Home » President Biden’s 100% Tariffs On Chinese EVs Could Have The Hilarious Outcome Of Lotus Building Cars In The United States

President Biden’s 100% Tariffs On Chinese EVs Could Have The Hilarious Outcome Of Lotus Building Cars In The United States

Tmd Lotus Usa
ADVERTISEMENT

There are currently no Chinese brands selling electric cars in the United States, and there are very few Chinese-built electric cars here right now. That’s likely to be the case for a while as President Biden delivered on his threat to raise tariffs on electric cars from China this morning. Both Geely-owned Polestar and Geely-owned Lotus are bringing Chinese-built EVs to the United States, but Polestar has plans to build a plant here. Lotus? Not so much, but with a 100% tariff (basically doubling the price of Chinese-built EVs) maybe that will change.

The world is a complex, interconnected kinda place which results in some curious outcomes. Often these quirks come courtesy of the government. In this case, it’s the U.S. government looking into the “exhibited unexpected behavior near traffic safety control devices,” whatever that means. And while we’re talking about driverless cars, the former head/founder of Cruise has started a new robot company.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Finally, it’s the best Morning Dump of the year! There’s a new Škoda Octavia! Crack out the Budweiser, I’m gonna talk about Czech cars.

Biden’s Tariff Is Basically A Ban On Chinese-Built Electric Cars Of Which There Are… Not Many

Lotus Eletre 8

I think it’s true to say that if a Chinese brand tried to sell cars in the United States it would disprove the theory that any press is good press. It would not go well (you should see the comments we have to edit/delete when we write about Chinese cars). Why do we accept a million items made in China but not cars? That’s probably worth of its own article Whatever your opinion is, even a ban on Chinese brands selling in America wouldn’t mean much. 

ADVERTISEMENT

But Chinese-built EVs? Almost every company selling cars in the United States has an operation in China and there are plenty of Chinese-built cars for sale over here, including ones from American brands (both the Lincoln Nautilus and Buick Envision are Chinese-built). This new tariff won’t impact them.

BTW, I guess we should hear from President Biden on what he’s doing, via this big White House statement:

With extensive subsidies and non-market practices leading to substantial risks of overcapacity, China’s exports of EVs grew by 70% from 2022 to 2023—jeopardizing productive investments elsewhere. A 100% tariff rate on EVs will protect American manufacturers from China’s unfair trade practices.

On top of that there are new increases in equipment and metals related to Chinese-sourced batteries:

The tariff rate on lithium-ion EV batteries will increase from 7.5%% to 25% in 2024, while the tariff rate on lithium-ion non-EV batteries will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2026. The tariff rate on battery parts will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024.

The tariff rate on natural graphite and permanent magnets will increase from zero to 25% in 2026. The tariff rate for certain other critical minerals will increase from zero to 25% in 2024.

Despite rapid and recent progress in U.S. onshoring, China currently controls over 80 percent of certain segments of the EV battery supply chain, particularly upstream nodes such as critical minerals mining, processing, and refining. Concentration of critical minerals mining and refining capacity in China leaves our supply chains vulnerable and our national security and clean energy goals at risk.

That might have more of an impact on battery-related costs for certain automakers, but most companies planning to sell electric cars stateside have either built local plants or are rapidly trying to deploy them. The big reason for that is many of these brands want to take advantage of Inflation Reduction Act subsidies, which means those companies are already trying to build a supply chain that uses less China-sourced stuff.

And then there are the funny little exceptions. If you export a car built in the United States you can import a similar car and avoid the tariffs. This is how Geely-owned Volvo kept the price of the EV Volvo EX30, in spite of it being built in China, as Volvo exports the EX90 from South Carolina.

ADVERTISEMENT

This works for Volvo. But what about Geely-owned Polestar, which is a Sino-Swedish brand that builds some of its cars in Taizhou, China? Polestar is already planning to make the Polestar 3 in South Carolina this year and, given Europe’s growing discomfort with Chinese cars, is looking to export more cars to Europe from South Carolina.

