Your Next Shipment Of Greasy Car Parts Might Arrive In An Electric FedEx Delivery Van

Morning Dump Fedex Brightdrop Zevo 600

FedEx puts electric vans into service, Volkswagen keeps the family sedan flame alive, Toyota slashes production outlook. All this and more on 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.

FedEx Puts 150 Electric Vans To Good Use

Fedex Brightdrop Zevo 600
Photo credit: FedEx

It’s no secret that we buy a lot of crap online, from car parts to home furnishings to Alexisonfire merch. Since all of that crap has to get to us somehow, last-mile delivery is a fairly critical transportation sector to clean up. Thankfully, FedEx seems to be taking things seriously. In a press release published on Tuesday, the courier announced it’s putting 150 GM-built BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric delivery vans to good use in southern California as part of the FedEx Express fleet. While FedEx has been testing the vans for a while now, proper deployment is a massive milestone for clean commercial vehicles.

While 150 vans may sound like a modest start, each of these vans is a whopping 290 inches long. Line them up end-to-end and they’ll stretch on for two-thirds of a mile, or approximately 1.105 kilometers for those who prefer metric units. More importantly, it’s the first big step in FedEx’s plan to put 2,500 of these electric vans on the road in the next few years. Of course, a big EV switch requires proper infrastructure upgrades, so FedEx has already installed more than 500 charging stations at facilities across California. Good stuff. Understandably, president and CEO of BrightDrop Travis Katz seems pretty stoked, saying in a statement that “we couldn’t be happier to be part of FedEx’s sustainability journey.”

You know, I’m pretty excited for widespread adoption of electric delivery vans. Keeping city streets cleaner and quieter sounds like a great plan, plus the cost savings are likely attractive to couriers.

Automakers Want Congress To Hurry Up With Chip Funding

car payment
Photo credit: yonkershonda licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

While certain supply chain squeezes seem to be gradually easing, the semiconductor shortage is still a big freakin’ problem. Hell, it’s a big enough problem that automakers are scrambling to find funding for domestic semiconductor production. See, Reuters alleges to have seen a letter that automakers have sent to Congress, and since Reuters is generally a no-bullshit, fluff-free newswire used by reputable organizations around the globe, it’s probably a good idea to largely trust it on this one.

The full list of companies said to be in on the letter is rather comprehensive. We’re talking General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Rivian, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Nissan. Suppliers Magna International and NXP Semiconductors also put pen to paper with this letter urging for Congress to get a move on with its bill for $52 billion in chip subsidies. In addition to allegedly citing the need for competitiveness, the letter is said to state that “numerous automakers have been forced to halt production and cancel shifts in the United States, with serious consequences for their workers and the communities in which they operate.”

As far as the bill, the Senate passed a version in July of last year, while the House passed a somewhat different version in February. As Reuters reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer believe that final legislation will be passed in July, so we’ll have to wait and see how promises are made good on.

Volkswagen Defibrillates The Family Sedan

Volkswagen ID.AERO teaser
Photo credit: Volkswagen

Just when it seemed like the death of the American Passat and impending demise of the Arteon would mark the end for family-sized Volkswagen sedans in America, along comes electrification. While not a full reveal, Volkswagen has teased a new electric sedan that plans to make its way stateside. Honestly, I’m pretty stoked.

Called the ID.AERO, it seems to undeniably be a sedan and is set to break cover in pre-production form on Monday. While the ID.AERO is initially intended for the Chinese market and will go on sale in China next year, Volkswagen claims in a press release that a version will be produced at the Emden plant in Germany for sale in Europe and North America sometime in 2023.

While details on the ID.AERO are fairly sparse right now, sedan fans should really pop champagne to this. I mean come on, who’s making mainstream electric sedans for America right now? The closest thing I can think of is the Tesla Model 3, and that’s really quite an expensive vehicle considering what buyers get. Honestly, combining the low ride height of a sedan with the low center of gravity of an EV and Volkswagen’s primarily rear-wheel-drive MEB electric platform could make the ID.AERO really quite good to drive. Needless to say, we’ll be eager to report on a production model as soon as we can get our hands on one.

