While the focus was elsewhere, some auto industry news flew under the radar. Let’s recap. 📰
First up, General Motors union workers ratified their record deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. It looked dicey there for several days after seven of GM’s eleven U.S. assembly plants rejected the terms. However, today, it was confirmed the deal passed with roughly 54.7% of the 36,000 autoworkers who voted supporting it. With GM’s vote out of the way, investors await results from Ford and Stellantis workers, who are expected to approve the deal by a 2:1 margin.
The U.S. Department of Energy continues its push to strengthen the U.S. battery supply chain, announcing up to $3.5 billion in funding for companies producing batteries and the critical minerals that go into them. The funding is seen as necessary to support the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of half of all new car sales to be electric by 2030.
Meanwhile, Toyota is the latest automaker to partner with startup Redwood Materials to secure its supply of critical battery materials. The recycling startup aims to create a circular supply chain for Lithium-Ion batteries, supporting the transition of the U.S. (and the world) to cleaner energy solutions. The deal’s terms were not disclosed, but it marks an expansion of a partnership between the companies that began in June 2022. Redwood will supply cathode material and anode copper foil for battery cells in Toyota’s $13.9 billion North Carolina factory slated to start production in 2025.
And speaking of Toyota, America’s top-selling car will soon come only as a hybrid. The Toyota Camry is going hybrid-only, combining a gasoline engine with electric motors, beginning with the 2025 model. The decision to go fully hybrid with this car model shows how far the technology’s acceptance has come. It also reaffirms the Japanese automaker’s bet against going “full-throttle” into fully electric vehicles.
Amazon is furthering its venture into the automobile space. Next year, the company will allow auto dealers to sell cars through its site, starting with South Korean automaker Hyundai. This will add to its current experience, which enables shoppers to research and compare vehicles via “digital showrooms” on its site. But up until now, consumers could not buy vehicles directly through Amazon, just car products like replacement parts.
And lastly, Lucid moved into the electric SUV market by unveiling its three-row “Gravity.” The vehicle has 440 miles of estimated range and starts at $80,000. But one feature stole the show and had social media saying, “What the frunk?”