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NEWS ARTICLE
INDEX

New Unifor
President
Lana Payne’s
pledges and
priorities
PODCAST
________

Ford reopens
F-150
Lightning
order bank,
raises prices
_______

Union and
workplace
training
programs
push for
more
inclusion in
'lagging' auto
industry
_______

Union leader
Jerry Dias
does not
deserve
public humiliation
_______

Ford sales
skyrocketed
in July as
other
automakers
crashed
_______

Bank of
Canada
governor
should stay
in his lane
and not
undermine
collective
bargaining
_______

Ford
introduces
police version
of electric F-
150 Lightning
________

Ford
executives
address
'sweeping
strategic
change' as
company
reports Q2
earnings
growth
_______

Stellantis
offers
retirement
incentive to
workers at
Windsor,
Brampton
plants in
Ontario
_______

Ford Plans
Up to 8,000
Job Cuts to
Help Fund EV
Investment
________

Wads of cash.
‘Relentless’
pressure.
Infighting at
Unifor. Leaked
investigation
findings
reveal new
details of
Jerry Dias
scandal
________

Already had
COVID-19?
Here's what
we know
about
reinfections
_______

Federal UAW
monitor says
leaders
obstructing
watchdog
rooting out
corruption
_______

US Postal
Service
Honoring
Classic Pony
Cars With
Five New
Stamps
_______

Ontario Police
Are Reminding
Drivers
To Renew
Their Licence
Plates Or Risk
A Hefty Fine
_______

Ford, SK
On formalize
joint venture
to build EV
batteries
_______

Ford recalls
more vehicles
for under-
hood fire
risk
_______

What These
Early F-150
Lightning
Customers
Think About
the Electric
Truck
________

Ford
outperforms
industry
with Q2,
June sales
gains
_______

Unifor to
release full
investigation
into former
president
Jerry Dias
_______

UAW
members
challenge
Ray Curry
for union
presidency
________

Auto Workers
Hold Lots of
Cards Even If
US Heads for
Recession
_______

Canadians
fear a
retirement
crisis is
brewing as
interest
rates rise
_______

5 Canadian
companies
on the 2022
Automotive
News Top
100 Global
Suppliers List
_______

Ford recalls
nearly 2,900
electric F-150
Lightnings
over tire
pressure
issue
______

Senate OKs
$101M
incentive
for Ford
work in
Metro
Detroit
_______

GM Won't
Require a
Four-Year
Degree for
Certain Jobs
_______

GM, Ford
executives
say U.S.
vehicle
demand
stays
strong
_______

Ford recalls
2.9 million
vehicles that
may roll away
while in park
_______

Ford recalls
nearly 50,000
Mustang Mach
-Es, halts
deliveries
over safety
defect
_______

Tesla Faces
Demand for
Union-Rights
Proposal
at Annual
Meeting
_______

UAW flexes
muscle with
strike pay
hike ahead
of Detroit
Three talks
next year
_______

Ford reports
4.5% year-
over-year
sales decline
in May amid
industrywide
drop
________

Ford recalls
SUVs due
to engine
fire risk
________

Ford found
liable in
lawsuit
in woman's
death;
jury
awards
$7M
________

Lawsuit
accuses 3
automakers
and parts
maker in air
bag case
_______

Ford
share
holders
quiz execs
on stock
performance,
EV strategy &
supply-chain
woes
_______

Russian
sales plunge
79% in April
as automakers
leave market
_______

Some Ford,
Stellantis
plants down
this week
due to chip
constraints
_______

Stellantis
announces
production
of electric
vehicles at
Brampton
plant
_______

Ford files
patent for
remote
engine
revving
system
using key
fob
________

Stellantis'
$2.8 billion
investment
secures
future for
Brampton,
Windsor
plants
______

Ford reports
10.5% sales
drop in April
as industry
continues to
battle chip
shortage
_______

2024 Ford
Mustang To
Launch With
Carryover
EcoBoost &
V8 Engines
________

Ford's Next
Electric
Pickup
Truck Will
Have More
Range,
Active Aero
_______

Ford recalls
Explorer
SUVs that
can roll
away while
in park
______

Ford Is
Building
Another
Electric
Pickup
_______

Ford posts
$3.1 billion
loss for Q1
but signals
supply-chain
improvements
ahead
_______

Ford eyes
EV market
leadership
with launch
of F-150
Lightning
________

GM's new
Mexican
union seeks
19.2% wage
hike
_______

Ford Patents
Tank Turn
For F-150
Lightning
_______

Ford recalls
650,000
pickups,
large SUVs
for
windshield
wiper
failure
_______

The Lincoln
Star Concept
Previews the
Brand's
Electric
Future
_______

Ford, GM
report first-
quarter sales
declines
in China
_______

Penske
Truck
Leasing
orders 750
all-electric E
Transit vans
from Ford
_______

Unifor
secretary-
treasurer
Lana Payne
running for
national
president to
replace Dias
_______

Ford JV plant
in Turkey
begins
shipping
electric E-
Transit van
to Europe
________

Ford declares
10-cents-per
share dividend
for second
quarter
________

700 additional
jobs required
at Stellantis
LG Windsor EV
battery plant
_______

Ford sales
plummet
25.6% in
March,
decrease
17.1% for
the quarter
______

Ford recalls
737K
vehicles
to fix
oil leaks,
trailer
brakes
_______

Toronto
police
financial
crimes unit
investigating
former Unifor
President Dias
_______

New Ford
F-150 Rattler
Teased By
CEO, Debuts
_______

Dias case
highlights
need for
code of
ethics in
workplaces,
experts say
_______

Largest
automotive
investment
EV battery
plant coming
to Windsor
in 2024
_______

Ford releases
final EPA-
estimated
battery range
for F-150
Lightning
ahead of
launch
________

Ford plans
7 new all-
electric
vehicles
in Europe
_______

Canada’s
travel
rules just
changed
What’s
new, and
what’s the
same?
_______

Canada,
Ontario
commit
millions for
Honda plant
upgrades to
manufacture
hybrid cars
_______

Retired union
leader Jerry
Dias under
investigation
by Unifor
_______

Status
of Unifor
National
President
Jerry Dias
_______

Ford's EV,
legacy restructuring
is 'HR
challenge'
________

Ford Mustang
Mach-E
Sales Down
Significantly
In February
2022
_______

Biden's call
to 'lower the
cost of electric
vehicles' brings
sigh of relief
from Canada
_______

Ford sales
down 21%
year-over
year in
February
________

Ford suspends
joint-venture
operation in
Russia
________

Ford cuts
some F-150
production
next week
due to
lingering
chip shortage
_______

Ford parks
hundreds of
chip-less new
Broncos in
snowy lot
_______

Here's how
inflation
works and
what can be
done about
rising prices
_______

Ford recalls
330,000
Mustangs
to fix rear
camera
problem
________

Canadian
autoworker
union leader
taking time
off for
'health
issues'
________

Ford’s Mustang
Mach-E beats
Tesla’s Model
3 as Consumer
Reports’ top
electric vehicle
for 2022
________

Brampton
seniors to
ride city
transit for
free
beginning
Feb. 28
_______

Ontario Is
Extending
The Deadline
To Renew
Health Cards
& Expired
Ones Will Be
Accepted
_______

Ford's Kansas
City plant
begins
deliveries of
all-electric
E-Transit
cargo van
_______

Ford plans
to suspend
or cut
production
at 8 factories
due to chip
shortage
________

Canadians
Make
Ford the
Top-selling
auto brand
for the 13th
consecutive
year
_______

Ford sales
flat for
January, but
electrified
vehicle
growth
continues
_________

Most Ford
U.S. hourly
workers to
get up to
$7,377
in profit
sharing
________

Ford to Spend
Up to $20
Billion
Reorganizing
for Shift to
Electric Cars
________

2022 Ford
Maverick
Hybrid
Review
_______

Elon Musk
slams Biden
on Twitter
over GM,
Ford
meeting
________

Ontario's
Reopening
Plan Starts
Monday &
These Are All
The Rules You
Need To Know
________

2021 Canadian
auto production
lowest since
1967
_______

Ford E-Transit
orders have
reached
10,000.
Walmart
among
customers
_______

Oshawa
Assembly
adds second
shift: GM
________

Ford Mustang
Production
Temporarily
Halted Due To
Chip Shortage
_______

Ford's New
Anti-Theft
Technology
Is Brilliant
_______

Restaurants,
gyms to reopen
Jan. 31 as Ford
announces
gradual easing
of COVID
restrictions
_______

Ford recalls
200K cars
because
brake lights
can stay on
______

Ford Mustang
Has Worst
Sales Year
Ever, Loses
Crown To
Challenger
________

Ford's sales
in China grew
3.7% in 2021,
GM's remained
flat
________

Canada joins
Mexico's
official
complaint
arguing U.S.
violating new
trade pact
over auto
parts
provision
_______

Ford crosses
$100 billion
in market
value for the
first time
_______

Ontario's
Deadline To
Renew Driver's
Licences &
Health Cards
Is Coming
Up, So Get
Prepared
_______

Pressure
mounting
for grocers
to bring back
'hero pay' amid
Omicron surge
_______

Canada may
have another
unlikely ally
in its electric
vehicle tax-
credit fight:
Arizona
________

Ford posts
7% fall in
2021 U.S.
auto sales
_______

Ottawa says
140 million
more rapid
tests heading
to the
provinces,
territories
this month
________

Local 444
Planning a
Rally over
latest
Closure
of Caesars
Windsor
_______

Ford Canada
extends
vaccine
deadline for
employees
_______

Ford to
double
F-150
Lightning
production;
orders open
Thursday
_______

Planning a
staycation?
You can claim
a tax credit
if you travel
in Ontario
this year
_______

Ontario's
minimum
hourly wage
now $15
_______

GM Oshawa
Assembly is
alive again
________

2021
Articles

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News

New Unifor President Lana
Payne’s pledges and priorities

Automotive News Canada Podcast
August 17, 2022

Lana Payne is the new national president at Unifor. She says it’s time for the union to “turn a page” and restore trust in order to move past the kickback scandal that ended Jerry Dias’ presidency early. She also says nothing will change when it comes to auto bargaining unless committee members what to tweak that approach. And, she plans to grow the union and take its fight “in the street god damnit.

Hear Podcast Here

 

 

Ford reopens F-150 Lightning
order bank, raises prices

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
August 16, 2022

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday will reopen order banks for the next round of reservation holders of the all-electric F-150 Lightning — and customers will see both improvements in range and a higher price for model year 2023.

Citing "significant material cost increases and other factors," the Dearborn automaker said it would increase the manufacturer's suggested retail price on the Lightning starting with the opening of this latest wave of orders. The base model of the truck will go up by $7,000, or 17.5%, to just under $47,000.

Ford launched production of the Lightning in April. Even before that, the company said demand for the electric version of America's bestselling truck exceeded initial production capacity. The automaker capped reservations at 200,000 and moved to boost production capacity at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn to 150,000 units per year by next year.

Faced with rising raw materials prices, EV makers — including Ford and numerous of its rivals — have increased prices on some models. 

General Motors Co., for example, boosted the price on its GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and SUV by $6,250 starting June 18. Ford raised the price on its Mustang Mach-E after commodity pressures wiped out profit margins on the electric crossover SUV. Tesla Inc. this year has implemented price increases on some of its models. 

To date, the starting price on the Lightning was $39,974, excluding destination fees. The suggested prices announced Wednesday, excluding destination fees, are:

  • $46,974 for the F-150 Lightning Pro
  • $59,474 for the XLT
  • $68,474 for the XLT High
  • $80,974 for the XLT High/extended range
  • $74,474 for the Lariat
  • $85,974 for the Lariat extended range
  • $96,874 for the Platinum extended range

“Current order holders awaiting delivery are not impacted by these price adjustments,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Model e, said in a statement. “We’ve announced pricing ahead of re-opening order banks so our reservation holders can make an informed decision around ordering a Lightning.”

Lightning reservation holders who previously received an invitation to order their vehicle, but who extended their reservation because their specifications were unavailable, will receive a "private offer for use in upcoming waves," Ford said.

Meanwhile, Ford said the standard range battery models have been boosted to an EPA-estimated targeted range of 240 miles, up from 230. The automaker also is adding Pro Trailer Hitch Assist technology to the 2023 model year Lightning.

That feature automatically controls steering, throttle and brake inputs to make hitching trailers easier. The feature comes standard on the Tow Technology Package, which is available on the Pro, XLT and Lariat trims and comes standard on certain Lariat trims and the Platinum trim.

Lightning customers also will have two new colors among 10 available options: Avalanche Gray and Azure Gray metallic tri-coat. Those colors replace Atlas Blue, Ice Blue Silver and Smoked Quartz Metallic, which will no longer be available on models built starting this fall.

Ford also is introducing a purpose-built Lightning Pro geared toward police departments in model year 2023.

Year-to-date, Ford has sold 4,400 Lightnings.

 

Union and workplace
training programs push
for more inclusion in
'lagging' auto industry

Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor helps local unions get women into automotive industry jobs

Jacob Barker  
CBC News
Aug 12, 2022

A plank in Unifor's newly minted auto policy says the national union is moving to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces. And one Windsor workplace training program says it's trying to help the industry do it. 

"The auto sector continues to lag on diverse workforce representation," Unifor's new auto policy reads.

According to Unifor, women represent one-quarter of workers in Canada's auto industry, which is below the number in Canada's manufacturing sector overall.

The union says Indigenous workers are about four per cent of the Canadian workforce, but they're 1.5 per cent below that in the auto industry.

Black women and women of colour, meanwhile, represent 11 per cent of the auto industry workforce, which is one per cent above their average share in the overall Canadian workforce. But the policy says only four per cent of those workers are in "higher wage assembly jobs" in the auto industry.

The union's policy, which was presented at its constitutional convention in Toronto this week, calls on governments to legislate employment equity, and to support employers and community organizations that are "committed to hire, train and retain workers in underrepresented communities."

"I think it's critical that our workplaces shape and form our communities. That's the kind of conversation we'll be having going forward," said Lana Payne, Unifor's newly elected president.

The new policy points out gender equity practices at the restarted GM plant in Oshawa, where 50 per cent of workers are women. This, along with $10-per-day childcare agreements between the federal and provincial governments, are foundational steps toward building a more inclusive workplace, the policy says.

"Encouraging greater diversity in Canada's auto sector across all under-represented groups must be an objective of employers, governments and unions alike," it reads.

Not there yet

"If we're looking to reflect the face of Canada, the automotive sector is not there yet," Bonnie Douglas, project manager at Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering Science Trades and Technology, told CBC Windsor.

She said companies are looking for better representation when it comes to women and all the groups that are currently under-represented in auto manufacturing.

"It does take work. That's why we developed our program to help the employers to gain some skills to just do better."

The Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc., or WEST of Windsor, helps local unions with this including Unifor Local 444. It offers training programs that help get women wanting to get into skilled trades.

Gurpreet Chana of WEST says union agreements with companies can cause issues when it comes to hiring women. (CBC News)

One challenge, executive director Rose Anguiano Hurst said, is getting word about their programs out to diverse communities. 

"In addition to providing these training opportunities for women, we are definitely going to try to ensure that there is diverse representation in each of our programs," Hurst said.

"Getting the word out, making sure the recruitment efforts are where they need to be … primarily that's like the big hurdle, making sure people hear about the program." 

When asked if messages like those at Unifor's conference are being backed up with action, Hurst said she has to believe it's not just political statements being made.

"We're going to just do whatever we can to make sure we continue to have their commitment," she said. 

WEST of Windsor has training programs for women looking to get into the skilled trades, including jobs in the auto industry.

Problematic language

Gurpreet Chana, a program manager at WEST, says union agreements with companies can sometimes cause problems.

"Our parties may not have that much seniority to get referred to a company that is unionized, so they have to wait longer than their male counterparts," she said. 

Douglas added that terminology in collective agreements can cause issues, especially around gendered or biased titles such as "foreman" or "journeyman" — though she says the shift is happening.

"It's step by step," Douglas said. "It takes a little time and it's going to take more than once to mention it."

 

 Union leader Jerry Dias
does not deserve
public humiliation

But does not the legacy of a career fighting successfully for better wages and working conditions not deserve to be honoured despite his fall? 

By Robin V. Sears
Wed., Aug. 5, 2022

There are few trade union leaders in North America who resemble the giants on whose shoulders they stand. Many are often too concerned to hold on to their jobs, and their shrinking membership, than to launch big and risky battles. Only a few challenge the efforts of Amazon, the fast food monopolies, and massive employers such as General Motors, seeking better wages and working conditions. 

Jerry Dias is such a leader. 

A lifelong rebel, a changeable iconoclast, he enraged many observers — including this one — with his sudden shifts in direction. Like his decision to support the Trudeau Liberals. 

But Dias was a leader who always looked for ways to increase his bargaining power and his leverage — and no one can deny the achievements that flowed from his cool assessment of who was his best ally in any battle. 

No other trade union leader would have been allowed into the inner sanctums of the bargaining process to win a better NAFTA from Donald Trump. He played a key role in the success of that campaign. Few could have successfully fought GM to a draw over its intention to wind down much of its Canadian operations, and then successfully nudged them and the government into an agreement that will place GM Canada in a leading role in electric vehicles. 

He built the largest, most successful private sector union in Canada, through mergers and relentless organizing. He made enemies by the bucketload; and lifelong allies, across party lines, among other similarly militant trade union leaders, and even among some former enemies among business leaders. 

He was the rightful heir to the role as the head of Unifor, built on the struggles of the Reuther brothers 75 years earlier in building the UAW, and Dennis McDermott and Bob White’s creation of the independent Canadian successor, the CAW. At its launch, Unifor was greeted with much skepticism and sneers. Within a decade, Dias and his fellow leaders built it into Canada’s strongest union. 

Struck down by chronic pain, and myriad health issues, Dias sought relief in pain medication and alcohol, as so many thousands before him have done. He was defeated by the collision of those elements, along with relentless professional pressures, and building emotional challenges. And like many thousands, as well, he made serious mistakes during his crisis, misjudgments that ended his career

But does not the legacy of a career fighting successfully for better wages and working conditions for working men and women not deserve to be honoured despite his fall? 

Do we allow those former allies and new enemies who want to erase that legacy and make Dias’ painful end all that remains of his life’s work? 

One of the gloomiest cliched aphorisms about public careers — often improbably credited to British PM Benjamin Disraeli — is, “ Every public career, ends in defeat, dishonour and death.” 

Dias’s enemies in his union, in parts of the media, and among the social media hysterics, seem determined that this should be his end. Surely, some of those with whom he worked so hard, some of the members whose lives were made better by the victories they won together will stand up and offer a less cruel and balanced assessment of a life devoted to those battles. 

The behaviour of some his attackers raises questions about how much progress we have really made in responding with understanding and empathy to the suffering of those who face the crushing weight of physical and emotional health challenges, those who fight the black hole that is alcohol and opiate pain medication, and whose failures are a direct result of those struggles. 

Is it because he is a public figure that he has been subject to this savage beating? If so, it is merely one more blow to the willingness of any sensible person, to offer to serve in politics, or unions, or any other public role. 

Jerry Dias’s legacy deserves better. 

 

Ford sales skyrocketed in July as other automakers crashed

Gary Gastelu
August 4, 2022 

Ford is cruising into the second half of 2022.

Hot on the heels of second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates, the company now reports that its July deliveries of Ford and Lincoln vehicles were up 36.6% compared to the same month last year.

The rest of the automakers that still release monthly sales reported a combined average of -24.8%, with luxury brand Genesis the only major marque in positive territory at .4%.

The Ford brand delivered a total of 163,942, which led the industry for the month ahead of Toyota's 153,288.

Ford's result follows a 31.5% increase in June and includes the first time it sold over 60,000 F-Series trucks in a month this year. A Ford spokesman told FOX Business it had a "stronger inventory position" in July than many of its competitors that was able to help dealers fill previously placed orders, which are currently accounting for about 50% of retail sales.

Included in that were 2,173 F-150 Lightning electric pickups. Over 4,469 F-150 Lightnings have now been sold this year.

Ford also announced that at least one F-150 Lightning has been delivered to a customer in each of the 50 U.S. states, with California and Texas ranked first and second in volume.

Ford's SUVs also had a strong month, with a 70% increase across the lineup, and the new Bronco slotting into second place with 10,621 deliveries to the Explorer's 17,673.

 

Bank of Canada governor
should stay in his lane
and not undermine
collective bargaining

It isn’t the 1970s; evidence does not point to a wage-price spiral. So why is Tiff Macklem now warning about wages rather than corporate profiteering?

By Bea Bruske

Aug. 3, 2022

The spotlight has shone brightly on Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem this year, his role landing him centre stage in Canada’s ongoing inflation drama.

As expected, Macklem has been the face of the bank as they set monetary policy and raised interest rates. More surprisingly, Macklem has also played a recurring role as Pierre Poilievre’s gatekeeping villain in the Conservative leadership race. What the labour movement didn’t expect was for the governor to seek out a cameo role supporting employers, as they sit down at the bargaining table to negotiate with workers.

The day after the Bank of Canada raised interest rates by 100 basis points, Macklem went to a business lobby group and urged them to hold the line on wage costs. Despite wages lagging far behind inflation, he warned the Canadian Federation of Independent Business not to build higher wages into contracts with their employees. This shocked many; surely it is not the role of the Bank of Canada to undermine the collective bargaining power of workers. Just as it is not the role of Canadian unions to weaken the bank governor’s ability to set monetary policy.

It appears Macklem has been taking advice from Bay Street and bank economists, who have spent months raising the menacing spectre of a wage-price spiral — an idea that seems to haunt them like a sign of the apocalypse.

But this is not the 1970s, and evidence does not point to a wage-price spiral. In 2022, labour costs continue to lag well behind inflation and are dampening, not driving, it. In fact, wages have lagged behind inflation now for decades. In the public sector, some employees haven’t seen a wage increase for years, as bargaining negotiations are running years behind the expiry of their collective agreements. Security employees at Macklem’s own workplace are at the bargaining table this year. Is the governor signalling that their employer should ignore their calls for wage increases?

While wages lag, corporate profits have surged. We have seen growing indications of large corporations taking advantage of the current crisis to raise prices and greatly boost their profits, serving to further feed inflation. So why is Macklem now warning about wages, rather than the problem of corporate profiteering?

The bank governor is apparently telling businesses that their employees won’t be able to sustain current wage demands, so don’t give in to them. Is the Bank of Canada predicting — or promising — that unemployment will rise and workers’ bargaining power will diminish?

I know a lot about collective bargaining, having sat at the bargaining table for years. And I know that employers competing for workers — instead of workers competing just to find a job — has major social and economic benefits. Our communities can reduce inequality as low-wage, vulnerable and marginalized workers see greater gains when labour markets tighten.

I know that when workers are strong and act collectively, we see better opportunities, a higher quality of life and a growing middle class. And I know that siding with employers over employees displays a clear bias in approach.

While we expect some businesses to argue in favour of lower wages for workers and higher profits for their companies, we absolutely do not expect the Bank of Canada to back them up. It is critical the central bank immediately cease using messaging that undermines collective bargaining power. Workers and their unions must have the right to bargain for fair agreements, without undue influence being brought to bear by powerful external forces. Mr. Macklem, kindly keep the bank in its own lane — and away from the bargaining table.

The Bank of Canada played an important role helping to blunt the impact of the fiscal crisis at the start of the pandemic. Let’s not lose the plot now.

Bea Bruske is president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

 

 

Ford introduces police version
of electric F-150 Lightning

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
August 2, 2022

Ford Motor Co. will introduce a version of the all-electric F-150 Lightning for police use.

The Detroit automaker on Thursday announced the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro Special Service Vehicle, a model that will be purpose-built for police departments. Ford noted in a press release that it has been supplying vehicles to police departments for more than 70 years.

Ford Pro, the company's dedicated commercial vehicle business, counts more than 12,000 police departments across the U.S. as customers and claims that its police vehicle lineup outsells all other police vehicles combined. 

Ford offers several police vehicle models, including the Police Interceptor Utility and an internal combustion engine version of the F-150 SSV.

"We're proud to offer America's first electric police pickup truck to local government customers who can use the truck's game-changing technology to help improve their productivity," Nate Oscarson, Ford Pro national government sales manager, said in a statement.

Ford says the Lightning Pro SSV is "designed to handle specialized departmental needs" such as assisting at an accident site or crime scene. Purpose-built features include: police-grade heavy-duty cloth seats with reduced bolsters; built-in steel intrusion plates in the front seatbacks; and available red/blue and amber/white roof-mounted LED warning beacons, among others. 

Ford Pro SSV customers will get a complimentary two-year subscription to Ford Telematics; consultation related to charging installation and operation, data management and digital services; and a service that provides guides and information on how to add specialty tools and after-market equipment, among other offerings.

Ford said more information about the 2023 F-150 Lightning will be released later this summer. The automaker launched the F-150 Lightning in April.

 

Ford executives address
'sweeping strategic change'
as company reports
Q2 earnings growth

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
July 29, 2022

Don't mistake the changes underway at Ford Motor Co. as the "indiscriminate" cost cuts of eras past, executives said Wednesday.

In announcing the company's second-quarter financial results, executives declined to comment directly on a recent Bloomberg report that the Blue Oval is preparing to cut as many as 8,000 jobs. But they acknowledged that cost reductions they have long been signaling are underway. 

“Traditionally, the auto industry has cut costs — often, indiscriminately — as an effect from lower auto demands through economic softness and shifts for customer preferences. What we’re undertaking at Ford is totally different than that," CEO Jim Farley told Wall Street analysts. "We’re reshaping virtually every aspect of the way we’ve done business for a century."

The remarks came as Ford reported $667 million in net income in the second quarter, up roughly 19% from the $561 million it posted a year ago. Revenue was up from $26.8 billion to $40.2 billion.

And adjusted earnings before interest and taxes more than tripled from a year ago, to $3.7 billion. Adjusted EBIT margins rose from 3.9% to 9.3% — sending shares of the company's stock up in after-hours trading and garnering some positive comments from analysts.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas called the report "one of the best Ford calls ... in a long, long time," and then asked Farley if Ford has "too many people" — something Farley has previously said.

“We absolutely have too many people in certain places. No doubt about it. And we have skills that don’t work anymore. And we have jobs that need to change. And we have lots of new work statements that we’ve never had before," Farley said. "But I want to emphasize that in the past … we have, often indiscriminately, just taken the cost out. That’s not what’s happening at Ford now."

The company's internal combustion engine unit will see cost reductions, he said, by virtue of it being Ford's primary business today.

"Sweeping strategic change generates interest and speculation in the media, which we understand," he added. "However, we’re going to comment on Ford+ actions we’re taking and how they’re going to strengthen our company on our own schedule.”

Meanwhile, Ford reaffirmed its full-year guidance of $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion in EBIT and adjusted free cash flow of $5.5 billion to $6.5 billion. The company is targeting a company adjusted EBIT margin of 10%, and an 8% EBIT margin from EVs, by 2026. 

The company also is targeting annual EV production of 600,000 units by the end of next year and 2 million by the end of 2026. The automaker last week announced a number of sourcing strategies it has undertaken to shore up EV battery capacity and raw materials supplies to support those goals. Farley said Wednesday the company is on track to produce 14,000 EVs globally this month — "significantly higher than just a few months ago." 

In North America, Ford reported earnings of nearly $3.3 billion. The company reported positive earnings in South America, Europe and its international markets group. It posted a loss in China, where production was curtailed industrywide in the second quarter due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Ford Credit, the automaker's financing arm, had earnings before taxes of $939 million in the second quarter.

Executives said Wednesday that, despite some of the economic headwinds battering consumers, demand and pricing seem to be holding up — similar to what General Motors Co. executives said Tuesday.

GM on Tuesday reported that second-quarter profits were down roughly 40% year-over-year amid nagging supply-chain disruptions, even as it forecast production improvements in the second half of the year and maintained its full-year earnings guidance.

GM reported $1.7 billion in net income for the quarter, down from $2.8 billion in the same period last year. The automaker generated $35.8 billion in revenue in 2Q, up from $34.2 billion in the second quarter of 2021. Stellantis NV will report first-half earnings Thursday.

John Lawler, Ford's chief financial officer, said the company has modeled for various macroeconomic scenarios but feels the company is "in a much better position ... than we've been in in the past." The ongoing cost reductions, he said, "will have benefits if we do head into a potential recession."

And in a signal that supply-chain snarls may be easing, Ford said wholesale shipments had improved 35% in the quarter and the company had completed 35,000 out of 53,000 vehicles that, as of the end of the first quarter, had been built but were awaiting chip-related components. The company still expects vehicle wholesales to increase 10% to 15% this year over 2021. 

Meanwhile, Ford's board declared a third-quarter dividend of 15 cents per share, payable on Sept. 1 to shareholders of record as of close of business Aug. 11. The stock closed up at $13.19 per share and was trading up more than 6% following the earnings report. 

Investment research firm CFRA Research on Wednesday increased its 12-month price target on Ford's stock by $2 to $18 and reaffirmed its "buy" opinion, noting that the results beat analysts' expectations.

"CEO Jim Farley said the company is moving with purpose and speed into the most promising period for growth in Ford's history," CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson wrote in a note. "Ford remains one of our top picks in the auto industry."

 

Stellantis offers retirement
incentive to workers at
Windsor, Brampton
plants in Ontario

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
July 28, 2022

Chrysler maker Stellantis NV is offering employees at its Ontario assembly plants a  retirement incentive to minimize the impact of workforce reductions as it seeks "efficiencies" in its manufacturing operations.

Stellantis didn't specify how many workers will be affected. The offer is available to eligible workers at Windsor Assembly Plant, home of the Chrysler minivans, and Brampton Assembly Plant, which builds the Dodge muscle cars and Chrysler 300 sedan. Eligible employees on Monday will receive package details, which the company declined to divulge.

"As we transition to a sustainable, mobility tech company, we continue to review our operations for efficiencies," the company said in a statement. "In order to minimize the impact on our workforce, a retirement incentive program will be offered to eligible employees at the Windsor and Brampton Assembly Plants."

The plans come as Stellantis has begun layoffs at other North American plants. CEO Carlos Tavares has said the company is seeking ways to absorb the 40% to 50% increase in costs of electric vehicles while pursuing a double-digit profit margin.

Workers will have two weeks to respond to the retirement offer. The workforce reduction will take effect over the next several months.

"The Company," the statement reads, "will make every effort to place laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority."

The workforce reductions don't affect Stellantis' recent $2.8 billion commitment to invest in the two assembly plants for the production of electrified vehicles. The company seeks to have all-electric vehicle sales represent half of North American sales by 2030 despite currently not offering a single fully battery-electric vehicle on the continent.

"Stellantis is firmly committed to the future of its Canadian operations," the statement added.

The announcement follows announced layoffs at other Stellantis plants. Windsor will lose its second shift at the end of the year, but investment in the plant will return the plant to three shifts following the retooling that begins next year. The automaker has decreased its workforce at its Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and at its stamping plants in Sterling Heights and Warren. More than 330 salaried employees late last year also opted for an early retirement.

 

Ford Plans Up to
8,000 Job Cuts
to Help Fund
EV Investment

Keith Naughton and Edward Ludlow
Bloomberg
July 27, 2022

Ford Motor Co. is preparing to cut as many as 8,000 jobs in the coming weeks as the automaker tries to boost profits to fund its push into the electric-vehicle market, according to people familiar with the plan.

The eliminations will come in the newly created Ford Blue unit responsible for producing internal combustion engine vehicles, as well as other salaried operations throughout the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions. The plan has not yet been finalized and details could still change.

The move would mark a significant step in Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley’s plan to cut $3 billion of costs by 2026. He has said he wants to transform Ford Blue into “the profit and cash engine for the entire enterprise.” In March, Farley radically restructured Ford, cleaving its carmaking in two by creating the “Model e” unit to scale up EV offerings and “Ford Blue” to focus on traditional gas burners like the Bronco sport-utility vehicle.

The job cuts are expected to come among Ford’s salaried ranks in a variety of operational functions, according to the people familiar. They may come in phases, but are likely to begin this summer, the people said. Ford employs about 31,000 salaried workers in the US, where the bulk of the cuts are expected.

Ford declined to comment on possible job cuts, saying that it’s focused on reshaping the organization to capitalize on the growth of electric vehicles. “As part of this, we have laid out clear targets to lower our cost structure to ensure we are lean and fully competitive with the best in the industry,” Chief Communications Officer Mark Truby said in a statement.

Farley has said cutting staff is a key to boosting profits, which have evaporated on its electric Mustang Mach-E and other plug-in models amid rising commodity and warranty costs.

“We have too many people,” Farley said at a Wolfe Research auto conference in February. “This management team firmly believes that our ICE and BEV portfolios are under-earning.”

Ford’s shares tumbled 39% this year through Tuesday, worse than the broader market, amid inflation fears and supply-chain snarls roiling the automotive industry.

In March, Farley boosted spending on EVs to $50 billion and set a plan to build 2 million battery-electric vehicles annually by 2026, after selling just 27,140 in the US last year. Last month, Ford’s EV sales rose 76.6% from a year earlier as it rolled out the hot new electric F-150 Lightning pickup.

To finance Ford’s electric ambitions, Farley has said he needs the company’s traditional gas-fueled models to make more money.

“The funding for that $50 billion, it’s all based on our core automotive operations,” Farley said in a March interview with Bloomberg Television. “That’s why we created a separate group called Ford Blue, because we need them to be more profitable to fund this.”

 

Wads of cash. ‘Relentless’
pressure. Infighting at
Unifor. Leaked
investigation findings
reveal new details of
Jerry Dias scandal

Dias’ lawyer questioned the probe’s credibility, noting the former union leader could not participate due to mental health and addiction issues.

July 23, 2022

Toronto Star
By Sara Mojtehedzadeh
Work and Wealth Investigative Reporter
Rosa SabaBusiness Reporter

Former Unifor president Jerry Dias tried to impede a probe into his conduct and pressured a whistleblower to drop their complaint about an alleged kickback scandal — flouting the union’s code of ethics in the process, according to the findings of a third-party workplace investigation obtained by the Star.

After Dias unexpectedly announced his retirement earlier this year, Unifor revealed it had initiated a workplace investigation into claims that the long-time labour leader received $50,000 from a rapid test supplier he promoted to employers.

Dias’ assistant, Chris MacDonald, had filed a complaint to the union saying Dias offered him half of that money.

The allegations have thrown Canada’s largest private sector union into disarray as Unifor faces its first-ever contested election for national president since Dias assumed leadership in 2013. They also raise crucial questions about accountability and governance within an institution representing 315,000 workers across the country.

In a statement to the Star, Dias’ lawyer Tom Curry said the third-party investigation wasn’t credible, and expressed concern at the circulation of confidential material about a process Dias was “unable to participate (in) because he was dealing with mental health and addiction issues.”

Dias has “always been guided by the principles of the Unifor constitution,” Curry added. “Allegations that suggest otherwise are inaccurate and appear to be part of a desperate bid to benefit politically from attacking him and his legacy.”

In an emailed statement to the Star on behalf of Unifor, Quebec Director Daniel Cloutier said the union is confident in the findings of the investigation. He said Dias had the opportunity to participate in the process, including via written response, and “chose not to.” In their report, investigators note that their findings were made “without the benefit of Dias’ evidence.”

Dias will have further opportunity to respond through a hearing process set out in the union’s constitution, Cloutier said.

“An independent, impartial investigation was proper and necessary to address this serious charge of wrongdoing at the very top of the union.”

The newly obtained documents, including hundreds of pages of union meeting minutes, show the investigation prompted a slew of internal recriminations, with some union staff accusing national secretary-treasurer Lana Payne — who is now running for union presidency — of weaponizing the proceedings to benefit her campaign.

Payne denies that charge and told the Star her decisions were “always guided by the best interest of the union and our members.”

“While others may have sought to influence the investigation, avoid accountability, or spread misinformation to their own personal or political advantage, I have not.”

The Star obtained 1,600 pages of transcripts of National Executive Board meeting minutes spanning February to June. The March meeting contains an executive summary from the third-party investigators, outlining their process and findings.

The Star has not seen the full investigation report that Unifor has pledged to release to its membership, which includes unionized Toronto Star employees. The union has sent executive board meeting transcripts to its locals, Cloutier confirmed.

The meeting minutes include new details about an alleged scandal that involved engraved bottles of cologne, wads of cash and investigators examining whether Dias exerted “relentless” pressure to quash a formal inquiry — and maybe get his assistant to buy his boat.

Also detailed is the mounting dysfunction as Unifor’s senior leadership dealt with the “atomic bomb” dropped on their organization.

“You need to understand our union is at stake at the moment,” Payne told fellow executives in March, before unveiling the investigation’s findings to the group. “It’s in peril.”

Despite pleas for solidarity, the National Executive Board meetings sometimes turned bitter and accusatory, with barbs hurled between those who questioned the credibility of the external investigation and those who wanted to “clean house.”

Payne told union staff that as the investigation unfolded, Dias sought a mediated settlement that would see him retire — in exchange for the union’s silence about his alleged misconduct, according to certified transcripts taken by a court reporter at the meetings. The settlement proposal was rejected.

Curry said he would not comment on settlement discussions, but said Dias “has a long record of successfully resolving disputes at the bargaining table and without subjecting Unifor members unnecessarily to a divisive public spectacle.”

Dias did not participate in the third-party investigation, citing health problems. As previously reported by the Star, a psychiatric assessment prepared for Dias’ lawyer found the union leader was struggling with substance use issues and intense pressure as his retirement loomed, as well as debilitating sciatica.

The investigation’s findings are made on the “balance of probabilities,” the summary says. The name of the rapid test supplier at the centre of the controversy is blacked out, as are the names of two individuals associated with the company. They are referred to as Person A and Person B.

Between December 2021 and January 2022, both Dias and MacDonald promoted rapid tests made by the company to Unifor employers, the report summary says. During that time, MacDonald “acted on Dias’ instructions,” the investigators wrote.

“Person B” at the rapid testing company also “exerted pressure” on MacDonald to “make as many introductions as he could” and implied that the union rep would be “taken care of” for his efforts, the investigators found.

MacDonald told Person B that he did not want or expect compensation, investigators found.

By Christmas, “Person A” had given Dias a bottle of cologne intended for MacDonald, according to the findings.

In late January, having decided to back another assistant — Scott Doherty — as the next Unifor president, Dias invited MacDonald to his office.

There, Dias offered MacDonald half of a $50,000 pile of cash, telling him that he’d received the money from “Person A” at the rapid test supplier, the summary report and meeting minutes said.

MacDonald told Dias they should not accept the money and suggested giving it to a woman’s shelter, according to the investigation.

But the union president “pressured” MacDonald to keep the funds, and suggested he could use it to buy Dias’ boat, the investigation summary says.

MacDonald took the money, but immediately called a colleague — Unifor’s Ontario regional director Naureen Rizvi. He also sought advice from a staff lawyer with the union, and put the money in a secure place at his father-in-law’s house, the investigation says.

Four days after receiving the funds, he verbally notified Payne and handed over the money and cologne bottle, filing an official complaint soon after, according to the probe summary and a statement MacDonald gave to the Star.

Upon learning of a formal complaint against him, Dias “began to exert pressure directly and indirectly on Macdonald to drop” it, the investigation found.

The summary findings say the whistleblower was subjected to “increased pressure,” including through Doherty, who Dias “knew was a friend” of MacDonald.

“There was an attempt to broker a specific arrangement whereby Dias would resign in exchange for MacDonald dropping the complaint, which MacDonald would not agree to do unless Dias admitted what he had done,” the investigator found.