That leaves Geely-owned Lotus as the odd company out here, because both the new Lotus Eletra and Lotus Emeya are supposed to be designed in England and built in China with no plans that I’ve seen to build cars anywhere else. A 100% tariff makes that an interesting proposition.

The obvious solution, to me, is that Lotus should build cars here in the United States in South Carolina. Imagine what Colin Chapman would have accomplished if he’d had the might of American manufacturing behind him? I’m not saying this is what’s going to happen but Lotus, historically, is comfortable changing its plans.

I think an outcome of all of this being a South Carolina-built Lotus is about the funniest side effect imaginable and it’s the one I’m definitely trying to manifest into being. I want a Lotus with a big MADE IN AMERICA sticker on it. C’mon Lotus. Do it. Do it.

Feds Looking Into Waymo Over ‘Unexpected Behavior’

Waymo Autonomous Jaguar

ADVERTISEMENT

The post about driverless cars operating better with a fourth traffic light generated a lot of discussion, even though the technology feels quite a bit in the future. But maybe we need it?

Here’s the skinny from Reuters about an National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiry into Google’s self-driving arm Waymo:

The auto safety agency will investigate the Waymo 5th Generation automated driving system performance “in the incidents identified in this resume and similar scenarios, as well as to more closely assess any commonalities in these incidents.”

The investigation, which is the first stage before the agency could demand a recall if it believes the vehicles pose an unreasonable risk to safety, will evaluate Waymo vehicles performance “in detecting and responding to traffic control devices and in avoiding collisions with stationary and semi-stationary objects and vehicles.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but the article does mention incidents while entering construction zones, as well as collisions with gates and chains. David, fortunately, didn’t have many of those issues when trying out Waymo in Los Angeles.

Cars are hard! Self-driving cars are harder.

Cruise Founder Starts New Non-Taxi Robot Company

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Kyle Vogt went from co-founding Twitch to co-founding driverless car company Cruise, which was later acquired by General Motors. Vogt was the CEO of the company when one of its driverless Chevy Bolts dragged a pedestrian to the side of the road in California. After a poor response to the incident, Cruise temporarily suspended its fleet of autonomous taxis and Vogt resigned.

My suspicion is that Vogt’s deal with GM/Cruise precludes him from working for/starting another self-driving company (also, who needs the stress?).  Still, robots are fun! Vogt seems to have landed on his feet and is co-founding a bot company… called The Bot Company.

As you can see in the tweet above, The Bot Company is going to make robots that make our lives easier. At this point, I was thinking of doing a whole riff on how he’s creating a bot to fix the lack of time resulting from “the complexities of modern life” caused, in no small part, by his fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Then I realized I need a robot to wash and fold laundry and I decided to just shut up and pray that’s the first thing his company makes.

I See The New Škoda Octavias Are In Early This Year

Octavia Group Shot

ADVERTISEMENT

Can you believe that me, Matt Hardigree, could not shake loose a Śkoda when I visited England last year? I am, if you didn’t know, the biggest booster of Škoda on this side of the Smědá. Something about Śkoda not having many cars in England and me being some random ass American. Oh well. I don’t give one pork knuckle, I’m still a fan.

If you somehow weren’t aware, the now wholly-owned Volkswagen Czech brand does what wholly-owned VW brands do and builds cars on different Volkswagen platforms. In some ways it’s a mainstream budget brand but, like JetBlue, it tries to offer a little more for your money. I also think that, historically, Škoda makes more attractive cars on those various platforms than other VW brands. A Škoda Kodiaq is, for instance, the handsomer version of the big Tiguan.

And the Octavia is the way better Golf Mk8/Audi A3, now recently refreshed for your enjoyment:

17 Skoda Octavia Combi Shot

Did I mention it comes in a wagon? It comes in a wagon (or Estate, as they call it). I love a Škoda wagon.

