On the day that reviews for the relatively inexpensive Volvo EX30 drop there’s a lot of news from Tesla-land, specifically that the long-rumored cheaper and smaller Tesla model will start production sooner rather than later. Although with Tesla, sooner is an abstract concept.
Also from Tesla-land is a report that the growing unionization drive in Europe is encouraging the company to pay its workers more. Not too far away, Hungary might be getting a BYD plant as the Chinese automaker looks to grow its footprint in Europe.
Here in the States, Lucid has again cut the prices of its cars. And R&T names its first-ever Performance Electric Car of the Year. Huh, looks like this The Morning Dump has gone all electric. Just like Bob Dylan and, I’m sure, equally as popular.
The 25,000 EUR Tesla Cometh
There’s an entire class of small EVs in Europe (and China) that we don’t get that fit into the super-mini category that’s never been super popular here in the United States. Sure, we had the Smart and the iQ/Cygnet, but the fact that we no longer do should tell you something.
Europeans have had all the good options, from Audis A2 to Volkwagen’s UP! and everything in between. This now extends to electric cars, where the very nice Smart EV gets to compete against cars like the Citroën ë-C3. In German prices, the Smart #1 now costs about 37,490 EUR ($40,000), compared to about 23,300 EUR ($25,500) for the Citroën.
These city EVs manage to produce 250+ miles of range on the more city-friendly European WLTP cycle and are starting to use cheaper LFP batteries.
While I think it’s going too far to imply these vehicles present an existential threat to Tesla, the company lacks the product range that Europe desires. A smaller Tesla Model 2 (or whatever they want to call it) is a sensible move because, even though Teslas are still the best value for EVs in America, it’s a more competitive environment elsewhere.
Credit for the news of a 25,000 EUR (roughly $27,000) comes from a Reuters source, but information is scarce:
Tesla (TSLA.O) plans to build a 25,000-euro ($26,838) car at its factory near Berlin, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Monday, in a long-awaited development for the electric vehicle maker which is aiming for mass uptake of its cars.
The source, who declined to be named, did not say when production would begin.
Tesla declined to comment.
Like all Tesla plans, please ingest this news with a grain of salt the size of the Bismark. Also “a source with knowledge of the matter” isn’t exactly authoritative, but it is Reuters, who generally has a good track record when it comes to verifying sources.
Tesla Joins Toyota In Raising Wages For Workers
One of the key arguments the United Auto Workers made when carrying out its strike was that, if the union was successful, then other automakers (and businesses) would necessarily have to raise wages.
It’s happened quite quickly, first with Toyota and now, reportedly, with Tesla. It’s well known that the UAW wants to unionize both Toyota and Tesla plants, and European unions are intent on doing the same as both IG Metall in Germany and IF Metall in Sweden have their eyes on the American EV automaker.
Here’s what The Wall Street Journal is reporting after CEO Elon Musk’s visit to the Gigafactory outside of Berlin:
Tesla said Monday that executives had informed workers during a “team huddle” with Musk on Friday that the company would raise wages by 4% effective in November for the around 11,000 employees at the German plant. Tesla will also pay a 1,500 euro bonus, equivalent to about $1,600, in December to offset inflation. That comes on top of an inflation-adjustment bonus of the same size last year, exhausting the legal limit in Germany for tax-free adjustments. Starting in February, Tesla will raise annual wages by an additional €2,500 for workers in production.
Tesla also apparently denied that the raises have anything to do with union pressures and were just part of the normal course of business.
Is BYD Coming To Hungary?
Germany is still the center of car production in Europe, but just as a lot of American cars are built in Mexico and Canada, many German cars are built in places like Hungary and Slovakia.
Both Hungary and Slovakia offer skilled labor, relatively low costs, and are a day’s drive to many of the major population centers in Europe.
That makes the news from German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that Chinese automaker BYD is looking at building a plant in Hungary not a big shocker.
It’s also not a shock given that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is the one member of the EU that’s been super cozy with Russia and China.
From Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung:
Viktor Orbán was a guest in China for two weeks. Hungary’s Prime Minister was received with warm words in Beijing. “We consider you a friend,” President Xi Jinping assured the visitor from Europe . While other EU member states have increasingly distanced themselves from China in recent years, Orbán’s Hungary has maintained and deepened its close relations with the Asian world power.
On his trip to China, Orbán also paid a visit to a rapidly growing model Chinese company: in Shenzhen he was a guest of the BYD car company.
In terms of the EU, Hungary is like that friend who you’re not even sure is really your friend and hangs out with a lot of questionable characters but you keep them close because you know they’d be way way worse if you abandoned them. Hungary is basically the Ben Chang of Europe.
Lucid Drops Costs Again
I was a big fan of the Lucid Air Grand Touring I drove this summer, even if the price was a little high. Guess what? The price isn’t that high anymore.
Lucid slashed the price of its Air Touring model to $87,500 from $95,000 and the more powerful Grand Touring by $10,000 to $115,600.
The Newark, California-based company also slashed the price of its all-wheel drive Air Pure to $74,900 from $82,400. The price of its latest offering, the rear-wheel drive Air Pure, remains unchanged at $77,400.
You can see all of the company’s autumn offers here. What’s interesting is that the AWD version of the Pure is now cheaper than the RWD version if you qualify for all the incentives. These are great cars and a nice alternative to the aging Model S and mediocre EQS sedan.
R&T Names First Performance EV Of The Year
As always when talking about these of-the-year awards I feel that I need to point out that auto outlets, by and large, don’t sell the awards (I’ve never seen much proof that an outlet accepted money to pick a specific winner in spite of rumors).
What actually happens is that, once an award is given, the automaker buys the accolade. Specifically, they buy the right to use the accolade in advertisements and, oh, hey, maybe those ads end up on that publication or on that publication’s sister publications. That’s common pretty much everywhere and it’s not like a company’s ad sales team would ever, say, get mad at the editorial staff because the magazine picked a car that was less friendly to an advertiser that the company was courting…
All that being said, I think the first-ever Road & Track Performance EV of the Year made some good choices. Definitely read the full article for justifications, but I’m relatively onboard with the conclusions.
While there are some interesting omissions (no Lucid Air GT or Polestar 2?), all of the cars are representative of the options out there right now and R&T hints pretty loudly that the magazine was denied access for a comparison from certain manufacturers (it happens).
The Kia EV6 GT as the sub-$100,000 winner sounds right to me. I might prefer the looks of the Hyundai version, but I’ve driven an EV6 GT and was incredibly impressed (I also like the i4 M50 they tested). I’ll let you head over to their article to see which car outclasses the Model S Plaid as the over-$100,000 winner. They’re right about that one, too.
The Big Question
Do you care about Of-The-Year Awards? Are any awards more important to you than any other awards?