“The investigator finds that Dias’ actions were calculated and driven by his own self interest and preservation.”Dias told Doherty he had returned his share of the money, the report notes. The union previously told the Star it does not know what happened to Dias’ share of the alleged kickback, and that it handed MacDonald’s half to the police.

Doherty, who was interviewed as part of the probe, was “asked on several occasions” to provide “relevant documentation.”

“To date he has not done so,” the investigators wrote.

In a statement to the Star, Doherty said he fully complied with the investigation. He said he typically communicated with Dias through disappearing messages on the Signal app — and by the time the investigator told him to retain his emails and texts, many old messages were already gone.

Doherty also said he was not aware of the details of the complaint against Dias when he spoke with MacDonald, and never suggested the complaint be withdrawn.

Instead, Doherty said he tried to negotiate a solution that would see Dias resign and publicly acknowledge what transpired. He told the Star he believed that outcome “would not have done as much damage to our Union and our members.”

“I’ve never once tried to cover up for Jerry Dias,” Doherty said in a board meeting, with agreement from MacDonald.

But the minutes suggest MacDonald’s interactions with Dias were fraught: The union president was “relentless” in his contact, once calling at 3:30 a.m. “desperately wanting to figure out how to fix this.”

“I felt pressure days later when Jerry sent me a picture of his wife and said, ‘Don’t take her away from me,’” MacDonald said in meeting minutes.

The external investigation concluded MacDonald shouldn’t have accepted the money from Dias but found his actions didn’t constitute an ethics breach because of how he subsequently dealt with the matter.

Upon receiving the results of the investigation, the union’s leadership gathered in the Sheraton Centre’s Civic Ballroom for a meeting in which Payne detailed the process she undertook upon first learning of the allegations.

As the meeting kicked off, Payne warned attendees that what they were about to learn was “distressing.”

“When I think of the enormity of this and the implications for our union and our members, I’m overcome with emotion. … we all in this room love this union. It is our life’s work,” Payne said.

Payne told her colleagues that as the investigation unfolded, Dias’s team sought a mediated settlement that “proposed a restriction on information that could be released by Unifor to its members or the public.”

“It would have been unacceptable, in my view, to sign onto a secret settlement involving a breach of the Code of Ethics, especially if it resulted in a lack of transparency about what happened for our members,” Payne said in a statement to the Star.

Dias announced his resignation to the executive board on March 11, just days before the union publicly released some details about the allegations against him.

The executive meeting minutes reveal the intensely emotional conversations prompted by the allegations against Dias, a formidable figure described by some senior Unifor leaders as “the greatest person that I’ve ever known” and by another as a “dictator.”

Leaders grappled with how to respect Dias’ right to privacy while also responding transparently to the flood of concerns raised by union members.

“This could really sink us. … the only way of getting out of this is to prove that our organization is not a corrupt one,” said Benoît Lapointe, chair of Unifor’s Quebec Council.

“Our members will likely forgive a mistake but they won’t forgive a cover up,” said Jennifer Moreau, chair of the union’s Media Council.

While there seemed little doubt among leaders about the need for accountability, some questioned whether Unifor’s handling of the allegations was entirely fair to Dias — noting union reps would never discuss individual workers’ issues in front of their colleagues.

“We don’t do this to our members, but we’re going to treat him differently,” said one senior leader.

The minutes do not suggest any of the union’s senior leadership defended Dias against the kickback allegations, but several noted his health issues and said his behaviour with the rapid test supplier was out of character. (Cloutier told the Star no other improprieties involving Dias have been identified.)

Assistant to the national president Katha Fortier told the Star she urged Dias to seek help for both his sciatica and later his substance abuse.

In meeting minutes, Fortier described a basket of designer items gifted to Dias in 2019 by a supplier of union-branded goods, which he refused. “There was a watch there that was probably worth $3,000. And Jerry said to me, ‘Who do they think I am that I would take this?’” Fortier recounted at a board meeting. “In September 2019, Jerry clearly knew the line.”

Dias said the gifts would be returned by his support staff, Fortier told the Star.

The meetings took place against the backdrop of Unifor’s first contested election for presidency — an increasingly fraught battle.

Some senior leaders were furious to learn that Dias knew about the complaint hanging over him when he recommended executives vote to endorse Doherty — against the advice of “multiple people,” said Cloutier. Those executives had no idea about the specific allegations against Dias when they voted.

While Doherty did not stand accused of any wrongdoing, the alleged kickback scandal prompted concerns amongst some senior leaders about an “old boys club” and the “optics” of endorsing “Jerry’s buddies.”

In a statement to the Star, Doherty rejected those claims.

“I have enormous respect and faith in our members in regards to our elections and they will see what is actually happening in the election campaigns and will vote accordingly,” he said. “Note that my slate includes four experienced women, which is hardly an ‘old boys club.’”

Amid the roiling controversy, Payne made a late entry into the election race — running against Doherty and Dave Cassidy, president of Windsor-based Unifor Local 444. Doherty gave up his endorsement from the national board after Payne announced her intent to run.

While colleagues praised Payne’s leadership and steady hand, the board minutes reveal the aftershocks of her sudden announcement — with some colleagues expressing surprise and disappointment that she had not disclosed her intentions earlier.

In a statement to the Star, Doherty said he believed Payne used the investigation as a “political tool to damage our union.”

MacDonald told the Star that the investigators’ findings validated the evidence he provided, and that it was always clear to him that Dias’ actions needed to be reported. But he said he now believed the investigation should have ended “once Jerry confessed.” Dias’ lawyer did not respond to the Star’s question about whether Dias confessed to any wrongdoing.

In June, several Unifor members alleged that Payne abused her position on the national board to make decisions benefitting her campaign, including by canceling a special convention to elect a new president in the wake of Dias’s resignation. The complaints were dismissed by the union’s executive.

Payne told the Star the decision to cancel the special convention was made by the whole executive board, a decision which is under review by an independent office.

“I would not use my position on the Board to benefit my campaign,” she told the Star, adding that under her initiative Unifor has already struck a task force to review lessons of the Dias crisis.

“I decided to run to be Unifor National President because I was concerned about the future of the union and how some responded to the ongoing investigation and the alleged breach of the code of ethics.”

In meetings with the union’s executive, she said she knew her decision would evoke strong feelings — and rejected accusations that she had decided to run as early as January when a domain in her name was registered by her husband.

“I know that some people are mad, upset and angry that I decided to run. I get it, but I have made that decision, and nothing is going to change that,” she said.

“I did not choose to be dealt … this mess. I did not choose to have $25,000 in ill-gotten gains dumped on my boardroom table.”

Clarification — July 20, 2022: This story has been updated to reflect that the 2022 election for Unifor presidency will be the first contested election since Jerry Dias became leader.

 

 

Already had COVID-19? Here's
what we know about reinfections

July 21, 2022

As research suggests that COVID-19 has infected roughly half of the Canadian population, the emergence of an even more contagious version of the virus means some people may be in for another round.

But questions remain about the prevalence of reinfection, and the short and long-term health impact that subsequent cases of the virus could have.

With cases on the rise, here's what the experts had to say about the emerging evidence of reinfections.

How likely are reinfections?

The emergence of the Omicron variant ushered in a tsunami of infections that saw the proportion of the population with antibodies to the virus rise from seven per cent to 45 per cent between December 2021 and May 2022, according to an analysis published by Canada's COVID-19 Immunity Task Force this month. 

The task force's co-chair, Catherine Hankins, said the jury is still out on how likely it is that this previously infected population will catch the virus again, particularly as the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron fuels a summer surge.

"All we know is that it can happen," said Hankins, a professor at McGill University.  "This particular variant is really capable of evading immunity, including immunity to its previous ... subvariant." 

Prabhat Jha, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said early hopes that Omicron would act as a “benign natural booster," spreading rapidly but causing only mild symptoms, did not bear out.

“As more evidence accumulates, it suggests that Omicron isn't the great protector that we all thought it would be,” he said, citing data from the U.K.

Lynora Saxinger, a professor with the University of Alberta's department of medicine, said BA.5 is different enough from previous strains that the immunity built up by a case of an earlier variant may not prevent infection.

"It's not impossible to get reinfected," she said.

How much protection do you get from "hybrid immunity"?

People who have been both vaccinated and infected should be bolstered by "hybrid immunity," said Hankins. But signs that some people are getting reinfected with COVID-19 not long after a previous bout indicates that any natural immune boost would be short-lived, she said.

"People really shouldn't think it's done and dusted. They get it, and that's it," Hankins said. "You're going to get it again if you keep exposing yourself."

Saxinger said that BA.5 may be even more adept at breaking through hybrid protection, but at this point, it's uncommon for people who have had Omicron to be reinfected by one of its relatives. 

"The combination of vaccination plus relatively recent-ish infection… is not terrible against (BA.4 or BA.5,) especially if you don't have any risk factors."

Canadian studies have shown that people with three COVID-19 vaccines and one infection have the highest level of antibodies, Jha said.

Still, he emphasized that people who have been infected can benefit from another COVID-19 shot.

"The evidence does very clearly say that counting on a natural infection to protect you is really risky. We knew that from the start," he said. "The best protection is at least three doses of the vaccine."

 How does reinfection affect the severity of illness?

Hankins said it’s difficult to track whether people, on average, get sicker the second or third time catching COVID-19. 

"It seems to vary a lot by people,” she said. “The general expectation would be that you wouldn't be as sick the second time around, but we're seeing everything."

While governments report a high number of people in hospital – some of whom have had the virus before – may seem to suggest that reinfection leads to more serious illness, Saxinger said, that’s not necessarily the case. It's just that there are more cases of COVID overall. 

“It's really a function of just the sheer volume of transmission where we start to see increases in severe outcomes,” she said. “But on a per person level, the risk of severe outcome still seems to be quite low, especially if you've had a combination of being fully vaccinated, and also previously infected.”

Jha said this is another area where more study is needed.

"But in theory, I have no doubt that having multiple infections isn't good for you,” he said.

"Some cavalier people say, ‘I'm just going to get infected a few times, and then I'll be fine,'" he added. 

It’s also unclear, he said, whether reinfection increases that likelihood of contracting long COVID.

“There is a suggestion that multiple infections can contribute to longer symptoms. But again, this is something we don't know enough about."

What should we do?

"Everyone wants a quick answer and says, ‘Okay, I want to know what to do. And I want to get this behind me,’” Jha said. “But the virus works on its own timetable."

"Our immune system is trying to keep up with a mutating virus ... And we have to basically be sensible."

Increasing third-dose uptake is key to protecting people from reinfections, he said. Each shot you receive reduces the severity of disease.

National data shows only 56 per cent of Canadians 12 and older have at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to roughly 90 per cent who have two doses.

Hankins agreed that getting a third shot is crucial.

"This is a highly infectious agent, but the more immunity you have on board, the better it is,” she said. 

 

Federal UAW monitor says
leaders obstructing watchdog
rooting out corruption

July 20, 2022

Detroit — United Auto Workers officials are interfering with a government watchdog tasked with rooting out corruption in one of the nation’s most influential and troubled unions, according to a report Tuesday that portrayed a rocky start to the union's rehabilitation.

The allegations surfaced in a 35-page status report by the government watchdog, UAW Monitor Neil Barofsky, who was installed as part of a sweeping consent decree that settled criminal allegations against the UAW stemming from a landmark corruption scandal. The scandal has led to 18 convictions and prolonged government oversight of the UAW and Stellantis NV due to a series of crimes by high-ranking officials who paid and pocketed bribes, broke labor laws and stole money from union members. Barofsky revealed he has opened 19 investigations and taken steps to punish the right-hand man of disgraced former UAW President Gary Jones. That aide, Danny Trull, helped Jones oversee a UAW regional office raided by FBI agents, according to the report that for the first time publicly confirms reporting by The Detroit News that linked Trull to the corruption scandal.

The report provided an intimate view of frustrated attempts by the federal watchdog to reform the UAW. Union leaders have withheld information, failed to disclose that an active high-ranking officer was being investigated for mishandling money and concealed a union-led investigation into wrongdoing, an act that appears to violate the union's agreement with prosecutors, Barofsky wrote.

"The monitor further learned that, in addition to failing to disclose its investigation to the monitor, the union also had taken steps to conceal the investigation from the monitor, in apparent violation of the consent decree by interfering with the monitor’s ability to investigate that suspected misconduct

He filed the report with U.S. District Judge David Lawson, who is overseeing attempts to reform the union.

The report was filed less than a week before nearly 1,000 UAW members and leaders arrive in Detroit for the quadrennial constitutional convention. Members will debate policy resolutions and proposed constitutional amendments that will affect how members choose future UAW leaders.

 

US Postal Service Honoring
Classic Pony Cars With
Five New Stamps

Jacob Oliva 
July 19, 2022

These cars are undeniable icons of American culture.

These days, trucks define the American automotive culture. As the bestsellers in the industry since time immemorial, these huge and burly machines continue to represent the US in various forms.

But that isn't the case in the '60s and '70s. Back then, pony cars were the American obsession and were ubiquitous on roads, so much so that both decades were known as the muscle car era, and up to this day have greatly affected the American automotive lifestyle.

The US Postal Service wants to commemorate those days by introducing five new stamps into its Forever Stamps collection.

Just like the Hot Wheels Forever Stamps in 2018, the Pony Car Forever Stamps will be decorating your snail mail through five of the most iconic muscle cars ever. The lineup of stamps includes the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302, the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, the 1969 AMC Javelin SST, the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, and the 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT.

The introduction of the Pony Car Forever Stamps will happen on August 25, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. PT. It will be held at the Great American Stamp Show in California, in partnership with the American Philatelic Society. The ceremony is free and open to the public, though attendees are encouraged to RSVP at the USPS website.

Honor Of Being On A Stamp:

Customers can purchase the commemorative stamps in four ways: through the Postal Store website, by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic, or physically at Post Office locations in the US.

Meanwhile, the competition between the still existing muscle cars in the US is still on after the first half of 2022. The Ford Mustang still leads the way with the Dodge Challenger following behind. The Chevy Camaro needs some catching up to do as we usher our way into the second half of the year.

 

Ontario Police Are Reminding
Drivers To Renew Their Licence
Plates Or Risk A Hefty Fine

July 18, 2022

You might want to double-check if your Ontario licence plate hasn't expired because Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are reminding drivers that they could get ticketed.

OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt took to Twitter on July 14 to remind Ontario drivers to renew their licence plates, even though fees and stickers are a thing of the past.

"Have you had a birthday recently? Did you get some birthday cards in the mail? Well, one thing that you no longer get in the mail is that renewal notice from the Ministry of Transportation to renew your VAL tag for your passenger vehicle, light commercial truck, motorcycle or moped," Schmidt said in the video.

"Officers across the province are seeing many more vehicles now without proper registration. You could get ticketed for that," Schmidt said.

As of March 13, Ontario's licence plate stickers were officially scrapped for most vehicles, excluding heavy commercial vehicles and snowmobiles.

Anyone caught driving around without an up-to-date permit can get hit with a ticket, and under the Highway Traffic Act, the fine could be between $60 to $1,000.

"It usually expires on your birthday, and beyond that, it is up to you to renew your validation. So, you no longer need to have those stickers on your licence plate but you need to have it renewed through the Ministry," Schmidt said.

If you're unsure how to renew your licence plate, there are three ways to do it: you can either submit your application online, send it in through the mail, or stop by and visit a Service Ontario location.

To renew your licence plate, you will need your plate and vehicle permit number, your insurance company name and policy number, your odometer reading, and to pay all outstanding fines or toll fees.

For those who miss getting their reminders in the mail, Ontario drivers can still sign up for a digital one through Service Ontario. From there, they will either shoot you a text, send you an email, or call you on the phone 30 and 60 days before it's time to renew again.

 

Ford, SK On formalize joint
venture to build EV batteries

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
July 15, 2022

Ford Motor Co. and South Korean battery manufacturer SK On Co. this week officially established a joint venture to operate U.S. electric-vehicle battery plants together, a move announced last year.

For, SK On and an SK On subsidiary called SK Battery America, Inc. on Wednesday closed on the formation of BlueOvalSK, LLC, a JV that will build and operate one EV battery plant in Tennessee and two in Kentucky, according to a regulatory filing. The JV will supply EV batteries to Ford "and its affiliates."

Ford and SK Battery America hold equal ownership stakes in the JV, which will be a consolidated subsidiary of SK On.

Ford agreed to contribute up to $6.6 billion in capital to the JV over a five-year period ending in 2026, per the filing.

In May 2021, Ford and SK announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a JV to build batteries.

Then in September, the companies unveiled plans to invest $11.4 billion and create 11,000 jobs to build EVs and batteries at new campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky.

BlueOvalSK is slated to produce 60 gigawatt hours annually in traction battery cells and array modules in North America, starting mid-decade, with the potential to expand, the companies have said.

A major question looming over the establishment of the JV and its battery plants — as well as other JVs between automakers and battery manufacturers now forming in the U.S. — is whether workers there will be represented by the United Auto Workers. Organizing workers at EV and battery plants has emerged as a top priority for the Detroit-based union.

The formal creation of Ford and SK's JV comes as automakers in the U.S. increasingly look to localize, and in some cases bring in-house, production of key EV components as the industry moves further down the path of electrification. 

Ford is investing $50 billion in electrification through 2026, by which time it's targeting annual EV production capacity of 2 million units globally.

 

Ford recalls more vehicles
for under-hood fire risk

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
July 14, 2022

Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 125,000 vehicles in the U.S. for potential under-hood fire risk, the Dearborn automaker said Friday, including an expansion of an earlier recall. 

The company issued a recall for 100,689 Lincoln Corsair, Ford Escape and Maverick vehicles from model years 2020-22 with 2.5-liter HEV/PHEV engines.

Ford said in the event of an engine failure, engine oil and/or fuel vapor could be released under the hood and potentially cause a fire. There have been no accidents or injuries reported. 

Dealers were informed of the issue on Friday and customers will be notified Aug. 8. Dealers will modify the vehicles' under-engine shield and active grille shutter.

For any vehicles sold outside the U.S., Ford is working with agencies in other markets.

Ford is also expanding a recall of its Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs for under-hood fire risk. The Dearborn automaker on Friday expanded that recall by about 27,000 vehicles from its initial May alert on the issue

Now, a total of 66,221 Expeditions and Navigators in the U.S. built between July 27, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, are included in the recall.

Ford has received 21 reports of under hood-fires — including five since the original recall filing in May. No accidents have been reported to Ford and the company is only aware of one reported injury. 

Ford traced the cause of the vehicle fires to a change in a manufacturing location by an unnamed supplier during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ford says it has identified a remedy for the issue. Repair procedures have been sent to dealers while the automaker works to make parts available as soon as possible.  

Parts for the repair on vehicles are expected to be available starting in early September.

Customers in this recall should continue to park the vehicles outside and away from structures until repairs are made. 

 

Christiana Philomena Flanigan (Pellegrims)

Thursday, August 24th, 1950 - Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

Obituary

Flanigan, Christiana Philomena (nee Pellegrims)
Surrounded by her loving family at Headwaters Health Care Centre on Sunday, July 3, 2022 at the age of 71. Beloved wife of Patrick Flanigan. Dear mother of Kevin Webster, Wendy Stiperski (Wade), Natalie Middlehurst (Jay), Shara Flanigan (2009), Tamara Flanigan. Cherished grandmother of Austin, Reneé, Kyle, Brody, Bradley, Carter. Remembered by her brother Edward Pellegrims. Christiana will also be greatly missed by other relatives and many friends.

Funeral Service will be held at Dods & McNair Funeral Home, Chapel & Reception Centre, 21 First St., Orangeville on Saturday, July 9, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Memorial donations to the Woodland Cultural Centre (woodlandculturalcentre.ca) would be appreciated by the family.

A tree will be planted in memory of Christiana in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest at the Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. 20th Annual Dedication Service will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.dodsandmcnair.com


Service Details

  • Saturday, July 9th, 2022 1:00pm - 2:30pm
    Location
    Dods & McNair Funeral Home, Chapel & Reception Centre
    Address
    21 First St
    Orangeville
  • When
    Saturday, July 9th, 2022 3:30pm
    Location
    Forest Lawn Cemetery
    Address
    14 Cemetery Rd
    ORANGEVILLE, ON L9W 2Z1
  • When
    Saturday, July 9th, 2022 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Location
    Dods & McNair Funeral Home, Chapel & Reception Centre
    Address
    21 First St
    Orangeville

 

What These Early F-150
Lightning Customers Think
About the Electric Truck

July 8, 2022

Sergio Rodriguez took delivery of his all-electric F-150 Lightning in California on June 18, and then promptly took it on a cross-country road trip to Georgia.

With more than 3,000 miles already on his truck, 41-year-old Rodriguez is in “awe” of the experience he’s had so far: “I think it’s a remarkable vehicle. It certainly includes everything I love.” Was looking for. I wanted something, as far as an electric vehicle, that was able to support and provide for everything I do.”

Customer response to Lightning and its embrace by retail and commercial customers will be seen by industry analysts as a sign of overall EV adoption. As the first deliveries reach buyers, features like a front trunk, or “frunk,” and the truck’s torquey driving experience initially have customers eager to drive an electrified version of America’s best-selling truck.

Lightning sales will be key to helping Ford reach its goal of reaching annual EV production capacity of 600,000 units by next year and 2 million by 2026. Ford Motor Company. started production In April of electricity at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn. The event marked the electrification of America’s most popular vehicle and the rollout of the first mass-market electric pickup in the United States.

CEO Jim Farley said at the time, “We have great intention of becoming the No. 1 electric pickup manufacturer. And then, with huge investments — $50 billion in EVs, battery manufacturing, our expanded lineup that you haven’t seen yet — we Tesla and plans to challenge all comers to become the top EV maker in the world.

“This is something that just two years ago no one would have believed on our part. Take a look at this truck and believe it.”

But the launch didn’t go well: Ford last week Said it was missing about 2,900 electricity Fixed an issue in the US and Canada with a tire pressure monitoring system that could be fixed via a software update.

Ford dealers, meanwhile, are eager to get their hands on more Lightning units—something that could take some time, given the number of orders Ford has to work on and automakers needing to sell a certain percentage of their electric vehicles to zero ones. States need to allocate-emission vehicle programs. That means dealers in states like Michigan are not getting significant power allocations this year.

For example, North Brothers Ford in Westland hasn’t delivered any Lightnings yet and expects to sell only a few this year, despite having 75 reservations on the books. Owner Doug North doesn’t expect to be able to power large numbers for a few years.

“When someone asks me – a Ford dealer – when can they get one, and I tell them that’s probably ’24, it’s a tough situation for both the dealer and the customer,” he said.

Still, he believes the automaker is doing a better job of managing expectations than others have discussed. Product launches like Bronco, And he’s happy that Ford beat rivals like General Motors Co. to the market with electric pickups.

Ford recorded its first Lightning sales in May. The Detroit News spoke to three early customers about their experience.

Overall, they were pleased with the truck and recognized the Lightning’s frank as an exceptional feature, along with a fun driving experience, clean aesthetic and work-truck capabilities. For some, however, access to public charging remains a concern – and they are keeping their options open as the electric truck space is about to become increasingly crowded in the coming years.

Rodriguez is an EV enthusiast who has driven a number of electric models, from the Tesla Model X to the Hyundai Ioniq. He bought Ford’s first all-electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, and was so pleased with it that he bought another, and then the Lightning.

Rodriguez’s favorite feature of Lightning is the ample space it provides.

He uses an electric mobility scooter and likes to store and charge it in the frunk while keeping the truck bed open to transport things like dirt. He plans to use the truck to transport his 27-foot trailer back to California when it moves back there later this year.

Rodriguez has also tested his Lightning’s off-road capabilities, recently taking it to a beach in Florida. He set out to sand it, but it worked out just fine – and he and his daughter sat at the water’s edge enjoying snacks and drinks from the frank.

His only note so far is that Ford should have included a bed cover. He doesn’t believe in staying loyal to any one auto brand, but Ford has him hooked for now.

“I think you should always keep your options open and don’t be blind when it comes to electric vehicles – because every electric vehicle can serve a purpose for someone or something,” he said. They said. “For now, Ford has my business because they announced they were going to do something and they delivered.”

Similarly, Nicholas Schmidt, 38, of Standish, Michigan, says Lightning’s frank is a “game-changer.”

In May, Schmidt became the first retail customer in the country to take delivery of Lightning. A Ford customer for most of his life, Schmidt has owned several trucks over the years, but has been slowly switching his vehicles to electric models.

“I’ve been on EVs for a long time, and then when we had our baby three years ago, that was my moment to drop the two-seat BMW and get a family vehicle,” Schmidt said. “So when that option came up, we decided that an EV was the right fit for us. It was a challenge in rural Michigan, to say the least, but we made it work. After that experience with Tesla, I was able to make a difference in what I’m looking for.” Also said EV pickup, I said truck came out first, we will buy.

So far, his experience has been mostly positive: “It’s really just an F-150 that charges home.”

He enjoys the look of the Lightning, as well as the instant torque and driving experience, especially when towing his family’s Airstream trailer on camping trips in northern Michigan.

“You forget you’re carrying stuff because the torque curve is so different from an ICE vehicle. I think that’s the most amazing thing,” he said. “How smoothly it carries things is just a game-changer for us.”

Dave Ostler, who runs an alarm company in Rockford, Ill., enjoys using frunks to store expensive equipment and parts he hauls for work. He also loves the driving experience, and is hoping to save an estimated $10,000 a year on fuel in exchange for an estimated $2,000 a year on electricity to charge his Lightning.

“It’s pretty amazing. After two weeks, I’ve got maybe 1,500 miles on it,” he said. “And it’s been great. No problem, super-fast, drive like a sports car.”

Charging Challenges

Still, some early Lightning customers report a less-than-smooth public charging experience.

Schmidt, who also owns Tesla, was disappointed with its charging options on a recent trip to northern Michigan.

“Definitely not as good of a charging network as Tesla’s, and it’s been a challenge with towing and camping and stuff,” he said. “It was touch-and-go. We had to double down to find a usable charger. A bunch of chargers weren’t working. It wasn’t a solid experience, to say the least.”

And while he’s used to his Teslas automatically directing him to in-network charging points, he found that navigating public charging in the Lightning required more effort.

Overall, they found that Tesla and Ford are comparable in terms of EV experience. But he still likes Tesla’s software experience, which includes the EV maker’s advanced driver assistance system features.

“If Cybertruck had come out at the exact same time, I think we probably would have gone with Cybertruck, despite our reservations on the aesthetic, simply because I think the Tesla interface is better still,” Schmidt said. he said.

Osler is also concerned about the public charging infrastructure available for Lightning as his work takes him to places of choice at no charge. To be safe, he’s holding onto his gas-powered F-150 for now—and he still has Cybertruck reservations.

“I’m definitely excited for it, if it ever comes,” he said. “Just because of the Tesla Supercharger network and probably some other cool features on that truck.”

 

Ford outperforms industry
with Q2, June sales gains

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
July 7, 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s new-vehicle sales in the U.S. ticked up 1.8% year-over-year in the second quarter and 31.5% in June, the Dearborn automaker reported Tuesday. In all, the Blue Oval sold 483,688 vehicles in the second quarter and 152,262 last month.

The results bucked an industry trend of declining sales in the second quarter. Crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV posted 15% and 16% sales drops, respectively, for the three-month period, according to results released Friday. 

Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales were down 18% year-over-year in June. Honda Motor Co.'s second-quarter sales dropped 51% from the same period last year, which the company attributed to "severe" supply issues. Hyundai Motor Co. saw a 23% sales drop for the quarter.

Supply-chain issues and other disruptions have hampered auto production globally for roughly a year and a half. The production issues have depleted inventory levels, recently prompting forecasters to adjust their sales expectations for the year.

Cox Automotive, for example, is now forecasting 14.4 million new-vehicle sales in the U.S. this year — below the 14.6 million sales recorded in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic ate into results, and well below the roughly 17 million annual sales that were the norm in the years leading up to pandemic.

At the same time, high inflation, rising interest rates and sky-high vehicle prices may start to dampen demand that so far has held up during the pandemic.

For the month of June, Ford saw sales increases across its truck, SUV and EV segments as it reported outperforming the industry for the month. The automaker reported that share gains that brought it to 12.9% of the U.S. market were driven by sales of its F-Series truck lineup, its Explorer and Expedition SUVs and its battery-electric vehicles.

Despite the headwinds, Ford said it's seeing demand for new vehicles remain strong. The automaker saw roughly 50% of retail sales come from previously placed orders, setting a new record for the company. Ford, along with other automakers, has increasingly emphasized its order bank amid a lingering semiconductor shortage and other supply-chain disruptions.

Ford ended the month with 297,000 units of gross stock, which the company said is up from about 236,000 in gross stock inventory at the end of May — though many of those new units are in transit.

In June, sales of F-Series — Ford's profit engine — were up 26.3% year-over-year and represented 37.9% of the company's overall sales mix. Nearly 60% of F-Series retail sales came through Ford's order bank. Overall, Ford's pickup truck sales were up 26.3% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, Ford's June EV sales of 4,353 units marked a 76.6% increase from a year ago. June marked the second month of sales for the all-electric F-150 Lightning, which notched 1,837 sales. Ford has sold 2,296 units of the battery-electric truck since it launched. The Blue Oval was second in the country in EV sales in June, behind market leader Tesla Inc.

Ford brand SUV sales of 60,894 were up 35.3% year-over-year in June. That growth was fueled in part by sales of the Bronco lineup, which saw sales grow 82.7% year-over-year. Ford also reported seeing improvements in Explorer and Expedition sales, which it attributed to better inventory flow.

Not all of Ford's SUV saw gains in June, however. Sales of the EcoSport, Bronco Sport, Mustang Mach-E, and Expedition were down for the month. Lincoln brand sales were up 40.6% from last year in June. Year-to-date, Ford's sales are down 8.1% year-over-year.

The automaker's average transaction price rose $1,900 per vehicle from May to June, driving ATP for Ford and Lincoln vehicles to $52,200.

Meanwhile, investment research firm CFRA on Tuesday downgraded its opinion on Ford's stock from "strong buy" to "buy," citing chances of a recession. The firm downgraded its 12-month target on Ford shares by $6 to $16 per share. 

In a note, CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson noted that Ford outperformed an estimated industrywide volume decline of 20.8% in Q2. 

"Ford's sales continue to outperform peers who have struggled in the face of semiconductor shortages and supply chain issues, which we think reflects the popularity of a handful of newer models (the Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, F-150 Lightning)," wrote Nelson. "We recently lowered our industry outlook from neutral to negative and see near-term sales volumes and valuation multiples pressured by economic factors."

 

Unifor to release full investigation
into former president Jerry Dias

The former labour leader has been accused of accepting kickbacks and breaching the union’s constitution. His lawyer says the organization’s investigation is ‘not credible.’

Toronto Star
July 6, 2022
By Rosa SabaBusiness
Sara Mojtehedzadeh

Unifor is set to release the full investigation into its former president Jerry Dias, the Star has learned, amid the fallout of an alleged kickback scandal shaking Canada’s largest private sector union.

The documents will be “released to local unions as soon as possible,” said Unifor national secretary-treasurer Lana Payne in response to questions from the Star.

Dias was allegedly given $50,000 by a rapid test supplier who he promoted to Unifor employers, according to an external report commissioned by the union earlier this year.

Dias subsequently offered $25,000 to an assistant he passed over for an endorsement as his successor to the Unifor presidency. The assistant, Chris MacDonald, turned the money over to the union and filed an ethics complaint about Dias’s conduct.

Unifor has since referred the matter to the police. Citing a commitment to transparency, Unifor now says it will release a copy of the union-initiated investigation — along with full minutes of relevant executive meetings — to its 315,000 members across Canada.

Internal communications sent to Unifor staff last week, and obtained by the Star, said the report will be released to help members understand the “discussion and context” of executive meetings since February, after the union received a complaint about Dias’s conduct.

Payne said while Dias “does not need to be consulted” about the executive board’s decision, he was aware of the move to release the investigation.

But in a statement to the Star, Dias’s lawyer Tom Curry said the union had “not contacted us about any such decision and would have to answer to its members why this confidential report about an internal matter would be released now.”

As previously reported by the Star, a psychiatric assessment of Dias at the time of the alleged kickback scandal said the union leader was facing intense pressures and struggling with substance use issues, including the use of Percocet to treat an injury.

“Unifor prides itself on protecting its members from unfair investigative procedures and the marginalization of those who suffer from mental health and addiction issues,” said Curry.

“If the National Executive Board releases this confidential report knowing that Mr. Dias was dealing with mental health and addiction issues while it was completed, many members will be shocked and disappointed by this break from the organization’s long-standing values.”

It comes as Unifor faces its first contested election since Dias first became president upon the union’s creation in 2013.

Dias’s retirement had already triggered plans for an emergency convention to elect his replacement, which is currently scheduled to happen in August.

The candidates include Dias’s former assistant Scott Doherty. Also seeking election are Dave Cassidy, president of Windsor-based Unifor Local 444, and Payne.

In June, several Unifor members complained that Payne breached the union’s constitution, alleging that she “abused her position” to make decisions that benefitted her campaign.

The message sent last week to Unifor staff said the allegations against Payne were investigated by Unifor’s legal department and have now been “dismissed in their entirety” by the union’s executive board.

“The complaints that were received did not reach the threshold of constitutional charges so were all dismissed by the National Executive Board,” Payne told the Star. “I recused myself from chairing this discussion and did not participate in the vote.”

Dias did not participate in the Unifor investigation into the allegations against him, on the advice of forensic psychiatrist Jonathan Rootenberg, who said the former union president should not partake “due to his current mental status.”

As a result, the Unifor investigation was “not credible,” said Curry.

“It appears it’s being used to try to damage Jerry Dias’ legacy based on findings of an investigation he was unable to participate in,” he said.

“Mr. Dias has always been guided by the principles of the Unifor constitution. He wishes to thank Unifor members for their continued support.”

The union has previously said it does not know what happened to Dias’s share of the $50,000 he allegedly received from an as-yet unnamed rapid test supplier. The union has told the Star that those funds “were never in Unifor’s possession.”

Unifor represents workers in almost 30 sectors, including media. Unionized Toronto Star employees are represented by Unifor.

 

UAW members challenge
Ray Curry for union presidency

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
July 5, 2022

Instituting direct elections of United Auto Workers' international officials is leading some members to step up and challenge President Ray Curry to the union's top role, even from within Solidarity House.

Passage last year of the "one member, one vote" system by a referendum vote of the membership was brought on by a years-long corruption scandal, implicating 17 people, including two former UAW presidents. It's setting up a historic leadership selection process ahead of next year's critical contract negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers as their transition to electrification increasingly affects shop floors and as the union covers an increasingly diverse swath of members.

Now some of those members feel empowered by the opportunity for the rank-and-file to choose their leaders instead of the locally elected delegates who've historically voted on the leaders at a Constitutional Convention held every four years. The former system, critics say, helped keep the candidates put forth by the Reuther or Administrative Caucus in power for more than 70 years. Some members say new voices are needed to restore trust in the union and offer transparency.

The Detroit News left an inquiry with the court-appointed UAW monitor regarding how many candidates have submitted declaration forms with the intention to run for office. Curry announced in March his intention to run for election for a full term after being appointed to the office following the retirement of Rory Gamble last year.

Tossing their hat into the ring are members like Shawn Fain, an international UAW administrative representative who works in the Stellantis Department. He announced his candidacy on Thursday on Facebook. The 28-year UAW member started at the automaker's casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana, as an electrician and joined the international's staff in 2012 after serving in the leadership of Local 1166. He is seeking endorsement from the dissident Unite All Workers for Democracy Caucus, which hasn't not yet endorsed a slate.

Over his career, Fain, 53, of Shelby Township says he believes the union can do better to serve its members and has seen and experienced pushback when members seek to be a voice for the membership.

"When I came on staff at Solidarity House, I was really proud," he said. "I made it to the pinnacle of the union and thought, 'This is going to be really great.' I didn’t realize at that point how that was going to be. They don't fight for our members. They're complacent."

Fain lamented how autoworkers hired after 2007 no longer receive pension and retirement health-care benefits unlike the workers hired before them. With the automakers having recovered from the recession and earning billions of dollars, Fain, a member of the national negotiation team in 2009 and 2011 for skilled trades and then in 2015 and 2019 as an international representative, feels the union should've pushed for more, particularly when it comes to the eight years it takes for full-time autoworkers to reach top pay.

The final straw for Fain, he said, was when the union recently bettered the pensions of its own employees hired after 2008 to be the same as the pensions as those hired before 2008.

"They are not being transparent," he said. "We just have mixed-up priorities. To me, the priorities should be focused more on the members."

He points to the obstacles the UAW is facing in organizing new electric-vehicle battery plants mostly operated between automakers and battery manufacturers as well as the assembly plants of foreign car makers: "There's no commitment to be UAW plants, no commitment our workers will have any rights to those jobs. We’re falling behind."

Charles Bell, who now is the president of UAW Local 1700 representing workers at Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly Plant that makes the Ram 1500 pickups, was a member alongside Fain of the UAW's Chrysler council made up of local shop committee members and presidents before Fain became a part of international staff. He describes Fain as an intelligent leader who quotes President John F. Kennedy and is passionate about hearing everyone's voice.

"The room lit up as he spoke," Bell said, recalling one debate. "Shawn fought hard to protect the skilled trades and the entire membership of the UAW. I think he would make an excellent president. He is a man of integrity and is fair. He speaks truth, no matter if you want to hear it or not."

Although Fain worked in Solidarity House at a time when embezzlement entangled leaders, he says he's fought for workers. He's objected to seven-day work schedules for skilled trade employees at what is now Stellantis' Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which produces the Ram 1500 pickup trucks, and says he's been a part of efforts as a negotiator to prevent further tier-type classifications.

"I know if I wasn't there, things would have been different," he said.

And he says he's received pushback for objecting to leadership lines: Two former vice presidents and a senior staff member for a vice president have given him what he calls the "who do you work for?" speech. Fain says it should be the members, not UAW officials.

Three of Fain's grandparents worked for General Motors Co. and Chrysler. He constantly carries a check stub his grandfather earned from Chrysler — the one in his pocket this week was from March 23,1940. For 32 hours, the net pay was $29.21.

"They were proud of the jobs they had," the father of two adult daughters said. "I've worked nonunion in the past. It's just more security, better pay, better benefits. It's the coming together of people from various walks of life. It's not a perfect thing, but it's the best thing we have. It's been off course due to the corruption and the scandal. We've got to get this ship turned around."

Fain isn't the only member seeking the presidency. Will Lehman, 34, a five-year employee for Mack Trucks Inc. in Macungie, Pennsylvania, on Thursday posted a YouTube video announcing his candidacy. The self-proclaimed socialist details policy objectives, including cutting international leader paycheck and staff, ending the joint training centers that have been restructured since facilitating corruption between UAW leaders, automakers and vendors, and ensuring transparency in the ratification process of contracts.

Five years "has been enough time for me," Lehman said in the video, "to see that it is not a supposed lack of solidarity of workers on the shop floor that is undermining our struggles, but the betrayals of the bureaucracy of the UAW. Our present leadership assists the companies to triumph over us at every single point it has overseen concession after concession on cost of living increases pensions retirement benefits  health care while dividing us up into tiers."

 

 

Auto Workers Hold Lots
of Cards Even If US
Heads for Recession

Bloomberg News
July 4, 2022

Wages are low and dealers desperately need inventory. The UAW will drive a hard bargain next year.

General Motors skirted a strike this week that could have affected production of some of its most profitable vehicles. Details of the agreement with about 700 subsystem workers, who deliver parts to the assembly line, aren’t yet public and still have to be ratified. But the close call and tough talks offer a glimpse of what could be coming next year, when GM, Ford and Stellantis negotiate new four-year contracts for their roughly 150,000 U.S. employees represented by the United Auto Workers.