Toyota Slashes July Production Outlook

Bz Frontqtr
Photo credit: Jason Torchinsky

While it seems like automobile production is slowly making its way out of the woods, a few recent events have everyone wondering how big these woods are in the first place. Case in point, Toyota has recently slashed its July production outlook by 50,000 vehicles, a pretty big number that includes some of its hottest new products.

According to Automotive News, Toyota expects to make 800,000 vehicles next month, some 50,000 fewer than initially forecast. While that certainly seems bad, it’s worth keeping in mind that things could always get worse. In the words of Toyota, “As it remains difficult to look ahead due to the shortage of semiconductors and the spread of COVID-19, there is a possibility that the production plan may be lower.”

See, supply chain shortages have led to planned production halts on hot vehicles like the bZ4X electric crossover and GR Yaris hot hatch, a bit of a sting if ever I’ve seen one. Short supply of new vehicles could cause Toyota to fall short of its annual production target of 9.7 million vehicles and give dealers even more of a reason to mark up hot products. The end effect is that consumers will often find themselves getting worse deals on new vehicles, significantly affecting new car affordability and used car availability for years to come. For the sake of everyone who buys cars, let’s hope that Toyota doesn’t miss its annual target.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re officially halfway through the week. To celebrate, let’s play a game. The used car marketplace is full of wonderful ill-advised potential purchases, cars that you know you probably shouldn’t buy even though you’ve fancied them for a long time. Red flag cars, if you will. Maybe a red flag car is typically unreliable, maybe it’s ugly, maybe it’s just impossible to get parts for. Whatever the case, I’d love to know about a red flag car that you want and why you really shouldn’t buy one. In my case, I’d really love a Mazda RX-8, even if it’s as fragile as a Fabergé egg.

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31 Responses

  1. My red flag car is a 2001 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG. Eg, the 4 headlight, 2dr coupe based on an S-Class Chassis. Wowee what a car for so little money but the pitfalls mean you bank another 80k for repairs just to be safe

    1. Exactly, that will look for all the world like a lift back, even if it has a mail-slot trunk lid instead, and absolutely suck for anyone over 4’9 to sit in the back.

      No wonder people buy crossovers.

  2. I’m all for the electric delivery vans, but it does mean I won’t be able to hear them coming up our ridiculously steep (20% grade) street. I always know when Fedex/UPS/Amazon are coming, and I can hear the mailman’s poor old LLV a mile away. Now, if someone wanted to implement a fleet of electric garbage trucks, that would be awesome, for similar reasons.

    Red flag cars? Oh yes. There are several that I would live to own. R50/R53 Mini, Alfa 164 or Milano, 1987-older Jaguar XJ6, any older five-cylinder Audi…

    1. My dog gets upset at somebody riding a bike past our driveway, so he’ll have no problem noticing an electric delivery truck. Get ye a dog who fancies himself a guard dog while they’re outside then wags his tail (or in mine’s case, docked nub) the second a NEW FRIEND steps in the door.

      1. Our fedex guy already likes to quietly throw things over the fence and run away rather than ring the doorbell. I think electric delivery vans make a lot of sense in a lot of applications, but I don’t want this clown getting any more help with ninja skills

  3. I’m just rooting for electric wagon already. I don’t quite get the point of EV crossovers, the range really suffers with tall vehicle. The drag coefficient might be OK, it’s only part of the equation after all. Bigger the vehicle cross section, worse the drag is. So after 60mph/100km/h the low profile really starts to matter. Not to mention I really despise the crossovers.

    Personally I hope Skoda makes EV Superb wagon or EV VW Passat wagon.

