Good morning! It’s Monday, October 16, 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: Shift Cut At Ford’s F-150 Lightning Plant
Despite announcing that sales of its EVs were up by more than 14 percent in the third quarter of 2023, the number of all-electric F-150 Lightning trucks that the Blue Oval shifted between July and September was down by a massive 45 percent.
Now, a memo shared by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Ford could cut a shift at the plant that builds the all-electric F-150 as “sales for the Lightning have tanked.” The memo was shared by a UAW official in response to Ford’s announcement that it would cut a shift from its lightning facility, affecting 700 jobs at the site. The WSJ reports:
A Ford spokeswoman declined to comment on the possibility of eliminating a shift at the facility on a longer-term basis, and said there are some shorter-term schedule changes as it works through supply-chain disruptions and quality checks.
The company plans to temporarily cut one shift due to these constraints, the spokeswoman said. The shift change takes effect Monday and affects about 700 jobs. It isn’t related to the UAW strike at other factories. Ford declined to say how long the change would last.
Interestingly, the possible cutting of a shift at the site follows its six-week closure over the summer for expansion. The expansion of the Michigan EV plant, Ford said, would allow it to “meet customer demand” for its EVs.
However, that expansion came as Ford began backtracking on some of its EV targets. According to the WSJ, the company backtracked on a “previous goal to produce two million EVs by the end of 2026.” The company also gave itself an extra year to meet its target of producing 600,000 EVs per year.
2nd Gear: Strikes Could Cost Ford And GM $500 Million
In strike news, a new report from Automotive News has found that industrial action launched by the United Auto Workers back in September could cost Ford and GM as much as $500 Million. In fact, that figure is rising each day for both automakers, with Ford projected to lose $44m and GM hemorrhaging $21m every day the strike continues.
According to Automotive News, challenges like a reduction in spending for the two companies, project delays, and the eventual payouts they might have to make once a contract is reached all mean that costs are mounting. Automotive News reports:
Ford was hit hard Oct. 11 when UAW President Shawn Fain ordered a walkout from Ford’s Kentucky Truck assembly plant, its most profitable single operation globally. Kentucky Truck generates $25 billion in revenue per year — or $48,000 per minute, as Fain put it in a video address Friday.
After a senior Ford executive said the automaker had reached the limit of what it could spend on a new union contract, Fain replied: “Go get the big checkbook. The one Ford uses when it wants to spend millions on company executives or Wall Street giveaways.”
As a result of the strike, GM has already projected that it will take a $200 million hit to its third-quarter profits. The company has also increased its cost-cutting target by more than $1 billion through the end of 2024.
It won’t be long until we see the full costs the strikes are having on GM and Ford. The two companies are poised to release their latest financial results later this month, with GM reporting third-quarter results on October 24 and Ford sharing its results on October 26.
3rd Gear: Stellantis And Ford Lay Off 1,250 More Workers
In further strike-related news, Ford and Stellantis have announced another round of layoffs that they’re blaming on the walkout. The two automakers will furlough an additional 1,250 workers at sites impacted by the UAW walkout.
According to a new report from Reuters, Stellantis is placing a further 700 employees on temporary layoffs, bringing its total number of furloughed workers up to 1,340 employees. Ford, meanwhile, has added an additional 550 workers to its tally of laid-off employees. Reuters reports:
Ford said that starting on Monday it will be laying off about 300 employees at an Ohio transmission plant and about 250 at four Michigan plants along with 12 in Chicago. In total, Ford has laid off 2,480 employees since the strike began on Sept. 15.
At General Motors, the number of furloughed workers has reached 2,300, bringing the total number of Big Three employees on temporary layoffs to an eye-watering 6,120. In contrast, the UAW strike has seen 34,000 union workers walk off the job, accounting for roughly 25 percent of its members.
4th Gear: Ferrari Accepts Crypto Now, Apparently
Never a company to miss out on the latest technology, Ferrari has announced that it now accepts Bitcoin from anyone looking to buy one of its cars. Starting in the U.S., the Italian automaker will accept bitcoin, ether and USDC on payments of its supercars, with plans to roll the scheme out to further markets later.
According to a report from Endgadget, Ferrari will accept cryptocurrency payments through processor BitPay. The payment system will launch in the U.S. first, where apparently customers were “begging for” it. Europe will follow in 2024 and “other regions” will join the cause later. Endgadget reports:
There won’t be any upcharges for those paying with crypto, Ferrari’s chief marketing and commercial officer Enrico Galliera told Reuters, and BitPay will convert those payments to traditional currency at the time of the transaction to avoid any issues of volatility. Galliera said the move will help the company reach “people who are not necessarily our clients but might afford a Ferrari.”
For anyone interested in swapping some bitcoin for a Ferrari, at today’s exchange rate you’ll need 8.3 bitcoin to be able to afford a Ferrari Roma and 17.9 coins if you’d rather drive away in an SF90 Stradale.