While companies from Amazon to Apple have been raising wages in a tight labor market to attract workers and fend off unionization, the three Detroit-area automakers have been somewhat insulated from wage inflation, at least at the low end of the pay scale. This is a result of their having locked in labor costs with their last contracts in 2019.

As widespread price increases erode wages, this could be a recipe for “a tough negotiation and potentially a strike” next year, Joe Spak, RBC Capital Markets’ auto analyst, wrote in a May report.

But what about recession risk — could that lead union workers to think twice? Well, the semiconductor shortage that’s stymied auto production and drained dealer lots to about a third of their normal inventory suggest that, even if we’re headed for a recession, there’s lots of restocking to do and pent-up demand to meet. Automakers also are going to have a hard time pleading poverty when they’re commanding record vehicle prices and making big profits.

“Typically, we would be heavy stock, high incentives, increasing incentives to try to move vehicles, large inventories. We don't have that today,” John Lawler, Ford’s chief financial officer, said at a Deutsche Bank conference last month. “It's a completely different environment heading into what could be a potential recession than anything I've seen in the past.”

Another factor to consider: automakers have committed billions to launch a barrage of new electric models and build battery assembly plants in the US, and they’re not going to drop those long-term investments. Remember, when Elon Musk reportedly wrote that he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy, President Biden touted Ford’s then just-announced plan to hire 6,000 new union workers to staff its plants.

Getting someone to work in an auto plant can be a hard sell. It’s dirty, it’s hell on your body, and the hours can be brutal. The compensation for those sacrifices has traditionally been reflected in union contracts: a living wage, generous health-care plans and retirement benefits, and ideally enough money left over for a summer cottage along the Great Lakes.

But since 2007, when the UAW conceded to a two-tier wage system to help Detroit compete with foreign carmakers, not every UAW employee has been able to have that dream. It was arguably the sticking point in the 2019 strike at GM and continues to be an issue.

Stellantis’s starting temp wage is $15.78, Ford’s is $16.67, and GM’s is between $15 and $16. If you’re just looking at base pay — which, significantly, does not include things like health-care benefits, vacation days and profit-sharing checks — it seems comparable to Amazon’s $18 average hourly wage for new US hires (though that varies by region). Apple just raised retail wages to $22 from $20 to fend off unionization campaigns.

In what looked like a proactive attempt to address these labor dynamics, Ford said last month it would voluntarily upgrade 3,000 temps to full-time employment, on top of hiring another 6,200 in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio to build more electric Mustangs, mid-size pickups and commercial vans. A Ford spokeswoman said the company wants to attract, retain and motivate workers and reward them appropriately.

 

Canadians fear a retirement crisis
is brewing as interest rates rise

Victoria Wells
June 30, 2022

Rising interest rates and inflation, combined with housing woes, are fuelling worries that a retirement crisis is brewing in Canada, with younger generations standing to suffer the most, new research from a pension plan suggests.

Three-quarters of Canadians fear we are on the cusp of a retirement disaster as life gets more expensive, according to a recent study from Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOP) and Abacus Data. More than half, or 55 per cent, say they’re worried they won’t have enough money to get by once they quit working — a six-point jump from last year, and highlighting the economic pressure Canadians find themselves under.

Prices are rising on everyday items and it’s making Canadians nervous that the worst is yet to come. Eighty-eight per cent expect the cost of living to keep rising as interest rates march up and inflation soars. As a result, retirement savings are on the line and already taking a hit for some. Among Canadians with jobs, 38 per cent have stopped saving for retirement completely in the past year as costs increase. Another 32 per cent don’t have anything saved at all.

Meanwhile, 72 per cent of Canadians believe saving for retirement is “prohibitively expensive.”

“The general outlook for retirement security in Canada is darkening,” David Colletto, chief executive of Abacus Data, said in a release.

Housing is adding to Canadians’ retirement worries, the survey said. Many homeowners have traditionally relied on home sales to fund retirement, and close to half of homeowners say they’re counting on selling so they can retire. But high interest rates are taking a bite out of equity by boosting mortgage payments, putting homeownership out of the reach of more people. That’s led 58 per cent of homeowners to fear they won’t be able to find buyers when the time comes to cash in.

The outlook is especially dire for Canadians under the age of 35, HOOP said. Unable to get into the housing market amid rising debt costs, younger Canadians are abandoning homeownership as a retirement savings’ vehicle, just as economic conditions make it harder for them to sock away cash.

“Funding retirement through the sale of a home is becoming a less viable strategy for many individuals,” Steven McCormick, senior vice-president, Plan Operations, at HOOP said in a release. “It raises the question of whether Canada’s younger generations are headed for a perfect storm on retirement security.”

When it comes to homeownership, three-quarters of Canadians under 35 are worried high interest rates will keep them out of the market or put monthly mortgage payments out of reach. They are also concerned about the impact of higher rates on their ability to save. Eighty-eight per cent fear high interest rates will dent their retirement piggy banks.

One solution to Canadians’ savings woes is access to workplace pension plans, the HOOP survey said. The majority of Canadians believe such plans have value and are even willing to take a lower salary if it means they’ll get a secure retirement income in exchange. But pension plans aren’t just attractive to workers. Research shows they pay off for organizations, too.

“Good workplace retirement savings plans reduce financial stress and elevate pace of mind for workers of all ages,” McCormick said. “And this in turn improves productivity for employers.”

 

5 Canadian companies on the
2022 Automotive News Top
100 Global Suppliers List

GREG LAYSON
June 29, 2022

Five Canada-based auto parts makers find themselves on the 2022 Automotive News Top 100 Global Suppliers List.

The list, released Monday, tracks sales to automakers from the previous year.

Magna International Inc., Linamar Corp., Martinrea International Inc., Multimatic Inc., and ABC Technologies landed on the list. All but ABC Technologies were on the list a year ago.

Magna International Inc., based in Aurora, Ont., remained fourth on the list. It’s the only Canadian company in the top five.

Magna had sales of $36.2 billion (all figures in USD) to automakers worldwide, up 11 per cent over 2020. The company was also North America’s largest supplier.

Despite the increase, Magna has been talking with automakers about ways to strike a better balance financially.

"We continue our discussions with customers at various levels almost on a daily basis," Magna CEO Swamy Kotagiri said during a call with analysts in April.

He said talks between Magna, the largest North American auto supplier, and automakers have been "open and transparent" but sometimes "tough."

"Going forward, we will try to reflect the new economics in our primary markets in North America and Europe," Kotagiri said. "Inflation has been stable and modest for a long time, as an example, but now it's high. ... We are looking at different arrangements going forward to see how we can recover the increased costs."

Linamar Corp. of Guelph, Ont., moved up to six spots to 54 from 60 on the list with $3.7 billion in sales, up from $3.2 billion a year ago;

Martinrea International Inc. of Vaughn, Ont. climbed 10 rungs up the ladder, landing at No. 63, up from No. 63 last year. It posted $2.95 billion in sales, up from $2.44 billion in 2019;

Multimatic Inc. of Markham, Ont., edged up one spot to No. 95, with an estimated $1.19 billion in sales. That was up from the $1.06 billion the year before.

ABC Technologies of Toronto came in at No. 97 after missing the top 100 a year ago. It did $971 million in sales, up from the $823 million in 2020.

Robert Bosch and Denso Crop. And ZF Friedrichshafen all managed to maintain the top three spots, respectively.

 

Ford recalls nearly 2,900
electric F-150 Lightnings
over tire pressure issue

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
June 28, 2022

Ford Motor Co. is recalling nearly 2,900 all-electric F-150 Lightning trucks over an issue with a tire pressure monitoring system that the automaker says can be fixed via a software update.

The Dearborn automaker said Monday it is issuing a safety compliance recall for certain 2022 Lightnings with 20" or 22" all-season tires because the tire pressure monitoring system light "may not illuminate when intended and may not be able to provide adequate warning of low tire inflation pressure."

The issue stems from the recommended tire cold inflation value in the truck's body control module being incorrectly set to 35 psi instead of 42 psi. 

"Low tire inflation pressure may lead to poor vehicle handling and a possible loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash," according to Ford.

The automaker encourages customers to verify that their tire pressure matches figures provided on the Tire and Loading Information label on the front door jamb on the driver's side.

The action — which is the first recall of the Lightning since it launched in April — affects 2,666 vehicles in the U.S. and 220 in Canada. There are no accidents or injuries associated with the issue, according to Ford.

Dealers were notified of the recall Monday and customers will be notified via email and the FordPass mobile app Tuesday, Ford said. A software update that will fix the issue is expected to be available in 30 days for all current customers. Dealers will update software for undelivered vehicles and any customers who want the fix immediately. The update takes approximately 20 minutes, according to Ford.

 

Senate OKs $101M incentive
for Ford work in Metro Detroit

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
June 24, 2022

Lansing — A Michigan Senate panel gave the final approvals Thursday to a $100.8 million incentive for Ford Motor Co., which plans to use the state cash to supplement a roughly $1.16 billion update to five plants. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 14-3 to transfer the money to the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve for eventual distribution to Ford.

The Senate's approval came after a short presentation from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ford, and senators asked no questions before delivering their stamp of approval.

The meeting was a marked change from the House Appropriations Committee's 20-8 vote last week, when House lawmakers questioned Ford's treatment of suppliers and the general idea of paying companies to stay in Michigan when other changes could be made to the state's tax or regulatory structure instead.

Ford Economic Development Director Gabby Bruno said Thursday the investment would support the company's electric vehicle plans by nearly doubling F-150 Lightning production in Dearborn. The money also would aid efforts related to gas-powered vehicles, such as the Mustang and the new Ranger, she said.

"Public-private partnerships like the one we’re discussing here today are important to keep Michigan at the forefront of automotive manufacturing," Bruno said. "The economic support you are considering for this project plays a key role in helping make the business case for Ford to expand its EV footprint.”

Bruno also argued the investment in Ford would have a ripple effect for suppliers — an apparent response to concerns raised by House lawmakers about alleged delays in payments to suppliers lower on the production chain. 

The money given by the Legislature would help to support the company's 2,200 suppliers from whom Ford purchases about $21 billion from annually, Bruno said.

Sen. Jim Runestad, one of three Republican senators to vote against the fund transfer, said he wasn’t in favor of fast-tracked deals made behind closed doors. He also argued that the state should be creating a more competitive business environment for all companies by scaling back regulations and taxes, rather than picking winners and losers.

“Fast-tracking these at this speed, finding out what’s in the language later on, doing this for a single company — I think Ford does a great job, but that’s one company,” the White Lake Republican said.

“We’re losing some of these deals because overall the business climate in Michigan is not competitive.”

Under the details of the agreement, Ford plans to invest about $1.16 billion to update five plants and create 3,030 jobs. The automaker has said about 65% of jobs created through the investment will be tied to electric vehicle manufacturing, according to Josh Hundt, chief projects officer and executive vice president of strategic accounts at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., who addressed House lawmakers last week.

The plan includes the creation of 1,508 jobs and $450 million investment at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center; 382 jobs and $475 million at the Michigan Assembly Plant; 650 jobs and $35 million investment at the new Monroe Packaging Center; 250 jobs and $160 million at the Rawsonville Plant; and 240 jobs and a $40 million investment at the Livonia Transmission Plant.

In order to meet the terms of the state incentive, Ford must make the full $1.16 billion investment by June 30, 2024, or the tax dollars may be clawed back.

The company must fulfill its hiring quota by June 30, 2025. The jobs, which have an average pay of about $55,000, must be created in addition to Ford’s current Michigan base of about 22,190 employees and sustained for at least 12 months.

 

GM Won't Require a Four-Year
Degree for Certain Jobs

The automaker hopes to attract more diverse talent by loosening its education requirements for manufacturing and tech jobs.

By Lawrence Hodge
June 22, 2022

GM is looking to broaden, and yet sharpen its talent pool by moving to skills-based hiring from more diverse and inclusive backgrounds, Automotive News reports.

This pivot in hiring by the General can be traced back to 2020, when CEO Mary Barra announced GM wanted to be “the most inclusive company in the world.” To do that, the global automaker was going to need to attract more talent. So, it created a diversity team to drive these efforts. One of the first results of the work of the diversity team is the move to skill-based hiring instead of requiring a four-year degree.

GM believes the end of the four-year degree requirement will open up a whole new pool of talent for the company to pull from. GM’s executive director of diversity, Tammy Golden, told Automotive News, “When you focus on what’s required of the job versus, say, a four-year degree, as your ticket in, it allows you the opportunity to open the aperture to another pool of talent.”

The automaker also emphasizes that people skills are more important than having a degree. Golden pointed out that one of her best leaders at the company had a physical education degree but worked in manufacturing, but “he knew how to bring people along.”

The company is following a three-tiered strategy to attract this talent. Per Automotive News:

  • Work force innovation, which examines work streams that affect the employee experience and aims to eliminate biases that could impact that experience.
  • Work force design, which focuses on creating pathways into the company beyond four-year degrees.

GM says it has already hired 500 “group leaders” in the last several months from diverse and inclusive backgrounds (minorities, women, etc.). From what Jalopnik can gather from the Automotive News article, it appears those hires have been in the manufacturing and tech branches of GM careers.

The automaker also looks to gain tech talent with the introduction of a scholarship program, in partnership with Udacity. 100 scholarships will be available to women and people of color in the Southeast Michigan area. Training will prepare them for tech careers not only at GM, but other manufacturers and OEMs as well.

 

GM, Ford executives say U.S.
vehicle demand stays strong

By Joseph White
June 17, 2022

DETROIT, (Reuters) - Top executives of General Motors Co (GM.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Wednesday U.S. consumer demand for cars and trucks remains strong, despite rising interest rates and record high gas prices.

The Federal Reserve is expected to boost U.S. rates again as soon as Wednesday to combat a surge in consumer prices. Rate hikes, costly gas and inflation have been a toxic combination for Detroit's automakers in the past.

"We have not seen signs of weakening demand," GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told investors at a conference sponsored by Deutsche Bank. New vehicle prices are high, and inventories of unsold cars and trucks remain low, he said.

GM has been able to offset $5 billion in higher supply chain costs by raising prices and cutting expenses, Jacobson said. He reaffirmed GM's earlier financial targets and its goal of increasing vehicle production for 2022 by 25-30% from 2021.

Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said in a separate presentation that demand remains as prices stay strong.

Lawler said Ford's credit arm is starting to see an increase in loan delinquencies, a potential leading indicator of softer demand. However, "it's not yet a concern" because delinquencies were extremely low previously, he noted.

Both Lawler and Jacobson said low inventory would benefit their companies should the U.S. economy tip into recession.

Jacobson said GM executives are watching "every day, every week, every month" for signs of a slowdown, focusing on inventories and other indicators. Lawler said Ford has done modeling on the potential impact of both moderate and severe recessions.

In the past, the Detroit automakers and their dealers carried two to three months' worth of vehicles on their lots. When consumer demand withered, they were forced to offer deep discounts to move out old models.

"We are not going to go back to the high inventories that we had in the past. We've targeted 45 to 55 days and we're going to stick to that," Lawler said.

GM's management is being extra cautious about adding staff, and is reviewing capital spending plans, Jacobson said. But the company does not want to cut long-term investments in electric vehicles, software and other new technology "that are going to drive revenue growth," he added.

 

Ford recalls 2.9 million vehicles
that may roll away while in park

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
June 16, 2022

Washington — Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 2.9 million vehicles that may roll away after being put in park. 

The recall affects Ford C-Max vehicles from model years 2013-18, Edges from 2015-18, Escapes from 2013-19, Fusions from 2013-16, and the Transit Connect from 2013-21, according to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The defect is caused by a part degrading or detaching, preventing the vehicle from shifting into the intended gear. 

Ford says it is aware of four alleged injuries and six allegations of property damage due to the problem.

The company said in a separate NHTSA filing that the root cause of the defect is unknown, but based on an investigation heat and humidity can breakdown material related to shifting. 

Ford estimates only 1% of all vehicles recalled will have the defect. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. 

 

Ford recalls nearly 50,000
Mustang Mach-Es, halts
deliveries over safety defect

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
June 15, 2022

Ford Motor Co. is recalling nearly 50,000 Mustang Mach-Es and telling dealers to pause deliveries of the all-electric crossover due to a safety defect that could result in Pub Info power loss.

The Dearborn automaker has filed a recall notice with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding an issue on some Mach-Es that can cause the vehicle's high-voltage battery main contactors  to overheat, according to the company. 

"Overheating may lead to arcing and deformation of the electrical contact surfaces, which can result in a contactor that remains open or a contactor that welds closed," according to Ford. "An overheated contactor that opens while driving can result in a loss of motive power, which can increase the risk of an accident."

The issue affects certain model year 2021-2022 Mach-Es built at Ford's Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico between May 27, 2020 and May 24, 2022, according to a memo sent to dealers this week. Further information about the recall was not immediately available on NHTSA's website Tuesday afternoon.

The fix for the issue is a software update that Ford expects to begin deploying remotely for affected vehicles next month, according to spokesperson Said Deep. Owners also will have the option to take their vehicle to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to complete the update.

Dealers have been asked to pause deliveries of the Mach-E until the software update is completed. Ford said it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. First reported by CNBC, the recall includes 48,924 vehicles in the U.S. Ford said there are no open NHTSA investigations into the issue. 

Experts said that while a recall is never a good scenario for an automaker, it's encouraging that this issue can be resolved via a software update and that Ford has not indicated there is a fire risk or told Mach-E drivers to stop driving their vehicle.

"The key is always [whether there are] injuries or worse. The second key is scary potentials — like, 'Don't park your Bolt near your house,'" said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, referring to General Motors Co.'s recall last August of all Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs ever made for battery fire risk. That recall of some 141,000 units led to a months-long stop-sale on the Bolt; GM restarted production in April.

“We’re still early in the learning curve on electric cars," added Brauer. "And when you see these very electric car-specific issues ... it just reminds us that there’s still a lot of understanding and experience and wisdom that needs to be gathered in electric car production.”

Still, "It's certainly significant if you're driving down the road and your car suddenly loses power and shuts down. It's a non-trivial issue," said Sam Abuelsamid, an e-mobility analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

The contactors at issue in the recall, he said, are installed between the battery and other parts in the vehicle to isolate the battery when the system is not operating.

"You don't want power from the [high-voltage] battery flowing through other systems in the vehicle when it's shut off, because that could potentially cause safety issues," said Abuelsamid. "So it’s definitely a non-trivial issue when you lose power, but at the same time, it doesn’t sound like it has happened very many times. So far, at least, they’re not telling people to park their Mach-Es and not drive them. They’re just saying, 'Hold off on delivering any until we get this fix out there.'"

The recall on the Mach-E — Ford's inaugural battery-electric vehicle — comes on the heels of NHTSA launching an investigation into another one of the automaker's hot new products: the Bronco SUV. The federal safety regulator is looking into complaints from dozens of owners regarding engine failures, though a recall has not been issued. 

Ford has struggled with vehicle launches in the past, including the botched launch of the redesigned 2020 Explorer SUV. CEO Jim Farley has said that improving quality and reducing costs related to recalls and warranties are a top priority under his turnaround plan for the company.

Mach-E has generally garnered favorable reviews from owners and critics alike since it launched in late 2020. Ford in December announced that it was moving to boost Mach-E production capacity to 200,000 units annually by next year to meet demand.

 

Tesla Faces Demand for
Union-Rights Proposal
at Annual Meeting

Dana Hull and Josh Eidelson, 
Bloomberg News
June 14, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- A Canadian nonprofit is urging Tesla Inc. to respect its workers’ right to form unions, setting up a likely shareholder vote on a topic that has drawn the ire of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk.

Share, an advisory group that works with pension funds, family foundations and indigenous tribes, has submitted a resolution to be considered at the electric carmaker’s annual meeting urging Tesla’s eight-member board to adopt and publicly disclose a policy on labor rights.

The guidelines should prohibit management from “undermining” or interfering with efforts by employees to form or join unions, according to the proposal, which was viewed by Bloomberg. Share, which has offices in Toronto and Vancouver, doesn’t own Tesla stock.

Tesla has yet to release a proxy for the meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 4. The company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

US labor law prohibits anti-union threats or retaliation, but allows companies to campaign aggressively against unionization, and many often do. 

Tesla, based in Austin, Texas, has more than 65,000 employees in the US. Its auto plant in Fremont, California, has about 15,000 workers. Though the United Auto Workers has tried to unionize the factory in years past, the effort never got close to a vote. 

In May, the UAW held an organizing training session in Birmingham, Alabama, where current union members met with non-union auto workers from several firms, including Tesla. 

“The auto industry’s going through a number of transformations,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a Zoom discussion following the gathering. “We believe that we can maintain the standards across this country that have already been built in this industry by UAW members.”

Union Critic

Musk has been a vocal critic of the UAW, saying in a tweet last year that the union’s slogan should be “Fighting for their right to steal money from workers!” 

The National Relations Labor Board ruled last year that Tesla repeatedly violated US labor law, including by firing a union activist, “coercively interrogating” pro-union employees and threatening staff via one of Musk’s tweets. Tesla has denied wrongdoing and is appealing the ruling, which was issued unanimously by two Republican members of the agency and one Democrat. 

“Tesla has language around freedom of association in its supplier code of conduct, but nothing that applies to its own operations, which is a significant gap,” said Simon Lewchuk of Share. “There’s a need for Tesla to have some clear policies.”

Tesla’s shares tumbled 32% this year through Thursday’s close, double the decline in the S&P 500 Index.

 

UAW flexes muscle with strike
pay hike ahead of Detroit
Three talks next year

The Detroit News
June 9, 2022

The United Auto Workers on Tuesday increased its weekly strike allowance for members to $400 per week from $275, a signal of strength ahead of the union next year approaching the bargaining table with the Detroit Three automakers, according to experts.

The Detroit-based union has the funds for it, they say. In March, its strike balance sat at nearly $826 million, according to the union. For context, in 2019, the UAW paid nearly $81 million in benefits to striking members, which included stipends to the 46,000 General Motors Co. employees during a 40-day national strike, the longest again GM in nearly 50 years.

The UAW International Executive Board also eliminated a provision that a member receiving unemployment benefits cannot also receive strike pay. Eligibility for the stipend still will begin on the eighth day of a strike.

“UAW members who strike are fighting to hold their employers accountable,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement. “Our striking members and their families deserve our solidarity, and this increased benefit will help them hold the line.”

The UAW is facing historic challenges. The auto industry is enduring a once-in-a-century transformation to electric and connected vehicles that will require new skills for its workers and battery plants owned by joint ventures with foreign battery partners that the UAW is seeking to organize. Meanwhile, workers have options in a competitive labor market where other employers are increasing minimum wages and households are seeing the effects of inflation on their budgets.

"It gives them more leverage at the bargaining table," said Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School. "The stronger the strike benefits, the more of a deterrent that is. It's always one day longer: 'We can stay out on the street one day longer than the employer can fight.'"

Plus, after a years-long federal corruption investigation that resulted in the convictions of 17 people, including two former UAW presidents, the union is seeking to rebuild its reputation with reforms under the watchful eyes of a court-appointed independent monitor. Its constitutional convention is scheduled next month in Detroit, where locally elected delegates will nominate candidates to participate in the union's first-ever direct election of international officers that will begin in October, potentially threatening the 70-year hold of the current leadership's Administrative Caucus on the union. Curry is seeking election to a full term.

Members of a dissident caucus known as the Unite All Workers for Democracy celebrated the strike pay increase. The group about six weeks ago had begun circulating a resolution among local unions to support an increase in the stipend, though that request sought to have the benefits begin from day one, said Scott Houldieson, co-chair of the caucus. He didn't know how many locals had voted to support the resolution, though his Local 551 in Chicago representing Ford Motor Co. workers there had on Saturday.

"We’re excited with this development that will make the membership more comfortable if we do need to take job action and improve our working conditions," Houldieson said, noting the resolution was prompted by a five-week strike by John Deere & Co. workers last fall. "We saw there was a need for the membership to be able to have more in their pocket to be able to sustain a job action like that."

Michigan's maximum unemployment benefits are $362 per week. That would mean a striking resident would have the potential to receive up to $762 per week, though individual circumstances would determine whether a Michigan resident who is striking would be eligible for benefit, according to the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency. Michigan law states workers partaking in a strike that affects production in violation of a collective bargaining agreement or a wildcat strike not approved by the union aren't eligible.

The 45% hike to the UAW's benefits is the first since October 2019, when the IEB at the time increased the stipend 10% from $250 during the UAW's 2019 strike at GM as the prolonged work stoppage weighed on members' pocketbooks. The strike fund totaled $739 million at the end of that year.

Now almost $100 million above that, the fund was nearing the $850 million threshold set by a resolution in 2018 that would've triggered a decrease in members' dues. The decrease would've returned dues to the level they were before 2014, when UAW delegates approved a 25% dues increase, the first hike since 1967. The fund balance in 2014 was at an all-time low of $596.7 million. The 2018 resolution included a provision that if the strike fund fell below $650 million, dues would return to the increased level.

The show of strength by the UAW comes as unions are experiencing a surge in activity as employees feel empowered in a competitive labor market and pressured by rising prices of gas, food and other items. Collective bargaining efforts across the country at Starbucks Corp. locations have sprung up, and workers unionized the first Amazon.com Inc. warehouse in New York. Companies from Apple Inc. to Target Corp. have increased their minimum wages, as well.

But Ultium Cells LLC, the joint venture between GM and battery partner LG Energy Solution, rejected a request by the UAW for a card-check agreement at a new EV battery plant in northeast Ohio, the union told members last week. Such a deal would give the union access to the facility to collect cards in an effort to organize the plant without a vote. Not having that access could make it more difficult to do so. Curry in a statement on Monday reiterated that organizing the battery plants is a priority.

"It could have a difficult round of negotiations, and the UAW wants to be as well-positioned as possible," said Marick Masters, a professor at Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business. "I don’t think they’re signaling they're more likely to go out on strike than they would otherwise, but they're reflecting their prudence as an organization and have prepared themselves as a membership for any eventuality that may come to pass."

 

 

Ford reports 4.5% year-over-
year sales decline in May
amid industrywide drop

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
June 7, 2022

Amid a broader industry drop in auto sales for the month of May, Ford Motor Co. on Thursday reported that it sold 154,461 vehicles in the U.S. last month — down 4.5% from May 2021.

Still, Ford outperformed the industry. Other automakers that report sales on a monthly basis posted steep declines last month. 

Hyundai Motor America, for example, reported May retail sales of 59,432 vehicles, a 30% decrease from May 2021. And American Honda reported that its May sales were limited by what it described as the "lowest on-hand inventory in recent history."

For more than a year, the global automotive industry has been constrained by a semiconductor shortage that has curtailed production. In May, American Honda posted 75,491 sales — down more than 57% from a year ago.

Ahead of the sales releases this week, industry forecasters expected to see declines amid tight inventory levels and high prices.

Cox Automotive analysts expected U.S. auto sales to drop to their lowest level of the year, and on Wednesday said their estimates of a slow month appeared to track with the numbers reported this week. Cox forecast that new-vehicle sales would be down 28% year-over-year in May — an expected drop analysts attributed to high prices, low inventory and last month having fewer selling days than May 2021.

A Cox analysis found that, industrywide, there was only a 36-day supply of new vehicles at the start of May. Analysts also pointed to rising interest rates and increases in monthly car payments as headwinds that likely are starting to batter demand that, throughout the pandemic, has held up well.

“Historically, the daily sales pace is higher in May than in most other months, with spring optimism in the air, thoughts of summer road trips on the horizon, and the buzz of Memorial Day sales,” Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, said in a statement last week. “But many of the industry’s normal patterns have been overturned by tight inventory and the lingering effect of the global pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Ford's SUV sales of 76,625 units were down 4.4% year-over-year. Truck sales were off 1.4%.

The automaker's sales of battery-electric vehicles continued to grow. May BEV sales of 6,254 units marked a nearly 222% increase over May 2021. And the all-electric Mustang Mach-E posted a new monthly sales record, with sales of 5,179 units up 166% over last year.

E-Transit, an all-electric version of Ford's popular cargo van, had its best monthly sales performance — 874 units sold — since launching earlier this year. And F-150 Lightning, the all-electric version of America's most popular vehicle that launched in April, recorded 201 sales at the end of May, with "many more" in transit, according to Ford.

Cox Automotive analysts said that electrified vehicle sales across the industry continue to outpace overall sales.

As Ford continues to emphasize its retail order bank, the automaker said that nearly 50% of retail sales were made up of previously placed orders last month — up from about 9% at this point last year.

Sales of F-Series, Ford's flagship pickup truck line, were up 6.9% year-over-year. The Ford Maverick, which launched last fall, recorded 6,089 sales last month. Ford reported that the compact pickup turned on dealer lots in five days, on average, and saw 97% of its retail sales come from previously placed orders in May. 

In the SUV segment under the Ford brand, sales of the EcoSport, Bronco Sport, Escape and Expedition were down from May 2021. Sales of the Edge and Explorer were up, along with Mustang Mach-E. For the month, the Bronco SUV had 9,475 sales.

Lincoln brand sales were down 6.8% year-over-year in May.

Year-to-date, Ford's sales are down 13.3% from the same period last year.

 

Retiree Terry Falle Passes
away June 5, 2022

Retired October 1, 2002
30 Years service

We sorry to inform you of the
Passing of Terry Falle.
Our Deepest condolences goes out to
his wife Rosiland and his entire family.
Terry will be missed by all who knew him.

 


FALLE, Terrence (Terry) Raymond

 

Died peacefully in the early morning of Sunday June 5th, 2022 in his 80th year after a brief stay at Campbell House Hospice in Collingwood.

Terry will be deeply missed by his loving wife Rosiland. Cherished and beloved father and step-father to Colleen, Stephen (Mary Jo), Allan (Tammy), Christine (Danny).

Adoring “Papa” to his grand children - Melissa, Michael, Eric, Zachary, Cole, Andrew, Sarah & Nicholas, great grand children, Mavric, Soren Freya. 

He is lovingly remembered by his sisters Donna, Debbie, Crystal, and brother Butch. Pre-deceased by his brothers Brian and Mike and parents Golda & Raymond.

His quiet and patient demeanor, gentle spirit and extreme generosity were many of his endearing qualities, he was always up for a game of pool or a friendly arm wrestle.

He enjoyed a competitive game of golf with his work buddies from the Ford Motor Company, Bramalea even scoring his first “hole-in-one”
He retired in Wasaga Beach in 2003 with his wife, where they enjoyed many walks along the Georgian Bay coastline with his canine buddy Biscuit.

Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life will be taking place at White Chapel Cemetery in Hamilton at later date.

Donations will be gladly accepted and appreciated for Campbell House Hospice in Collingwood.  Arrangements entrusted to Affordable Cremation Services, Collingwood.

 

 

 

Ford recalls SUVs due to
engine fire risk

Detroit News
June 3, 2022

Detroit — Ford is asking the owners of 350,000 vehicles in to take them to dealers for repairs in three recalls, including about 39,000 that should be parked outdoors because the engines can catch fire.

Ford says in government documents posted Thursday that it doesn't know what's causing fires in some 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, which it expects will affect around 1% of vehicles.

But the company says fires can happen even while the engines are off. Ford has reports of 16 fires under the hood, 14 in rental company vehicles. One person was burned. It's recommending that the SUVs be parked outdoors and away from buildings. So far it hasn't developed a repair for the fires, which appear to start at the back of the engine compartment on the passenger side.

Of the 16 fires, 12 happened while the SUV engines were turned off, Ford said in a prepared statement. The company says it has no reports of fires extending to any buildings. One fire occurred when the vehicle was parked and running, and three happened while driving, with customers "reporting a burning smell and smoke from the front passenger engine compartment," according to documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Ford says it’s not instructing owners to stop driving the SUVs, although those who might not be able to follow the park outdoors instructions should contact their dealer or the company.

Ford says it’s treating the recall urgently and will use apps and mail to notify customers as soon as it develops a list of vehicle owners and addresses.

“We are working around the clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles,” Jeffrey Marentic, general manager of Ford passenger vehicles, said in a statement.

Ford began investigating fire reports on March 24. It says the fires appear to be limited to SUVs built from Dec. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The company says it has no fire reports from vehicles built before or after those dates.

The automaker also is recalling about 310,000 heavy-duty trucks because the driver's air bag may not inflate in a crash. 

The recall covers certain 2016 F-250, 350, 450 and 550 trucks. Dust can get into the air bag wiring in the steering wheel, disconnecting the electricity. Ford identified around 11,200 reports of the 2016 model-year vehicles with a related issue and said it is not aware of any accident or injury related to the problem.

Ford investigators said the wiring problems begin with popping or clicking noises and progress over time along a cable that first impacts control switches on the steering wheel, such as loss of radio control or horn use. If the problem is allowed to continue the airbag lamp would illuminate and the airbag may not deploy in the case of a crash.

And the company is recalling 464 electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs from 2021. A software problem can cause unintended acceleration, deceleration or a loss of drive power.

 

Ford found liable in lawsuit
in W.Va. woman's death;
jury awards $7M

The Detroit News
June 2, 2022

Charleston, W.Va. — A jury in West Virginia has awarded $7 million in a product liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. to the family of a woman who died when her Mustang was involved in a fiery crash.

A Kanawha County jury made the award this week to the Raleigh County family of Breanna Bumgarner. The jury found Ford was 99% at fault for Bumgarner’s death, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

Ford spokesman Ian Thibodeau said the company will review its options for appealing the verdict.

According to the lawsuit filed by the administrator of Bumgarner's estate, Bumgarner's 2014 Ford Mustang was hit by a pickup truck that had crossed the center line along U.S. Route 33 near Spencer in March 2016. The Mustang caught fire and Bumgarner was trapped in the vehicle. The lawsuit also named the driver of the other vehicle and her parents.

The plaintiff's attorneys had argued that the Mustang’s brake fluid reservoir was not sufficiently protected from the crash and it led to the fire. The jury found the reservoir's design was not safe enough in preventing leakage in the accident.

 

Lawsuit accuses 3 automakers
and parts maker in air bag case

Tom Krisher
Associated Press
May 31, 2022

Detroit – A class action lawsuit is accusing three automakers and a parts manufacturer of knowingly selling vehicles containing air bag inflators that are at risk of exploding. Two deaths and at least four injuries have been linked to such explosions.

The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco, names ARC Automotive Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee, which made the inflators and sold them to air bag manufacturers. The air bag makers, in turn sold them to General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen, which are named in the lawsuit, too.

The five plaintiffs are the owners of vehicles with ARC inflators who contend the defective air bag parts were not disclosed when they made their purchases.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has been investigating ARC inflators for nearly seven years without a resolution, estimates that there are 51 million on U.S. roads. That’s somewhere between 10% and 20% of all passenger vehicles.

Yet most drivers have no conclusive way to determine whether their vehicle contains an ARC inflator. Even if they were to tear apart the steering wheel assembly, the internal parts might bear the markings only of the automaker or the air bag manufacturer, not the inflator maker.

“You could have a ticking time bomb in your lap and you’ve got no way of knowing,” said Frank Melton, a Florida lawyer who is among those filing the new lawsuit.

One of the deaths was a mother of 10 who was killed in what appeared to be an otherwise minor crash in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last summer. Police reports show that a metal inflator fragment hit her neck in a crash involving a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse SUV.

The plaintiffs allege that ARC’s inflators use ammonium nitrate as a secondary propellant to inflate the air bags. The propellant is pressed into tablets that can expand and develop microscopic holes if exposed to moisture. Degraded tablets have a larger surface area, causing them to burn too fast and ignite too big of an explosion, according to the lawsuit.

The explosion can blow apart a metal canister housing the chemical, sending metal shards into the cabin. Ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizer and as a cheap explosive, is so dangerous that it can burn too fast even without moisture present, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs allege that ARC inflators have blown apart seven times on U.S. roads and two other times in testing by ARC. There have so far been five limited recalls of the inflators that totaled about 5,000 vehicles, including three recalls by GM.

Auto safety advocates say the case seems to mirror the Takata air bag saga that began in the early 2000s, which also involved exploding air bag inflators and resulted in 28 deaths worldwide, hundreds of injuries and the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. So far NHTSA has gathered information but hasn’t forced any wider recalls from its investigation that began in July of 2015.

Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies Inc., which conducts research for lawyers that sue automakers as well as for other groups, noted that just as in the early stages of the Takata ordeal, many ARC ammonium nitrate inflators remain in use.

“It’s almost like Groundhog Day here,” said Kane, who asserts that NHTSA should have acted already. “It’s not a question of whether it can kill or injure people. It already has.”

ARC, the lawsuit alleges, knew about the danger of ammonium nitrate in patent applications it filed in 1995 and 1998. In 2019, after several ARC inflators blew apart, ARC acknowledged that its use was not acceptable for automotive air bags, according to the lawsuit.

The suit asserts that General Motors, which began recalling Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in 2013, should have known that ARC’s inflators were also unstable.

“GM recalled only a small number of vehicles that contained a particular lot of inflators, despite its knowledge that ARC driver- and passenger-side inflators in various models and model years from 2002 through at least 2015 also had experienced ruptures,” the lawsuit said.

GM said in a statement that it’s dedicated to the safety of its products and customers and is cooperating with NHTSA in its investigation. The company said it hasn’t had a chance to review the lawsuit, so it couldn’t comment, and that it makes recall decisions based on data and facts. It declined further comment.

Messages were left seeking comment from ARC, Ford and Volkswagen.

The lawsuit alleges that ARC’s inflators are marred by a systemic problem rather than just a limited manufacturing defect. In 2014, an ARC inflator in a 2004 Kia Optima blew apart in a crash in New Mexico, injuring the driver.

Two years later, the driver of a car made by Kia’s sister automaker Hyundai was killed in Canada when an ARC inflator exploded in a crash.

The lawsuit also names Volkswagen and Ford as defendants, alleging that they represented the air bag inflators as safe while knowing they were dangerous.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating ARC inflators in 2015 after an Ohio woman was injured when an inflator exploded in a Chrysler minivan. At the time the agency estimated that there were 490,000 ARC inflators on the nation’s roads.

The review was elevated to an engineering analysis – a step closer to a product recall – in 2016 after the death in Canada.

Though a seven-year investigation is longer than most NHTSA reviews, inflators are particularly complex, said David Friedman, a former NHTSA acting administrator who is now a vice president at Consumer Reports.

Automakers appear to be balking at recalls for cost reasons, Friedman said. And NHTSA, he suggested, needs a “slam dunk” case before seeking recalls because of threats and lawsuits that automakers have filed in the past.

“That’s one of the things that’s broken in the system,” he said.

Friedman described NHTSA as a chronically underfunded agency that has had to prioritize safety issues after four years of the Trump administration, which demanded far less federal regulation.

“The fact that it’s stretched on seven years, the companies should have blinked, or NHTSA should have made them, or if they truly don’t have a case, then say so,” Friedman said.

A NHTSA official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about an ongoing inquiry, said the investigation has persisted because of the complexity of air bag inflators and because ARC’s design is different from Takata’s.

“We want to make sure what we do is thorough.” he said.

He noted that NHTSA’s investigation of ARC has had to examine issues different from the Takata case. Ammonium nitrate in Takata’s inflators, for example, would deteriorate when airborne moisture entered the canister. But ARC pressurizes its inflator canisters to keep moisture out.

“It’s not similar to Takata,” the official said.

Whether the ammonium nitrate tablets can deteriorate without moisture is still being investigated, he said.

The agency, he said, has retrieved ARC inflators from vehicles to learn how they work. It also has gathered production and other data from ARC and automakers and issued an order making automakers report any problems with ARC inflators.

