Good morning! It’s Wednesday, September 20, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.
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1st Gear: Ford Gets A Deal In Canada
While battling through a strike here in the U.S., American automaker Ford has managed to whip up a last-minute deal to avert further industrial action across the border in Canada. After extending the deadline to midnight last night, Ford finally managed to offer a deal that the Unifor union was happy with, and a tentative labor agreement has now been reached.
According to a report from Automotive News, Ford and the Unifor union reached a tentative agreement late last night after the original deadline for talks was extended by 24 hours. No details of the deal have been shared yet, but Unifor repeatedly claimed that it would not accept a deal that didn’t “deliver improved pensions and wages.” As Automotive News reports:
“We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement. “We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada.”
The automaker issued a statement but offered no insight into the deal.
“To respect the ratification process, Ford of Canada will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement,” Ford said in a statement.
The next step for the deal between Ford and Unifor will see it go before members of the union. The agreement requires approval from union members at Ford sites in Canada before it can be ratified by Unifor.
2nd Gear: United Auto Workers Look To Expand Strike
South of the border, however, things aren’t looking so rosy in talks between Ford, General Motors, Stellantis, and the United Auto Workers union. Members of the union walked out last Friday, and now America’s big three have until Friday to prevent escalation in strike actions.
According to a report from the Washington Post, the union has warned the three companies that it is prepared to expand the strike to further U.S. auto plants if a deal can’t be reached by noon on Friday. So far, some 12,700 workers have walked out at “targeted” sites operated by the three automakers. The Post reports:
In a video posted late Monday, UAW President Shawn Fain gave General Motors, Ford and Stellantis until noon Friday, which will mark a week since the union began strikes at three factories — one at each company. The union is seeking a large wage increase, expanded benefits and more job protections as the industry shifts toward electric vehicles, a transition that potentially includes further plant closures.
“We’re going to keep hitting the company where we need to, when we need to,” Fain said. “And we’re not going to keep waiting around forever while they drag this out.”
So far, Fain has not elaborated on which plants will join the strike action but so far the walkout has affected the plants that assemble models like the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Ranger, and several GM vans.
To try and avert further industrial action, Ford says it has offered the union a 20 percent wage increase over four years, cost-of-living adjustments to wages, increased pension contributions, and more paid time off.
3rd Gear: UK Government Changed Its Mind On Gas Cars
Governments around the world are looking to phase out gas-powered cars in favor of models that can be powered in a more sustainable way. In Europe, that means a ban on new gas-powered cars by 2035, and here in the U.S. several states are also pleading to match that target. However, the UK might be about to backtrack on its own targets as it cuts its zero-emission ambitions.
According to a report from British outlet Autocar, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering backtracking on the country’s plans to outlaw the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2030. Instead, the country will work towards a deadline of 2035 for the ban. Autocar reports:
The ban is currently due to come into force in 2030, although certain hybrid powertrains capable of ‘significant zero-emission running’ will be allowed until 2035. But that date has again been called into doubt, with the BBC reporting that the prime minister is planning to delay a number of key ‘green’ policies that are part of its target to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
It is understood that the government could push back the introduction of the non-zero-emission car ban from 2030 until 2035, although final decisions on which policies will change have yet to be made. It is understood the announcement is set to come in a speech that the prime minister will give this afternoon (20 September). It was originally planned for Friday.
While Sunak has not yet confirmed or denied if he is indeed planning to backtrack on the policies, he has issued a statement about the reports that he’s planning on backtracking, which seems odd. In it, he said that while he remains “committed to net zero by 2050,” he hopes that the country can reach that goal in “a better, more proportionate way.”
If you ask me, that’s politician speak for “you bet your ass I’m not banning gas cars anytime soon.”
4th Gear: Bollinger Finally Has A Truck To Sell
The world is now awash with electric vehicle startups that are promising to change the way we drive. Brands like Lucid are doing that for rich people and Faraday Future is doing so for optimistic people. But while EV startup Bollinger originally planned to change the way rugged adventurous types drive, it’s instead helping clean up trucking with its first models.
The company, which originally planned a boxy electric SUV, made the pivot to focus on heavy trucks in early 2022. Now, it’s rolled out its first electric truck and is eyeing a production run in early 2024. According to Automotive News:
Roush Enterprises of Allen Park, Mich., will assemble the B4 under contract. From there, customers will take delivery and have the B4 chassis upfitted. The B4 chassis can be used for numerous vehicles. If demand exceeds Roush’s capacity, more B4s can be made in Mishakawa, Ind., in a former AM General facility owned by Mullen Automotive, which owns 60 percent of Bollinger Motors.
If the B4 doesn’t hit any late snags, Robert Bollinger expects the pivot from startup to revenue-generating company to be complete by next spring when the first deliveries are scheduled to begin.
When deliveries begin early next year, the B4 truck will be capable of up to 200 miles of all-electric range per charge of its batteries. The electric truck will also be capable of hauling more than 7,000 lbs of stuff, and will be able to fully charge from zero to 100 percent in around 90 minutes.