ADVERTISEMENT

This is just a refresh, as pointed out by Škoda in its press release:

The refresh of the fourth modern Octavia generation includes a new, upgraded design with revamped front and rear bumpers and an updated Škoda grille. Also new are the second-generation LED Matrix beam headlights, revised LED rear lights with animated indicators and new alloy wheel designs. The new range structure comprises four trim levels – SE Technology, SE L, Sportline and vRS – and offers seven Design Selections for the interior.

Last time I was in Prague I did get to borrow a vRS Octavia sedan, which currently puts out about 260 horsepower from Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter TSI fourbanger. It was great. This in an orange wagon, please!

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

The artist St. Vincent, named I assume for the weird cars of Australia’s Gulf of St. Vincent, has a new album out and you should give it a listen. If you’ve never heard St. Vincent she’s an art pop/rock singer with a David Byrne streak who can play the guitar like Colin McCrae could drive a Subaru. I’ve never seen her solo act live, sadly, but I’m fairly certain I saw her perform with mega-band the Polyphonic Spree. Maybe I should do the Spree one morning? Anyway, rather than starting you with the new stuff why don’t you dip your toe in the water with the early song “Cruel” and work your way there.

The Big Question

What is the most advanced thing you’d trust a robot to do? Drive? Fold your tighty-whities?

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
111 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
AnalogMan
AnalogMan
13 days ago

It’s sad politicians on both sides are trying to outdo each other ‘talking tough’ on China. The only guaranteed losers are American consumers.

Tariffs rarely achieve what many people think they do. They only hurt consumers because we pay them, not companies. It’s not ‘leveling the playing field.’ It’s hurting us, forcing us to subsidize U.S. companies and pay higher prices for lower quality domestic products. U.S. companies raise prices to matched the tariffed goods because they can, and consumers end up simply fattening heir profits for the benefit of management and shareholders.

People decry China for ‘cheating’ because their government invests in R&D and supports industry which they say gives them an ‘unfair advantage.’ You mean like our own government used to do, leading the world in R&D until Republicans starved it out of the system and instead gave taxpayer dollars to subsidize the oil industry? 

Yes, U.S. companies are at a ‘disadvantage’ vs. Chinese but it’s both because our government doesn’t support them the way they should and used to, and because of relentless pressure from institutional investors to ‘maximize shareholder value’ that our legal system interprets as squeezing short term profits. The fastest way to increase short-term profits is to cut R&D. 

China is also criticized for ‘stealing intellectual property’ – like every American company does. Most have teams of people looking for ways around patents and profiting from the work of others.

Our own get rich quick fast buck culture has come back to bite us. If our government and companies are looking for someone to blame for their inferior products compared with China they need look no farther than the nearest mirror.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
13 days ago
Reply to  AnalogMan

I also think it’s hilarious and ironic that they did it only to EVs so Chevy and Ford can keep building their China cars to sell here. What will happen when GM and Ford want to make EVs cheaper so try to build them in China? Or if a Chinese OEM comes and sets up shop in Mexico? This is shortsighted at best and harmful to the USDM at worst.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
14 days ago

I would trust a robot to have more humanity than Elton Musky.

Jon Myers
Jon Myers
14 days ago

China has massively subsidized EVs and other green tech so that they can control the critical new technologies: https://www.ifw-kiel.de/publications/news/chinas-massive-subsidies-for-green-technologies/

James Carson
James Carson
14 days ago

St Vincent FTW. Tried to fit in seeing her on her summer tour but couldn’t make it work. Robots in factories have human protection cages cages surrounding them, yet automated cars free roam on the streets. We are that dumb. Tarriff everything China makes by at least 125% IMO. Skoda is still VW so nopes for me.

Querty
Querty
14 days ago

The real coup will be if Vogt’s robot company focus on an humanoid robot that drives regular cars

Ben
Ben
14 days ago

Then I realized I need a robot to wash and fold laundry and I decided to just shut up and pray that’s the first thing his company makes.

