Tesla could start Semi deliveries as soon as December, former Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen retires, India considers tax cuts for British cars. 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.
The Tesla Semi Might Finally Be Happening
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2022
Here’s something you don’t hear often: News of new product from Tesla. Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday that the Tesla Semi is in production, with first deliveries to PepsiCo expected to start on Dec. 1.
If the Tesla Semi does indeed make it to PepsiCo in December, it would be Tesla’s first all-new vehicle since the Model 3 in 2017. [Editor’s Note: It’s worth noting that the Model Y was substantially different than the 3 on which it’s based, especially when it initially launched (the two have converged over time; also Tesla has made lots of changes to its existing vehicles since 2017) -DT]. Coincidentally, 2017 is the same year the Semi was first unveiled and that Pepsico placed its order. That’s a five-year wait, and it’s partly due to multiple delays.
Will Tesla deliver, or will Musk transform into a corn cob? Furthermore, if Tesla delivers, will the Semi be any good? Given Tesla’s track record of delays and quality control issues, it really feels like anything can happen. Not in an optimistic sense, but more in an “Oh shit, what now?” sense. [Editor’s Note: Tesla also has a track record of building great cars, so I’m optimistic about the final product, whenever it does decide to arrive. -DT]. Either way, Tesla has 55 days to get Pepsico its trucks. Tick tick.
Johan de Nysschen Retires
While automotive executives retiring often isn’t big news, this executive is a little bit different. Automotive News reports that Johan de Nysschen, former Cadillac boss and the man responsible for every Infiniti being named Q-something, has retired. From the news site:
“It’s time for me to step aside and let others who are more than capable to lead the way,” de Nysschen said in an interview with Wards Auto published Thursday. “I’ve done everything I have set out to do here, but you are never truly ‘done.’ There’s always the next thing in any job.”
After throwing much of Infiniti’s brand equity in the bin by nixing model names that help build the brand [Editor’s Note: I never really thought of names like G37 and FX50 as amazing in the first place, but yes, moving the nomenclature to the letter “Q” was perplexing. -DT] and moving Cadillac’s headquarters to New York for some reason before being fired [Ed note: You should read Bob Lutz’s story on why he thinks de Nysschen failed at Cadillac. -DT], de Nysschen moved to Volkswagen of America, where he became chief operating officer. With Wolfsburg calling the shots on an alphanumeric system of its own, de Nysschen oversaw quests like improving operations at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. assembly plant.
On the one hand, I curse GM for not letting de Nysschen follow through with plans to put the Cadillac XT6 on the rear-wheel-drive Omega platform that underpinned the CT6. On the other, Infiniti’s current naming scheme is just so idiotic that it’s hard to feel bad about the Cadillac sacking. In any case, I hope de Nysschen enjoys retirement and stays away from alphanumerics.
India Considers Tax Breaks For British Cars
India doesn’t just have one of the largest automotive markets in the world, it also has one of the most protectionist. Imported cars are subject to tariffs of between 60 and 100 percent, although Reuters reports that may change soon for cars made in the UK.
Lobby group the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has written to the government backing phased cuts to 30% over five years, following a grace period of five years with none, three sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
However, the plan to cut tax rates to 30% over 10 years “is not enough”, said a government source, while conceding that not reducing tax rates this time was “not an option”.
So why give a tax break to Britain? Well, Britain doesn’t make much in the way of new cars anymore. Even the Land Rover Defender is made in Slovakia. However, interest in luxury cars is high and reducing tariffs on vehicles like the Aston Martin DBS Volante is unlikely to threaten local manufacturing. The same couldn’t be said for lowering tariffs on EU-built cars since the European Union builds a much wider variety of stuff.
Toyota Prices The Turbocharged Highlander
If you forgot that the Toyota Highlander was ditching the V6 for 2023, don’t worry: Most of us forgot, too. Instead, the Highlander will come standard with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with less power, more torque, and identical fuel economy. That might not sound like a huge upgrade but the 2GR-FKS 3.5-liter V6 is a relatively peaky engine, so the new four-banger should make a difference in the real world.
Anyway, the big development is that Toyota has announced how much the updated Highlander will cost. Prices range from $36,420 plus an unspecified freight charge for the base L front-wheel-drive model, rising to $51,225 for the Platinum all-wheel-drive model. Compared to the competition, that price spread is right where it should be.
Expect the updated Highlander to arrive in showrooms this month, soon to be bought by very nice people near me who act like they’ve never merged onto a controlled access highway in their lives. Maybe that’s a bit mean, but if you’ve ever driven in Toronto, you’d find it to still be reasonably accurate.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Friday, everyone. It’s the end of the week, which means that automotive fun time is almost upon us. While I’m planning a little road trip, I’m curious to hear what car things you have planned for the weekend. Maybe you’ll break out the spanners, or the wash mitt, or the Waze app. Whatever the case, enjoying cars is good.
Lead photo credit: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.