Ford, GM and Stellantis are battling the unions in Michigan.
President Biden is rushing to support the United Auto Workers. And he plans to join the picket lines in Detroit.
It’s the latest sign that the old-school automakers are complexly broken. They’re failing to adopt to EVs – and being destroyed by Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA).
Ford (NYSE: F) is pausing development of its EV battery plant.
The move is happening just as the United Auto Workers (UAW) union demands a 40% pay raise.
The timing couldn’t be worse…
Ford, GM and Stellantis are struggling to adopt to EVs. Sales of their EVs are sluggish – and they continue to lose money on every EV they sell.
Meanwhile, Tesla is LOWERING prices. And sales of Tesla EVs jumped 57% in the first 6-months of this year.
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In February Ford announced plans to invest $3.5 billion in a Michigan EV battery plant.
The Ford plant was supposed to produce batteries for 400,000 EVs per year by 2026.
America’s #2 automaker plans to produce 2 million EVs per year by 2026. That means this single plant was expected to produce 20% of the batteries required for these EVs.
Ford partnered with China’s CATL on the development of the EV battery factory.
However, Ford was going to own and operate the plant. And that meant Ford would employ 2,500 people to operate the plant.
Ford also plans to produce batteries in Tennessee, Kentucky and Turkey. Along with the Michigan location – these plants are expected to produce enough batteries for 2 – 2.5 million EVs per year.
Here’s Ford’s official statement…
“We haven’t made any final decision about the planned investment there. There are a number of considerations. We want to be confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant.”
The bottom line is that Ford wants to be sure that it can afford to operate the plant.
A 40% increase in labor costs dramatically changes the financials projections for this plan.
That’s a big problem for Ford.
Biden says that he wants the U.S. to produce EV batteries domestically. He also says that he wants to fight inflation.
Yet if the UAW negotiates a 40% pay increase – a couple things could happen…
- Ford could simply decide not to build the EV battery factory in the U.S. Instead, they could follow Telsa and build it in Mexico with much lower labor costs.
- Let’s assume the cost of labor goes up by 40%. Ford will simply increase the cost of its cars to reflect the increased labor costs – causing additional inflation.
It’s a lose-lose situation for Detroit’s big three automakers.
Tesla is the ONLY winner here…
Elon Musk is slashing the price on Tesla’s EVs. The company is expanding in Mexico – with low-cost labor. And the company’s production is up by more than 50% this year.
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