vehicle before driving into the center median.
The force was so strong it spilled about three-quarters of the load onto the highway, Tyhurst said. Passing vehicles ground them into a slimy pulp.
If a coating of slimy pulp all over a road sounds extremely slippery, you’d be right. USA Today reports that seven vehicles in total were involved in the crash, with three people suffering minor injuries and one ending up in hospital with a broken leg. Cleanup reportedly took several hours, with both eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 80 shut down. While it’s unlikely you’ll run across spilled tomatoes on the roads, this incident serves as a reminder to leave plenty of following distance as road conditions can change at any time.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Thursday, everyone. Friday is right around the corner. While everyone remembers their first car, our first cars weren’t always our first picks. I’d love to know what car was almost your first car and why it didn’t work out. Believe it or not, I almost dragged home a first-generation Mazda RX-7 as my first car but didn’t really have the space.
Lead photo credit: Jeep