I saw a Facebook post recently by someone I almost exclusively disagree with, but in this case I think they had a valid point. Basically it said nobody wants AI to replace writers and artists, everyone wants AI that can do their laundry and dishes. This might not be terrible? It would be nice if the tech industry did something to improve our quality of life for a change, given the steaming piles they’ve been dropping on society lately.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
14 days ago

And then there are the funny little exceptions. If you export a car built in the United States you can import a similar car and avoid the tariffs.”

Having a tariff exception like that is not funny or weird. It’s actually a very old and very good idea. The US-Canada auto pact was more or less set up that way.

It means that any foreign company that wants to sell cars in volume in the USA has to invest in at least some local production.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada%E2%80%93United_States_Automotive_Products_Agreement

What is the most advanced thing you’d trust a robot to do? Drive? Fold your tighty-whities?”

Sex slave.

LOL

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
14 days ago

I dunno man, I have very strict regulations on what gets near my gearshift lever, whether external or internal, and I am currently not inclined to trust a robot around that… This also means I have never taken gas station d[]ck pills.

Clark B
Clark B
14 days ago

Well, I love my Roomba, even though it’s 10+ years old and isn’t on of the “smart” ones. Basically it bounces its way around the room until it finds it’s way back to the charger, or the battery dies. That said, it works really well especially because most of our home has hard floors and low pile rugs. We have three cats and a dog so it’s nice to not have to be constantly sweeping up their fur. One day I wouldn’t mind upgrading to one that vacuums and mops, since I feel like we are always behind on mopping. Our floors are faux-hardwood laminate and they look exactly the same, clean or dirty.

Speaking of cats, I got a Litter Robot last month and holy fuck, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever spent money on. Yeah it was like $600 but the only place in our house that litter boxes can go is my home office. I was always getting up and having to clean them throughout the day so my office didn’t stink. One of the cats was skeptical about it at first, but now they are all using the robot. I just empty it once a week, add litter occasionally, and every month or so empty it and wipe the inside down. It has been worth every penny I spent on it. They even have a 90 day return policy in case your cats don’t take to it.

For me, I’m more interested in robots that can help me out at home. One that mows the lawn would be nice. If they invented one that could fold laundry (one of my least favorite chores) I would be throwing money at whoever designed the thing, but I don’t see one of those getting built any time soon.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
14 days ago

“Then I realized I need a robot to wash and fold laundry and I decided to just shut up and pray that’s the first thing his company makes.”

My wife & I are 100% on board with this. The bot needs to put the laundry away also.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
14 days ago

From panda diplomacy to pander politics. :SIGH:

3WiperB
3WiperB
14 days ago

Those lawn mowing robots keep looking better and better. As soon as I get one that can identify weeds and zap them with a laser while it mows… I’ll be your buyer.

My parents are quite the trailblazers, having bought a used (plug in) electric vehicle that was manufactured in and imported from China many years ago. They still have that CT6.

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
14 days ago

What’s the definition of a robot? Technically, I’d say a dishwasher is a robot as are laundry machines. You load them up, they do the chore, eliminating manual effort and resulting in a predictable and standard result each time.

I don’t trust automated driving robots. Beyond the programming hurdles and environmental (i.e. inclement weather) hurdles, I don’t trust computers to function properly every time. I don’t know why, but computers crash. I would think that the code doesn’t change from one use to the next (barring an update or something) so a program should function the same every time, but sometimes it doesn’t. For example, take the Android Auto functionality in my car. Usually it connects and does its thing flawlessly. But sometimes it refuses to connect. Other times, it freezes or closes. Why does it do this? I don’t know, but I do know I don’t want it to be in charge of operating my car.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
14 days ago

Even an ATM is a robot!

Goof
Goof
14 days ago

I mean, tariffs are nothing new.

Hence the chicken tax. Though honestly, the biggest thing was the Plaza Accord in the 80s. That’s the beginning of what set Japan up for having a bad time.

We’ve been doing this forever. We will continue doing it forever.

111
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x