‘You Just Lost Kentucky Truck’: Auto Worker Strike Comes To Ford’s Largest Plant

‘You Just Lost Kentucky Truck’: Auto Worker Strike Comes To Ford’s Largest Plant

Good morning! It’s Thursday, October 12, 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: UAW Strikes Ford’s Biggest Plant

Just when we all thought progress was being made in the United Auto Workers’ fight for a fair contract, the union called to expand its strike. According to CNN, the UAW called on workers to walk out at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant after the Blue Oval failed to come to the table with a better offer.

According to the news site, Ford and UAW representatives met on Wednesday (October 11) to discuss the new contract. However, the offer made was “the same one that Ford had made to the union weeks earlier.” As a result, the UAW’s Shawn Fain called on more than 8,000 workers at the truck facility to walk off the job. CNN reports:

By hitting the Kentucky Truck Plant, the union is going after a much more profitable part of Ford’s line-up. The vehicles at the plant produce annual revenue of $25 billion for the company, or about one-sixth of its overall global revenue. While it does not produced the F-150, the company’s best selling vehicle, it builds the larger versions of the truck as well as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

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The escalation at Ford comes after it appeared progress was being made in the UAW’s talks with General Motors, Stellantis and the Blue Oval. Last week, the union declined to expand strike action after “GM had agreed to a key bargaining demand,” CNN reports. The Chevy owner agreed to include workers at its joint venture battery plant in the union, which CNN reports is something the UAW is pursuing with Ford as well.

2nd Gear: Americans Support Striking Auto Workers

As the UAW looks to expand its industrial action in America, a new poll found that people across the country are behind striking workers. According to a poll from the Associated Press, 36 percent of Americans side with striking workers, while just nine percent are backing GM, Ford and Stellantis.

The results of the poll, which were shared by the Detroit Free Press, found that many Americans are on side with the union’s call for higher wages. But the site warned that approval for some of the UAW’s “other demands is more mixed.” The Free Press reports:

The new poll adds to evidence of U.S. support for labor unions during a year marked by strikes in Hollywood, a walkout that was narrowly averted by Teamsters at United Parcel Service, and now the picket lines outside auto plants.

In the new AP-NORC survey, 51% say labor unions help U.S. workers while only 15% say they hurt working people. About one-third say unions help the U.S. economy, while 22% say they damage the economy.

According to the free press, 60 percent of those polled believed higher wages for auto workers would be a good thing. The study also found that 38 percent of respondents think a four-day is a good idea, while 21 percent of respondents were against the move.

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3rd Gear: VinFast Buys Battery Maker

Despite facing a wall of negative reviews and seemingly selling most of its cars to itself, VinFast is about to make a major acquisition that the Vietnamese automaker says will help “ramp up” its production. According to Reuters, the EV maker is set to purchase a 99.8% stake in battery maker VinES from its founder Pham Nhat Vuong.

Reuters reports that VinFast’s acquisition of VinES will help the automaker secure a steady supply of batteries for its EVs. It’s also hoped that the move could cut costs by between five and seven percent, as Reuters reports:

In a filing with the U.S. securities regulator, VinFast said it would acquire VinES for no consideration other than assuming debt of around $462 million with Vuong willing to provide grants to the EV maker for all interest payments relating to existing VinES borrowings up to 2027.

While the long-term plan is that the purchase of a battery company will help VinFast cut its costs, Reuters warns that this won’t be the case in the short-term. Instead, the site suggested that costs could spiral as VinFast plows money into factory operations and research and development.

However, Thuy Le, VinFast’s global chief executive, said the move would eventually allow the company to “optimize” its workflow.

4th Gear: VW Kills The Up!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but today is a sad day for fans of cutesy little city cars. I’m afraid to report that Volkswagen has killed off its lovely Up.

According to a report from British outlet Autocar, the Up has been struck down in its prime after 12 years on sale. After going on sale in 2011 and undergoing a facelift in 2016, time has finally been called and VW will cease production of the model before the end of 2023. The site reports:

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The Up will be more directly replaced by an ultra-compact electric city car known as the Volkswagen ID 1, which is set to arrive in dealerships within the next five years and be priced from less than £17,000.

While the Up will eventually be replaced by something newer and shinier, its successor won’t be on hand to take the reins as soon as VW cuts production. Instead, Autocar reports that the replacement for the Up won’t arrive until around 2026, when VW will roll out a raft of new small EVs for buyers in Europe.

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