He noted that several years went by without any incidents, before there were three in the past two years and that each of those cases is informing the investigation.

 

Retiree
Orville Shaw
Passes away
May 20, 2022

ORVILLE SHAW

Orville Shaw
Oct 1, 1995 - 27.1 yrs

Our Condolences go out to
the Shaw Family

 

 

Ford shareholders quiz execs on
stock performance, EV strategy
and supply-chain woes

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 13, 2022

Ford Motor Co. executives fielded questions from investors at the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday about the automaker's electrification strategy, its faltering stock performance, and how it's navigating complex supply-chain issues.

Shareholders also approved the reappointment of 14 board members and again rejected a proposal that would do away with a dual-class voting stock that gives Ford family members outsized voting power.

That proposal came from shareholder John Chevedden, who has unsuccessfully brought similar language to a vote numerous times.

“This dual-class voting stock reduces management accountability by giving Ford family insiders the power to retain corporate control vastly disproportionate to their money at risk," Chevedden said. The proposal was rejected with 63.2% of the vote against it.

Ford's board of directors also accepted the retirement of Anthony Earley Jr., who was elected to the board in 2009 and has reached the mandatory retirement age of 72. Earley's departure leaves the board with 14 members, four of whom are women and two of whom identify as members of minority groups.

Meanwhile, the company's top leadership fielded questions from shareholders, including what their plan is to improve Ford's stock performance. After being the highest growth auto stock of 2021, Ford shares are down roughly 40% year-to-date.

On Thursday, Ford's stock closed down 3% to $12.44 per share.

Wells Fargo this week downgraded both Ford and rival General Motors Co.'s stock, CNBC reported, with analyst Colin Langan writing that this year could represent a profit peak for legacy automakers. Langan downgraded Ford to "underweight" and cut its price target from $24 a share to $12.

“2021, our stock was on fire. This year it’s come back to Earth a bit. Obviously the whole market is coming back to earth," said Executive Chair Bill Ford Jr. 

Still, he said, "My strong belief is that we are building a great business and we’re making products that have created buzz that we’ve never seen before. The stock price, ultimately, will end up reflecting all that. You can’t manage the business for stock price; you manage the business to build a great and enduring company. And I believe that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

And CEO Jim Farley reiterated a point he's made publicly numerous times about the need to shore up supplies of raw materials needed for electric-vehicle batteries. Ford has a joint venture with South Korean battery maker SK Innovation to build EV batteries at plants in Tennessee and Kentucky.

"You can imagine that there will be a day where we not only build batteries in a JV structure, which we will, but actually by ourselves," Farley said.

"The real key first- and second-inning move in building batteries, either in a JV or by ourselves, is going to be securing raw materials — especially nickel and lithium. … We really need to localize the precursor and refinement and mining of the raw materials to where we build the vehicles and the batteries. And that means building, for the first time ever, a raw material ecosystem here in North America, our largest market."

Shareholders also asked questions about the company reorganization announced in March, Ford's strategy concerning hybrid vehicles, EV infrastructure, EV battery recycling, the company's nagging warranty and quality issues, its profit margins and the supply-chain issues that have battered the global automotive industry over the last two years.

"We have a lot of work to do in our supply-chain management," Farley acknowledged. "Although we see the chip shortage easing the second half of the year, as we scale our battery-electric vehicles, we will have new supply challenges in semiconductors, electronic components in general, and batteries and battery raw materials.”

 

Retiree
Charlie Macleod
Passes away
May 13, 2022

CHARLIE MacLEOD
Oct 1, 1997 - 25 yrs

Our Condolences go out to
the Macleod family

 

 

Russian sales plunge 79% in
April as automakers leave market

Bloomberg
May 12, 2022

New-car sales in Russia plunged the most on record last month as sanctions undermined domestic production and most foreign automakers suspended operations in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sales fell 79 percent to 32,706 vehicles in April compared to a year earlier, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said in a statement on Wednesday.

That is the biggest drop since the European trade group began reporting the data in 2006. The April figures did not include sales from BMW, Mercedes-Benz or General Motors, which report sales numbers quarterly.

Sales of Lada cars built by Russia's largest automaker, AvtoVAZ, fell 78 percent, AEB data showed.

The depth of contraction exceeded that in April 2020 when sales were suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, analysts at Promsvyazbank said.

"Such a sharp drop can be explained by a shortage of cars at warehouses, by rising prices and prohibitive rates on car loans," Promsvyazbank said.

Sanctions over the war in Ukraine have hobbled the domestic car industry as parts supplies dried up, leading to forced shutdowns.

Almost every foreign automaker with production facilities in Russia, including Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor and Mazda has suspended work in the country, while others stopped importing vehicles.

The crash illustrates the intense economic fallout from the war in Ukraine, as Russia this year may face its deepest contraction in nearly three decades.

Sales of new cars this year are expected to shrink by at least 50 percent, the AEB said last month, after a 4.3 percent increase in 2021.

Demand is unlikely to recover due to a decline in real incomes, making the car industry the most affected industrial sector, VTB Capital analysts said.

The Russian central bank raised its key rate to 20 percent in late February in an emergency move aimed at containing financial risks days after Russia launched what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine. It has since trimmed the rate back to 14 percent.

"Parallel imports won't help lower the deficit tangibly due to high costs," VTB Capital said.

Last week, Moscow published a list of goods from foreign carmakers, technology companies and consumer brands that the government has included in a "parallel imports" scheme aimed at shielding consumers from business isolation by the West.

Car production is heavily dependent on imports, with a recent report by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics estimating that over half of the value added in the sector comes from abroad.

Just-in-time inventory management, adopted to make the industry more efficient, meant that the impact from sanctions was felt almost immediately.

 

Some Ford, Stellantis plants down
this week due to chip constraints

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 11, 2022

The global semiconductor chip shortage, now in its second year, continues to curtail automotive production.

Both Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV are taking downtime at some of their plants in North America this week due to chip-related supply constraints.

Ford Motor Co. said Monday that its Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky, which builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair, as well as its Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, which builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, are down this week.

Meanwhile, Stellantis said its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois — which assembles the Jeep Cherokee — is down this week as well.

"The global semiconductor shortage continues to affect Ford's North American plants — along with automakers and other industries around the world," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement. "Behind the scenes, we have teams working on how to maximize production, with a continued commitment to building every high-demand vehicle for our customers with the quality they expect."

So far this year, the chip shortage has resulted in nearly 1.7 million units of lost production globally, according to forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions.

 

Stellantis announces production
of electric vehicles at Brampton
plant; multibillion dollar
investment secures thousands
of jobs in the city

May 10, 2022
CBC News

Built in the 1980s by American Motors and now in the hands of Stellantis, Brampton’s sprawling assembly plant on Williams Parkway had held a contract with its 3,163 unionized workers to assemble three gas-powered Dodge and Chrysler cars until the end of 2023. Thereafter, its future remained uncertain. 

Every day the Dodge Chargers and Challengers rolled off the line, the classically inspired American muscle cars that guzzle increasingly expensive gas reminded workers that what they were making was out of step with the green transition sweeping their industry.

It meant their future was up in the air.

On Monday, everything changed.

Stellantis, one of the city’s biggest employers, announced it will be installing a flexible assembly line capable of producing battery-electric and hybrid vehicles at their Brampton plant, returning to a three-shift operation.

The announcement on May 2 follows advocacy by City Hall representatives for a contract past 2023 and a strong desire to see Brampton transition to battery-electric cars, with sales of the gas-powered models assembled at the local assembly plant stalling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the announcement, Stellantis said its overhaul is expected to diversify the automaker’s capacity to meet growing consumer demand for low-emission vehicles. 

“Brampton is going to be transformed, fully modernized and beginning in 2024, when production resumes beginning at ‘25, the plant is going to introduce all new flexible architecture to support the company’s EV plans including full battery electric vehicles,” said Mark Stewart, Stellantis’ chief operating officer for North America. “In addition, Brampton will return to a three-shift operation.”

The Brampton Assembly Plant won’t be the only one changing, with the Windsor Stellantis factory modernizing its automotive research and development centre as part of a provincial commitment of $287 million, with a matching investment from the federal government. Similar to Brampton, the Windsor operation will be converted to multi-energy vehicle assembly. Together, the production changes to the two Ontario facilities are part of a $3.6 billion operating investment by Stellantis. 

The Brampton plant will be receiving a provincial commitment of $132 million, with a matching investment from the federal government. In total, the company’s operations in both cities will receive a little more than $1 billion from the two levels of government, with Ottawa contributing slightly more than half that amount.

“Today’s announcement shows how important it is that unions, governments and industry come together to protect automotive manufacturing jobs and keep Canadian manufacturing strong,” said Danny Price, president for Unifor Local 1285. “The hard working, dedicated people at the Brampton Assembly Plant take pride in building some of the highest quality, best-selling vehicles in their class. Now, we can also be proud of playing a critical role in Canada’s electric vehicle transition for years to come.”

Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the announcement in Windsor Monday.

“Together we’re making Ontario the leading jurisdiction for electric vehicles, from research to development, to rolling off assembly lines. It’s all happening right here in Windsor,” Ford said.

Ford said his government has helped revive the auto sector’s presence in Ontario since he took office. Critics have pointed to PC policies that have hurt both the future of the rapidly greening industry in the province and efforts to curtail harmful GHG emissions.

After taking office in 2018, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government led by Ford scrapped the rebate program for zero-emission vehicles as well as the requirement for new homes to include wiring for future electric vehicle chargers and provincial charging stations. Data from statistics Canada showed Ontario’s decision to scrap the rebate tanked sales. 

Green cars registered in Ontario increased from 8,180 in 2017 to 16,758 in 2018, then decreased to 9,762 in 2019, and increased slightly to 10,515 in 2020, following Ford’s decision to cancel the popular provincial subsidy for EVs.

In March, the province announced $91 million in funding toward installing electric vehicle chargers at highway rest stops, carpool parking lots, parks and hockey arenas. Additionally, the government announced a $5 billion investment to build Ontario’s first large-scale electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor as a joint venture between LG Energy Solution and Stellantis. Production is slated to begin in 2024.

The announcement answers a number of questions about the future of automotive production in Brampton, but raises many more.

Stellantis stated in a press release that the investment is aimed at accelerating “the company’s move to a sustainable future. This announcement also supports the company’s Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan and its long-term electrification strategy to invest $45 billion CAD ($35 billion USD) through 2025 in electrification and software globally.”

It means the Dodge and Chrysler models made in Brampton will either need an EV update or a significant sales justification to remain viable in the company’s green transformation.

“These investments reaffirm our long-term commitment to Canada and represent an important step as we move toward zero-emission vehicles that deliver on our customers’ desire for innovative, clean, safe and affordable mobility,” Stewart said.

While Brampton employees finally got the answer they were desperate for, that the plant (after a major facelift) will be a part of the parent company’s longer-term plans, the future of the Dodge Charger and Challenger and the Chrysler 300 is unclear.

Sales figures don’t offer much hope for those car lovers who are big fans of the models.

Dodge Challenger sales in the U.S., the primary market for muscle cars, peaked in 2015, with 66,365 sold, compared to last year when 54,315 were sold south of the border. 

The Charger has seen sales decline even more since the peak year in 2007 when 119,289 were sold in the U.S., compared to 78,388 in 2021, according to figures from Good Car Bad Car which uses data from automobile manufacturers.

For the large Chrysler 300 sedan, sales figures suggest the writing is on the wall. The once popular model that still rolls off the Brampton assembly line enjoyed impressive U.S. sales in 2005 when 144,048 were bought. As sedans lost favour and with the rise in gas prices, numbers plummeted, down to just 16,662 Chrysler 300s sold in the U.S. last year.

The Pointer asked Stellantis if the announcement means the end of production for the three models currently being made in Brampton.

“Per the collective agreement, current production at Brampton continues through 2023. We are not providing future product information at this time,” said Stellantis spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin.

The uncertainty won’t make things easy for the thousands of workers at secondary suppliers and other companies that rely on the current production of vehicles at the Brampton assembly plant. 

 But the shift to green technology is inevitable.

“Brampton plays a significant role in Ontario’s automotive sector and is home to top-tier manufacturers like our Stellantis assembly plant,” Prabmeet Sarkaria, PC MPP for Brampton South, said. “I’m proud that Brampton-built technology will help shape the next chapter in Ontario’s electric vehicle renaissance, as today’s investments continue to build tomorrow’s innovations.”

 

 

Ford files patent for remote
engine revving system
using key fob

MobileSyrup
May 9, 2022

Ford has filed a patent for a way to enable drivers to remotely rev the engine of their car using a key fob or app. Ford first filed the patent on November 3rd, 2020 and it was subsequently published on May 5th, 2022.

The filing describes the system as a “Ford Remote Control Revving Patent.” The car manufacturer is developing technology to allow users to rev their engines without having to use the accelerator within the vehicle. Ideally, this system sees drivers interact with the engine remotely “at various distances from the vehicle.”

The patent mentions that users will be able to start ICE engines or hybrids. The system dictates that users can rev it for a certain amount of time before it idles. Users may even be able to set revving patterns for the engine. Programmable speeds are also being experimented with as a way to replicate musical notes.

Regarding electric vehicles (EV), Ford describes a feature in the patent where recorded audio sounds of engine revs play out of the EV’s sound system. The patent also describes an example where novelty sounds such as Back to the Future’s “flux capacity sound” play.

Traditionally, these more off-the-cuff innovations come from a company like Tesla. Over the years, Tesla has released some very unorthodox user systems like the Boombox, which enables users to play fart noises. Ford is usually fairly customary. A nod to the iconic Back to the Future franchise does not mean that the company is following in Tesla’s footsteps. Though, if the system launches it may indicate Ford is willing to have a bit of fun.

Of course, as with any patent and system in development, there’s no guarantee that Ford will offer this feature to drivers. This could merely be an in-house experiment, testing remote features. Additionally, Ford’s patent needs approval before a full-scale launch.

 

Stellantis' $2.8 billion investment
secures future for Brampton,
Windsor plants

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
May 8, 2022

The maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles on Monday said it will invest $2.8 billion (3.6 billion Canadian dollars) into its Canadian operations for its electric transition, preserving the futures of both Windsor and Brampton assembly plants and creating its first battery lab in North America.

The amount is more than double the commitment Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV made in 2020 contract talks with Canadian autoworkers union Unifor prior to merging with French automaker Groupe PSA to create Stellantis NV last year. The transatlantic automaker has pledged to become a sustainable mobility tech company, investing $35.5 billion into electrification and software by 2025 to offer 25 all-electric models in North America by 2030.

“We hope today’s announcement," Mark Stewart, Stellantis’ chief operating officer of North America, said during a news conference in Windsor, "really helps bring assurance to our families, to our employees and the local community that we are committed to Canada in the long run and for the next 100 years.”

A new, flexible architecture that will support all-electric and hybrid vehicles will go to Brampton Assembly Plant outside of Toronto. Industry forecasters had predicted the plant employing more than 3,000 people on two shifts could be without product by 2024 if the company moves production of the aging Dodge muscle cars to Belvidere, Illinois, when they are electrified. In addition to the Challenger and Charger, Brampton builds the Chrysler 300 sedan. With the new plan, Brampton will be retooled starting in 2024 with production resuming in 2025.

"Our plant is providing the necessary profits for the company to push forward in its transition to electrification," Danny Price, Unifor Local 1285 president, said during the news conference. "We proved our commitment to quality, cost savings, and did everything we could as workers to maximize profits for Stellantis and position ourselves to be recognized for this investment."

Windsor Assembly Plant also will support production of battery-electric and hybrid models on a new architecture for multiple models, according to a news release. Retooling is planned to begin in 2023, though the automaker declined to provide a time for completion. The plant will be able to adjust production volumes as needed to meet changing demand over the next decade, the company said.

Stellantis said it will make product announcements for the sites in the future, but the plans will return both plants to three-shift operations. The company declined to provide a breakdown of the investment per facility and projections for how many jobs would be created at or supported by the assembly plants.

“We are really excited about the lineup that is going to be an expanded to help maintain any cyclicity,” Stewart said, “so that we have multi-energy vehicles, full-on battery electric vehicles, and we can be sustainable for the future with our Stellantis families in the market."

The news comes after the automaker on Thursday said it was extending the 1,800-person second-shift at Windsor Assembly Plant through the end of the year. The company had been set to cut the shift at the Chrysler Pacifica plant at the end of June because of a global semiconductor shortage. In the first quarter, Stellantis sold more than 26,000 Pacificas in the United States, down 23% year-over-year.

"Windsor has made really strong improvements over an already good, good performance, and so they are getting the allocation of chips in a land of precious few chips to be able to do that," Stewart said. "Those plants have shown they can be competitive, and our customers are aching for those products."

Additionally, by the end of 2023, Stellantis will add 100,000 square feet to its Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor for the creation of a battery lab for the development and validation of all-electric and hybrid cells, modules and battery packs. The expansion to the 230,000-square-foot facility will support 650 new engineering jobs to support electrified propulsion systems, power electronics, electric machines, motor controls, energy management and embedded software.

The investments are another victory for the province of Ontario, which has made strides to improve its ability to attract business and has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to do so. The mobility sector has been a focus to preserve its automotive industry, which could've been in jeopardy with the transition to electric vehicles. Meanwhile, suppliers even across the Detroit River stand to benefit from continued investment in the region.

“Ontario and Michigan, our industries are completely interconnected, just separated by a river and bridges,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto, the mobility arm of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "The health of one is important for another. There are many suppliers that supply the Tier 1s or the assembly plants throughout Ontario. When a major assembly plant like Brampton gets a new lease on life, certainly the Ontario suppliers are feeling good, and many Michigan suppliers that supply that assembly plant are as well.”

He recalled attending a gathering in 2016 in Windsor with a number of industry stakeholders that felt like a “town hall crisis meeting” after the region had seen manufacturing move to the southeast United States and Mexico.

“They put together a strategy to put a tremendous amount of investment in the knowledge part of the economy,” Stevens said. “It is a really strong message or reminder to us here in Michigan how important investment into high-tech talent is. They have been doubling and tripling down on it.”

Ontario is supporting Stellantis' projects with up to $397 million (513 million Canadian dollars), which breaks down to $222 million (287 million Canadian dollars) for Windsor, $102 million (132 million Canadian dollars) for Brampton, and $73 million (94 million Canadian dollars) for the ARDC. Canada's federal government is providing an additional $410 million (529 million Canadian dollars) in incentives.

"Investing in this multi-billion-dollar project is because it’ll deliver," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the news conference. "It’ll deliver for workers, it’ll deliver for communities, it’ll deliver for our economy, and it’ll deliver for the environment. Not only are we growing a world-leading auto industry, creating hundreds of jobs and securing thousands more, we’re keeping our air clean by building and driving more EVs here at home."

Over the past 18 months, the automotive sector in Ontario has seen almost $11 billion (14 billion Canadian dollars) in investments for new vehicle and battery manufacturing. Government officials last month joined Stellantis leaders and executives from Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution to announce plans for a $4.1 billion gigafactory to make batteries for electric vehicles manufactured in North America.

The plant is expected to create 2,500 jobs and open in the first quarter of 2024. The city of Windsor is in the process of expropriating a home that is a part of the property needed for the facility before the companies break ground later this year.

"Our government has a plan," Premier Doug Ford said during Monday's presentation. "It's a plan to attract more investment in our auto and manufacturing sectors. While we connect resources, industries and workers in Ontario to the future of clean steel and electric vehicles. It will be a plan that sees Ontario take its position as North America’s leader in automotive manufacturing as it was for over 100 years."

Brampton Assembly was built in 1986, making it one of the newer plants in Stellantis' footprints, said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions LLC.

"It had a lot going for it between the age of the plant and the number of workers there, who have 35 years of experience working in that plant alone," he said. "Then, add in the regional access to a battery plant going into Windsor, it makes sense to put something in there.

"Stellantis had a few underutilized plants that have product earmarked for them going forward, so that leaves Brampton potentially with a white-space product for a space they are not covering at the moment or not adequately covering at the moment."

With the gigafactory in Windsor, it also makes sense to have a nearby center to test batteries and conduct diagnostics, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal e-mobility analyst for market research firm Guidehouse Inc. Stellanits has announced a battery lab in Turin, Italy, but having one in North America can be advantageous as well.

"They may be using different chemistries for different markets and different types of vehicles they are selling," he said.

Under the 2020 Unifor contract, FCA had committed to investing $1.13 billion for Windsor Assembly Plant by 2024 for a new platform that supports electrified vehicles. At the time, the former Unifor President Jerry Dias said employment would grow by more than 2,000 starting in 2023 with a 38-week ramp-up of the new platform.

The contract also included derivatives of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger at Brampton and new products for Etobicoke Casting Plant, both in Ontario.

“It lays the groundwork for a happy contract next year when the Unifor contract comes up again next year,” Fiorani said of Stellantis' announcement. “But because the UAW and Unifor bargain at the same time now, they may be itching for a fight with the U.S. union.”

 

Ford reports 10.5% sales drop
in April as industry continues
to battle chip shortage

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 6, 2022

As the global semiconductor chip shortage continues to curtail auto production and drag down sales across the industry, Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday reported a 10.5% year-over-year decline in U.S. sales in April.

The Dearborn automaker sold 176,965 vehicles last month as sales industrywide fell 17%. Competitors including American Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor North America and Hyundai Motor Co. earlier this week reported that their sales fell in April, as the industry continues to battle nagging supply-chain issues. General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV do not report sales figures monthly.

Still, Ford noted that it picked up a percentage point in U.S. market share last month as it saw its inventory flow to dealers improve. The company said during its first-quarter earnings report that the chip shortage and other supply-chain disruptions had hampered production in the first three months of the year, but that it started to see production improvements in March.

The automaker is now shipping the all-electric F-150 Lightning to dealers, though April's sales release did not include any sales figure for the truck.

“While industry semiconductor chip shortages persist, improved inventory flow in April delivered a significant share gain of 1.0 percentage point over a year ago with Ford outperforming the industry," Andrew Frick, vice president of sales, distribution and trucks, said in a statement. "Inventory flow bolstered stronger F-Series, Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit and record April Ford brand SUV sales. We are now shipping all models of the electric F-150 Lightning.”

Ford reported that sales of its electric vehicles increased 139% year-over-year in April on transactions for the Mustang Mach-E SUV and the E-Transit cargo van. Mach-E had its best monthly sales performance since it launched at the end of 2020, up 95% year-over-year, according to Ford.

Maverick, the compact pickup truck Ford launched last year, also reportedly had its best sales month to date, with more than 9,500 units sold. 

Year-to-date, Ford's sales are down 15.3% from the same period last year.

The automaker did see an increase in the SUV segment in April, however, with sales up 2.7% over April 2021. And Ford brand SUVs set a new April sales record with more than 83,500 units sold.

Sales of Ford's flagship truck lineup and profit driver, F-Series, were down 22.3% in April. Truck sales overall were off 17.8%.

Although rival GM doesn't report monthly sales, industry forecasting firm LMC Automotive said the Detroit automaker led April sales, was the only original equipment manufacturer to sell more than 200,000 units — and that its Chevrolet Silverado took the mantle of America's best-selling vehicle from Ford. 

"The Ford F-150, which traditionally holds the bestseller title, was outsold not only by the (Chevrolet) Silverado, but also by the Toyota RAV4," Augusto Amorim, senior manager of Americas vehicle sales forecasts for LMC Automotive, said in a statement Wednesday.

Industry forecasters had expected April sales to be held back by inventory constraints — and they were right. U.S. light vehicle sales dropped 17% year-over-year in April to 1.26 million units, LMC Automotive reported Wednesday. 

The decline was driven by low inventory levels, but LMC noted volumes were up over March and that sales reached their highest level so far this year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate reached 14.7 million units.

"As we progress through 2022 and into 2023, we do see supply and demand forces starting to balance out, leaving the consumer to drive the level of recovery by next year," Jeff Schuster, president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts for LMC, said in a statement. 

"If the Fed is able to orchestrate a soft landing, there could be some upside potential to the outlook in 2022 and 2023," he added (the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by half a percentage point). "That said, given the auto market has lost more than 7 million units of volume since 2020, there most certainly will be an element of demand destruction."

 

2024 Ford Mustang To
Launch With Carryover
EcoBoost And V8 Engines

Chris Bruce 
May 5, 2022

Look for the new Mustang to debut next year.

The next-gen Ford Mustang will allegedly launch with a pair of carryover powertrains, according to Ford Authority citing unnamed sources. Buyers will be able to select the 2.3-liter  turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost or the 5.0-liter Coyote V8. 

Motor1.com reached out to Ford for comment. A spokesperson declined to speculate about future product.

Currently, it's not clear whether either of these engines would have any tweaks to adjust their horsepower or torque ratings for the new Mustang.

Ford Performance and Icons vehicle program director Ali Jammoul previously discussed cleaning up the V8. "What we need to do, though, is make the V8 more environmentally friendly and you need to make sure it’s regulatory compliant. And that’s absolutely something we have worked on and will certainly have in the next-generation Mustang," he said.

There also continue to be reports about the Mustang adopting a hybrid-assisted V8. The rumors suggest an electric motor would turn the front axle, while the combustion mill spins the rear wheels. This variant might not be available with a manual gearbox, based on other statements by Jammoul.

A leaked image shows the uncamouflaged Mustang's front end. The new model has headlights with a narrow, trapezoidal shape. The grille is also trapezoidal but with a broad design. The lower fascia has a wide opening in the middle and smaller inlets in each corner.

We only know the general shape for the rest of the new Mustang. It sticks with the history of the model's design by having a long hood and short rear deck. Spy shots tell us that both coupe and convertible variants are under development.

For now, there isn't much info available about the new Mustang's interior. We can presume Ford would give the model upgraded tech so that the car can keep up with the march of progress.

There will also be a version for GT3-class racing. The only image we have of it is under a sheet, but a tall wing is clearly part of the competition car's design.

The new Mustang debuts in 2023. All indications suggest that it would go on sale for the 2024 model year.

 

Ford's Next Electric Pickup
Truck Will Have More Range,
Active Aero

Mark Kane
May 3, 2022

About 100 miles more suggests that the final number will be well over 400 miles on a single charge.

The Ford F-150 Lightning recently entered series production, while the company prepares now for another all-electric pickup truck.

We already know that a new model will be produced at the Blue Oval City plant in Tennessee (currently under construction) in a few years, but there are no details. In the recent InsideEVs podcast (34:44), Miss GoElectric revealed intriguing hints that were shared by Ford CEO Jim Farley in a short chat after the production launch event.

As it turns out, the new electric pickup from Ford is expected to be noticeably different than the Ford F-150 Lightning, which is closely related to the F-150.

According to the video, the new pickup has been under development for quite some time now and will have a more radical, maybe even controversial design. Specifically, there will be "active and deployable aero," which sounds like new solutions to significantly improve efficiency.

The potential price point and driving range difference between the Ford F-150 Lightning and the new pickup model is briefly estimated at about $7,000 and 100 miles (160 km).

Considering that the F-150 Lightning has two battery options and an EPA range of respectively 230 miles (370 km) or 300-320 miles (483-515 km), we should surely expect a number north of 400 miles (644 km). That sounds reasonable because it's also the upper target for the Chevrolet Silverado EV.

At this point, it's difficult to say much, but the overall plan of electrification of pickup trucks appears to be divided into stages. The first one was to simply make an electric version of the most popular model (and add a lot of EV-specific features, which makes it even better than ICE). The next stage will be probably a vehicle built from the ground up as an electric vehicle to maximize the potential and apply all of the latest solutions.

Ford knows that the demand for the F-150 Lightning and electric pickup is high. The interest in all-new models like Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV Pickup and Tesla Cybertruck (in development) also indicates that more "radical" designs are the way to go.

 

Ford recalls Explorer SUVs
that can roll away while in park

Associated Press
May 2, 2022

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than a quarter-million Explorer SUVs in the U.S. because they can roll away unexpectedly while shifted into park.

The recall covers certain 2020 through 2022 Explorers with 2.3-liter engines, as well as 3-liter and 3.3-liter hybrids and the 3-liter ST. Also included are 2020 and 2021 Explorer Police hybrids and those with 3.3-liter gas engines.

Documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators say that a rear axle mounting bolt can fracture and cause the drive shaft to disconnect. If that happens, the SUVs can roll away even if they are placed in park gear, without the parking brake on.

The documents say Ford has 235 warranty claims due to the problem. The company says it knows of no crashes or injuries.

Depending on the model, dealers will replace a bushing and the axle cover, or they will update electronic parking brake software. Owners will be notified by mail starting June 6.

 

Ford Is Building Another
Electric Pickup

Brian Silvestro 
April 29, 2022

Ford put its first-ever electric pickup, the 2023 F-150 Lightning, into production on Tuesday, marking a historic shift that will carry the brand into the next decade. But according to CEO Jim Farley, it's not the only EV truck Ford has in store for us.

During a ceremony held at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan celebrating the beginning of F-150 Lightning production, Farley told the crowd "this is not our only truck." Later, after the event ended, MotorTrend got ahold of the Ford exec, who confirmed to the publication that yes, he's referring to an entirely different vehicle.

"This will be a new truck," Farley told MotorTrend.

Farley didn't go into any further details about the new electric pickup, but we can make a few educated guesses as to what it might look like. With the new Ranger about to enter production, it's entirely possible Ford is planning to release an all-electric Lightning version of that truck. It's also possible the Blue Oval is planning a pure EV variant of the smaller Maverick, though that truck already has a hybrid powertrain.

Hearing confirmation that Ford plans to build another EV truck isn't entirely surprising. The company is investing over $11 billion into a new campus in Stanton, Tennessee that'll include an electric vehicle assembly plant and a battery factory. It's there where Ford plans to build its next generation of all-electric trucks. It was clear the F-150 Lightning is only the beginning of a bigger range of electric F-Series vehicles.

 

 

Ford posts $3.1 billion loss for
Q1 but signals supply-chain
improvements ahead

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

April 28, 2022

Ford Motor Co. had what executives dubbed a "mixed" performance in the first quarter, but the automaker signaled it sees supply-chain constraints improving in the second half of the year.

Still, executives said supply-chain management will be an even more pressing issue as the automaker electrifies more of its lineup — with the raw materials needed for electric-vehicle batteries being a significant focus.

The Dearborn automaker posted a $3.1 billion net loss on revenue of $34.5 billion Wednesday. That's down from the first quarter of 2021, when it reported a $3.3 billion profit on $36.2 billion in revenue.

The net loss was due to a $5.4 billion loss on its investment in EV startup Rivian Automotive Inc., whose stock has faltered in recent months amid production challenges. Ford's stake was valued at $5.1 billion

Meanwhile, Ford reported $2.3 billion in adjusted earnings before interest and taxes — a financial metric that does not include special items such as the stake in Rivian. Adjusted EBIT was down from $3.9 billion in the same period last year.

Despite the supply-chain and production challenges the automaker faced in the first quarter, it maintained its full-year guidance of $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion in adjusted EBIT. The company expects chip supplies to improve in the second half and for full-year vehicle wholesale volumes to increase 10% to 15% over 2021.

Meanwhile, crosstown rival General Motors Co. on Tuesday reported a $2.9 billion profit for the first quarter, down slightly from the $3 billion it reported a year ago. 

GM executives pointed out high commodity and logistics costs, which totaled about $1 billion in Q1.

The Detroit automaker, too, signaled it sees semiconductor chip supplies improving, and reaffirmed its guidance of adjusted earnings in the range of $13 billion to $15 billion for the year.

Stellantis NV reports its revenues and shipments on May 5, and will report first-half earnings July 26. 

Supply-chain woes

Underscoring the supply-chain issues that held back production in the first quarter, Ford's U.S. sales were down 17.1% to 432,133 vehicles, according to data from Edmunds.com Inc.  

The automaker said that the chip shortage constrained production and shipments in January and February, but that it saw improvements in March. And more profitable products in North America — where Ford reported EBIT of nearly $1.6 billion — like the F-Series truck line took a disproportionate hit, executives said. In all, the automaker said it has some 53,000 assembled vehicles awaiting components containing semiconductor chips.

"Demand for our products last quarter exceeded our ability to produce them — and obviously, the big reason for that was the global shortage of semiconductors," Chief Financial Officer John Lawler told reporters Wednesday. "We didn't have enough chips to build the vehicles customers wanted and couldn't take full advantage of our manufacturing capacity."

The company, he said, is doing everything it can to break production constraints and meet demand. 

Underscoring the demand situation the company is in: Lawler said Ford's existing customer orders at the start of the second quarter was equivalent to roughly $17 billion in revenue. And the company had nearly 400,000 customer orders at the end of the quarter.

Continued high demand throughout the myriad supply-chain disruptions the global auto industry has endured over the last two years has pushed up prices. Ford's average transaction price in the U.S. was $49,343, up 3.1% year-over-year, according to Edmunds.

Lawler said strong pricing has helped the company mostly offset the inflationary pressures it's seen to date, but the company estimates commodity costs will be up about $4 billion year-over-year this year.

Batteries

Lawler also acknowledged the company has seen "considerable" inflationary pressures on the raw materials needed to make EV batteries, such as lithium and nickel — and executives said raw material supplies will be a crucial issue as Ford goes further down the electrification path.

"It's very clear to us that battery capacity is the key unlock to our EV aspirations and to propel our growth in the future," Farley told investment analysts. "We're in good shape in the near term. In the medium- and long-term, securing raw materials, processing, precursor and refinement, and setting up battery production here in the U.S. and around the world is a big work statement for us. Expect a lot of news from Ford in the future related to the vertical integration of our EV business."

Executives also highlighted battery chemistries as a key area of focus, with Farley saying that chemistry would be "a really key part of our protection against commodity price increases."

Doug Field, a former Apple and Tesla executive who now serves as chief EV and digital systems officer for Ford's EV business unit, said that lithium iron phosphate, or LFP, battery cells "will be a part of our future."

LFP battery cells don't require nickel or lithium, materials that are in high demand.

EV market leader Tesla Inc. is moving to LFP battery cells in its products, and Rivian recently moved to do the same, CNBC reported.

"We're also looking at other chemistries that give us an opportunity to be less dependent on materials that everyone seems to be fighting over in the market," said Field.

Meanwhile, asked what message he would have for the metal and mining industry, Farley signaled Ford is open to collaboration.

“We need to work together and find good deals," he said. "We know what we’re looking for. We’re focused on lithium and nickel. We want to do smart deals that work for them and for us. And No. 2, we want to move some of the process into North America. And we’re willing to invest capital to move the processing, precursor work from overseas to North America for a variety of reasons.”

Ford's stock closed up 0.95% to $14.85 per share Wednesday. It was trading up after hours following the earnings report.

Investment research firm CFRA Research maintained its "strong buy" opinion on Ford stock Wednesday, but cut its 12-month price target to $22 per share "to account for a more bearish discretionary spending outlook and the impact of rising interest rates," analyst Garrett Nelson wrote in a note.

"With F-150 Lightning deliveries expected to commence imminently ... and a favorable view of the company's direction under CEO Jim Farley," he added, "the stock remains one of our top auto picks."

 

Ford eyes EV market leadership
with launch of F-150 Lightning

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 27, 2022

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. is officially planting its flag with the launch of an all-electric version of America's best-selling truck, aiming to overtake Tesla Inc. and lead the electric vehicle market.

Blue Oval brass said as much during the F-150 Lightning's formal launch Tuesday at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, a new EV manufacturing facility at Ford's historic Rouge complex that already has been expanded to boost production capacity to 150,000 units annually. The event highlighted the symbolic resonance of the Rouge, the employees building the Lightning, customers (some of whom were invited) and the automaker's electric ambitions.

“We have very intention of being the No. 1 electric pickup maker," CEO Jim Farley said. "And then, with the huge investments — $50 billion in EVs, battery manufacturing, our expanded lineup which you have not seen yet — we plan to challenge Tesla and all comers to become the top EV maker in the world.

"That’s something that no one would have believed just two years ago from us. Take a look at this truck and believe it."

Lightnings will begin shipping to customers in the next few days, Farley said, starting with the Ford Pro model aimed at commercial customers. That's where the rubber meets the road. 

“More and more customers over the next several weeks are going to start getting their Lightnings. And that’s going to be the real test of how people really feel about an electric truck," said Sam Abuelsamid, an autos analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

“This is going to be the first really high-volume electric truck," he added. "And because of the segment that this is in — this is the most popular segment in the US market — the response to this vehicle is going to be a great indicator of how the American consumer is going to take to EVs over the coming years.”

For Stanton Hunter of New Jersey, the Lightning will be his first pickup truck as well as his first EV. He has a Lightning on order, with a build date scheduled in June, and was among the customers Ford invited to the launch. 

"I've always wanted a pickup truck," Hunter said. "But gas mileage was never really agreeing with me. So I decided that this is probably the best time to do it."

Underscoring one possible challenge now facing Ford, though: Hunter initially planned to buy a Bronco SUV, which Ford resurrected last year, but he was so far down the reservation list that he jumped over to the Lightning when orders for the truck opened.

Already, Ford executives have repeatedly said the company is oversubscribed on its first wave of EVs. The automaker capped reservations on the Lightning after they got 200,000, and the 2022 model year is no longer available for retail orders. Model year 2023 order bank (for existing reservation holders) will open in the summer for deliveries in the fall.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford acknowledged that it's a bit of a dilemma, saying that he recently talked with would-be Bronco customers at an event in Texas who are still waiting for build dates for their vehicles.

“So it’s really across a lot of our hot products, and we’re doing everything we can to try and communicate with them," he said. "We probably need to do a better job of that."

But between the coronavirus pandemic, demand exceeding supply for raw materials needed for EV batteries, an ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage and other supply chain issues, production has been constrained.

"The good news is, there’s tremendous demand for our products, but it is frustrating that we can’t build them in a timely fashion. Our team has done a great job of breaking bottlenecks, but then new ones pop up," Bill Ford said. "That’s just the world we’re in, unfortunately. But we don’t want to lose those customers. We don’t them to walk away, and we’re doing everything we can to accommodate them.”

He also acknowledged that the company is "looking" at investing further down the supply chain to shore up the minerals needed to build batteries.

Production constraints aside, Ford executives on Tuesday struck an upbeat note about what an electric F-150 means for the future of not just the company, but the country as a whole.

"This moment is every bit as important to this company and to this country as when the Model T first started rolling off the assembly line," Bill Ford said. "Back then, we were the first company to bring automobiles to everybody. Now, we’re the first company to build electric trucks for everybody — way ahead of anyone else.”

Ford's F-Series truck lineup has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 45 years. And executives touted the Lightning as a work truck that's capable of everything it's gas-powered sibling is — and more. Farley highlighted benefits such as instant torque, an onboard generator, the "frunk" (or, front trunk) that offers 14.1 cubic feet of cargo volume, and over-the-air software updates — "like a smartphone that can tow 10,000 pounds."

The mainstream appeal of F-Series, as well as the enhancements promised by an electric version, are what have some sustainability advocates excited.

“I think the F-150 going electric is a big old flag in the sand of EVs meet you where you are. You don’t have to come to them," said Dave Mullaney, principal of carbon-free mobility at RMI, a nonprofit focused on decarbonization and other energy issues.

The electrification of F-150 is "huge," in Mullaney's estimation, because of the impact it could have on truck fleets — but also on the average consumer, who up until recently didn't have any electric truck options.

“It’s a key inflection point for the electric vehicle itself," he said.

Pricing for F-150 Lightning starts at about $40,000. The truck can go up to 320 miles on a single charge, per EPA estimates, and has targeted maximum payload of 2,000 pounds.

“Our customers are going to get capabilities no other EV truck can ever offer," said Farley. "But for thousands of dollars less than our competitors’ trucks — whenever they actually go on sale.”