  4. Last mile delivery is a really bad idea to attach your green hopes. Sure FedEx and UPS are doing it themselves in a rich California market. But as a business delivery owner in Pennsylvania I looked at their ads. Own your own truck, come to our warehouse to see if we have anything for you. We pay $75 for you to deliver and in case of appliances installation. So $75 to deliver is just okay. But having to haul appliances or furniture upstairs or down to basement on narrow stairs for nothing is not happening. If you think Uber is a ripoff for it’s drivers try a 10mpg truck and a widespread delivery. Oh and buying a special $100 000 delivery truck for the privilege of going bankrupt quicker? Yea I passed on that privilege.

  5. Personally I don’t know how BrightDrop isn’t getting more press, as a new fully-EV venture that probably won’t collapse instantly, given that it’s backed by GM. But maybe it’s just that GM-skepticism that a lot of people have.

  6. Red flag cars: I just got a cargurus alert I didn’t ask for about a newly listed XC90 PHEV near me. Lowish miles and colors/equipment Id be interested in. Priced way below market. So it’s a six year old hybrid with a manufacturer buyback title. I’m sure they got all the gremlins out, right? Right?

  7. Will anyone really want to build generations-old chips for automakers at new factories? One of the reasons they’re in so much trouble is that chipmakers have quickly moved on.

    Red Flag: I can’t stop looking at early-1990’s Toyota Centuries – generally cheap initial buy-in with old school looks, but lots of outdated digital goodies + complicated air suspension + jdm parts. I bet I would (in the bad way) double any “initial investment” pretty quickly.

  8. Red flag cars? Oh my, so many, from a 1994 Lincoln Continental with floor shift to a new Alfa Romeo Giulia (or old 164) to a Jag S-Type with a manual to an Audi TT coupe (or old Coupė GT), oh and can’t forget late 90s Jaguar XK8 coupe and XJ8-R, ya know, before you’d think one of their sedans was a newer Kia sedan until you got close enough to see the badge. I also love VW Jettas from the 90s on back, but I remember how quirky and unreliable they could be then, I doubt several decades of use through several owners has helped. I know VW Fox (Gol) was a tough little car, but again, so old now and weird VW shit prevails.

    I can’t pick just one to top them all.

    I read the other comments and I must say, I don’t really have a problem with FedEx, never have. It’s when the part I REALLY need is shipped with fuckin DHL that kills me. Let it bounce around the north east for fucking 14 days (not joking, last time it was *only* 11 days so maybe they’re getting better?) before they hand it off to the USPS (their “delivery partner”) every fucking time, and then its here in 2 days flat.

  9. I love weird cars! I’ve owned over 50 and my current fleet includes a Saab, a kei truck and 2 Jaguars – all of them more than 20 years old. But the car I most crave but eternally fear, the car that makes me break out in a red sweat, is a Citroën SM 3.0. Every time I see one for sale I get excited and my hands start shaking! Then all the red flags pop into my mind – and I look away in fear and shame.

  10. Sure glad were blowing over $50bn on subsidies because automakers’ myopic electrical design and procurement teams got their collective dicks stuck in a covid-shaped ceiling fan.

    Also very excited to be shoveling over $10bn to a defense contractor to make 9 mpg postal delivery vans while their private competitors go electric and will, as a result, be highly not-insolvent in ten years. Ya know, unlike the USPS.

    For the flush: I’m currently trawling for used BMWs under $3k and Subarus under $1.5k. Literally every listing is a red flag purchase.

    1. The USPS would be fine if not for government meddling. They ran it into the ground, sold it so private enterprise could save it, and passed laws requiring they run it like they did when it failed.
      How bad is a business being run if it fails even when you are not interested in turning a profit and have Uncle Sam ponying up billions?
      Well government is full of people who couldn’t hack it in the real world. Not S/

  11. Perhaps large delivery and other fleets like FedEx can be part of the solution to green energy storage. I’ve heard a lot about how CA has to dump or export its energy during peak production because of inadequate storage. More large fleets with big batteries, and lots of them, will be a great use of the surplus if they can time it right.

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