Happy Friday, y’all. The weekend is nigh and so is Formula One’s first race in Las Vegas in decades. There’s just one problem. Ok, there are actually many problems, but the biggest potential one is a strike by the hotel worker’s union looming over race weekend.
What’s some other fun news I can squeeze out here during this cold November Morning Dump? Let’s see. BMW’s EVs are selling well enough that the company isn’t considering engaging in the same price war as other companies, which seems wise. Volvo EVs, too, have been selling well. Stellantis is considering bringing an extremely cheap super-mini EV to Europe to bolster its offerings there.
And let’s end this dump on the conflicting news over Gotion Inc’s proposed battery plant in Michigan, which continues to be a political football.
Viva Lost Wages! Union Summer Becomes Union Fall And Threatens F1 Weekend
In some ways, it’s a bit of a bummer that ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is out of the sport (and out about $800 million over tax fraud charges), because the collision of the cantankerous mogul and the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 would make for quite the showdown.
Alas, you can’t have it all.
Also, if you’re going to Las Vegas for Formula One’s race in a couple of weekends, you might not have anyone to serve you a drink.
The union, which represents guest room attendants, servers, porters, cooks, laundry, and kitchen staff, says workers are ready to walk from 18 major casinos/hotels if conditions aren’t met by November 10th, which is just a few days before the F1 race opening ceremonies.
F1 weekends have increasingly become glitzy affairs where, seemingly, the competitive action on track is often outdone by the race between wealthy individuals and celebrities trying to outspend one another. If the strike holds, both F1 and businesses in the area stand to lose a big chunk of change.
Are they serious? Here’s a bit from the AP and you can tell me if you think they’re serious:
At a news conference, Ted Pappageorge, the union’s secretary-treasurer and chief contract negotiator, urged tourists and Formula 1 ticket-holders to support the workers if they go on strike by not coming to Las Vegas or crossing the picket lines.
“We will be communicating to ask customers that they should take their business elsewhere,” he said.
Formula 1 did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Given the success of various unions this summer (UAW, UPS, WGA) it’ll be interesting to see how far the casino operators are willing to bend.
BMW And Volvo Doing Nah Bad
BMW released its Q3 results, and you can read it all here, but signs mostly point to the Bavarian automaker doing well with revenue above expectations (up about 3.4% year-over-year to about $41 billion) and its automotive margins at about 10.3% so far this year.
Retail sales of its electric cars are also up, climbing to 94,000 units in Q3, which means the company is on track to almost double what it did in 2022.
Does this mean BMW might try to compete with Tesla on price? Nope.
Pressed on whether BMW felt the need to cut prices to boost electric vehicle demand, particularly in China where a battle for market share has raged this year, Chief Executive Oliver Zipse said this approach was not in BMW’s playbook.
“We have no interest in sinking prices to gain market share. That’s not our strategy. And as you can see, we are managing to grow substantially even with very acceptable prices,” he said.
And what about Volvo, which is about to launch the EX30 (our review is coming on Monday)? Also not bad. The company reported a 22% increase in year-over-year sales for Q3, with BEVs making up about 18% of the company’s sales. Profits are also up. Here’s a key bit from Volvo:
At the same time, the gross margin continued to improve and came in at 19.6 per cent, helped by improving margins on electric cars, which came in at 9 per cent and was significantly up compared to the last quarter. This underscores that lower lithium prices are starting to have an effect, as well as the company is realising the effects of increased pricing on model year 2024 fully electric cars – as indicated during the previous quarter. Once the EX30 starts to be shipped to customers, it will further boost Volvo Cars’ profitable growth in fully electric cars, which the company believes will position it well versus many of its competitors.
Scale. Cheaper materials. Stubbornly high prices. It seems to be working for smaller automakers, at least.
I Want To See Stellantis Sell The Leapmotor T03
The Leapmotor T03 is a Chinese “supermini” electric car that sells in China for under $10k and has a range of about 170 miles. It is a city car, but it’s a remarkably compelling one. Now that Stellantis-owned Vauxhall has a stake in China’s Leapmotor, it is reportedly thinking about importing the tiny T03 to the European market to compete with the also Chinese-built Dacia Spring. Here’s Autocar explaining the logic:
Introducing cut-price Leapmotor EVs to the UK would help Stellantis reach the ZEV mandate targets starting next year, which forces car makers to sell a minimum of 22% zero-emission models in their overall sales mix, with tougher targets for subsequent years.
The T03 will obviously be a lot more expensive when it comes to the UK, but it only has to beat the $27,000 Citroën ë-C3 and $32,000 BYD Dolphin.
Gotion Plant Gets Closer To Reality, Then Doesn’t
I’ve already written about the troubles for partially VW-owned electric battery company Gotion’s proposed plant in Green Charter Township Michigan, but the Tl;DR version is that the local government sees a lot of jobs and money and some national politicians see the threat of Chinese influence (the company is based in the U.S., but it’s the subsidiary of a Chinese company).
According to local outlet The Pioneer, the locals think they’ve basically got a deal:
The Gotion Inc.-North American Manufacturing electric vehicle component manufacturing facility planned for Green Charter Township in Mecosta County is a “done deal,” a recent letter from Gotion Vice President Chuck Thelen to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation said.
The best part of this is the name of the bill is the No Official Giveaways Of Taxpayers’ Income to Oppressive Nations Act. That’s an acronym for NO GOTION. Subtle!
Technically, Gotion says it isn’t attempting to get federal IRA funds (it’s getting plenty in state/local tax abatements), though it’s possible the company will in the future.
Given that the whole point of the Inflation Reduction Act was to bring more manufacturing here and given the name of the act, this seems a bit like political grandstanding, though there are plenty of reasons why the United States government wouldn’t want to enrich Chinese companies more than it already has.
The Big Question
It’s Friday, so let’s have a little fun. Which car not sold in the United States should be imported here? Leapmotor T03? Zeekr Van? Ford Puma ST? What do you want?
Lead Photo: Mercedes F1