Overall, Ford now is targeting annual EV production of 600,000 units by next year, and 2 million by 2026.

Crosstown rival General Motors Co. plans to introduce 30 new EVs globally by 2025, and targets production of 400,000 EVs in North America this year and next. It expects to have 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by the end of 2025. An all-electric Chevy Silverado pickup — which GM reported Tuesday has garnered 140,000 reservations — is slated to launch next year.

Meanwhile, Lightning order holder Emre Gol plans to use his electric truck for work. He owns a remodeling business and said it's not uncommon to drive 250 miles a day traveling across the Houston area. He currently drives a Tesla Model 3 and enjoys the savings on fuel and maintenance.

“EVs are the way to go," he said. "We use these things for work.”

 

GM's new Mexican union
seeks 19.2% wage hike

April 26, 2022
Automotive News

MEXICO CITY - The new independent labour union at General Motors' largest Mexican plant is seeking a 19.2 per cent wage increase, citing surging inflation, and the U.S. carmaker has countered with an offer of 3.5 per cent, the head of the union SINTTIA told Reuters.

GM would not confirm the percentage of its counter-offer but said its next meeting with the union is Thursday, where it hopes to reach a deal for the plant in the central city of Silao, forestalling a May 31 deadline for workers to strike.

The GM labour negotiations are a high-profile test case for a new trade deal's goal of reducing the vast wage gap between U.S. and Canadian workers and their Mexican counterparts.

SINTTIA's proposal would boost wages at the plant that makes GM's profitable Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups to as much as 77.15 pesos (US$3.81 or about C$4.85 at April 26's exchange rate) an hour, based on a copy of the most recent collective contract seen by Reuters.

That's about a quarter of the company's U.S. starting wage of US$17.50 an hour — about C$22.32 — highlighting the kind of disparity that drove U.S. insistence on tougher labour rules in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the 2020 trade pact that replaced NAFTA. New hires at GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ont., northeast of Toronto, start at C$23 per hour.

SINTTIA's Secretary General, Alejandra Morales, called GM's counter-offer "a slap in the face" at a time when workers are cutting back to cope with rising prices.

The first major talks held under the new trade deal could usher in similar demands at other companies in Mexico if SINTTIA lands a big raise. U.S. government officials who have long wanted to lessen the wage disparity with Mexico are closely watching.

SINTTIA, the Spanish acronym for the National Independent Union of Automotive Industry Workers, made its 19.2 per cent proposal when talks started last month.

Morales said that on top of surging inflation, the salary increase was merited due to an uptick in production, years of lost purchasing power and the peso's sliding value while GM's profits are in stronger U.S. dollars.

A 3.5 per cent increase would be less than half of current inflation. Talks stalled April 12, and Thursday's session will be mediated by federal labour officials.

The USMCA labour provisions were partially meant to help Mexican workers elect unions they feel will best fight for their interests, breaking the grip of business-friendly groups that operated behind workers' backs for years as cheap labour lured companies to Mexico.

GM is under pressure to keep costs low as it faces off with the first new major independent Mexican union since the start of the new trade deal. A victory for the 6,300 workers in Silao could spur higher demands at its other Mexico sites and across the auto industry, experts say.

"That could be a game changer," said Harley Shaiken, a labour scholar at the University of California at Berkeley.

A union dispute at the same GM plant last year prompted U.S. officials to lodge the first USMCA labour complaint, threatening tariffs on GM's Silao pickups if the company did not guarantee worker rights.

Workers ended up ousting the massive union that had been in power for 25 years and elected SINTTIA, a fledgling group led by fellow workers and supported by international activists.

 

 

Ford Patents Tank Turn
For F-150 Lightning

Andrei Nedelea 
April 25, 2022

Rivian demonstrated this feature to the pickup world, but Ford may bring it to production first.

Rivian made quite a splash with its viral video portraying one of its R1T electric pickups essentially turning on the spot, like a tank, by driving the wheels on one side forward, while the others are going in reverse. However, the feature is not currently present in its production vehicles, and Ford also patented its own version for the F-150 Lightning, and it could debut before Rivian.

According to the Lightning Owners Forum, the Blue Oval applied for the patent in October of 2020, but it was just published on April 24, 2022. The application describes

Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension.

It is worth noting, though, that unlike the Rivian R1T and R1S, the Ford F-150 Lightning doesn’t come with a quad-motor setup, with one motor driving each individual wheel. So far, Ford has only announced dual-motor versions, and in order for those to be able to perform a tank turn, the manufacturer will need to resort to reversing one side and not the other via gears, or just applying lock to all four wheels.

This is how Toyota wants to do it, at least, as per its patent filed in 2019. The Japanese giant’s system would not only allow for on-the-spot rotation around the vehicle’s center, but also lateral movement and driving at an angle (similar to the Crab Walk feature of the GMC Hummer EV).

So far no manufacturer has launched a series model that can perform a tank turn, and Rivian is the only company to have shown one of its vehicles actually do it. It should still be the first to debut this feature, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Ford recalls 650,000 pickups,
large SUVs for windshield
wiper failure

Associated Press
April 22, 2022

Detroit — Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 650,000 pickup trucks and big SUVs in the U.S. because the windshield wipers can break and fail.

The recall covers certain F-150 pickups, and Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from the 2020 and 2021 model years. Also included are F-250, 350, 450 and 550 trucks from 2020 through 2022.

The company says in documents posted Thursday by U.S. safety regulators that teeth on the wipers aren't the right height. That can cause the wiper arms to become stripped. Documents say malfunctioning wiper arms can reduce visibility and increase the risk of a crash.

Dealers will replace both front windshield wiper arms. Owners will be notified by letter starting May 23.

Ford Motor Co. says that as of Feb. 25 it had 754 reports of malfunctioning wiper arms. Some of the trucks were built with higher-torque wiper motors due to the global shortage of computer chips.

 

The Lincoln Star Concept
Previews the Brand's
Electric Future

Read article here

 

 

Ford, GM report first-quarter
sales declines in China

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 20, 2022

Both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. saw their sales in China, the world's largest auto market, falter in the first quarter of 2022 amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Ford reported Thursday that it sold approximately 125,000 vehicles in China in the first quarter, an 18.8% year-over-year drop. The automaker attributed the decline to "continued semiconductor shortages and resurgent pandemic-related restrictions," but said the numbers did not reflect its "better-than-industry performance in critical growth segments of luxury and commercial vehicles."

Lincoln, Ford's luxury brand, which recently has boosted its overall performance in China, reported a year-over-year sales increase of 0.8%. Lincoln's sales of 19,400 vehicles marked a first-quarter record, and the brand had its best-ever February, Ford reported.

Ford also noted that three new vehicles offered exclusively in China — the all-new Ford Mondeo sedan, Ford Equator Sport SUV and all-new Lincoln Zephyr luxury sedan — launched in March.

Ford passenger vehicle sales were down 17.3% year-over year, while Ford and JMC commercial vehicle sales of nearly 51,000 units were down 27.1%.

Meanwhile, GM and its joint ventures in China recently reported sales of more than 613,000 vehicles in the first quarter, down from the more than 780,000 sales reported in the same period last year.

GM's Cadillac brand delivered 47,000 vehicles, down from more than 57,000 delivered in the first quarter of 2021. Buick also saw a drop from 224,000 sold in last year's first quarter to about 163,000 sales this year. Chevrolet deliveries surpassed 52,000 units this quarter, down from 64,000 last year.

GM China's Wuling brand reported more than 330,000 vehicles sold in the first quarter of 2022, a decrease from last year's 347,000. Baojun sold nearly 20,000 vehicles this quarter, down from 86,000 sold in the first quarter of 2021.

 

Penske Truck Leasing orders
750 all-electric E-Transit
vans from Ford

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 19, 2022

Penske Truck Leasing said Monday it has ordered 750 units of Ford Motor Co.'s E-Transit battery-electric van.

The order marks anther large customer purchase of the all-electric cargo van after Ford said ahead of the vehicle's February launch that retail giant Walmart Inc. had ordered 1,100 units.

Penske, which piloted the E-Transit late last year, said it expects to take delivery of the first "several" vehicles in the order within the next several weeks. The company's first E-Transits will be available in southern California, with other locations in the U.S. slated to be phased in later this year. 

The leasing company — a subsidiary of Reading, Pa.-based Penske Transportation Solutions — said this marks the first time light-duty electric trucks will be available in its rental and leasing fleet. 

"We're excited to help bring these new vehicles to market as both a rental and full-service lease option for our customers," Art Vallely, president of Penske Truck Leasing, said in a statement. "We continue to expand and diversify our fleet of electric vehicles and to offer new options for customers seeking more sustainable choices when it comes to transportation."

Ford began shipping the E-Transit from its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri in February. Ahead of the vehicle's launch, the automaker said it had more than 10,000 orders from 300 customers of varying sizes, including Walmart.

E-Transit — which has a battery range of about 126 miles on a single charge — is Ford's second all-electric vehicle, following the Mustang Mach-E. The F-150 Lightning, a battery-electric version of America's best-selling truck, is slated to launch next week.

 

Unifor secretary-treasurer
Lana Payne running for
national president
to replace Dias

April 14, 2022
The Canadian Press

DEER LAKE, N.L. — Unifor's national secretary-treasurer has joined the race to replace Jerry Dias as head of Canada's largest private sector union.

Lana Payne announced her candidacy for national president today on Facebook.

She says she made the decision after being urged to run by many union members, following Dias's retirement after he allegedly accepted money from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits he promoted to members.

Payne says the past months have been difficult but have given her a new sense of resolve about the union's future and "the kind of leadership we will need to redress the hurt, rebuild trust, and build the hope and confidence we will need to take on the many fights ahead."

Two other candidates have announced plans to run for the position: Dave Cassidy, Local 444 president at the Stellantis Windsor assembly plant, and Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the national president.

The new leader will be elected to a three-year term at Unifor's constitutional convention in August.

 

 

Ford JV plant in Turkey begins
shipping electric E-Transit
van to Europe

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 13, 2022

Ford Otosan, a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Koç Holding, is now shipping the all-electric E-Transit cargo van to customers in Europe, Ford said Thursday.

The launch of E-Transit production at Ford Otosan's Gölcük plant in Kocaeli, Turkey, follows the February start of deliveries to customers in the U.S. from Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri.

The move marks the start of mass production after customers in Europe had placed over 5,000 orders before the E-Transit began rolling off the assembly line in Kocaeli, Ford said. 

“Ford Otosan’s Kocaeli plant is the heart of Transit production in Europe, and this celebration of E-Transit manufacturing starts the electrified next chapter in our already strong partnership,” Hans Schep, general manager of Ford Pro in Europe, said in a statement. “This is the first step in a transformation of the Kocaeli site which will see it become a major centre for electric commercial vehicle manufacturing in Europe.”

E-Transit launches under the umbrella of Ford Pro, Ford's standalone commercial vehicle business. 

Ford Otosan is investing 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) and hiring about 3,000 employees to boost production capacity for future electrified Ford models, including the next-generation Transit Custom model.

Last month, Ford announced some key advancements in its electrification strategy in Europe, including the introduction of seven new all-electric passenger vehicles and vans by 2024, as well as a new venture to boost EV battery production in the region. Ford, Koç  and SK On Co. have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding for a JV in Turkey that would establish what the companies are calling one of the largest EV battery facilities in the region.

The JV would be based near Ankara and would manufacture battery cells. Production is slated to start as early as mid-decade, with annual capacity expected to range from 30 to 40 gigawatt hours. 

Meanwhile, Ford said last month it will add four new electric models to its commercial vehicle portfolio in Europe: the all-new Transit Custom one-tonne van and Tourneo Custom multi-purpose vehicle in 2023, then the smaller, next-generation Transit Courier van and Tourneo Courier multi-purpose vehicle in 2024. 

Those models will be built in Craiova, Romania. Ford Otosan is slated to assume ownership of that operation.

Ford expects its annual EV sales in Europe to exceed 600,000 units in 2026. The automaker is targeting zero emissions for all vehicle sales in Europe by 2035.

 

Ford declares 10-cents-per-share
dividend for second quarter

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 12, 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s board of directors on Thursday declared a second-quarter regular dividend of 10 cents per share on outstanding shares of the company's common and Class B stock.

The dividend is payable on June 1 to shareholders of record at close of business on April 26.

The payment to shareholders marks the third since the Dearborn automaker suspended its quarterly dividend in March 2020 as a cost-saving measure at the onset of coronavirus pandemic. It also paid a dividend of 10 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of this year.

The automaker's stock closed down 2.79% to $14.96 per share Thursday. After ending 2021 as the highest-growth auto stock of the year, Ford's stock is down about 30% so far this year.

 

 

700 additional jobs required
at Stellantis-LG Windsor
EV battery plant

Rich Garton
CTV Windsor News Reporter
April 11, 2022

The announcement of a new Stellantis-LG electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor in March promised 2,500 jobs, but the company is already tacking on more positions based on operational needs, according to local economic development officials.

During a talent strategy meeting Thursday between Invest Windsor-Essex (IWE) and the Stellantis-LG joint venture, the company informed local officials it is adjusting the number of workers required at the battery plant to 3,200, according to IWE CEO Stephen MacKenzie.

Now, the focus turns to pulling off a talent strategy that IWE has been developing with the company.

“If economic development is a vehicle, a car, the fuel is the talent and if you don’t have the fuel, the car doesn’t go,” says MacKenzie.

He says the strategy is multi-pronged, but focuses on retention of talent as well as attraction from abroad.

Locally, it includes revisions to existing programs and the addition of news ones at both St. Clair College and the University of Windsor. The focus for existing workers will be up-skilling through the introduction of fast-tracked micro-credentials, which can be completed in six weeks to 18 months — with the goal of training the electric vehicle workforce of the future.

“The generational investment like this, I’ve been telling people if you have kids or grandkids, they’re going to have the opportunity to stay and work here if they decide to do that,” MacKenzie says.

Global talent attraction will also be necessary, starting in our backyard.

MacKenzie says people already in the workforce but working stateside may want to come work here instead of commuting across the Detroit River.

“You often hear about reshoring of industry, maybe we’re going to be looking at reshoring people,” he says.

It will also mean attracting students at an earlier age, starting with high schoolers.

“We’ve got a big job to do to convince young people in Canada this is a really, really attractive and impactful sector to work in,” says Jayson Myers, who heads up Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, a supercluster based out of Waterloo.

“Let’s look beyond the issue about the technical skills,” he says. “Let’s look at attracting young people into an industry that is really going to make a difference for them and I think that’s what appeals to young people.”

Stellantis and LG are in the process of hiring a human resources manager who will work with Invest Windsor-Essex to identify specific skills needs for the EV battery plant.

Invest Windsor-Essex will also be meeting with the company every two weeks until the ribbon cutting at the factory to ensure talent needs are being met.

“They’re going to start hiring in certain categories by the first quarter of 2023 and ramping up to production in August of 2024,” says Joe Goncalves, the director of investment attraction and corporate marketing at Invest Windsor-Essex.

Skilled talent shortages are well documented and are considered by many to be a global problem.

With the spin-off jobs anticipated from the battery plant, MacKenzie says collaboration between industry, educational institutions, government and potential workers will be paramount.

”This could be a 14-16,000 job deal,” he says. “It’s not just going to happen. We have to work it, have a strategy to make sure that we deliver and it’s a win-win for everybody.”

 

Ford sales plummet 25.6% in
March, decrease 17.1%
for the quarter

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
April 10, 2022

Sales of Ford Motor Co. vehicles fell by 25.6% year-over-year in March, capping a 17.1% decrease for the first quarter of 2022 and joining other automakers whose sales were hit by low inventory from a global semiconductor shortage.

But the Dearborn automaker on Monday indicated there may be signs of some relief with improvement in deliveries to dealers. Meanwhile, it says demand for its cash-cow pickup trucks is strong even as inflation, high gas prices and increasing interest rates raise questions around new-vehicle affordability.

Ford sold 412,984 vehicles in the first three months of the year, including 159,328 in March. General Motors Co. reported 512,846 vehicles in the first quarter this year, down 20% from last year and coming behind Toyota Motor Corp. Jeep and Ram maker Stellantis NV sold 405,221 vehicles in the first three months of the year, a 14% decrease.

Ford's in-transit inventory improved 74% over February, Andrew Frick, vice president of sales, distribution and trucks, said in a statement. And the Blue Oval's F-Series trucks had a record 50,000 new retail orders in March, though their sales dropped 46.6% overall for the month.

"Our newest products continue to turn at a record pace, as Bronco, Bronco Sport, Mustang Mach-E and Maverick had their best combined sales performance yet, with 33,398 vehicles sold," Frick said. "Ford is ready to deliver and positioned well for spring sales growth."

Electrified vehicles sales grew 16.9% year-over-year in March. Overall, truck sales dropped 34.4%, and SUVs were down 9.4%. The Ford brand fell 25.7%, and Lincoln dropped 25.5%.

 

Ford recalls 737K vehicles
to fix oil leaks, trailer brakes

Associated Press
April 9, 2022

Detroit — Ford is issuing two recalls covering over 737,000 vehicles to fix oil leaks and trailer braking systems that won't work.

The oil leak recall includes the 2020 through 2022 Ford Escape SUV and the 2021 and 2022 Bronco Sport SUV with 1.5-Liter engines. A housing can crack and oil can leak onto engine parts, which can create a fire hazard.

Dealers will replace the housing if needed. Owners will be notified starting April 18.

The trailer braking recall includes F-150 pickups from 2021 and 2022, as well as the 2022 F-250, 350, 450 and 550. Also covered are the 2022 Maverick pickup, and Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

A software error can stop trailers from braking, increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will update brake control software. Owners will be notified starting April 18.

 

 

Retiree Tom Birkimsher

Passes Away April 7, 2022

TOM BURKIMSHER

Tom Birkimsher
July 1, 2000
37 Years Service

Our Condolences go out to
the Birkimsher family

 

 

 

Toronto police financial crimes
unit investigating former
Unifor President Dias

By Tara Deschamps,
The Canadian Press

April 6, 2022

Toronto police are investigating the former president of Canada’s largest private-sector union after the union handed over money he allegedly accepted from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits he promoted to members.

Police spokesperson Laura Brabant confirmed Tuesday the force’s financial crimes unit has commenced an investigation.

“The investigation is in its preliminary stages and we would not comment on specifics at this time, as to not compromise the investigation,” she said in an email to The Canadian Press.

The investigation comes after Unifor announced Monday that it delivered to Toronto police the sum a complainant turned over to the union after it was allegedly given to the person by Jerry Dias on Jan. 20. Unifor said the complainant alleged Dias received $50,000 and gave the person $25,000 he said was from the test kit supplier.

Unifor has refused to name the supplier and Dias committed to entering a rehabilitation facility in the wake of the incident.

“It will now be for Toronto Police to decide whether to investigate any matter connected to that money, and Unifor has no role in that decision,” Unifor said in a statement Monday.

Union spokesperson Kathleen O’Keefe would not say what has been done with the portion of the money Dias allegedly received.

Unifor, which said it acted on advice from legal counsel in turning over the money, noted it will not issue any further comments on the matter.

 The union has said Dias is being charged with violating the code of ethics and democratic practices of the union’s constitution. A hearing will be held before the national executive board as soon as this month.

Dias has long been the face of Unifor. He led the union since 2013 and was reelected in 2016 and 2019. He had a reputation for being tough-talking, scrappy and willing to push everyone from top companies to politicians to act in workers’ best interests.

He was a key figure during the negotiation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and successfully encouraged General Motors Canada to reopen an Oshawa plant, invest up to $1.3 billion and hire up to 1,700 workers after it planned to close the facility.

Dias was notified of the union’s independent investigation into the matter on Jan. 29 and began a medical leave on Feb. 6 citing “ongoing health issues.” About a month later, the union announced he was retiring, before adding the next day that he was subject to an investigation.

In addition to a rehab stint, Dias has said he will temporarily step away from all of his advisory positions due to his use of pain killers, sleeping pills and alcohol to deal with a sciatic nerve issue.

“These factors have impaired my judgment in recent months, and I owe it to our members to seek the treatment I need,” he said.

“My physician has told me, straight up, that I need help.”

 

New Ford F-150 Rattler Teased
By CEO, Debuts Tomorrow

 Anthony Alaniz
March 29, 2022

Ford likes to shake things up with its trucks.

The latest-generation Ford F-150 arrived for the 2021 model year, and Ford will expand its portfolio with a new variant called the Rattler. Ford CEO Jim Farley took to Twitter to tease the new truck, revealing the nameplate and not much else. We won’t have to wait long for all the details as Ford will unveil the pickup tomorrow.

Ford filed a trademark for the Rattler name last summer, though the filing lacked concrete information about how Ford would use it. At the time, we thought it might indicate a future Maverick variant, but it looks like we were wrong. Farley added truck, snake, and mountain emojis to his tweet, but your guess is as good as ours as to their meaning. He also wrote that the truck will be “A rattler you’ll be excited to see on the trail.”

Ford already offers the F-150 in a variety of trims, including the off-road Raptor and the beastly Tremor. The Tremor sits below the Raptor in the F-150’s lineup, so it’ll be interesting to see where the Rattler falls in the hierarchy. Ford could add upgraded goodies over the standard pickup, including suspension parts, extra off-road protection, or other parts regardless of where it falls. However, Ford could take a more straightforward route with something subtler, similar to the FX4 trim.

This isn’t Ford’s first foray into snake-named products. Ford used to have an aerospace division that built components for the sidewinder mussel. Ford was the predominant manufacturer of the missile’s guidance and control section. Development began in 1951 when the US Navy awarded the contract to Ford.

The new Rattler won’t find a practical use with the US Navy anytime soon, but it is an interesting connection for the Blue Oval as it expands its product portfolio. Ford will reveal the new F-150 Rattler tomorrow, and we’ll deliver all the details. While a new truck offering is always exciting to see, we doubt it’ll be as performance-oriented as the Raptor.

 

Dias case highlights need for
code of ethics in workplaces,
experts say

Unifor alleges its former president accepted $50,000 from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits he promoted to employers of union members

Detroit News
Greg Layson
March 28, 2022

In the wake of allegations against Unifor former national president Jerry Dias, experts say companies should make sure their ethics policies are being clearly communicated to employees.

Canada's largest private sector union alleged this week that its former president accepted $50,000 from a supplier of COVID-19 rapid test kits he promoted to employers of union members. Several of those companies then purchased those test kits.

Unifor has said Dias is being charged with violating the code of ethics and democratic practices of the union's constitution.

Rick Hackett, Canada research chair at McMaster University's DeGroote School of Business, said in an interview that practices like under-the-table payments from favoured suppliers or extravagant gifts to clients are unethical, but that they do happen even in today's business world.

"But by its very nature, because so much of it is covert, I don't think we have a good handle at all on how much of this goes on," he said.

Hackett also said that it's important for organizations to have a code of ethics in place. But he said it's not enough to simply spell out the rules in a document once and then forget about them.

"These policies need to be communicated out to employees regularly," he said.

Chris MacDonald, associate professor at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management, said in an interview that accepting a $50,000 payment _ as Dias allegedly did _ is an egregious example of a type of business practice that, on a smaller level, was once relatively common. (Ryerson's Chris MacDonald is not related to Unifor senior staffer Chris MacDonald, who has been identified as the whistleblower in the Dias matter).

For example, a salesperson might treat a potential client to an expensive dinner, or offer small gifts and freebies in the hopes of landing an account, the Ryerson professor explained.

"There's a reason salespeople do these things, not because they're looking to waste money but because they know it works," MacDonald said.

But he added that while such things may still be relatively common at small, privately held companies, large corporations and public companies that are answerable to shareholders have cracked down on gift giving and other questionable sales practices.

"The private sector is increasingly wary of gift giving and gift receiving, in part because there have been scandals," he said. "Gone are the days of, 'here's a case of Scotch, Fred.' Of course that can happen, but it can only happen extremely quietly."

 

'Largest automotive investment'
for country's first EV battery
plant coming to Windsor in 2024

Jennifer La Grassa
CBC News 
March 25, 2022

Windsor, Ont., will soon be home to Canada’s first electric vehicle battery plant – a joint venture between automaker Stellantis and South Korean battery-maker LG Energy Solution. The $4.9-billion plant is expected to create 2,500 jobs in a region hard hit by layoffs in the automotive industry. 1:55

A $4.9-billion electric vehicle battery plant headed to Windsor, Ont., is being touted by auto leaders as a significant economic generator and a way to bring the industry into the future.

"This is massive news, not just for the Canadian auto industry. This is huge for Windsor, the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs," said Brian Kingston, CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association. 

"We know the auto industry is going through a significant transformation to electrification right now and for Canada to secure an investment of this size and scale into battery manufacturing ... indicates that we are a player in this transition." 

On Wednesday, South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution and European automaker Stellantis, alongside all three levels of government, announced the "largest automotive investment" in the province and country, which will bring the first lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) battery plant to Canada.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the plant "game-changing" and said it puts the province at the "forefront of the EV revolution."  

Ford would not divulge the amount of taxpayer money that will be spent on the factory, adding that, "it would compromise some negotiations moving forward with other companies as well, but it's a massive investment and it's hundreds of millions of dollars."

According to Stellantis and LG, the plant is anticipated to create 2,500 new jobs and supply batteries to Stellantis plants across North America. The plant is one of two that the companies are building. 

Plant could generate 'up to 10,000 jobs'

The news is being welcomed by many in Windsor's auto sector, which has seen significant job losses in recent years. 

Justin Falconer, CEO of Workforce Windsor-Essex, said on top of the 2,500 jobs at the plant, he anticipates "up to 10,000" spin-off jobs. 

Charging stations, supply chain partners for electronic components, moulds for the batteries, research and development and transportation for the batteries are just a handful of areas that Falconer said could see job growth. 

 

News that an electric vehicle battery plant is coming to Windsor was welcome news to auto workers and other residents who spoke with CBC Windsor today. Here's some reaction from Barron McInnes, Wayne Tennant, Paul Bartolo, Justin Galps and Ray Laforet. 1:20

Based on this, Falconer said post-secondary institutions will likely look to offer new education and training programs on electric vehicles. 

Combined, Falconer said there's already about eight programs related to the EV field at local institutions, but he said they may look to increase the number of credential programs or add rapid training ones that will "upscale or improve a job applicant's qualifications." 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was joined by federal ministers and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, along with EV industry leaders, Wednesday to announce the site of Canada's first EV battery plant in Windsor. (Mike Evans/CBC)

"I expect this to be a very highly sophisticated and technological plant with robotics and engineering," he said. 

"We'll see what the standards are that LG is going to be hiring to, and we'll obviously be working with to ensure that they have access to the skilled workers that they're going to need to employ at this plant." 

Yvonne Pilon, president of WEtech Alliance — which supports tech companies in the region — said the city is well suited when it comes to the tech talent "needed to power this new industry." 

She also said this is a good opportunity to diversify the auto sector to include "every gender, every ethnicity." 

"Traditionally, we know the automotive sector tends to be male dominated," she said. 

"This is a monumental moment to ensure that this new generation, this new sector is not only built for everyone, it's built by everyone."

Justin Falconer is the CEO of Workforce Windsor-Essex. He estimates that the new plant could bring up to 10,000 jobs to the region. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

Environmental considerations 

During Wednesday's announcement, politicians said the plant moves the country toward achieving the federal government's zero emissions goals. 

The federal plan is to require that half of all new cars sold in Canada be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Five years after that date, all new cars sold must be zero-emission.

Yet, currently, only five per cent of all new vehicle sales in Canada are EVs, Kingston said. He said to boost demand, there needs to be consumer incentives and more infrastructure to support the vehicles, like charging stations. 

Yvonne Pilon is the president and CEO of WEtech Alliance. She says the plant is an opportunity to 'change' and diversify the auto sector. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

While EVs are zero emission, the processes surrounding EV battery and parts production aren't, said Derek Coronado, coordinator of the Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario.

"Zero-emission vehicles are less intensive in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce for obvious reasons, however, you're still making steel. You're still making rubber. You're still making the materials that go into developing and making that vehicle," he said, adding the batteries themselves required mined materials. 

These mined materials, like cobalt, lithium and nickel, are coming from the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, and the processes used to get them impact the land, Coronado said. 

One local group representing EV owners is pleased to hear of a plan like this coming to the region. 

Pino Mastroianni, president of the Electric Vehicle Society of Windsor-Essex, said it means an increase in production volume, which will lower the price of the vehicles, making mainstream models more affordable to the general public. 

"The only way to make [EVs] attainable is to build them in bulk or in mass production, so this is a step forward," he said, adding demand is increasing every year. 

"People that have already realized that EV sales are going to rise realize that if we aren't going to make them, someone else will, so we need to start having a domestic supply of electric vehicles for the people that want them." 

 

Ford releases final EPA-estimated
battery range for F-150 Lightning
ahead of launch

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
March 23, 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s all-electric F-150 Lightning will launch this spring with a battery range of between 230 miles and 320 miles on a single charge, the Dearborn automaker said Monday after completing final Environmental Protection Agency testing.

Here is the breakdown by trim level:

  • F-150 Lightning Pro standard range: 230 miles
  • F-150 Lightning Pro extended range (fleet only): 320 miles
  • F-150 Lightning XLT SR: 230 miles
  • F-150 Lightning XLT ER: 320 miles
  • F-150 Lightning Lariat SR: 230 miles
  • F-150 Lightning Lariat ER: 320 miles
  • F-150 Lightning Platinum: 300 miles

The extended-range battery's results surpassed the 300-mile range Ford had targeted.

“We are laser focused on continually improving our energy consumption efficiency for Lightning and the team is really happy to deliver these results for our customers,” Linda Zhang, chief program engineer for F-150 Lightning, said in a statement.

California-based electric-vehicle startup Rivian Automotive Inc. was the first to market with an electric pickup, the R1T. The 2022 R1T's launch edition gets an EPA-estimated range of 314 miles. Rivian has announced plans for a Max battery pack that would target a range of more than 400 miles on a charge, according to Edmunds.

The first edition of the new GMC Hummer EV pickup truck from General Motors Co., meanwhile, will achieve an EPA combined range of 329 miles

The Lightning is slated to launch this spring. Ford stopped taking deposits for the truck in December after receiving 200,000 reservations ahead of launch. The company opened up the order bank in January even as it moved to double annual production capacity of the vehicle, to 150,000 units per year, amid strong demand. 

Ford said earlier this month that it's now targeting annual production of more than 2 million EVs by 2026, representing about one-third of its global volume, and rising to half by 2030.

F-150 Lightning's pricing starts at just under $40,000 for the work truck version, excluding destination charges. The base MSRP for the Platinum model is $90,874. Those prices don't take into account incentives available for EV buyers.

The truck is built at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn.

 

Ford plans 7 new all-electric
vehicles in Europe, joint
venture to make batteries

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
March 22, 2022

Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced some key advancements in its electrification strategy in Europe, including the introduction of seven new all-electric passenger vehicles and vans by 2024, as well as a new joint venture to boost EV battery production in the region.

The company said it now expects its annual EV sales in Europe to exceed 600,000 units in 2026 as it targets 2 million EV sales globally in that timeframe. It also reaffirmed its goal of achieving 6% operating profit margins in Europe in 2023, and a company-wide margin of 10% by 2026.

Meanwhile, the automaker said it is now targeting zero emissions for all vehicle sales in Europe and carbon neutrality across its European footprint — including facilities, logistics and suppliers — by 2035.

Monday's announcements follow the news earlier this month that the Dearborn automaker will divide its legacy internal combustion engine and burgeoning electric-vehicle and software businesses into separate units within the company. The two business units join Ford Pro, the company's standalone commercial vehicle business that launched last year. 

“This is not a change in strategy," Stuart Rowley, chair of Ford of Europe, said via a recorded presentation. "This is an acceleration of our electrification plans, with the full support of the global business behind us."

The focus in Europe, he said, will be the company's electric passenger car business under Ford Model e, the new unit dedicated to electrification, and electric commercial vehicles under Ford Pro. Ford Blue, the legacy business, meanwhile, "will be the engine that powers our Ford transformation in Europe," Rowley said.

More EVs coming

Joining the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV and E-Transit cargo van, Ford said Monday it plans to add seven new EVs to its European vehicle lineup — including three passenger vehicles and four commercial vans.

Last year, Ford sold more than 23,000 Mach-E units in Europe. This year, Rowley said, the automaker is looking to increase that by more than 60%.

Next year, Ford will launch production of an electric, five-seat, medium-sized crossover at its Cologne Electrification Center in Germany. The crossover — more details of which will be released later this year — will have a range of roughly 311 miles on a single charge. The automaker had previously confirmed that, as part of a strategic alliance it has with Volkswagen AG, the first EV coming out of Cologne will be built on a VW platform.

A second EV, a sports crossover, will be added to production lines in Cologne in 2024. With those two vehicles, EV production at that facility will increase to 1.2 million units over a six-year timeframe, Ford said. The company expects to invest about $2 billion in building those new electric passenger vehicles in Cologne, including to establish a new battery assembly facility there in 2024.

The automaker last year unveiled plans to invest $1 billion to convert the Cologne facility into an EV manufacturing center. At that time, Ford said its entire European passenger-vehicle lineup would be "zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid" by mid-2026 and all-electric by 2030, and its commercial-vehicle sales in Europe would be two-thirds all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030. 

Meanwhile, starting in 2024, the Ford Puma — the automaker's best-selling passenger vehicle in Europe — will have an electric option, produced in Craiova, Romania.

And on the commercial vehicle side — Ford of Europe's profit center — the automaker will add four new electric models: the all-new Transit Custom one-tonne van and Tourneo Custom multi-purpose vehicle in 2023, then the smaller, next-generation Transit Courier van and Tourneo Courier multi-purpose vehicle in 2024. 

Those models will be built in Craiova, as well. In a bid to boost EV and commercial vehicle capacity, Ford said Monday that its joint venture with Koc Holding, Ford Otosan, would (subject to regulatory approval) assume ownership of the Craiova plant and manufacturing business.

As the Craiova plant prepares to launch those vehicles, Ford will discontinue production of the EcoSport there later this year.

New battery venture

Ford also announced it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding for a Turkey-based joint venture business with SK On Co., Ltd. and Koc Holding. If a final agreement is reached, the companies said they expect the venture to be one of the largest EV battery facilities for commercial vehicles in the region. 

The JV would be based near Ankara and would manufacture high Nickel NMC cells for assembly into battery array modules. It would target annual capacity of 30 to 45 gigawatt hours, with production slated to start "as early as mid-decade."

The operation would join Ford's multi-billion dollar investment in battery production, with SK Innovation, in Tennessee and Kentucky. Those three plants are slated to have about 43 gigawatt hours of battery capacity each. Overall, Ford has said it will need at least 240 gigawatt hours of capacity by 2030.

 

Canada’s travel rules just
changed. What’s new, and
what’s the same?

Rachel Gilmore
Global News
March 18, 2022

 Canada just updated its travel rules again yet, this time quashing the COVID-19 pre-arrival testing requirement for vaccinated international travellers.

Travellers can still be randomly selected for a COVID-19 test at the airport upon arrival into Canada, but they won't need to show proof of a negative test beginning April 1.

It's the latest in a number of changes Canada has made over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Let us remember that all measures are subject to review," said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, as he announced the latest rule change on Thursday.

"We will continue to adjust them as the epidemiological situation here in Canada and abroad evolves."

Here's where all the rules stand now.

Vaccination rules in Canada haven't changed at all.

If you're planning to come to Canada, you'll still need to determine whether you qualify as a "fully vaccinated traveller" based on the Canadian government's definition. This should be relatively simple, as very few of us would forget getting a needle stuck into our arms. But if you're not sure, here's the government's criteria.

You're considered vaccinated if you:

have received at least two doses of a vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of two accepted vaccines or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine have received your second dose at least 14 calendar days before you enter Canada

What vaccines are accepted?

AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD

Bharat Biotech

Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

Moderna

Novavax

Pfizer-BioNTech -- including for children aged 5 to 11 years

Sinopharm

Sinovac

If your proof of vaccination isn't in English or French, you'll still have to get it translated. The "certified translation" has to include the stamp or membership number of a professional translation association that does it for you, and you'll want to keep both the original version and the translated version with you while you travel.

What isn't accepted?

Partial vaccination — you must have gotten both doses of your vaccine course, unless you got the Janssen vaccine.

Natural immunity and a single dose of vaccine — even if you've had COVID-19, you still have to complete your vaccine course to be considered fully vaccinated.

Rules for the unvaccinated haven't changed recently, even as similar rules have loosened for vaccinated people. Here's where things stand right now.

Unvaccinated foreign nationals:

Unless you have an exemption, you can't come into Canada. The full list of exemptions is available here.

Unvaccinated Canadians are allowed to come to Canada, but there are more steps they need to take to ensure they aren't exposing others to COVID-19.

Check if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

If you do, you won't be allowed to board the plane home. If you're driving, and you enter at a land border despite being positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms, you could face a $5,000 fine -- so the government recommends waiting 10 days before you cross into Canada, or suggests that you get tested before entry to make sure you don't have COVID-19.

If you don't have COVID-19 symptoms, you can enter Canada

Unvaccinated travellers will be subject to a molecular test both when they arrive in Canada, and again eight days later. They also have to quarantine for 14 days.

There are also rules within Canada for unvaccinated travellers. You need to be vaccinated to board a cruise ship, or to take a plane or train within Canada.

When announcing loosened travel rules for vaccinated travellers on Thursday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra emphasized this domestic travel rule hasn't changed.

What you'll have to bring to the border will change as of April 1, 2022, when the government is dropping its negative test requirement for fully vaccinated passengers. Until then, this is what you have to bring with you.

Negative COVID-19 test:

Currently, all travellers entering Canada — regardless of vaccination status — have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test, taken within 24 hours of their flight or arrival at Canada’s border.

As an alternative, they can show proof of a negative PCR test from within the previous 72 hours.

After April 1, travellers who are fully vaccinated — with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine — can skip this on their checklist.

Completed ArriveCAN App:

Whether you're flying or crossing at the land border, you'll have to fill out the ArriveCAN App. If you don't have a smartphone, you can fill it out online right here.

In the ArriveCAN App, you'll be asked to upload your:

contact information

travel details

vaccination information

After April 1, you'll still need to fill out the ArriveCAN app -- but if you're fully vaccinated, you won't need the negative COVID-19 test.

When you enter Canada, you still have to have a quarantine plan ready to go -- regardless of your vaccination status. If you're vaccinated you still need a plan in case you test positive after your trip.

Here are the current quarantine rules.

You'll need to enter your quarantine plan into the ArriveCAN app, and could be asked to explain it at the border.

Why do I need a quarantine plan?

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers have to quarantine for 14 days

Fully vaccinated travellers probably won't need to use their quarantine plan, but they might still have to undergo random testing when they arrive in Canada. While they don’t have to quarantine while awaiting their results, if the results are positive, they can expect to have to isolate.

If you're not sure whether your quarantine plan is good enough, the government has a tool where you can test your quarantine plan here. If you can't quarantine at home or at your final destination, you'll have to make alternate arrangements -- like staying with family or friends, or at a hotel, a campground or an RV rental.

The government won't reimburse you for the cost of accommodations, though, so make sure you have a plan.

If you don't have a good enough place to quarantine, you might be directed to a federal designated quarantine facility, but the government says they'll work with you to confirm that "all other options for quarantine accommodations" have been exhausted first.

If you follow these steps, you should get into Canada without issue -- but always check the provincial requirements, too, just to be sure.

Canada imposed strict vaccination rules for domestic travel on Oct. 30, 2021, and they haven't changed yet. Alghabra reiterated these rules again on Thursday, giving no indication of whether the government plans to drop them anytime soon.

