Intel has big plans for Ohio, lawmakers want to know what Tesla’s plans are in one of China’s most beleaguered regions, and Renault is abandoning the old plan. All that and more in this Friday edition of The morning shift for January 21, 2022.
1st gear: this will solve everything
The chip-making giant announced the construction of two manufacturing plants on a 1,000-acre site in New Albany, Ohio, outside of Columbus. (Columbus has an auto industry of its own; Honda’s large American factory complex is there.) It doesn’t say what kind of industries the factories will be dedicated to production for, but it’s also not saying cars won’t be a priority, for Automotive News:
“At this early stage, we are not specifying which particular products will be manufactured at our Ohio factories,” Intel spokesman Jason Gorss said in an email to Automotive News. “Having said that, automotive is a very important market for us.”
Whatever Intel intends to do there, the company’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, is optimistic about it:
“We helped establish Silicon Valley,” Gelsinger told Time magazine in an interview. “Now we’re going to do the Silicon Heartland.”
You can just see him – I don’t know what he looks like, but that’s not important – say that while holding one of those oversized scissors cutting an oversized ribbon in front of an insignificant part of the perimeter of a gigantic patch of mud .
Either way, the company is right about one thing: new factories need to exist to meet global demand, especially for industries like automotive that have highly specialized needs. Don’t get me wrong, though — it’s about political posturing and feeling good about America as much as it’s about bolstering the supply. In fact, maybe even more, because this illuminating block of text from Time Explain :
Of course, part of the urgency to have more chipmakers in the United States is purely political. Locating a chip factory in the United States does not necessarily guarantee against further supply chain disruptions; Intel’s chips will still be sent to Asia for assembly, packaging and testing. Chips cross borders dozens of times before reaching consumers in phones, computers and cars, said Dan Hutcheson, vice president of TechInsights, which tracks the semiconductor industry. Three-quarters of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity is in the flight path of China’s air force, Hutcheson said, which could be problematic at a time of rising geopolitical tensions.
The “Silicon Heartland” still resides in China no matter what happens with this plant. Moreover, it will not be operational until 2025 at the earliest.
2nd gear: House Democrats want to know what Tesla is doing in a hotbed of genocide
Tesla recently opened a showroom in Xinjiang, China. This is something that has attracted a lot of attention from Americans lawmakers because Xinjiang is where the Chinese government has detained more than a million Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities in camps, subjecting them to arbitrary and unlawful executions, forced sterilization, abortions forced, rape and torture, among other grave atrocities, according to the US State Department. From Reuters:
“Your misguided expansion into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region sets a bad example and further strengthens the (Chinese government),” wrote Democrats Bill Pascrell and Earl Blumenauer, who lead two House Ways and Means subcommittees. , in a joint letter to the head of Tesla. Executive Elon Musk.
Since December 23, the US government has banned imports transiting through Xinjiang, where the Chinese government also practices forced labor. This prompted the subcommittee to ask Tesla why he is there and what other reasons he may have for being there. Again, Reuters:
In the letter, Pascrell and Blumenauer asked Musk if Tesla sources any goods made or manufactured in Xinjiang and, if so, to identify them. They also asked if Tesla had any financial relationships with Xinjiang-related businesses and if Tesla planned to expand into other parts of China.
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to the comment according to the article, likely because it doesn’t have a public relations department. Normally it’s awkward or annoying when the subject is, say, Cybertruck production, but in situations like this it’s a tiny little more reprehensible.
3rd gear: Renault hates the old plan
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi proposed a plan two years ago under which each brand would take the lead in the markets where it was strongest. Here, it’s obviously Nissan. In Europe, it’s Renault. In Southeast Asia, it’s Mitsubishi.
The problem with this kind of the strategy is it kind of lets the less popular brands wither and die. It is exactly why Renault CEO Luca de Meo has had enough. From Bloomberg:
The plan assigned major geographies to Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. where they would serve as a reference for others to improve competitiveness and share resources. But in setting out to change things in China, Renault CEO Luca de Meo has sought help outside the alliance, pursuing a partnership with Geely Holding Group that includes selling hybrid cars on the biggest world automotive market.
“Renault’s whole strategy in China was wrong,” de Meo told Bloomberg News on the sidelines of a media event last week. “It’s not Nissan’s fault. They may be leaders in China, but they are not there to be charitable.
Moreover, Renault did this without first checking with Nissan, which probably wouldn’t have flown under the previous management. Now, however, the times are different:
Renault did not involve Nissan in discussions with Geely that resulted in a preliminary agreement in August, according to people familiar with the matter. While the two cooperated in areas such as research and human resources, collaboration and communication has declined, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are not public.
4th gear: At least five automakers will try to get you to pay attention to their electric vehicles this Super Bowl
One of them will be BMW, for Adagewhich reports that the German brand’s first big spot in seven years will join those of General Motors, Kia, Nissan and Toyota on February 13.
If you don’t remember BMW’s latest move at thisit involved a nameplate that he no longer sells and Bryant Gumbel asking Katie Couric if she could twerk.
BMW hasn’t revealed which of its many faces will grace the small screen that Sunday, but I think the iX is a safe bet.
These five manufacturers might be all we get for Super Bowl car ads this year. Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are confirmed no-shows according to AdAge, while Stellantis apparently has a habit of launching something together at the last minute, if at all. Which seems on the mark.
5th Gear: Do you want to partner with Sony on their EV project?
Because the company is seeks to make new friends wherever he can, according to a story by Reuters. He will need it if he wants to get his Vision-S sedan and crossover in the aisles.
Sony has so far built two “Vision” EV prototypes with a factory in Austria owned by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International, which also makes cars for companies including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota Motor Corp.
Other members of its Europe-based project include German auto parts maker Bosch, French automotive technology company Valeo SE and Hungarian self-driving vehicle start-up AImotive.
Like many former non-automotive companies now trying to become automotive companies, Sony’s reasoning is that it can’t afford to miss the emerging profit opportunity:
“We consider the risk of ignoring electric vehicles to be greater than the challenge they pose,” said Izumi Kawanishi, the senior managing director who will manage a new Sony Mobility business, in an interview. The coming transformation of cars was in some ways similar to how information technology transformed phones into smartphones, he added.
I know the car-smartphone association ruffle a lot of feathers, especially since Sony’s expertise has always been in stuffing chips behind screens. What is that does not have perfected, historically, is a 4,000-pound human-carrying vehicle at high speed with wheels underneath. That said, the company has apparently already gone a lot further than Apple, so maybe it’s a little better suited to do that than your average tech hotshot.
Reverse: A star is born
The very first production DMC-12 left DeLorean’s factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland on January 21, 1981, 40 years ago. It was five years after the presentation of the first prototype in 1976, called DSV for “DeLorean Safety Vehicle”. It’s worth noting how much the exterior of the concept differs from that of the DMC-12 – the narrower nose, the sliding mechanism of the side windows, the absence of louvers in the rear and, of course, those magnificent wheels of time.
Neutral: I could use a backup camera
I love how tech-free my car is – all I really need is CarPlay, and that’s it. What is that is not it I have a backup camera, which I could have benefited from before backing off a high, snow-covered sidewalk the other day. The side skirt still looks good – the curb just bumped the part immediately in front of the driver’s side rear wheel without its adhesive, so I’ll re-glue it at the end of the season. Ugh. How has winter left scars of war on your vehicle(s)?