These federal rules apply if you're hopping on a train, a plane, or a cruise ship.

Requirements for travelling within Canada:

If you’re 12 or older, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated in order to board domestic flights, VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and cruise ships.

Many cruise lines also require vaccination for kids aged five and up.

Unvaccinated kids aged 12 years and under don't need need a COVID-19 test result to travel within Canada.

If you're unvaccinated and over the age of 12, you'll have to present a valid vaccination exception and a negative COVID-19 test to board a plane, train or cruise ship. A negative test alone doesn't cut it if you're over 12 and unvaccinated.

All passengers travelling by air or rail within Canada will have to wear a mask, aside from when they're eating, taking medication, or if they have a valid exemption.

Excepted travel:

Medevac flights are excluded from vaccine requirements, regardless of where they depart or land

Private flights are also excluded -- as long as they don't require access to airports with a vaccination rules

As of April 1, cruise ship passengers will still need to provide a negative antigen taken within 24 hours before the scheduled boarding time, but will no longer need to be tested again to get off the ship.

Canada tightened the rules for cruise ships on March 7, bringing about a much stricter regime for those hoping to vacation on the open water.

The government cited the "very high" chance of being infected with COVID-19 on a cruise ship -- even if you're fully vaccinated -- as the justification for the strict rules.

Here are the current rules for cruise ships:

If you're 12 and up, you must be fully vaccinated to board a cruise ship. Many cruise lines also require vaccination for kids aged five and up.

Before boarding a cruise ship, on top of being fully vaccinated, you'll have to take a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of boarding, or an antigen test taken within the last 24 hours.

You must self-monitor for symptoms while on board and for 14 days afterwards

The rules for leaving Canada change as often as other countries want to tweak them. Canada's federal government won't stop you if you want to leave the country -- but other governments might not let you in.

You can check travel advisories and confirm entry requirements for countries around the world right here.

 

 

Canada, Ontario commit
millions for Honda plant
upgrades to manufacture
hybrid cars

March 17, 2022
The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford were in Alliston, Ont., on Wednesday to formally announce the $131.6 million each government has committed to spend on upgrades at a Honda manufacturing plant that will eventually build the 2023 CR-V and CR-V Hybrid vehicles.

Both leaders said the plan would help ensure good local auto sector jobs into the future.

"These investments will ensure Honda Canada builds its next generation models like hybrids right here in Ontario to be sold right across North America," Ford said. 

"This means the cars of the future will be built right here by Ontario workers using Ontario resources."

Honda said the retooling project would cost $1.4 billion over six years.

Trudeau said projects like Honda's will help Canada make a sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That means understanding where the world is going and celebrating the fact that Honda sees that and sees Canada and Canadians as essential partners in moving forward that way," he said.

Ford has said he wants to ramp up electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturing in Ontario. Last year his government announced a 10-year plan to make more batteries, vehicles and parts in the province, train more auto workers and eventually mine for minerals in northern Ontario. 

But Ford's Progressive Conservatives have not committed to offering incentives like rebates for buyers, after cancelling a rebate of up to $14,000 for electric vehicle buyers brought in by the former Liberal government, which Ford at the time called a support for rich people. 

Electric vehicle sales plummeted when Ford scrapped the rebate in 2018. 

When asked Wednesday if he would bring back the rebate, Ford didn't directly answer though he suggested his policy move had boosted sales.

"Since we've been in office, electric vehicles have tripled in sales, so I guess that was a good decision," he claimed, pointing to his government's plans to support vehicle production in other ways. "We're putting money back into electric vehicles."

The Progressive Conservatives also stopped building electric vehicle charging stations after forming government. On Wednesday Ford said the province is building road infrastructure and would keep adding charging infrastructure "as the market demands it." 

Trudeau also did not directly comment when asked whether Ontario should bring back the rebate, instead saying the federal government was happy to work with the province on the Honda announcement.

"We're going to continue to make sure that automakers invest in the jobs of the future and in the cars of the future across the country," he said.

Provincial opposition politicians, gearing up for an early June election, pledged on Wednesday to bring back buyer rebates. 

The Ontario Liberals promised Wednesday to give families rebates up to $8,000 for buying or leasing a zero emissions vehicle and $1,500 for purchasing charging equipment. The party said an elected Liberal government would make charging stations more widely available in apartment buildings, parking lots, city streets and transit stations through a 30 per cent subsidy for charging infrastructure.

The provincial Greens said they would offer cash incentives up to $10,000 for buyers of electric vehicles, introduce low-cost financing for the cars and promised to expand charging infrastructure.

The party said it was "relieved" to see Ford investing in electric vehicles after past cuts, but leader Mike Schreiner said incentives are needed to help people make the transition. 

"We need to get big oil out of our pocketbooks and make life more affordable by helping people switch to electric and avoid sky high prices at the pumps," Schreiner said in a written statement. 

"Without a real plan to make EVs more affordable and accessible, driving electric will remain out of reach for far too many Ontario families."

 

Retired union leader Jerry Dias
under investigation by Unifor

CHRIS YOUNG
THE CANADIAN PRESS
March 15, 2022

Former union leader Jerry Dias, who abruptly announced his resignation on Sunday citing health issues, is being investigated by Unifor for an alleged breach of the union’s constitution, according to a statement issued by the union Monday.

On Jan. 26, Lana Payne, the union’s national secretary-treasurer, received a written complaint about Mr. Dias, the statement said.

Upon reviewing the complaint, Ms. Payne initiated an independent external investigation. Mr. Dias was notified about the investigation on Jan. 29. The union declined to divulge specifics about the complaint citing confidentiality clauses under Unifor’s Constitution. The statement also said that the union will not publicly comment on the matter prior to the receipt of the investigative report, which is expected in the “near future.”

Mr. Dias went on medical leave on Feb. 6, and on March 11, informed the union’s National Executive Board that he would retire effective immediately. On Sunday, the union made public that Mr. Dias would retire after eight years and three successive terms as national president of the union. Sunday’s statement however, did not mention the investigation into Mr. Dias.

But an email sent by Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, to Ms. Payne, and other members of the national executive team on Feb. 27, obtained by the Globe, suggested that an outside legal firm had been retained by Unifor to investigate Mr. Dias and called for the union’s leadership to be “transparent and truthful” about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Dias’ medical leave.

“Different versions of Brother Dias’s leave have been circulated and I believe this cloud of secrecy must be clarified by the officers,” the email reads. “While I completely support medical privacy, I am at a loss to explain or defend what is happening in the administration of our national union… If in fact his absence is medical, then why has an active investigation been initiated by the officers and why has an outside legal firm been retained?” states the email.

Mr. Cassidy, who announced his intention last month to run for the union’s top job, demanded in the email that the union’s leadership disclose the nature of the investigation into Mr. Dias and whether there was any “criminal or legal liability to the national union” associated with it.

Meanwhile, an internal email sent by Mr. Dias to Unifor staff last Friday, March 11 — also obtained by The Globe — stated that he decided to complete his term as national president because of a chronic nerve-related condition that made it difficult for him to focus on daily tasks. In the email, Mr. Dias wrote that he has been suffering from a “debilitating sciatic nerve issue” since December, and was awaiting direction from a neurosurgeon about the health issue.

“Frankly, with the pain killer, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication, it was difficult to concentrate on my many daily challenges,” he wrote. He added in the email that he is also dealing with heart issues and was evaluating next steps with his cardiologist. “Recently, it has gotten to the point that it can no longer be ignored. I have spent more time in hospitals and have received more tests than I can ever recall.” Mr. Dias’ email to staff, thanked union members and staff for an “incredible journey” building an “incredible organization”, but did not mention the internal investigation.

Mr. Dias did not respond to multiple requests from the Globe for comment.

The former union leader had previously said that he would only retire in August after the union’s constitutional convention in Toronto where a new leader would be elected. But in the email to staff, Mr. Dias said it made “no sense” to have an active election campaign for the next five months given his health situation.

The union constitution requires that a special convention be called to elect a new president within 30 days in the event of a sudden vacancy by the president or secretary-treasurer. But if that vacancy occurs within 120 days of the convention, the constitution dictates that the secretary-treasurer, in this case Ms. Payne assumes duties of the president until the election at the convention.

In a Facebook post, Sid Ryan, the former president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and a prominent labour leader in Canada criticized Unifor’s decision to call for a special convention, saying that the cost of holding such an event would be significant, given that the union would still hold its August convention.

“If Dias had delayed his retirement by 3 weeks there would be no need to hold an emergency convention… it begs the question why would Dias trigger this clause and the huge expense involved when he is already on sick leave and receiving his salary?”, he wrote on Facebook.

Besides Unifor Local 444′s Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Dias’s executive assistant Scott Doherty is contending for the union’s top job and has in fact already been endorsed by much of the union’s national leadership team.

Mr. Dias, now 64-years-old, was elected as national president of Unifor in 2013 following the merger between the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CUPE). It is Canada’s largest private-sector union, representing 315,000 workers across multiple sectors, including media. Employees at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star are represented by Unifor.

A longtime advocate of auto workers, the former union leader played a critical role in getting General Motors to reverse its decision on shuttering a production plant in Oshawa, Ont. and was a constant presence in NAFTA trade talks. Last December, Ontario premier Doug Ford tapped Mr. Dias to head the province’s Council on U.S. Trade and Industry Competitiveness, a task force set up to navigate American protectionist measures towards the auto industry and its impact on Canadian jobs.

But Mr. Dias has also been criticized by some on the left for publicly siding with Doug Ford on a number of issues, including standing alongside him during an announcement last November that Ontario would raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour. Ontario’s conservative government had frozen wage increases when they took office in 2018.

“I’m proud of the re-opening of the GM plant in Oshawa and the opportunity it creates for young people. I’m proud that 50% of all new hires are women. I’m proud of the incredible work we did with the renegotiation of the new NAFTA,” he wrote in his resignation email to staff. “The union has been my whole life, born and bred. That’s why this is so difficult.”

 

 

Status of Unifor National
President Jerry Dias

March 15, 2022

We write today to inform you that Jerry Dias has retired his position of Unifor National President effective immediately.

As you know, Jerry Dias has been on medical leave from his position since February 6, 2022. On March 11, he notified Unifor’s National Executive Board of his immediate retirement, stating that he continues to deal with ongoing health issues.

Like all of you, we are all wishing him well and thank him for his numerous and impactful contributions to working people over many years, from his days representing aerospace workers on the shop floor to National President of Canada’s largest private sector union.

The National Executive Board will meet on March 21 to determine next steps and discuss the Constitutional requirements around the vacancy. An update will be provided following the NEB meeting. Meanwhile, the important work of the union continues. 

In Solidarity,

Lana Payne
National Secretary-Treasurer

 

Stellantis CEO: Ford's EV, legacy
restructuring is 'HR challenge'

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

March 10, 2022

Stellantis NV CEO Carlos Tavares says Ford Motor Co.'s restructuring to separate the company's legacy business from its electric-vehicle operations is a way to impress investors — not consumers who should be the priority.

Ford Motor Co. this week said it's creating two "distinct, but strategically interdependent" businesses: Ford Blue, home of the legacy business whose profits and industrial know-how will underpin the entire enterprise, and Ford Model e, which will field software, electrical and automotive talent to lead innovation and growth initiatives Ford executives see as key to competing in the automotive industry's electric and digital transformation. 

But such a strategy poses an ethical conundrum, Tavares said on Friday during a virtual roundtable with U.S. reporters, as internal combustion engine vehicles right now are funding investments to make EVs.

"If you make this kind of breakdown from an ethical HR management," he said, "you have to explain to people who are working in the old world what is going to be their future. Their work is funding electrification, and you are clearly breaking down on two paths: one path that's going to grow, hopefully profitably, and another path that is going to decrease and eventually disappear one day.

"So, from that perspective, I think that the management of this kind of breakdown is creating an HR challenge. I trust my teammates at Ford will be able to fix it. But I think it's the question that we should be raising."

Tavares says he understands the appeal of the decision to offer investors transparency into the journey toward EVs and get valuations closer to pure EV players like Tesla Inc. Ford Motor Co.'s shares jumped following the news on Wednesday of the reorganizing and closed Friday at $16.85., down 4.26% for the day.

"Overall, it's a nice play, but I think it's not the important play for the consumers," Tavares said, adding that is Stellantis' priority.

But Ford CEO Jim Farley on Wednesday said the changes are about the products and experiences the Dearborn automaker will offer customers — and the legacy business is holding the Blue Oval back from bringing them to market.

"This change is not about financial management of the company," Farley said. "This is about focus, capabilities, better products, better experiences. It’s how we’re going to win as a company.”

What is important for consumers, Tavares said, is safe, clean and affordable mobility — a goal challenged today amid a global semiconductor shortage, inflation in raw materials like steel that he says need more competition, and a war in Ukraine that is increasing fuel prices, further distressing supply chains and causing some automakers like Volkswagen AG and BMW to halt production.

Stellantis' supply lines are more centered in northern Africa than eastern Europe, he said, so the automaker has seen limited disruptions so far following Russia's invasion into Ukraine last week.

"I know that with a longer pipe, we can discover things a few days, if not a few weeks later, that's why I'm going to be cautious here," Tavares said. "But I'm keeping my eyes open. So far, it's OK, but I see that my peers actually shut down their plants, which means that possibly their pipe was shorter than mine."

Stellantis also anticipates halting business in Russia, including at its commercial van plant with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in Kaluga outside Moscow, though when will be determined by the sanctions affecting the ability to get components, Tavares said. The automaker had begun exporting vehicles to elsewhere in Europe last month and had plans to add assembly of transmissions and the Fiat Scudo there before the end of the year. Its whole operations in the country could be in jeopardy, he said.

"We cannot invest more, and we shouldn't invest more right now," Tavares said. "What we have to do is to make sure that we support the people, the employees, whatever the business consequences, that's exactly what we have already decided. ... The business is not counting. The conditions under which we will come back or not come back, it's not counting."

What the automaker is counting elsewhere is the additional 40% to 50% costs EVs represent over their gas- and diesel-powered counterparts. Stellantis is taking measures to cut spending to absorb the increases and avoid pricing out consumers. One area of focus is the cost of delivering vehicles to consumers, which represents 30% of the cost of an automobile, Tavares said.

Automakers like Tesla that sell directly to customers have a cost structure advantage, because they don't work with independent dealers, but also frequently have to challenge franchise laws. Tavares says Stellantis is looking at more of a direct sales model to decrease costs associated with dealers and make the buying process less of a hassle for customers.

"There is a different distribution model that is being discussed where we have retailers, and we hand over the car to the final customer in what we would call the direct sales approach," Tavares said. "And we would have the retailers supporting the handover, supporting the paperwork, taking care of the maintenance."

The automaker is focused on these efforts in Europe as it eliminates overlapping retail footprints from the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French rival Groupe PSA that created Stellantis last year, but the changes could come to the United States, too, he said.

"We'll make sure that it's a win-win," Tavares said. "We'll see with our dealer partners in the U.S. how they want to address this and if they want to address it."

 

Ford Mustang Mach-E Sales
Down Significantly In
February 2022

 Mark Kane
March 9, 2022 

The volume dropped by almost half year-over-year. What is happening?

Ford brand reports 123,350 vehicle sales in February in the US (down 20.9% year-over-year). The year-to-date number is 261,141 (also down, by 10.5%).

In this background, the company reports electrified vehicle - xEVs (BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs) sales at 8,984 (Ford and Lincoln brands), which is down 3.1% year-over-year. That's over 6.9% of the total volume of the group.

"Ford sales of electrified vehicles increased 55.3 percent through February, providing a record start to Ford’s electrified vehicles. Growing at a faster rate than the overall segment, Ford’s electrified vehicle conquest rates climbed to 54 percent 13 percentage points higher than year ago."

Now let's move to the electric vehicle sales, which are our main point of interest.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E sales in February amounted to 2,001, which is surprisingly 46.5% less than in February 2021.

We hoped that the Mach-E would improve as the demand is high, but the company is clearly struggling on the production side. We heard that in February production was halted due to a lack of semiconductors, which means that the situation will not likely improve significantly in the near future.

Nonetheless, the Ford Mustang Mach-E was responsible for 1.6% of the total Ford sales volume in the US.

The gross stock of Mach-E in the U.S. is at about 3,500 (at dealerships and in transport, we assume), compared to 4,700 in December.

Unfortunately, Ford does not report sales of other plug-in models, like the Ford Escape PHEVLincoln's PHEV sales were not revealed either.

What we do know is that Ford started sales of the first Ford E-Transit vans in February. More than 10,000 were ordered in the US.

Ford Mustang Mach-E production - February 2022

Production of the Ford Mustang Mach-E in Mexico amounted to 4,755, which is below average the of 2021, but at least 24% more than in February 2021 - against all supply constraints.

The cumulative production of the Ford Mustang Mach-E in Mexico exceeded 81,000. We assume that most (at least about half) of the cars were sent to Europe.

The numbers do not include a very small number of the first Mach-E locally produced and sold in China.

Later this year, Ford will launch its third all-electric model, the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup.

 

Biden's call to 'lower the cost
of electric vehicles' brings sigh
of relief from Canada

The Canadian Press
March 7, 2022

WASHINGTON — Despite the protectionist drumbeat that provided the rhythm of Joe Biden's first state of the union speech, it was what the U.S. president didn't say Tuesday about electric vehicles that has some in Canada breathing a little more easily. 

Make no mistake, the "made in America" mantra — a calling card for the commander-in-chief that has been sending chills up Canadian spines ever since he moved into the White House last January — was a fixture of the hour-long speech. 

"One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation — lower your costs, not your wages," Biden said, an appeal to moderate Democrats who fear the risk of higher prices from government spending.

"Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America ... And instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America." 

But the political language seemed to give way to pragmatism when Biden briefly reprised the idea of using tax credits to get Americans to buy more EVs, a strategy whose original form placed the richest incentives on vehicles assembled in the U.S. with union labour. 

"Let's provide investments and tax credits to ... lower the price of electric vehicles, saving you another $80 a month because you'll never have to pay at the gas pump again."

Foreign automakers, as well as non-unionized U.S. EV giant Tesla, were harsh critics of Biden's original plan, one small component of an ill-fated $2-trillion suite of social spending and climate programs known as the Build Back Better bill. 

So too were moderate Democrat lawmakers like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, whose state is a major manufacturing sector for Toyota, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, a southern border state with expansive ambitions in the EV sector.

But the proposal triggered the deepest tremors in Canada, where stakeholders, economists and the federal Liberal government all framed Biden's proposal as an existential threat to the auto sector north of the border. 

Talk of the scheme dominated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's agenda last November, when he sat down with Biden to discuss Canada's concerns during a visit to the White House as part of the North American Leaders' Summit.

Manchin — a vital Democratic vote in the 50-50 Senate — effectively killed Build Back Better just before Christmas, publicly declaring he would vote against it for fear that it would exacerbate already-soaring inflation in the U.S.   

Critics of the EV tax credits refused to declare victory, however, knowing the proposal was far from dead. Many maintained that posture Wednesday, acknowledging Biden's framing as a step in the right direction, albeit a small one.  

Biden's language may signal plans to revisit the original proposal, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, who has been back and forth to D.C. for months as part of Canada's ongoing lobbying efforts. 

"Will the potential reset be an opportunity for President Biden to accede to Justin Trudeau’s requests to include Canada? Here’s his chance," Volpe said. 

But if there's any reason to be truly optimistic, he added, it's because the international crisis triggered by Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has helped drive home the value for the U.S. of working with international partners.

"I'm less pessimistic," Volpe said, "because harder world events are showing U.S. lawmakers that they have bigger problems that will require more thoughtful investment approaches with geopolitical allies."  

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, speaking before Wednesday's weekly caucus meeting, reacted to Biden's Buy American language by striking a similar tone — a signal, perhaps, of how serious global challenges could be informing a pragmatic new approach to Canada-U.S. relations. 

"Canada is a beacon of stability, predictability and the rule of law, and I would say, if you look at world events, it's in short supply and high demand," Champagne said.

Federal officials have been working hard for months to remind the U.S. that Canada is and remains a trusted and reliable ally, he added — a message that has fresh resonance in the context of the current geopolitical landscape.

"That's really the mood around the world now, how we do that with a trusted partner," Champagne said. 

"Yes, I listened to the president. But on the other hand, I would say to everyone watching that Canada certainly needs to be part of the equation, and I would certainly say that to our U.S. friends."

 

Ford sales down 21% year-
over-year in February

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
March 3. 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s sales last month dropped 21% year over year, the automaker reported Wednesday. 

The Dearborn automaker's dealers sold 129,273 vehicles last month with Ford brand sales down 21% in the month and Lincoln down 23%. Retail sales were down 15% as Ford and other automakers still work through low inventory issues as a result of supply chain struggles coupled with high demand. 

Ford noted it received more than 72,000 new vehicle orders for February for a 54,000 increase over last year.

"Our newest products are turning on dealer lots at record rates," said Andrew Frick, vice president of Ford Sales U.S. and Canada, in a statement. "More than 33% of our retail sales are coming from previously placed orders and leaving dealerships directly upon arrival. Our new products are conquesting from competitors at a rate that is 26 percentage points higher than Ford overall, including Maverick, Mustang Mach-E, Bronco and Bronco Sport.” 

Sales of Ford's electrified vehicles, which include hybrids, were up 55% through February, the automaker said.

The electric Mustang Mach-E saw a 46.5% drop in sales year-over-year last month, but for the year so far its sales are up 10% with 4,371 total sales in January and February. 

Ford Pro recorded the first sales of the E-Transit electric van, but the automaker didn't specify how many. Ford has more than 10,000 orders for E-Transit.

For the year so far: F-150 Hybrid has 5,657 sales, the Maverick Hybrid has 5,431 and Escape Hybrid and plug-in hybrid have 5,457 sales.

On the internal combustion side of the business, Ford F-Series sales dropped 30% in February and are down 20% for the year. 

Ford SUV retail sales are up 5.3% in the first two months of the year. Retail sales are up 131% over last year for the Bronco Sport and Bronco family, Ford said. 

On the Lincoln side, sales of Aviator increased 14% in February while sales of the new Nautilus were down 4% over last February, though Ford said they were up 10% over January. The new Navigator will arrive at dealerships soon.

With demand high and supply still limited, average transaction prices at Ford were up about $4,100 over last year at $48,000 per vehicle. 

 

Ford suspends joint-venture
operation in Russia

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
March 2, 2022

Ford Motor Co. has suspended its Russian joint venture operation amid the country's continued invasion of Ukraine, the Dearborn automaker said Tuesday. 

"As part of the global community, Ford is deeply concerned about the invasion of Ukraine and the resultant threats to peace and stability," the company said in a statement. "The situation has compelled us to reassess our operations in Russia."

Ford is among several automakers, including rival General Motors Co., that have decided to halt sales and operations in Russia in the last few days as that country presses its military offensive in Ukraine territory and leaders in Western countries issue more Russian sanctions. 

Ford in recent years "has significantly wound down its Russian operations," the company said.

Today, Ford's operations in Russia are commercial van manufacturing and sales through a minority interest in the Sollers Ford joint venture in Khimki, about 12 miles from Moscow.

"Given the situation, we have today informed our JV partners that we are suspending our operations in Russia, effective immediately, until further notice," Ford said. 

The company added that it has "a strong contingent of Ukrainian nationals working at Ford around the world and we will continue to support them through this time."

GM, which does not produce vehicles in Russia, said Monday it had halted exports to the country until further notice. GM exports the U.S.-made Cadillac XT4, XT5, XT6 and Escalade, Chevrolet Traverse and Tahoe, and South Korea-made Chevrolet Trailblazer to Russia. GM's total annual sales in Russia are about 3,000 vehicles. By comparison, GM sold 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S. last year.

GM largely exited Russia in 2015. It sold off its portion of a joint venture there in 2019

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars said on Monday it was suspending car shipments to the Russian market until further notice, Reuters reported. Swedish truck maker AB Volvo also stopped production and sales in Russia due to the Ukraine situation. And German truck maker Daimler Truck is freezing business activities in Russia, Reuters also reported. 

Harley-Davidson Inc. and Jaguar Land Rover have also halted shipments to Russia in recent days.

Volkswagen, too, has temporarily suspended deliveries of cars already in Russia to local dealerships, the RIA news agency reported. 

Parts shortages have also started affecting auto production. On Tuesday, BMW joined Volkswagen in warning of production outages because of Russia's war in Ukraine is disrupting car-parts supplies from the country. 

VW said it will idle some production lines at its facility in Wolfsburg, Germany — the world's largest car plant — next week before a broader shutdown the following week. BMW said in a separate statement it expects temporary shutdowns because of parts shortages, and announced it will suspend vehicle exports as well as local assembly in Russia because of the invasion.

European production is more vulnerable to the parts shortages, experts say, but that doesn't mean North American production will not be affected if the situation continues. Nornickel in Russia is the world's largest supplier of palladium, which automakers use for catalytic converters. 

The Ford Fund is making a $100,000 donation to the Global Giving Ukraine Relief Fund for humanitarian aid to Ukrainian citizens. 

Jeep and Peugeot parent Stellantis NV said Tuesday it will start a fund to support Ukrainian refugees following Russia's invasion of the eastern European nation.

 

Ford cuts some F-150
production next week
due to lingering
chip shortage

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 28, 2022

Ford Motor Co. confirmed Friday it will take down F-150 pickup truck production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri next week, a reflection of the global semiconductor chip shortage's lingering impact on automotive manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the Dearborn automaker's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville — which builds Super Duty trucks, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator — will operate on one shift next week, according to the company.

Production of the F-150 — a key profit driver for Ford — will continue at Dearborn Truck Plant. Production of the Transit cargo van at the Kansas City plant also will continue next week.

Consulting firm AlixPartners reported earlier this week that the industry lost 8.2 million units of vehicle production last year due to the semiconductor shortage and other supply-chain and labor constraints. The firm expects output to be 8% higher than 2021's results.

Ford executives said earlier this month that they expect the automaker's global volumes to increase between 10% and 15% this year as the shortage eases. They expect supply-chain issues to persist, particularly through the first quarter, but to improve throughout the year, especially in the second half.

 

 

Ford parks hundreds of chip-
less new Broncos in snowy lot

A parking lot full of new Ford Broncos missing their semiconductors PHOTO BY VIA KENSTEVENS5150 ON YOUTUBE

A lack of semiconductors is leading the fresh-off-the-line SUVs to languish behind the plant in Michigan

Jay Kana
Feb 25, 2022  

Ford’s popular all-new Bronco SUV has thousands of customers waiting to get behind its wheel, but hundreds of examples of this horse won’t budge, at least not until the Blue Oval receives a large shipment of semiconductors to finish the job.

In a video uploaded to YouTube by user KenStevens5150, rows upon rows upon rows of brand-new Broncos can be seen sitting idle at Ford’s Michigan assembly plant in a lot dubbed “Dirt Mountain” by Bronco-enthusiast forum users. With winter here, that nickname’s aptly been changed to “Ice Mountain.”

Several Bronco customers have had their delivery dates pushed back by months, reports an Automotive News article,
including Jason Wallace of Birmingham, Alabama, who ordered his Bronco in June 2021. It was built on February 1, 2022,  and is one of thousands waiting for that final piece, a semiconductor, before being delivered.

Michigan sees some of the most severe winter conditions in North America, and having a sea of new vehicles sitting idle and exposed to the elements is causing some future owners a little concern.

Tyler Schanzmeyer of Boonville, Missouri says of his yet-to-be-delivered 2021 Badlands trim Bronco, “I am concerned about my vehicle sitting out in the elements… its value is depreciating even before I take delivery.”

For as bad as the global chip shortage is, Ford seems to have made the best of it by continuing to build vehicles so that once the chips come in, it’ll be a relatively quick job to install and deliver them.

 

 

Here's how inflation works
and what can be done
about rising prices

The Bank of Canada is responsible for keeping inflation under control

Nojoud Al Mallees
CBC News
Feb 24, 2022

High inflation is squeezing Canadians' budgets, leaving many worried about their ability to afford necessities like food and housing. (CBC News)

Everything seems to be getting more expensive. Food, gas and housing prices are on the rise while paycheques are slow to keep pace. The CBC News series Priced Out explains why you're paying more at the register and how Canadians are coping with the high cost of everything.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on, so has high inflation, both in Canada and in other parts of the world. 

Recent Statistics Canada data shows inflation hovering around five per cent, well above the two per cent target rate that experts think is the sweet spot.  

With the price of everything on the rise, Canadians are increasingly concerned about their bills creeping higher each month, and businesses are gauging where their costs are heading in the months to come.

To help make sense of it all, here's a brief explanation of how inflation works and what can be done to rein in the rising cost of living.  

What is inflation? 

Inflation is when prices for goods and services rise and purchasing power falls.

When inflation goes up, people and businesses have to spend more money to buy the same amount of goods and services.

Put simply, everything becomes more expensive. 

It's important to note that the term "inflation" is reserved for instances where a rise in prices is a sustained trend rather than a fluctuation. 

"If it's going up month by month, we say we've got inflation," said David Laidler, professor emeritus of economics at Western University. 

Some inflation is always expected in the economy, and the Bank of Canada aims to keep it at around two per cent. When the inflation rate deviates from this target or becomes unpredictable, that's when worry sets in for policymakers. 

How is inflation calculated? 

To measure the rate of inflation, economists in Canada use the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI looks at a "basket" of goods and services that roughly represents what the average consumer purchases. Statistics Canada updates what this basket contains every two years so the measure continues to reflect how Canadians are spending their money. 

Economists will compare the cost of this basket last month with the same month a year earlier. The difference between the two is commonly known as the inflation rate.

Let's say the average household spent $100 on chocolate, sweaters, and notebooks one month and spent $110 a year later on the same goods. In this case, we'd say the inflation rate is 10 per cent. 

What causes inflation? 

Prices rise when demand in the economy outpaces supply. 

There are many theories about how this can occur, but fundamentally, something would have to trigger a disruption to supply or a boost in demand in the economy. 

Supply chain issues, such as what has been experienced throughout the pandemic, can lead to prices rising. 

In the case of the pandemic, demand for goods and services rebounded faster than supply, said Dozie Okoye, an associate economics professor at Dalhousie University. As businesses tried to catch up amid a labour shortage and logistical problems, costs rose. 

"Some businesses can absorb those costs. Some businesses aren't able to do so. They responded by increasing prices," said Okoye. 

Inflation can also rise when people and businesses have access to more money. Lower interest rates and higher government spending can both increase the money available to people. 

When people and businesses have more money in their pockets or can borrow at a cheap rate, they're more likely to spend. Low interest rates during the pandemic, for example, encouraged more people to buy homes and take advantage of low mortgage rates. 

How does inflation affect people and businesses? 

Inflation can eat away at people's budgets, especially without a pay raise.  

"If employees are in a situation where they can negotiate their wages, you'd expect wages to at least keep up with inflation," said Okoye. "If your wage remains constant and prices increase five per cent, then it's as if you're being paid less." 

Cost of Living9:45Thinking of asking for a raise? You should.

Canada is starting to get glimpse stronger wage gains, as the labour shortage puts pressures on employers. But inflation is also pushing employees to ask for more money. Paul Haavardsrud examines what wage inflation means for all of us. 9:45

However, what economists particularly worry about is unexpected inflation, which throws off future financial planning. 

"You look at the environment around you and you make a plan over the next four or five years. You buy a house, you take out a mortgage," said Laidler. "Implicit in your decision making is an expectation of what the price level is going to be."

Without a stable inflation rate, planning future investments and purchases becomes difficult for both people and businesses. 

"Once you expect to see one or two per cent, it's built into contracts. It's built into prices," said Okoye. 

What can be done to combat inflation? 

Controlling inflation is the responsibility of a country's central bank — the institution responsible for managing money supply. In Canada, the Bank of Canada is legally mandated to "promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada." 

This includes maintaining low, stable and predictable inflation. 

The Bank of Canada has two tools at its disposal to maintain its target inflation rate. 

During an economic downturn, the bank can buy government bonds and other financial assets to drive up the price of these assets and thereby lowering the interest rate bondholders receive. This tool is called quantitative easing. 

Lowering this interest rate influences other interest rates that impact consumers and businesses, making it cheaper to borrow and spend. When the economy is on track and inflation reaches its target, the bank sells off the bonds. 

"What they want to try to achieve is to get money flowing through the system through investment or consumption," said Okoye.

The second tactic is changing the interest rate the bank charges commercial banks, called the target overnight rate. The bank can lower interest rates to boost spending. As the economy rebounds, the bank will raise interest rates again to avoid excessive inflation. 

For consumers, a rise in interest rates can have an impact on finances. 

"Mortgage rates start going up. If you've got balances leftover on your credit card, the interest rates on that go up," said Laidler. "Depending on what the state of your household is [and] what plans you have made … these interest rate increases have consequences for you."

Okoye says the silver lining is that the Bank of Canada has a reputation of doing what it is expected to do. 

In January, the Bank of Canada decided to maintain the interest rate, but its governor Tiff Macklem warned that "everybody should expect interest rates to be on a rising path."

However, Laidler says that after underestimating how long inflation would stick around, the Bank of Canada has an important task ahead as it looks to slow it down.

"Now, really one of its major tasks, is to reestablish its credibility."

 

Ford recalls 330,000 Mustangs
to fix rear camera problem

Associated Press
Feb 23, 2022

Detroit — Ford is recalling more than 330,000 Mustangs in the U.S. to fix backup camera displays that go blank or become distorted.

The recall covers cars from the 2015 to 2017 model years.

Documents posted Wednesday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say the rear view camera wiring can become loose or damaged, causing the problem.

Ford said in documents that it knows of two minor crashes and no injuries due to the problem.

Dealers will repair the deck lid wiring harness possibly replace the camera. Notices will be mailed to owners starting March 7. They'll get another letter when parts are ready.

 

 

Canadian autoworker union
leader taking time off for
'health issues'

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Feb 22, 2022

Jerry Dias, the union president representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, is taking time off for his health, according to social media posts he made last Wednesday and a memo sent to union local presidents. 

The Unifor president has been on leave for health issues since Feb. 6, according to the memo sent last week by Lana Payne, Unifor's national secretary-treasurer.

Dias has been president of Canada's largest private sector union since 2013, when he was first elected. He was re-elected in 2016 and 2019, according to the union's website. Unifor represents more than 315,000 workers across several sectors including the auto industry. The union represents workers at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV plants in Canada.

"Jerry did not make the decision to take this leave easily, and we hope that you will respect his privacy," Payne wrote. "We are all wishing him well. While on leave, Jerry will not be carrying out the responsibilities of the Office of President."

Payne and other union leaders will work together "to ensure the important work of our union carries on, in accordance with Unifor’s constitution."

Dias wrote Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter: "Hello Unifor family. My page will be a little quiet for a while. I am taking some time off to deal with some health issues. I have every confidence the Unifor leadership team and staff will continue the important work of the union in my absence."

In 2018, Dias led a campaign to save the GM Oshawa plant, which was slated for closure. After further Unifor negotiations, GM has since restarted truck production at the plant with a $1.3 billion investment. In 2020 negotiations with the Detroit Three, Dias secured a total investment of nearly $6 billion for auto facilities across Canada, according to the union.

Dias could not be reached for comment late Thursday. 

He has stated publicly that he intends to retire when his third term ends at the Unifor convention this August. 

 

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E
beats Tesla’s Model 3 as
Consumer Reports’ top
electric vehicle for 2022

FEB 18, 2022
Phil LeBeau

KEY POINTS

  • The designation is further validation of Ford CEO Jim Farley’s belief the company can not only compete with Tesla but also beat Elon Musk when it comes to EVs.
  • Consumer Reports says reliability data it has collected shows the Mach-E has very few problems, so far. 
  • That data, along with owner reviews and testing conducted by the nonprofit group, prompted Consumer Reports to make the Mach-E its “Top Pick” for an electric vehicle.

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, the automaker’s bold bet to lead its transformation into selling more electric vehicles, replaced the Tesla Model 3 as Consumer Reports’ “Top Pick” for an electric vehicle in 2022.  

The designation is further validation of CEO Jim Farley’s belief Ford can not only compete with Tesla but also beat Elon Musk when it comes to EVs.

Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, says he was impressed with the Mach-E as soon as the nonprofit group bought it. “Not only is it a really fun vehicle to drive, it is sporty, but it is also extremely mature,” Fisher told CNBC. “When I say that it rides nice, it is very quiet. I mean it really feels well built.”

Consumer Reports says reliability data it has collected shows the Mach-E has very few problems, so far.  That data, along with owner reviews and testing conducted by Consumer Reports, prompted it to make the Mach-E its 2022 “Top Pick” for an electric vehicle, replacing the Tesla Model 3.

Consumer Reports is still recommending the Model 3, but Fisher says the small electric car fails to match the Mach-E in certain areas, most notably when it comes to hands-free driving and alerting drivers who fail to pay attention. Ford’s BlueCruise system uses a camera to monitor and alert drivers when they are not paying attention. The Model 3 also has a camera watching the driver, but Consumer Reports says that camera could be more effective.

“In our tests we can cover up the camera, we could not look at the road and it really doesn’t give any alerts to the driver to make sure they are looking where they are going,” says Fisher.

Overall, Tesla fell seven spots to 23rd place in Consumer Reports ranking of 32 major auto brands. It’s the poorest showing in the seven years Tesla has been included in the “Top Picks” issue.

In addition to concerns about Tesla’s Autopilot system, Consumer Reports is critical of the automaker’s steering yoke, a change from the steering wheel in the Model S and Model X. Fisher says using the yoke is frustrating. “It is not just about making it harder to turn the wheel, but they also got rid of the turn signal stalk,” he said.

Fisher added that the quality of the “Top Picks” for 2022 are better than ever, with the brands once again dominated by Japanese automakers. Subaru was rated No. 1, followed by Mazda, BMW, Honda and Lexus. At the bottom of the list this year are Mitsubishi and GMC, just above Jeep which was the lowest-rated brand.

 

Brampton, Ont. seniors to
ride city transit for free
beginning Feb. 28

Hannah Jackson  
Feb 16, 2022

Seniors in Brampton, Ont., will be able to ride transit in the city for free beginning at the end of February.

In a press release Monday, the city said beginning Feb. 28, senior residents can ride Brampton Transit for free with a Brampton Senior Identification Card and a PRESTO card loaded with an annual free pass.

According to the release, the annual free pass will allow Brampton seniors unlimited travel at no cost on the city's transit system.

"Brampton Transit will no longer sell the $15 senior resident monthly pass or offer the $1 senior resident cash fare," the release reads.

"All non-resident seniors can continue to use their PRESTO cards and pay the senior e-purse fare at $1.60."

The city said Brampton Transit is "committed to providing affordable and sustainable transportation."

Those looking to get a Senior Identification Card, or who may be seeking more information on eligibility, can visit the Brampton Transit website, or call 905-874-5120.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the city is "proud" to launch the free transit program for seniors.

"This is a milestone in transit affordability and caring for our senior residents," he said. "Brampton is a Green City, and as part of our 2040 Plan we’re committed to providing efficient, affordable and sustainable transit through our Brampton Transit network."

 

Ontario Is Extending The Deadline
To Renew Health Cards & Expired
Ones Will Be Accepted

Feb 12, 2022

If renewing your health card has been on your to-do list this month, feel free to push it down a couple of bullet points.

The Ontario government has extended the deadline to renew health cards to September 30, 2022, according to a press release.

Christine Elliott, Ontario's minister of health, says the extension is a response to the ongoing pandemic.

"While the majority of Ontarians have continued to renew their documents throughout the pandemic, we are committed to ensuring all Ontarians have the opportunity to renew while continuing to access the care they need, when they need it," said Elliott.

Ontarians were previously expected to have a renewed card by February 28.

However, thanks to the new deadline, Ontarians will be able to continue to use an expired health card "including a red and white health card, to access insured health care services" until the new deadline arrives in September 2022.

The Ontario government is also taking steps to make the process of renewing health cards easier and has ensured that health care providers will accept expired cards for the time being.

ServiceOntario will be working on a way to allow people to renew their health cards online using "Ontario Photo Cards" in the coming months.

Anyone having trouble renewing their health card is asked to contact ServiceOntario at 1-866-532-3161 to ask about options for their specific situation.

To renew your card online, you'll need your most recent one and your driver's licence. But, if you're feeling a bit old-school then you can renew your health card in person with proof of residency and ID, according to the Ontario government's website.

 

Ford's Kansas City plant begins deliveries of all-electric
E-Transit cargo van

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 11, 2020

Ford Motor Co. this week began shipping its new all-electric E-Transit cargo van from its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri to customers across the U.S., the Dearborn automaker said Tuesday.

Shipments of the electric version of the popular van kicked off as Ford said it had netted more than 10,000 orders from 300 customers of varying sizes, including 1,100 orders from retail giant Walmart Inc. Already, the automaker said Tuesday, it's working to increase production of E-Transit to meet demand as it aims to boost annual electric vehicle production capacity to 600,000 by the end of next year.

E-Transit is the company's second all-electric vehicle, following the launch of the Mustang Mach-E in late 2020. The F-150 Lightning, a battery-electric version of America's best-selling truck and Ford's flagship product, is slated to launch this spring (including the version aimed at commercial and government fleet customers) with some 200,000 orders on the books.

E-Transit also is the first vehicle to launch under the umbrella of Ford Pro, the standalone commercial vehicle business Ford launched last year as it centers its turnaround strategy on its strength in the commercial vehicle segment, electrification and connected vehicle services. The automaker has committed to spending $30 billion on electrification through 2025, with E-Transit falling under that investment.

“E-Transit is a testament to the fact that an electric commercial fleet is no longer a vision of tomorrow, but a productivity-boosting modern reality,” Kumar Galhotra, president of the Americas & International Markets Group for Ford, said in a statement.  

With the launch of E-Transit, Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Missouri, became Ford's first plant in the U.S. to assemble both batteries and all-electric vehicles in-house. The company invested $100 million in the plant and added about 150 full-time jobs in vehicle and battery pack assembly to support E-Transit production.

“Today’s production shipping announcement of the 2022 Ford Pro E-Transit vans to customers marks the beginning of a new era emerging from the Kansas City Assembly Plant,” Chuck Browning, United Auto Workers vice president and director of the union's Ford department, said in a statement.

“By producing both gas and the electric versions of America’s best-selling commercial van, members in Claycomo are working to meet current demand while transitioning to a strong EV future," he added. "UAW members are proud to take part in Ford’s commitment to build a quality new technology product that adds jobs and investment in Kansas City.” 

Ford and some of its competitors are placing big bets on commercial and government fleet customers becoming the leaders in the electric and digital transition transforming the automotive industry. 

General Motors Co. has launched an electric delivery van business. Stellantis NV has lined up Amazon.com Inc. as the first buyer for an electric version of its cargo van. And both automakers have electric versions of their popular pickup trucks planned.

Ford, meanwhile, has signaled that its commercial business is at the forefront of the company's growth strategy. Ford Pro is targeting revenue of $45 billion by 2025, up from $27 billion in 2019. Executives have said that commercial customers recognize the potential cost and productivity improvements that electric, digitally-connected vehicles offer.

Reuven Noyman isn't sure yet whether it'll save him money by switching from gas-powered vehicles to electric, but the owner of New York-based cleaning company On Time Steam Cleaning placed an order for two E-Transits due to environmental considerations.

"I placed the order for the electric ones because we're a green company," he said. "We haven't used chemicals since 2008. It's better for the environment and it just fits my company."

Noyman operates a fleet of six vehicles, a mix of Ford Transits and Nissan NVs. He plans to eventually order six E-Transits and maintain a fleet of battery-electric and gas-powered vehicles until EVs improve to the point where they're just as convenient for his company's needs.

"I wanted a cleaner truck to get away from gas, and plus my guys idle a lot when they're on jobs," he said. "Once the electric gets better and better, we'll switch all of them to electric."

E-Transit's lithium-ion battery has 68 kilowatt hours of capacity and has a targeted estimated range of 126 miles on a single charge. It starts at $44,990, including destination charges. It comes available with Pro Power Onboard, which allows drivers to use their vehicle as a mobile generator with up to 2.4 kilowatts of available power.

Charging solutions are available to E-Transit customers via Ford Pro Charging. And various connected subscription services, including telematics data, are available via Ford Pro Intelligence, the cloud-based platform underpinning Ford Pro's digital services. E-Transit comes standard with a 4G LTE modem and Ford Pro E-Telematics is complimentary for three years. E-Transit is available in eight configurations.

 

Ford plans to suspend or
cut production at 8 factories due to chip shortage, Reuters reports

Sam Tabahriti
Feb 9, 2022

  • Ford is to suspend or cut output at eight of its factories due to a chip shortage, Reuters reported.
  • It will impact factories in the US, Canada and Mexico. 
  • The automaker is forecasting a slower recovering than rival after quarter shares slump. 

Ford plans to suspend or cut production at eight of its factories following a slump in its shares, affecting the US, Canada, and Mexico, Reuters has reported

The automaker warned of a chip shortage that would lead to a decline in vehicle volume in the current quarter – but a spokeswoman told Reuters Friday that the company was expecting vehicle volume to increase significantly in the second half.

Ford's fourth-quarter earnings were lower than expected and the company forecasts a slower recovery through 2022 than its rival General Motors. The news prompted a 12% fall in its stock.

According to Reuters, the factories affected are in Michigan, Chicago and Cuautitlan, Mexico. 

Overtime at its Oakville factory in Canada will be scrapped and the production will be on a single shift or reduced schedule in Dearborn, Kentucky, and Louisville, Reuters reported. 

Ford did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

The Ford spokesperson told Reuters the changes could take effect as soon as Monday.

Insider's Grace Dean reported in November that the US has a shortage of around 80,000 truck drivers, causing havoc across the US supply chain.

Ford CFO John Lawler told Fox Business Friday that he believed the chip shortage would easy in the second half of 2022.

 

Canadians Make Ford the
Top-selling auto brand for
the 13th consecutive year

Feb 8, 2021

 

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. – 2021 Full Year-Over-Year Highlights:

Ford

  • Ford is the best-selling auto brand in Canada for the 13th consecutive year
  • Ford is the best-selling automaker in Canada for the sixth consecutive year
  • Ford F-Series is the best-selling pickup in Canada for the 56th consecutive year
  • Ford F-Series is the best-selling vehicle in Canada for the 12th consecutive year
  • Ford sales up 1.7%, driven by trucks and SUVs
  • Ford Escape sales up 9.3%
  • Ford Explorer sales up 1.0%
  • Ford Ranger sales up 3.3%
  • Ford E-Series sales up 9.5%
  • New Vehicles (Bronco, Bronco Sport, Maverick, Mustang Mach-E) combine for more than 21,000 units sold

Lincoln

  • Lincoln sales up 5.0%
  • Lincoln Corsair sales up 23.7%
  • Lincoln Aviator sales up 5.3% - Best Year on Record
  • Lincoln Navigator sales up 8.4%

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. – Q4 Year-Over-Year Highlights:

Ford

  • Ford sales up 18.9%, driven by trucks and SUVs
  • Ford F-Series sales up 17.8%
  • Ford F-150 sales up 23.3%
  • Ford F-Series Super Duty sales up 9.0%
  • Ford Explorer sales up 5.7%
  • Ford Expedition sales up 17.0%
  • Ford E-Series sales up 8.1%

Lincoln

  • Lincoln sales up 16.0%
  • Lincoln Corsair sales up 61.4%
  • Lincoln Aviator sales up 39.6%

In another tumultuous year due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Ford of Canada rose to the peak of the automotive industry as the top-selling brand for the 13th consecutive year. Ford F-Series – which adds the all-new, all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning in 2022 – was once again the best-selling pickup and nameplate, marking 56 years in a row of truck leadership and 12 straight years as the top-selling vehicle in Canada. Consumers flocked to well-known vehicles like the Ford Escape, Ford Explorer and Ford Ranger, while also lining up for new standouts like the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, the iconic Ford Bronco, the rugged Ford Bronco Sport and the versatile Ford Maverick.

“With all of the challenges that faced Canadians in general, and our industry specifically, one thing remained true through 2021 – consumers continue to trust Ford to deliver the vehicles and services they are looking for more than any other automotive brand,” said Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Ltd. “And we’re continuing to evolve and expand our offerings, with Canada’s first-ever standard hybrid pickup – the Ford Maverick – moving quickly on arrival at dealerships, the highly anticipated all-electric F-150 Lightning coming later this year, and the launch of Ford Pro – a new business dedicated to revolutionizing our commercial business to deliver even more value for our customers.”

Lincoln had a remarkable year, with sales up five per cent annually and 16 per cent for the fourth quarter. Lincoln Aviator had its best yearly sales on record, while Corsair and Navigator also posted gains, as the brand continues to redefine what luxury means to Canadians.

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited

Q4 2021 Vehicle Sales

 

 

 

   2021

 

   2020

 

% Change

Total Vehicles

 

 

 

Q4

Full Year

60,801

51,163

18.84%

243,828

239,572

1.78%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Cars

 

 

 

Q4

Full Year

519

 1,418

-63.40%

5,196   

10,062

-48.36%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Trucks

 

 

 

Q4

Full Year

 

60,282

49,745

21.18%

238,632

229,510

3.97%

 

 

 

 

About Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited

Ford of Canada’s operations include a national headquarters, three regional offices, three vehicle assembly and engine manufacturing plants, two parts distribution centres, two R&D sites, and three Connectivity and Innovation centres. Ford employs approximately 8,000 people in Canada, while an additional 18,000 people are employed in the more than 400 Ford and Ford-Lincoln dealerships across the country. For more information, please visit www.ford.ca.

 

Ford sales flat for January,
but electrified vehicle
growth continues

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Feb 5, 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales were flat in January, but the automaker reported its best start ever for sales of electrified vehicles.

Overall, the Dearborn automaker reported 143,531 new vehicle sales in the U.S. last month, about the same as it reported in January 2021. Truck sales of 71,734 were off 4.3% while SUV sales of 66,122 were up 8.5% year-over-year.

Overall, light vehicle sales in the U.S. were down about 9% from January 2020, to roughly 1 million sales, for the weakest January since 2014, LMC Automotive reported Wednesday.

Still, January saw the highest seasonally adjusted annual rate — 15.2 million units per year — since June, according to the forecasting firm, and analysts there are optimistic that the market will improve throughout the year. As long as inventory levels continue to improve, LMC is forecasting 15.9 million sales in the U.S. in 2022, up 7% from 2021.

For the last year, auto production worldwide has been dragged down by a global semiconductor shortage and other supply-chain issues, depleting inventory levels and sending prices soaring.

“As we push into 2022, the economy and auto industry continue to face a wide array of risks, including continuing manufacturing stress from supply chain disruptions and labor shortages," said Jeff Schuster, LMC's president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts. 

"The addition of headwinds from inflation concerns, COVID-19 variants and restrictions, and even a geopolitical shock could mark 2022 as the third year in a row with the natural balance of supply and demand negatively impacted by outside variables," he added. "However, we remain optimistic that improvements will continue and expect the auto industry to rise to the challenges through innovation and adapting to the dynamic environment.”

Much of the automotive industry reports sales on a quarterly basis, but among those that still report monthly, many were down  in January. American Honda sales were down 20%, for example, and Toyota Motor North America was down roughly 5%. Still, Hyundai Motor America reported its highest-ever January sales total, up 10% from last year. 

Meanwhile, Andrew Frick, vice president of Ford sales for the U.S. and Canada, noted in a statement Wednesday that Ford increased its market share from a year ago, which he attributed to "strong demand for our newest products such as Bronco, Maverick and Mach-E."

Frick noted that Ford took in a record 90,000 new vehicle orders in January as the automaker looks to increasingly generate sales through orders that customers place in advance rather than browsing dealer lots. That's up by 71,000 units from a year ago and by 20,000 from December. And the automaker reported that 37% of retail sales in January came from previously placed orders.

"Vehicles are turning at a record pace on dealer lots, as we work to fill these orders," said Frick. "This year represents a turning point for Ford in electrified vehicles, as our electrified portfolio grew at nearly four times the rate of the industry segment, with E-Transit and F-150 Lightning set to hit the market.”

For electrified vehicles, including battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids, Ford reported that sales of 13,169 units marked a 167.2% increase from a year ago and outpaced the overall electrified segment. 

Ford recently reported that it's received 10,000 orders from 300 customers for its all-electric E-Transit cargo van that's in the midst of launching now, with retail giant Walmart accounting for 1,100 orders.

Mustang sales were up 31.2% in January. 

In Ford's SUV lineup, EcoSport, Bronco Sport, Explorer and Expedition sales were down. Escape and Edge sales were up. Bronco, which debuted last year, notched 8,101 sales, while the all-electric Mustang Mach-E recorded 2,370 sales, making it second only to Tesla's Model Y in its segment, Ford noted.

Growth in sales of Ford-branded SUVs equipped with 4x4/AWD helped drive up average transaction pricing to $43,300 per SUV, Ford reported — up $8,200 over a year ago.

Sales of Ford's flagship truck franchise, F-Series, were down 8.6% to 50,543 units. The new Maverick compact pickup truck, which Ford launched in the fall, recorded 6,513 sales last month, 3,549 of which were hybrids.

Lincoln brand sales were down 25.8%. Across Lincoln's lineup, the only sales gain was for the Corsair, which was up 5% year-over-year.

 

Most Ford U.S.
hourly workers
to get up to $7,377
in profit sharing

Kalea Hall
Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Most Ford Motor Co. hourly employees in the United States will receive up to $7,377 in profit-sharing in coming checks based on the company's strong 2021 financial results. That's more than double its average $3,625 payouts the year before.

Ford has approximately 56,000 U.S. hourly workers, but not all of them are eligible for profit-sharing. Temporary employees, for example, are not eligible, and eligibility is based in part on the number of hours worked. Ford could not say Thursday how many meet the eligibility criteria.

"UAW Ford members worked diligently and remained dedicated to produce the finest built products in the world during a year that presented great challenges due to the pandemic and unprecedented supply chain issues," United Auto Workers Chuck Browning, director of the union's Ford Department, said in a statement. "Their contributions to Ford Motor Company’s profits under such conditions are to be commended and our members should be very proud of this great accomplishment."

Meanwhile at crosstown rival General Motors Co., about 42,500 U.S. hourly workers will receive up to $10,250 in profit-sharing come their Feb. 25 checks. Stellantis NV, maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram trucks, is scheduled to report year-end financials on Feb. 23 and likely detail its profit-sharing payouts

Hefty payouts to autoworkers "is like the icing on the cake," said Patrick Anderson, CEO of East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group. "It means that we ... made enough money to have dinner and dessert and we get a cherry on top of the dessert. It is all positive news. It definitely goes into additional spending in Michigan and other Midwestern states, although not all at once."

Anderson expects much of the cash will be saved as Americans watch inflation rise: "If we were back in 2005 ... and we were to get a big round of bonus checks for autoworkers, I would expect a very large share of that to be spent over the next two months. But now I think a very large share of this is going to be saved because of the uncertainty people feel about the economy."

Detroit automakers pay profit sharing based on their North American profits. GM's pre-tax earnings in North America were $10.3 billion in 2021, the automaker reported Tuesday. Ford's pre-tax North America earnings were $7.37 billion. 

Automakers reported healthy earnings despite lost production across multiple plants thanks to supply issues — specifically with semiconductors, the tiny microchips that power everything from the heated seats to the infotainment system. 

Shortages of vehicles on dealer lots caused some chaos throughout the year. But the chip crunch, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also helped to up transaction prices and increase profits despite lower sales volumes. 

Overall, Ford booked $17.9 billion in net income last year with help from a $9.1 billion gain for the year from its stake in Rivian Automotive Inc. The startup maker of electric pickups and SUVs went public last year to investor acclaim before it shares settled back. 

"Everybody should be happy about a big bonus that is double the size of last year's," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross Business School, in a statement. "Thanks should be given to the Rivian investment that pumped up earnings."

 

Ford to Spend Up to $20
Billion Reorganizing for
Shift to Electric Cars

Keith Naughton and Ed Ludlow
February 3, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is planning a major reorganization to prepare for the electric future, using Tesla Inc.’s success as a road map and accelerating EV spending by as much $20 billion.

The effort, led by a former Apple Inc. and Tesla executive, calls for Ford to spend an additional $10 billion to $20 billion over the next five to 10 years converting factories worldwide to electric-vehicle production from making gasoline-powered cars, according to people familiar with the plan. That would be on top of the $30 billion Ford already has committed to EVs through 2025.

The move is part of Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley’s initiative to challenge Tesla’s dominance in EVs even as he takes pages from the playbook of the electric-vehicle pioneer, now the world’s most valuable automaker. Investors have bought into Farley’s vision for Ford, briefly lifting the company’s market value above $100 billion in January.

Ford shares rose in afternoon trading, climbing as much as 2.7%. They traded up 1.3% to $20.56 as of 1:48 p.m. in New York.

The new plan also envisions a reworked Ford organizational chart, including the hiring of an unspecified number of engineers specializing in disciplines relatively new to the company, such as battery chemistry, artificial intelligence and EV software.

As part of the reorganization, the company has evaluated spinning off a small portion of its EV business to capture some of the immense value investors are giving electric startups, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public. The potential move would involve lower-volume models, allowing the company to focus its efforts on mass-market EVs, the person said.

Ford declined to comment on the planned reorganization and potential spinoff.

“We are executing our Ford Plus plan to transform the company and thrive in this new era of electric and connected vehicles. We would not comment on speculation,” Mark Truby, the company’s chief communications officer, said in an emailed statement.

Doug Field, the former head of Apple’s car project, is leading Ford’s overhaul, the people said. Field was also a top executive at Tesla, where he engineered the Model 3.

Ford’s EV plans have accelerated since Farley, 59, became CEO 16 months ago. It has tripled output of the electric Mustang Mach-E model and doubled production of the F-150 Lightning plug-in pickup coming this spring. The company also is spending $11.4 billion with South Korea’s SK Innovation to build three battery factories and an EV truck plant in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Poached From Apple

Ford poached Field from Apple in September to disrupt the 118-year-old company. He’s working closely with Farley to make the legacy automaker more nimble, like Tesla, by adjusting Ford’s operational and manufacturing structure, the people said.

The restructuring is a work in progress and some elements may be changed or dropped, including the EV spinoff idea, the people said. The Ford family, which controls the automaker through a special class of supervoting stock, would have to be convinced a spinoff is worthwhile.

Farley has expressed admiration for Tesla CEO Elon Musk and acknowledged Ford is rethinking its mission as the company prepares to manufacture 600,000 EVs a year by 2024. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker wants to generate as much as half of its global sales from electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

To drive home his desire to emulate Tesla, Farley has taken to sharing news articles about the electric-vehicle maker with others internally, according to one person.

Farley, who did not comment for this story, has said he’s learned “a lot” from watching Musk transform his company from a struggling startup to a high-profit, global EV leader that investors value at more than $1 trillion.

“I really admire, frankly, the difficulties they had and the way they managed those difficulties into the success they had,” Ford’s CEO said in an interview last week with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang. “They are now making more than $10,000 a vehicle, because of their scale. I like that kind of business.”

It’s unclear which Tesla practices Farley plans to adopt as Ford builds out its own EV manufacturing capacity and accelerates its shift from a mechanical engineer-led workforce to one that increasingly is made up of software engineers.

Keeping ICE Business

Unlike Tesla, Ford also must manage the slow decline of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines, which now generate all of the profit necessary to fund the company’s EV aspirations. That’s an area Ford also is intensely focused on as it reinvents itself.

Farley sees gasoline-fueled vehicles as a core part of the company for many years to come and still intends to invest enough to keep it competitive with rivals, he said in a seperate interview last week. One way is to boost the services Ford sells to car owners -- a business that could generate $20 billion a year in revenue.

That could include selling drivers software to upgrade their car’s performance or enhance dashboard touchscreens. Or it may involve getting more business in the service bays at Ford’s dealers, which see 90% of owners go elsewhere for maintenance after their warranties expire, Farley said.

Ultimately, Farley wants even more of Ford’s customers driving electric vehicles -- and that’s the future he and Field are preparing for. Ford hopes to eventually overtake Tesla, but for now is trying to solidify its standing as America’s No. 2 seller of EVs.

“What it takes to succeed in this digital, connected, electric product are talents and know-how and a way of managing the business that’s different than what we’ve done in 118 years,” Farley said last week. “It’s kinda like snowboarding and skiing. We both share the lift, but as soon as you get off the lift the intuitions are wrong between both businesses. You have to really relearn to how to get down the slope.”

 

 

2022 Ford Maverick
Hybrid Review

Jil McIntosh  
Feb 2, 2022

The Ford F-150 has been Canada’s best-selling vehicle for more than a decade now, but not everyone wants nor needs a truck that big.

If even the midsize Ranger is too much, you can now look at the compact 2022 Ford Maverick. It’s also available as a hybrid – and in a bit of an unusual twist, that’s the base powertrain. It starts in XL trim for $27,895, before tax but including a non-negotiable delivery charge of $1,995. I drove the next-step-up XLT, which starts at $30,795, while some options brought it to $35,665. Both trims can be optioned to a non-hybrid engine, which is the only choice in the top-line Lariat.

Styling: 8.5/10

The Maverick is based on the same platform as the Bronco Sport and Escape, but it looks more like a truck than a cut-down SUV – unlike its closest rival, the Hyundai Tucson-based Santa Cruz. The Ford comes only as a four-door, five-passenger crew cab, with 4-foot-5 bed. It looks well-planted, and rides on 17-inch wheels.

Getting inside, what you initially notice is the grey flecked plastic on the dash and doors. It’s mindful of the stuff in school bathrooms at first, but it quickly grew on me for its cool look and easy-to-clean nature. Rather than looking cheap, the plastic-heavy cabin seems fun and functional.

Safety: 7.5/10

The Maverick hasn’t yet been rated by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which reduces its score here.

Standard assist items include emergency front braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and the back-up camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles. If you want more, you have to add an $850 package that gives you blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and hill descent control. Adaptive cruise control is only available on the top-level Lariat, as an option.

Features: 7.5/10

The Maverick is relatively basic. One up from the base XL, my XLT included 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a manual driver’s seat, eight-inch touchscreen, conventional cruise control, a storage bin under the rear seat, Type-A and Type-C USB ports, a locking tailgate, and turn-key ignition – which I prefer to a push-button start, although many drivers don’t.

Along with the aforementioned safety suite, my tester was optioned with an XLT Luxury package for $3,150. It added items including an eight-way driver’s seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, remote engine starter, heated body-colour door mirrors, a trailer hitch; and in the bed, a drop-in liner, LED lighting, tie-down rails, and a 110-volt outlet. If you opt for the gas-only all-wheel-drive model, you can also add an FX4 Off-Road package, or a higher-capacity towing package.

Full-size trucks have become so big that it can be tough to climb into them. The Maverick instead is accessible for entry and exit, and reaching into the bed. The low, straight hood improves visibility and gives it the feel of a bigger truck.

The simple-looking dash uses buttons and dials to operate the climate system and stereo. The infotainment screen looks a bit dated, but it’s intuitive and easy to use.

Practicality: 8.5/10

The Maverick’s payload is 680 kg (1,500 lb), and the bed can be fitted with dividers to carry bicycles. Towing capacity for the hybrid is 907 kg (2,000 lb), which trails the Santa Cruz and slightly larger Honda Ridgeline with their maximum of 2,267 kg (5,000 lb).

The cabin has virtually the same head- and legroom as the Santa Cruz. The rear seats flip up for extra cargo storage. The interior is designed for maximum functionality, including half-handles on the doors so you can stand a tall water bottle behind them; a phone holder in the centre console; and lots of small-item storage, including an open bin in the upper dash. I still haven’t figured out the point of the seemingly pointless little cubby in the centre screen’s bezel, though.

Comfort: 8/10

You won’t mistake the Maverick for the lushness of an F-150 Platinum, but it’s still a comfortable little truck – especially if you opt for the XLT Luxury package with its power-adjustable heated driver’s seat. I prefer these cloth seats to leather, and they provide an upright position and good support.

It’s not the quietest cabin, especially since the hybrid system can make some odd noises while driving, but the ride is smooth and composed. The climate control is only single-zone but has an automatic setting. Rear-seat passengers get relatively good legroom for the truck’s size, and a centre armrest with cup holders courtesy of the Luxury option.

Power: 8/10

The hybrid uses a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 162 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque on its own, and a net 191 hp when working in tandem with the electric hybrid motor. It’s mated to an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT), and strictly drives the front wheels. It’s a full hybrid, automatically switching between gasoline, electricity, or a combination of both. Its acceleration isn’t swift but it’s smooth and linear, and should be enough for most in everyday driving.

Optional with the XL and XLT trims, and exclusive for the Lariat, is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine, making 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque and with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, and can be optioned with an off-road package, or with a towing package to pull up to 1,814 kg (4,000 lb). It’s naturally thirstier than the hybrid, but if you want all-wheel drive, it’s the choice you have to take.

Driving Feel: 8/10

The Maverick may be based on an SUV, but it feels like a small truck, and that’s very much a compliment. The steering is nicely-weighted and not too light, and the vehicle is responsive and with a tight turning circle. The switch from gas to electric is mostly seamless. The brakes perform well, without the artificial feel you can sometimes get with these regenerative systems as the electric motor works in reverse to capture energy to charge the hybrid battery.

I ended up on snowy roads a few times, where I would have preferred all-wheel drive, given the truck’s lighter rear end. Moving up to the 2.0L with all-wheel traction adds another $2,500 to the XLT’s asking price.

Fuel Economy: 9/10

The Maverick hybrid is officially rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 5.6 L/100 km in the city, 7.1 on the highway, and 6.3 combined. (Hybrids get better city mileage over highway because they can run more often on the battery alone.) In a week of bitterly-cold weather, I averaged 8.6 L/100 km, which seemed in line with realistic expectations.

If you choose the optional non-hybrid 2.0L, it’s rated at 9.6 L/100 km in combined driving. Both are better than the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which is rated at 10.8 L/100 km but with more horsepower and torque; and the 11.5 L/100 km racked up by the Honda Ridgeline.

Value: 8/10

At a starting price of $30,795 with delivery, and optioned to $35,665, my XLT felt reasonable. The tough part for many people will be getting past the idea of “buying by the pound” – if a truck is this much, it should be this big. Instead, it’s about paying for the size that’s right for you.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is much pricier, running between $40,424 and $46,624 with delivery. But it also has standard all-wheel drive, considerably more features, and a more luxurious interior. The other SUV-based truck option, the Honda Ridgeline, starts at $47,536.

The Verdict

Buyers will cross-shop the Santa Cruz, but I see the Ford as a truck, while the Hyundai is a sport-ute with a bed. They’re equally good at what they are, and it’ll likely come down to price, and whether you want a plain-and-simple Maverick, or a more upscale Santa Cruz.

Midsize trucks didn’t knock full-size ones off their perch, and this compact Maverick certainly won’t, either. But it’s a useful, good-looking, well-sized, and fuel-efficient vehicle that will suit a lot of people who want a small truck, and is definitely worth a test-drive.

 

Elon Musk slams Biden
on Twitter over GM,
Ford meeting

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
Feb 1, 2022

Washington — Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk ripped into President Joe Biden on Twitter Thursday over his meeting with General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra and Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley. 

The two attended a roundtable with other CEOs last week at the White House to speak about their support for Biden's Build Back Better bill, which has stalled in Congress after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said he couldn't support it.

Afterward, Biden released a video with Barra saying that "companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before."

Musk responded: "Starts with a T, Ends with an A, ESL in the middle" and later added, "Biden is a damp (sock) puppet in human form" and that "Biden is treating the American public like fools."

Spokespeople for the White House, Ford and GM did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.

Telsa still sells the vast majority of electric vehicles in the U.S., despite recent investments from GM and Ford to ramp up production in an industry-wide shift to electrification. 

As Biden proposes policies aimed at increasing EV sales, he has frequently brought in leaders from GM, Ford and Stellantis NV — three automakers whose hourly workers are members of the United Auto Workers — to represent manufacturers embracing the change. 

It's been a source of frustration for Musk, leader of the only other major automaker headquartered in the U.S. and which has been an EV pioneer. He's called Biden's White House "not the friendliest administration" and complained that it's "controlled by the unions." Tesla has actively fought unionization efforts at its plants. 

Farley and Barra told Biden on Wednesday that they support the passage of electric vehicle tax credits that would lift the 200,000-vehicle cap on EV sales benefiting from an existing federal tax credit and expand the discount so consumers could get up to $12,500 off the price of a new EV.

As it currently stands, the proposed credits would benefit the Detroit Three and the UAW by paying $4,500 for vehicles assembled in a union facility.

Barra also spoke in support of tax credits for battery and other advanced manufacturing and for $52 billion in domestic semiconductor chip funding. 

In December, Musk called on Congress not to pass the Build Back Better legislation that includes the advanced manufacturing and EV tax credits, arguing the industry doesn't need government support and if federal spending isn't curbed, "something really bad is going to happen."

While foreign automakers operating in the U.S. have opposed the union provision of the proposed EV tax credits, the industry is largely supportive of government spending on charging and other incentives to speed up the transition to EVs. 

The package hit a potential dead end in December, when Manchin — a crucial swing vote in the evenly-divided Senate — said he couldn't support the package. Democrats are now considering how they may pass portions of the legislation as standalone bills before the end of the year. 

 

Ontario's Reopening Plan
Starts Monday & These
Are All The Rules You
Need To Know

January 29, 2022

Things will finally start getting back to normal next week as Ontario jumpstarts its reopening plan and begins loosening restrictions at businesses and venues across the province.

Starting Monday, January 31, at 12:01 a.m., Ontarians can go back to enjoying meals at their favourite restaurants again, as indoor dining will reopen at 50% capacity.

Gathering limits are also increasing from five to 10 people indoors, while outdoor gatherings will be able to have up to 25 people.

Everyone who's been missing their weekly workouts at the gym can go back for a proper sweat, as fitness facilities will reopen at half capacity.

Several other indoor public places will be back in business next week. The following services and venues will be able to reopen or remain open at 50% capacity:

  • Shopping malls
  • Movie theatres
  • Retailers, including grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Meeting and event spaces
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
  • Amusement parks, water parks, and recreational amenities
  • Museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, and other similar spots
  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming venues
  • Religious services, rites, and ceremonies
  • Concert venues, sporting events, and other spectator areas (either at half capacity or a max of 500 people)

With the excitement of reopening, there are also some new rules and changes that will be hitting the province next week.

You can eat and drink at more venues, but with some limits

Anyone itching to have popcorn and soda at the movies will actually be able to do so now, but there are some rules.

In an email to Narcity, the Ministry of Health said everyone will have to stay seated while eating food or consuming drinks in order to limit the number of close contacts while masks are removed.

Masks will have to be put back on for whenever you're finished and will have to stay on for the rest of the time you're at the venue.

The rules apply to anyone watching a sporting event, catching a concert, or going to a bingo hall or other gaming establishment that's held indoors.

Contact tracing will be a thing of the past

Starting this Monday, businesses will no longer be required to gather guest information for contact tracing purposes.

"This is aligned with recent changes to the testing and case and contact management guidance and will allow businesses to focus their efforts on the enforcement of other public health measures in these settings, such as masking requirements," the ministry said.

Whenever there is a significant exposure, local public health units will still be able to notify residents about it through things like news releases.

You can go back to work

If you're tired of working from home, as of Monday, the government is lifting the legal requirement to work from home except where necessary.

"The Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends that individuals who are able to work from home continue to do so, helping to limit mobility and reduce the number of daily contacts," the ministry said.

Some health services will resume again

On January 5, the Ford government put a pause on all non-urgent surgeries and other procedures so as not to overwhelm hospitals' critical care units and preserve human resource capacity.

The Ministry of Health said the province will be taking a "phased approach" to bringing back some health services that were paused.

Cancer screening, diagnostic services, pediatrics, private hospitals, independent health facilities, and some ambulatory clinics will resume again as early as Monday.

"This approach is in line with our cautious and gradual approach to easing public health measures, while recognizing the ongoing pressures our hospitals are facing. Careful resumption of this activity, in these targeted areas, is least likely to adversely impact inpatient capacity readiness or health human resources in hospitals," the ministry said.

The Ontario government laid out a timeline for easing public health measures over the next couple of months, with the next date for major changes set for February 21.

 

2021 Canadian auto production
lowest since 1967, DesRosiers
Automotive says

The Canadian Press
REUTERS
Jan 28, 2022

Although Windsor is a priority in talks, Unifor is also looking for clarity on Brampton.

TORONTO — DesRosiers Automotive Consultants says Canada produced slightly more than 1.1 million light vehicles last year. Marking the lowest level of production since 1967.

The low production numbers, down from 1.4 million in 2020 and well below two million in 2019, came as the auto sector globally was hit by a shortage of semiconductor chips caused by pandemic-related production issues and a surge in demand for electronics.

Canadian production was hit especially hard as automakers prioritized chips for their more profitable models like pickups and SUVs, pushing down Canada's share of production to under nine per cent.

Canada's share of North American production has been on the decline for years, from 17 per cent in 2009 to 14.1 per cent in 2014 to around 10 per cent before the pandemic.

DesRosiers said Toyota led production among the five big automakers in Canada with about 427,000 units, while at the other end of the spectrum GM produced about 36,500.

GM, however, did restart production in November at the Oshawa assembly plant it had closed in 2019, and just this week announced it had added a second shift to the plant that now produces the Chevy Silverado. The company also plans to retool its Ingersoll, Ont., operation this year to produce electric delivery vehicles.

Andrew King, managing partner at DesRosiers, said Canada's auto industry is going through both short-term transitory difficulties and long-term structural change as plants announce revised mandates and companies start to embrace the wave of electrification.

"While it seems unlikely that Canada will, in the near term at least, fully recover lost production ground, there does exists a clear opportunity to revitalize and adapt this critically important sector."

 

Ford E-Transit orders
have reached 10,000.
Walmart among customers

Auto News
Jan 27, 2022

Sebastopol, CA — Ford Motor Co.Booked 10,000 orders 2022E-Transit Electric Van From about 300 commercial and government customers, including retail giant Wal-Mart.

Ford will soon begin delivering EVs to its customers. It starts at $ 44,900 including shipping and comes in eight configurations.Until now, automakers have not disclosed the order number of a vehicle that is an important part of a new car. Ford Pro Commercial business subsidiary.

Of these 10,000 orders, 44% are high roof versions, 32% are medium roof versions, and 19% are low roof versions. Walmart — Announced contract with Ford Pro earlier this year Rival Bright Drop According to FordPro CEO Ted Cannis, he ordered — 1,100 E-transit in 5,000 vans.

In addition to the order, Ford announced on Wednesday that it would launch a pilot program at three farms in California to test a new EV commercial vehicle for a year. E-Transit and F-150 Lightning will be available with Ford Pro for each of the three companies. charging station And telematics services.

https://njcar.org/automotive-news/dealer-headlines/ford-e-transit-orders-hit-10000-walmart-among-customers/ Ford E-Transit orders have reached 10,000.Walmart among customers

 

Oshawa Assembly adds
second shift: GM

January 26, 2022

A second shift is now up and running at GM Oshawa.

Two months after the first Chevrolet Silverado rolled off the line at the reopened Oshawa Assembly plant, the second shift production has begun.

They’ve hired 1,800 people since November.

The automaker adds, for the first time in history, more than half of the new hires at the plant are women.

“Adding a second shift of truck production so quickly after launch continues Oshawa’s long history of speed and agility and helps GM meet strong customer demand for its largest and most important market segment,” said Scott Bell, GM Canada president and managing director. “And with a new, diverse workforce that includes more women in production roles, the impact of an inclusive culture is immediately noticeable the moment you step inside the plant.”

 

 

Ford Mustang Production
Temporarily Halted Due To
Chip Shortage

Christopher Smith
January 25, 2022  

The assembly line in Flat Rock should start back up next week.

We are three weeks into a new year, but old supply problems are still plaguing the auto industry. The Ford Mustang is the latest victim of the semiconductor shortage, causing the pony car's assembly line in Flat Rock, Michigan, to go dark until the missing chips are available.

The good news is that the shutdown shouldn't be a long one. According to The Detroit News, the factory halted production this week but is scheduled to restart next week. We've contacted Ford for confirmation and to see if a specific date for resuming production is available.

Ford certainly isn't the only automaker dealing with a lack of high-tech components. General Motors was forced to drop some prominent features from several new models, including its Super Cruise automated driving tech. Last fall, Jeep cut its trick Quadra-Lift suspension from the Grand Cherokee. Luxury brands such as BMW also report delays and fewer available options due to chip shortages, and it doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon.

In Ford's case, supply chain issues may have been a factor in the Mustang losing its best-selling pony car title in the United States for 2021. 52,414 Mustangs found homes last year, compared to 54,314 Dodge Challengers. It was the single worst year of sales throughout Mustang's entire history, but 2021 wasn't an isolated year of plunging sales. Numbers have been steadily dropping since 2016, with the previous worst-year record actually being 2020. Meanwhile, Challenger sales were up in 2021, which suggests supply chain issues aren't the only reason for Mustang's fall from the top.

The pony's future, however, is still bright. We've recently spotted camouflaged prototypes of the next-generation model that reportedly uses a tweaked version of the current platform with updated styling. V8 power is confirmed, though hybrid and all-wheel-drive models could be in the mix.

 

Ford's New Anti-Theft
Technology Is Brilliant

JAN 24, 2022
JAY TRAUGOTT 

Meet Canopy, developed in coordination with ADT.

Having your vehicle stolen is probably one of the most annoying and frustrating things that can happen. Getting something snatched from the inside, like a smartphone, is also deeply disheartening. There are typical anti-theft systems new and old, but Ford figured it could do better. So it teamed up with security company ADT to create Canopy.

This new joint venture blends ADT's security monitoring capabilities with the Blue Oval's AI-driven video camera technology. Canopy makes use of things like acoustic sensors for vans (like the Ford Transit), onboard cameras, radar, LTE, and GPS. The monitoring product itself features a camera that's mounted in either a van's cargo area or a pickup truck's bed. The platform will then use AI tech to identify and report "credible threats while reducing false alarm signals." The included video showcases an F-150 owner catching a potential thief red-handed with his smartphone.

Customers will have the ability to connect to the system by using the Canopy app to livestream video from their vehicle. The system will also notify them of any suspicious activities. They can also view past occurrences, which can be extremely useful when filing insurance claims. If the system identifies a potentially real threat (breaking glass, metal cutting, and even suspicious motions), it'll trigger an alert to the owner's smartphone. Users can even speak to thieves and warn them away thanks to the app's two-way audio feature, due next year.

The AI tech is so advanced it can distinguish the difference between an animal hopping into a truck bed or regular loud noises from, say, a construction site. If a potentially serious threat is detected, Canopy will further alert ADT monitoring professionals, aka real human beings, who can then contact owners and/or the police.

 

Restaurants, gyms to reopen
Jan. 31 as Ford announces
gradual easing of COVID
restrictions

The Premier was joined by Ontario's Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, to announce that the province will begin easing restrictions on January 31st.

Michael Talbot
Jan 21, 2022

Saying the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic “is behind us’ Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced the gradual easing of public health measures in three phases, beginning on January 31 when gyms and restaurants will reopen at 50 per cent capacity and gathering limits will increase to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. (full list below).

Sporting and concert venues, and theatres, can also open their doors at half capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

After the 31st, more restrictions will be eased in three week intervals on February 21st, and March 14 when capacity limits in all indoor settings will be lifted.

“The evidence tells us that the measures we put in place to blunt transmission of Omicron are working,” Ford said. “We can be confident that the worst is behind us and that we are now in a position to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures. While February will continue to present its own challenges, given current trends these are challenges we are confident we can manage.”

Ford stressed that if the numbers start going up again, the province is ready and willing to put the new plans on pause.

“If that means pausing between steps for a few extra days, we won’t hesitate to do so,” he said.

The province has been in a modified Step 2 of the “Road to Reopen Plan” since Jan. 5, closing restaurants to in-person dining, shutting gyms and putting a 50 per cent capacity on retail.

The restrictions were scheduled to be in place until at least Jan. 26.

On Thursday, Ontario reported thelowest COVID-19 test positivity rate in nearly a month, with hospitalizations and ICU admissions remaining stable.

The province’s new three-phased plan will roll out as follows: (Source: Province of Ontario)

January 31, 2022

Effective January 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. Ontario will begin the process of gradually easing restrictions, while maintaining protective measures, including but not limited to:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies)
  • Shopping malls;
  • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
  • Cinemas;
  • Meeting and event spaces;
  • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions; and
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

 

February 21, 2022

Effective February 21, 2022, Ontario will lift public health measures, including:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Removing capacity limits in indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to restaurants, indoor sports and recreational facilities, cinemas, as well as other settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
  • Permitting spectator capacity at sporting events, concert venues, and theatres at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Limiting capacity in most remaining indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is not required to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance.
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to the number that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required.
  • Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, wedding receptions in meeting or event spaces where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs.

 

Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.

March 14, 2022

Effective March 14, 2022, Ontario will take additional steps to ease public health measures, including:

  • Lifting capacity limits in all indoor public settings. Proof of vaccination will be maintained in existing settings in addition to other regular measures.
  • Lifting remaining capacity limits on religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Increase social gathering limits to 50 people indoors with no limits for outdoor gatherings.

 

Ford recalls 200K cars because
brake lights can stay on

Associated Press
Jan 20, 2022

Detroit – Ford is recalling about 200,000 cars in the U.S. to fix a problem that can stop the brake lights from turning off.

The recall covers certain 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize cars as well as some 2015 Mustangs. All were sold or registered in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Hawaii.

High temperatures and humidity can cause a rubber brake pedal part to disintegrate, keeping the lights on, confusing other drivers and increasing the risk of a crash. Drivers with automatic transmissions also can shift out of “park” gear without having their foot on the brake.

Dealers will replace brake and clutch pedal bumpers. Owners will be notified by mail starting March 3.

 

Ford Mustang Has Worst
Sales Year Ever, Loses
Crown To Challenger

Christopher Smith
Jan 19, 2022

Unless you include Mach-E sales.

Another dynasty in vehicle sales for North America comes to an end. We already learned about Toyota passing GM for the top spot in the States. Now, after many years as the pony car champion, the Ford Mustang is dethroned in 2021 by the Dodge Challenger and its 14-year-old bones. That is, unless you include Mach-E sales in Mustang's total, which Ford does and doesn't do. More on that in a bit.

First, the numbers. Dodge reports 54,314 new Challenger sales in 2021, which is a 3 percent increase from 2020. Meanwhile, Mustang sales fell 14.2 percent to land at 52,414, officially making 2021 the worst sales year in the pony car's 56-year history. 2020 was previously the worst year, followed closely by 2009. As for the Chevrolet Camaro, its unbridled freefall continues as only 21,893 were sold last year. That's a drop of 26.5 percent.

Vehicle                           2021 Sales          2020 Sales          Difference

Dodge Challenger           54,314                   52,995                +3%

Ford Mustang                 52,414                   61,090               -14.2%

Chevrolet Camaro          21,893                    29,775              -26.5%

That said, here's where things become a bit fuzzy. Ford sold 27,140 Mach-Es in 2021, making it the second best-selling electric crossover in North America behind the Tesla Model Y. There's no denying the Mach-E is a success, but there's also no denying that it's very different from the familiar Mustang.

In its sales report, Ford has separate listings for the Mach-E and Mustang. However, the automaker also points out that combined Mustang Mach-E and Mustang sales were 79,554 total vehicles, and Ford does list that as a 30.2 increase versus Mustang sales in 2020.

Regardless of where you fall on the Mach-E-versus-Mustang debate, there's no denying that Ford's traditional pony car is certainly struggling in the sales department. One might point to the global semiconductor shortage as a potential source for Mustang's decline in 2021, but that doesn't explain Mustang's years-long sales slide that began in 2016. As for the Challenger, perhaps Dodge's occasional unveiling of new packages and trims is enough to keep it fresh in the eyes of buyers. Either way, the Dodge Challenger is now the pony car sales king in North America.

 

Ford's sales in China grew
3.7% in 2021, GM's
remained flat

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Jan 18, 2022

Ford Motor Co.'s sales in Greater China ticked up 3.7% in 2021 compared with 2020, while rival General Motors Co.'s year-over-year sales in the world's largest auto market stayed flat amid an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage that hampered vehicle production worldwide last year.

Ford sold approximately 624,000 vehicles in China and Taiwan last year, up from 602,627 sales in 2020. GM, meanwhile, sold about 2.9 million vehicles in China, the same as it did in 2020.

In the fourth quarter, Ford sold more than 167,000 vehicles in the region, up 11.9% from the previous quarter. 

Underpinning the overall growth in sales was Ford's luxury Lincoln division, which notched a record 91,000 sales for the year — outselling Lincoln in the U.S., where the brand had just under 87,000 sales, and surpassing by nearly 50% the brand's 2020 China sales of roughly 61,700 units. In the fourth quarter, Lincoln sales were up 13.1% year-over-year.

"Ford starts 2022 with strong momentum from the execution of our China 2.0 plans centered on a robust portfolio and electrification," Anning Chen, president and CEO of Ford China, said in a statement. "The steady rollout of new vehicles — including the locally built Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford EVOS and Lincoln Zephyr — combined with the launch of Ford's network of direct-to-customer battery electric vehicle stores positions us well for growth ahead."

In 2021, Ford began building out a direct sales network for its electric vehicles in the region and in the fall launched the locally-assembled version of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E to customers in China, which is the top country for EV sales. The automaker so far has opened 25 direct-to-consumer stores for battery-electric vehicles as part of a plan to establish a network of more than 100 stores in major cities across China.

Ford-branded passenger vehicle sales of approximately 237,000 units were down 1.4% from 2020. Ford SUV sales of more than 140,000 units were up 0.6%. The automaker also reported "strong demand" for sedans, with sales up for models such as the Ford Mondeo and Ford Taurus.

On the commercial vehicle side, Ford and its manufacturing partner Jiangling Motors Corporation reported 264,000 sales in 2021, down 1.8% year-over-year. Ford Transit sales were up 1.4%. And JMC brand commercial vehicle sales of more than 211,000 units were down 2.2%.

Ford does not break down by segment or brand the vehicles it sells in Taiwan, but those units are part of the total sales number the automaker reports.

The release did not provide breakdown of vehicles sold in Taiwan which are counted as part of the 624,000 total as part of Ford’s Greater China results.

Detroit's automakers historically have struggled to succeed in China. Ford's sales there had been pulled down by lack of demand for an aging vehicle lineup, but recently have improved since the automaker launched its China 2.0 strategy aimed at accelerating the changeover of its lineup and introducing more locally-made vehicles in line with the preferences of customers in the region.

General Motors Co. too, has sought to realign its lineup in China. The Detroit automaker noted in its sales release earlier this week that it has an "intensive launch cadence" planned for its brands in China in 2022. More than 20 new and refreshed models will be introduced, with the focus on luxury and premium models as well as new energy vehicles including EVs.

“As the challenges brought by the macro environment persisted, we stayed focused on delivering high-quality products and services to satisfy our customers while moving forward on our commitment to create a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,” Julian Blissett, GM executive vice president and president of GM China, said in a statement. “We are optimistic about the outlook for the industry and our performance in 2022.”

By brand, Cadillac had record sales of more than 230,000 units in 2021. Buick delivered nearly 820,000 units, while Chevrolet deliveries totaled about 230,000 vehicles. Baojun had more than 210,000 sales and Wuling sold about 1.4 million units.

As GM accelerates its shift toward zero-emissions vehicles and aims to hit ambitious electrification targets, the automaker noted that a "wide spectrum" of vehicle models on its Ultium platform, across Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet, will be introduced in China, led by the forthcoming Cadillac Lyriq. GM's first Ultium Center, where battery packs for locally-built EVs are assembled, opened in Shanghai in October.

Meanwhile, data and analytics firm GlobalData on Friday released a new report Friday predicting that China will maintain its dominance in the EV market in 2022.

“In 2020, 48% of all EVs on the road could be found in China — more than the combined figure for the US and Europe. China’s EV fleet will be 60% of the world’s total by 2030," GlobalData analyst Amrit Dhami said in a statement. “China’s large domestic market, raw materials access, and favorable government policies mean it will continue to dominate the EV landscape and won’t be as disadvantaged by the lithium shortage."

In the U.S., Ford's sales fell 6.8% in 2021 to about 1.9 million. GM's U.S. sales slid 13% to roughly 2.2 million vehicles — and the automaker ceded its No. 1 U.S. sales position for the first time in 90 years. 

 

Canada joins Mexico's official
complaint arguing U.S.
violating new trade pact
over auto parts provision

Ashley Burke  
Jan 17, 2022

© Norm Betts/Bloomberg Canada is arguing that the way the U.S. views the CUSMA trade pact would make it harder for Canadian vehicles and core auto parts — engines, transmissions and steering wheels — to qualify as duty-free.

Canada is joining Mexico's official complaint today requesting a dispute settlement panel over claims the U.S. is violating the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement on trade, the new NAFTA, by insisting on a stricter way of interpreting a key provision around auto parts. 

Motor vehicles are the top manufactured trade product between the three countries. Canada argues that the way the U.S. views the trade pact would make it harder for Canadian vehicles and core auto parts — engines, transmissions and steering wheels — to qualify as duty-free. 

International trade and export promotion minister May Ng issued a statement this morning arguing the U.S. view of the rules is "inconsistent" with the trade pact the three countries agreed to, which came into force in 2020. 

"Canada, Mexico and the United States would all benefit from certainty that CUSMA is being implemented as negotiated, and Canada is optimistic that a dispute settlement panel will help ensure a timely resolution of this issue," wrote Ng. 

Canada and Mexico have been working to resolve this dispute for more than a year. 

The dispute centres around a technical issue in the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. The provision would require by 2025 that 75 per cent of a vehicle and certain core components must be manufactured in the country in order to qualify to be duty-free. If not, the U.S. can charge tariffs under World Trade Organization rules. 

This "rules of origin" provision was supposed to encourage "production and sourcing" of passenger cars and light-duty trucks in North America to "deepen regional integration," wrote Ng. 

Prior to CUSMA going into effect in July 2020, only 62.5 per cent of a vehicle had to be manufactured in the country to qualify for duty-free treatment. 

Canada says U.S. interpretation would be a burden

Mexico and Canada argue that if a core car part uses 75 per cent regional manufacturing, it satisfies the agreement to meet a second requirement to qualify for the entire car to meet the bar to be considered duty-free. The U.S. doesn't agree, which could make it harder for entire vehicles to qualify to be considered duty-free. 

A Canadian senior government official told CBC News the U.S. interpretation could be overly burdensome for the industry and regulators. 

While re-negotiating NAFTA in 2019, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. agreed on a dispute mechanism process that will now be used. A dispute panel could hear the arguments for the nations. 

Ng wrote the Canadian government will continue to "stand up for our auto industry and workers."

"Canada, Mexico and the United States would all benefit from certainty that CUSMA is being implemented as negotiated, and Canada is optimistic that a dispute settlement panel will help ensure a timely resolution of this issue," wrote Ng. 

The matter is not related to Canada's dispute with the U.S. over its electric vehicle tax incentive for American-made vehicles. 

 

 

Ford crosses $100 billion in
market value for the first time

Reuters
Jan 14, 2022

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's market value breached $100 billion for the first time on Thursday, as more investors bet on the Detroit automaker's electrification strategy.

The company's shares, which have more than doubled in value last year, were up 3.7% in afternoon trade after hitting a more than two-decade high earlier.

Ford is now worth more than its century-old rival General Motors, whose market cap stands at about $88.61 billion and EV start-up Rivian Automotive, whose value is about $77.8 billion.

But, the automakers are still dwarfed by EV leader Tesla Inc, which has a market cap of over $1 trillion.

Shares of Tesla were down 4.7% on Thursday after a report said the company updated its Cybertruck model webpage to remove references to the year 2022. (Graphic: Ford's stock market value surpasses $100 billion, https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/FORD/myvmnbqodpr/chart.png)

Ford's gains come amid its plans to double production capacity for the electric version of its hugely popular F-150 pickup truck to 150,000 vehicles as part of Chief Executive Jim Farley's aggressive electrification strategy.

Demand for the F-150 Lightning electric pickup has been red hot and Ford has had to stop taking reservations for the truck ahead of its arrival this spring at U.S. dealers.

Ford's Farley, who took over as CEO in 2020, has pledged to invest more than $30 billion on EVs, including battery development, by 2030.

The EV strategy has buoyed Wall Street brokerages, with Deutsche Bank the latest to raise its price target on Ford.

"We see room for Ford's fourth quarter performance to come in above consensus expectations, based on continued strong pricing offsetting growing raw materials headwinds," Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said in a research note, while raising its price target to $24 from $18.

The median Wall Street price target is $21.85.

 

Ontario's Deadline To Renew
Driver's Licences & Health
Cards Is Coming Up,
So Get Prepared

January 12, 2022

Did your driver's licence or health card expire during the pandemic? Well, Ontario's deadline to renew them is just over a month away, so you may want to consider getting it done sooner than later.

According to the provincial government, Ontarians with driver's licences, licence plate stickers, photo cards, health cards, and other driver and vehicle products that have already expired since March 2020 or is set to expire by February 28, 2022, will have until the end of February to renew them.

Ontarians can renew all of these documents online via the ServiceOntario website, so you can bypass the line-up and do it straight from the comfort of your own home.

The provincial government extended the validity of these documents in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 and limit the number of people hitting up ServiceOntario.

If your licence expires after February 28, 2022, a reminder probably won't make its way into your mailbox because the Ontario government will stop mailing them out to most people.

Back in November, the Ford administration said instead it will email reminders to Ontarians with upcoming renewal deadlines.

"As part of our commitment to improving access to government services for the people and businesses of our province, Ontarians can now benefit from secure and timely reminders and renew their products right from the comfort of their own homes," Minister of Government and Consumer Service, Ross Romano, said in the November 18 announcement.

Some residents who will still likely get a notice in their mailbox include anyone 16 years old and under or 70 and older with expired health cards, as well as those with a licence plate sticker tied to a company vehicle, and heavy commercial vehicle owners.

 

Pressure mounting for grocers
to bring back 'hero pay'
amid Omicron surge

The Canadian Press
Brett Bundale,
January 11, 2022

The failure of Canada's grocers to reinstate “hero pay” for employees amid an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases is “about greed, period,” the head of the country's largest private-sector union said Friday.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said while front-line supermarket workers are facing the biggest risks, executives are receiving the biggest rewards.

Top grocery bosses have cashed multi-million dollar bonuses as sales and profits soar during the pandemic - even as they refuse to bring back pay bumps for employees, he said.

“Employees on the front line are at risk every day and yet it's the executives being rewarded handsomely,” Dias said. “They're making record profits but don't have the decency to pay their employees what they're worth.”

His comments come after the federal NDP critic for economic development, MP Brian Masse, sent a letter to the heads of Canada's biggest supermarkets this week saying workers are doing risky work and again deserve a wage premium to keep stores open and shelves stocked.

Three grocery chains - Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys - ushered in a $2-an-hour pay bump in the early days of the pandemic. It was cancelled after the first wave subsided.

While each chain has sporadically reintroduced either wage bonuses or other incentives, it appears none have offered workers pay premiums as a result of the Omicron surge.

Loblaw did not respond to multiple requests for comment, while Metro declined to comment.

However, Sobeys shared a letter CEO Michael Medline sent in response to Masse's concerns.

“We are the only retailer in Canada who publicly committed to reinstating our Hero Pay/Lockdown Bonus program when regions or provinces go back into lockdowns that close all non-essential retail,” he said.

Sobeys has distributed over $110 million in “hero pay” and bonuses to its front-line team members since the beginning of the pandemic, Medline said.

Sobeys spokeswoman Jacquelin Weatherbee added in an email that the company is closely watching the constantly changing restrictions.

If government-mandated lockdowns once again close all non-essential retail, the grocer will reinstate its lockdown bonus, she said.

Yet Dias said the risk of catching COVID-19 has never been greater for retail workers as infections surge across the country.

“Pandemic pay was a recognition that front-line workers are at an increased risk from the coronavirus,” he said. “That danger is still there.”

Dalhousie University professor of food distribution and policy Sylvain Charlebois said other parts of the food industry, including processing and distribution, have seen wages increase permanently during the pandemic.

“Employees in stores also deserve higher wages,” Charlebois said. “It's time to look at wages seriously.”

Other retailers, such as Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd. and The Home Depot Canada, replaced temporary pandemic bonuses with permanent wage increases.

However, part of the issue in food retail is that it's a “high volume, low margin environment,” Charlebois said.

“If grocery chains raised wages by $2 an hour across the board, most of the stores in their networks would likely run at a loss,” he said. “That's the reality of grocery shopping.”

Meanwhile, increasing automation could reduce the number of workers companies need to run a grocery store, but those people could be better paid, Charlebois said.

“Knowing the financial realities of running a grocery store, you can't afford to keep the same amount of people (and increase both automation and wages across the board),” he said.

But Dias said employees deserve a living wage.

“You can always find justification not to do the right thing,” he said. “The bottom line is those on the front lines deserve to have decent hours and to make a decent living wage.”

UFCW Canada, which also represents grocery retail workers in Canada, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

 

Canada may have another
unlikely ally in its electric
vehicle tax-credit fight: Arizona

James McCarten
The Canadian Press
Jan 010, 2022

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to Detroit's General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant in November. His plan to use protectionist tax incentives to promote American-made electric vehicles is opposed by Ottawa. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

From its arid desert climate to its mercurial, centre-right politics, the southern border state of Arizona hardly seems to have much in common with Canada beyond winter-wary snowbirds.

But U.S. President Joe Biden's controversial plan to use protectionist tax incentives to promote American-made electric vehicles, which threaten misery for the Canadian auto sector, is making for all kinds of strange bedfellows.

With its proximity to both Silicon Valley and the U.S.-Mexico border — without the high taxes and regulation of tech-savvy neighbour California — the Grand Canyon State is striving to play host to the looming EV revolution — a vision endangered by Biden's scheme.

"We're going to be one of the next hubs in the United States for next-generation electric vehicle manufacturing," said Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

"We just want, from a federal policy standpoint, a fair and balanced approach so that consumers can buy the products that they want. Whether they're produced in states like Arizona or other states across the country, we think prudent policy to induce consumer behaviour should be done fairly."

Arizona is far from the only state opposed to the measure, which if passed would allow would-be electric vehicle buyers to enjoy tax credits worth up to $12,500 US, provided their preferred car or truck was assembled in the U.S. and built with union labour.

But few have been more vocal critics. Last month, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Sanders and Jaime Molera, Arizona director of a conservative environmental group called The Western Way, penned an opinion piece denouncing a "poorly drafted" scheme that would "hobble" the state's EV ambitions.

Bill hit by setback in December

Sanders is taking little comfort in the fact that Biden's Build Back Better bill, the $1.75-trillion US climate and social spending package containing the tax credits, suffered a setback before Christmas when renegade Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin declared he would not support it.

"What you learn early on is nothing's ever dead," Sanders, himself a veteran of public-policy debates within government at the state level, said in an interview.

"If we can bring in Canada into this, obviously our friends from Mexico and then our congressional delegation, that starts to at least raise the concern that we have that this isn't necessarily the right way to go."

Along with up-and-coming EV players such as Rivian, Nikola Corp. and ElectraMeccanica, Arizona is attracting parts and manufacturing service suppliers as well — including Jomi Engineering Group, based in Barrie, Ont., which by mid-year will have some 120 employees at its new facility in Casa Grande, just south of Phoenix.

"You can't fight it," Jomi founder and president Michael Hoy said of the growing EV sector's gravitational pull toward the southern U.S.

"[We] couldn't build the Canadian operation anymore; we would have probably never had the opportunity as we do, or get competitive enough, if we didn't move closer to our customers."

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia and a crucial vote in the Senate, has said he does not support the current version of the $1.75-trillion US Build Back Better legislation. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/The Associated Press)

In October, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was among 11 Republican state governors who wrote to congressional leaders denouncing Biden's plan as an unfair use of taxpayer dollars.

"We cannot support any proposal that creates a discriminatory environment in our states by punishing autoworkers and car companies because the workers in their plants chose not to unionize," the letter says.

"Congress should not enact proposals that favour vehicles produced by one workforce over another, particularly when doing so dramatically limits consumer choice and undermines larger carbon emission reduction goals."

Arizona delegation a lobbying target for Canada

In the 50-50 U.S. Senate, West Virginia's Manchin has been the focus of will-he, won't-he speculation about his support for Build Back Better.

Less attention has been paid to an equally unpredictable Democratic colleague, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, whose moderate-conservative politics nicely encapsulate the purple state she represents: Arizona.

As a right-to-work state — by law, would-be employees can't be required to join a union — with a vested interest in a robust and growing EV industry, Arizona is focused only on doing away with the $4,500 portion of the tax credits that are focused on American-assembled, union-built vehicles.

"That should make them almost the optimum ally," said Roy Norton, a former senior diplomat who did two stints at the Canadian Embassy in the 1990s and 2000s before becoming diplomat-in-residence at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ont.

"We don't want to kill subsidies. We just want to kill subsidies for U.S.-made vehicles exclusively — and Arizona should be precisely on the same page inasmuch as it's a right-to-work state that's at odds with a president and an administration that is a bit of a throwback."

Officials in Ottawa confirm that Arizona's congressional delegation — and Sinema's office in particular — continue to be a focus of the federal government's lobbying efforts, which peaked late last year with visits to Washington by multiple emissaries, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

 

Mary Ng, Canada's international trade minister, left, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote to top U.S. senators threatening retaliation if the EV tax credit is approved. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Biden, however, makes no secret of his affinity for blue-collar union workers, nor his ultimate goal of restoring the former lustre of the once-mighty U.S. manufacturing sector. Both, along with reducing carbon emissions, are the principal goals of a tax credit scheme the White House says is close to his heart.

Though he didn't mention EV tax credits specifically, Biden himself signalled strongly on Friday that he hasn't given up on the Build Back Better bill, which is likely to return to the fore at some point in the coming weeks or months.

Whether it will continue to include the tax credits, or the EV vision emerges in a different form, remains an open question.

Responding to the latest jobs report in the U.S., the president reiterated on Friday his vision of a resurgent American manufacturing sector, fuelled by an economy that grows "from the bottom up and the middle out."

"From Day 1, my economic agenda has been different. It's about taking a fundamentally new approach to our economy — one that sees the prosperity of working families as a solution, not the problem," Biden said.

"Let's make what we're selling in America made in America, so we're not at risk of foreign supply chains and shipping delays."

 

Ford posts 7% fall in
2021 U.S. auto sales

January 9, 2021

(Reuters) -Ford Motor Co reported a 6.8% fall in 2021 U.S. vehicle sales on Wednesday, as the automaker struggled to deliver its cars and trucks due to lingering supply-chain bottlenecks and a global chip shortage.

© Reuters/Brendan McDermid FILE PHOTO: Ford logo is seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

The Detroit automaker sold 1,905,955 vehicles in 2021, ending up behind new U.S. leader Toyota Motor Corp and rival General Motors Co. Ford had sold 2,044,744 vehicles a year earlier.

Ford's shares extended losses to trade down about 3% after the sales report.

Total U.S. light vehicle sales for 2021 were just under 15 million, according to Wards Intelligence, below the five-year average of 17.3 million from 2015 to 2019.

Sales of Ford's Mustang Mach-E electric crossover were 27,140 for 2021. The company plans to triple annual production of the electric crossover to more than 200,000 by 2023, to meet better-than-anticipated demand.

Ford has been focusing on its EV strategy and said on Tuesday it would nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles.

Shares of Ford gained about 136% in 2021, outperforming GM's 40.8% rise and EV leader Tesla Inc's 49.7% jump, as investors bet that buyers will lap up the electric version of the F-150.

 

Ottawa says 140 million more
rapid tests heading to the
provinces, territories this month

CBC/Radio-Canada  
Jan 7, 2022

The federal government said today an additional 140 million rapid tests will be delivered to provinces and territories this month.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government is now in the process of delivering the tests, which will be allocated to provinces and territories on a per-capita basis.

The 140 million additional tests are enough to provide "one rapid test per week, per person, in Canada for January," he said.

Before December, the government said it had delivered 85 million rapid tests to the provinces and territories. As the Omicron coronavirus variant began to spread rapidly last month, the government pushed out 35 million tests to the regions, said Duclos.

The rush for rapid tests comes as many regions scale back on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing — the gold standard of COVID testing — due to capacity concerns. PCR tests are mostly offered through assessment centres, hospitals and other health care settings and require lab analysis.

The demand for rapid tests has been outpacing supply. A pop-up in Kitchener, Ont. ran out of rapid test kits within an hour on Tuesday.

Before the Christmas break, Ontario Premier Doug Ford apologized after free COVID-19 rapid tests offered at LCBO stores and other locations in the province "disappeared like rapid fire."

It's not clear exactly how the tests will get to Canadians. Each province and territory is in charge of its own distribution.

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said rapid tests are going to help the country get through the latest pandemic wave.

"Our job is to procure as many as we possibly can and get them to the provinces free of charge. They will make determinations in delivering them to people," he said. 

"We have certain stockpiles for vulnerable populations and specific usage but the vast majority of rapid tests will be sent to provinces and territories for them to distribute in the best way to serve their citizens."

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said rapid tests are "simple" devices that can be sold over the counter and the federal government should have done a better job of ensuring they did not run out.

"There should have been hundreds of millions of these tests already being used over the course of the last year and the Trudeau government failed to deliver on that," he told a Facebook Live event. He did not take questions from the press.

O'Toole echoed Trudeau's call for all eligible Canadians to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Let's be honest, this isn't how anyone wanted to be starting 2022 ... I can tell you as a parent I'm very aware the kids are back in school virtually and I can understand people are frustrated. But I also know that we know how to get through this," Trudeau said.

"We're looking at a better spring as long as we all keep doing our part."

 

 

Local 444 Planning a Rally over
latest closure of Caesars Windsor

Rusty Thompson
January 6, 2021

The head of the union representing workers at Caesars Windsor is planning a rally over the latest closure of Caesars Windsor.

As of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Caesars Windsor is shutting down operations until Jan. 26 due to provincial restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Dave Cassidy, President of Unifor Local 444, says he still has 1,000 members not back to work, who have no type of financial assistance available to help them. 

"There's no CERB {Canada Emergency Response Benefit}, they can't reap the benefit off lock down benefit, it's very frustrating. Potentially, the people who were called back might not have enough hours of qualify for EI {Employment Insurance} as well," he says.

Cassidy wants to know what the provincial government is doing for the workers.

"You know our members, they're losing their homes, they're struggling to feed their families. This government is leaving families behind and this really needs to stop," he says.

Cassidy plans to organize a rally over this latest development.

"We need to make sure the people hear the real stories, this government hears the real stories from the workers. Not just from the union president screaming from the top of his lungs, letting people know that this is wrong. They need to hear the human stories and that's what we're going to plan, we're going to have something done by week's end," he adds.

Unifor Local 444 represents roughly 2,200 unionized workers at the casino, which has not operated at full capacity since mid-March 2020.

The casino reopened to the general public on July 23, operating at 50 per cent capacity. As restrictions were eased throughout the summer and into the fall, shows were scheduled for mid-December The Colosseum, but those were also called off due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

Unifor Local 444 is set to begin contract negotiations with Caesars Windsor in April.

 

Ford Canada extends vaccine
deadline for employees

January 5, 2021

Ford of Canada has prolonged the deadline for workers to adjust to its COVID-19 mandate to March 28, whereas GM and Stellantis report enormous uptake of the vaccine amongst its staff.

Ford’s coverage was supposed to start Jan. 3. GM and Stellantis deadlines have already handed.

The overwhelming majority of Ford’s hourly and salaried staff have already reported being vaccinated towards the virus, firm spokeswoman Kerri Stoakley stated in an e mail to Automotive Information Canada.

“We’ve got been very inspired by the assist of our staff to adjust to our protocols, together with the roughly 90 per cent of our hourly and salaried workforce who’re absolutely vaccinated,” she wrote.

The corporate didn’t say why the deadline was moved however Unifor, which represents hourly staff at Ford services in Canada, has been preventing for adjustments to the coverage because it was first introduced in October 2021.

The union says the automaker notified it of the deadline change and stated staff can submit a request for lodging for non secular or medical causes ought to they not need to get inoculated. 

Ford stated it could proceed to push its staff to get a shot.

“To encourage vaccination, unvaccinated staff who would not have a company-approved lodging shall be supplied with academic sources together with details about how COVID-19 vaccines work, vaccine security associated to the event of the COVID-19 vaccines, advantages of vaccination towards COVID-19, dangers of not being vaccinated towards COVID-19, and potential unwanted effects of COVID-19 vaccination,” Stoakley stated.

Ford employs about 3,400 folks at its Oakville Meeting Plant exterior Toronto.

STELLANTIS UPTAKE

In the meantime, the “overwhelming majority” of staff at Stellantis services in Canada have complied with  the automaker’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, the corporate stated.

“[B]ut we’re not disclosing the numbers,” LouAnn Gosselin, head of communications for Stellantis in Canada, stated in an e mail to Automotive Information Canada.

Stellantis now requires all staff, contractors and guests at their Canadian services be absolutely vaccinated towards COVID-19 — they usually should present proof.

The automaker had initially deliberate to bar unvaccinated workers from Canadian websites Dec. 17 after saying the vaccine requirement in mid-October. However Stellantis pushed again the implementation timeline for its necessary vaccination coverage at its Canadian services till Dec. 31, giving staff two additional weeks to conform and the corporate enough time to work by way of exception requests.

“We aren’t commenting on particulars pertaining to the coverage or self-discipline,” Gosselin stated Tuesday.

Gosselin supplied no additional particulars relating to penalties for these not in compliance of the brand new rule. The corporate beforehand stated penalties will prolong to termination however that on a case-by-case foundation it could additionally accommodate searching for an exemption.

In the meantime, the automaker’s minivan plant will stay idled till Jan. 21 ”to align manufacturing with world gross sales,” Gosselin stated.

Its Brampton Meeting Plant, the place the automaker builds the Dodge Challenger and Charger and the Chrysler 300 shall be idle till Jan. 26.

GM started requiring proof of vaccination on Dec. 12. 

Stellantis employs about 6,400 folks on the two vegetation, however a shift is scheduled to be reduce in Windsor this spring.

GM WORKERS ON LEAVE

Unvaccinated staff at Normal Motors’ CAMI Meeting Plant have been pressured onto unpaid leaves of absence following the vaccination deadline, in response to the union that represents hourly staff on the Ingersoll, Ont., plant. 

Mike Van Boekel, Unifor chairperson, confirmed on the time of the deadline that an undisclosed variety of Native 88 members have been place go away, however wouldn’t remark additional. He estimated roughly 100 unvaccinated staff had not secured medical or non secular exemption to the necessary vaccination coverage.

GM Canada wouldn’t touch upon the main points of its coverage for CAMI or its wider community of Canadian services, however stated the “overwhelming majority” of the corporate’s staff have met the necessities.

All instructed, GM employs about 3,800 folks at two vegetation in Ontario.

 

Ford to double F-150 Lightning
production; orders open Thursday

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 4, 2022

Ford Motor Co. will double annual production of the F-150 Lightning in Dearborn once again, the automaker said Tuesday ahead of the first group of reservation holders being invited to begin placing orders for the electric pickup truck Thursday.

Increasing production will bring the output to 150,000 vehicles per year at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in the Blue Oval's hometown after deliveries begin in the spring. The announcement comes as the company has received nearly 200,000 reservations for the first electric version of America's most popular vehicle and as General Motors Co. is set to reveal virtually its all-electric Chevrolet Silverado on Wednesday at the CES trade show in Las Vegas.

"Our teams are working hard and creatively to break production constraints in order to get more F-150 Lightning trucks into the hands of our customers,” Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and international markets group, said in a statement. “The reality is clear: People are ready for an all-electric F-150, and Ford is pulling out all the stops to scale our operations and increase production capacity.”

Because of the demand, Ford is implementing a wave-by-wave process for customers with reservations to order the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. They will receive an email invitation to order, or they can check their Ford.com account. Those who don't get to order the '22 vehicle will be able to order for future model years. Ford says more than 75% of customers with a Lightning reservation don't already own a Ford vehicle.

Boosting production of the truck that starts at almost $40,000 has been a matter of increasing capacity to build electric vehicle parts, including battery cells, battery trays and electric drive systems with suppliers and at Ford's own Rawsonville Components Plant and Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, the automaker said. A task force of employees from manufacturing, purchasing, strategy, product development and capacity planning is working on how to expand the number of vehicles that can be built.

This effort comes after Ford in September said it would invest an additional $250 million and add 450 jobs across all three facilities to increase production to 80,000 vehicles per year. The creation of the electric vehicle center was a part of an initial $700 million investment in the Rouge complex that created 300 jobs.

“The pride and quality UAW members are putting into building the iconic Ford F-150 Lightning is evident in the high pre-production demand for the new F-150 Lightning Electric vehicle,” Chuck Browning, vice president of the United Auto Workers and director of the union's Ford department, said in a statement. “UAW members are leading the way in doubling the amount of vehicles Ford is producing for this game-changing model of our legendary union-built vehicle.”

Ford has entered the final pre-build phase for the Lightning prior to mass production for retail and the launch of the Lightning Pro for commercial customers, whose deliveries will start this spring. The company will use the pre-build trucks for testing more than 1 million collective miles in real-world uses.

The increased capacity will help Ford to achieve a global EV capacity of 600,000 vehicles within the next two years. The E-Transit electric commercial van also will go on sale this spring. The automaker is investing $30 billion in EVs through 2025 and expects to be the country's No. 2 EV seller before 2024.

 

Planning a staycation? You
can claim a tax credit if you
travel in Ontario this year

Lisa Xing 
CBC News
Jan 3, 2022

The provincial government's "staycation tax credit" is now in effect for Ontarians who plan getaways within the province this year.

Announced Nov. 4, the credit aims to boost local business by offering people who book overnight stays in Ontario for anytime in 2022 a return of 20 per cent on accommodation expenses of up to $1,000 per person or $2,000 per family.

Some businesses welcomed the incentive — which works out to a maximum return of $200 per person or $400 per family — saying they hope it can help those hit hardest during COVID-19 restrictions.  

"Everybody suffered," said Renda Abdo, owner of the Lakeside Motel in Prince Edward County, about 200 kilometres northeast of Toronto. "People are still very unsure about travelling on planes and too far away from home, so I think it's perfect timing."

Geoffrey Wild, owner of The Wild Tart pastry shop in Elora, just northwest of Guelph, said the credit could help boost local tourism, which would help a variety of businesses.

"The recent [Omicron] variant, the virus, things like that remind us it's nice we can travel locally, travel around our province," he said

Too late for some

But for some, the credit comes too late.

"They should have introduced it way long ago," said Barry Choi, creator of Moneywehave.com, a personal finance and budget travel blog.  "[Businesses] could have used those dollars in 2021 when things were really hurting." 

Choi said he and his family have done their Ontario travelling already, having just returned home to Toronto from a trip to Ottawa. 

"I'm going to be looking to travel outside Canada," he said. "And I can think of a lot of people who are in the same boat." 

In October, Canada lifted a blanket advisory that had been in place since March 2020 against all non-essential travel outside the country.

More recently, to prevent travel-related infections amid mounting case counts and spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, the federal government has been advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential international travel.

'This province is the same size as many countries'

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says it supports Ontario's 2022 travel tax credit.

"It makes sense to delay it to a time where Ontarians could comfortably and confidently take advantage of it," said Ryan Mallough, senior director of provincial affairs for Ontario with the CFIB.

Wild said Ontario offers something new to see, even for those who have already done some exploring in the province.

"To everybody that says, 'I spent my Ontario travel money,' — my God, this province is the same size as many countries," he said. "So you can't tell me you've done all your travel yet." 

Eligible expenses

On its website, the provincial government lays out the details around eligibility, including that Ontarians can claim the credit for accommodation expenses for "a leisure [not business-related] stay of less than a month," at a short-term accommodation, such as a: hotel, motel, resort, lodge, bed-and-breakfast establishment, cottage or campground.

The stay must occur between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, the province says, "regardless of timing of payment."

 

Ontario's minimum hourly
wage now $15

CBC/Radio-Canada
Jan 2, 2022  

As previously announced, Ontario's minimum hourly wage rose to $15 on New Year's Day.

"Ontario's workers deserve a raise, and today we're delivering one," Premier Doug Ford said in a Saturday news release.

"There's no better way to support hard-working Ontarians right now than raising the minimum wage."

The province's minimum wage last rose by 10 cents on Oct 1. On Nov. 1, Ford announced it would rise again from $14.35 to $15. Similarly, the $12.55 minimum wage for workers receiving tips while serving alcohol has also risen to $15.

As a result, the average person working full-time minimum wage hours can expect to make $1,350 more each year. The increase is expected to impact roughly 760,000 workers' wages.

Still, even Ford admitted it isn't enough.

When he announced the change, a reporter asked Ford if he thought he could survive on $15 per hour. No, the premier acknowledged, but "it's a start."

 

GM Oshawa Assembly is alive again

January 1, 2022

The first Silverados inbuilt Oshawa reached seller heaps this month.

The automaker on Dec. 23 stated on Twitter that the truck bearing car identification quantity (VIN) 001 was on its option to Paillé Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in Berthierville, Que., winner of the rights to buy the primary Oshawa-built  Silverado.

Bell couldn’t say what portion of the plant’s output can be destined for Canadian sellers however stated that over time, GM will goal to construct each Silverado bought in Canada in Oshawa.

The one-year turnaround for Oshawa’s retooling was among the many quickest in GM historical past, Bell stated. Much of the automaker’s retooling crew, which generally spends months on-site upgrading a plant, was based mostly within the United States, and couldn’t enter Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a end result, GM shed quite a few extra conventional approaches.

“We weren’t able to get people across the border, and so the team had to be very nimble and creative,” Bell stated.

The crew leveraged the brand new digital norm rather than cross-border journey and used the microchip scarcity to its benefit. When the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ont., was idled due to the provision shortages, for example, GM put among the plant’s workers to work on the retrofits in Oshawa.

Ultimately, personnel put in greater than 1,100 new robots, 500 kilometres {of electrical} wiring and three.1 kilometres of conveyance.

‘BEGINNING OF SOMETHING’

The plant’s new manufacturing crew displays trendy strides towards a extra numerous manufacturing sector. Half of the 1,200 new hires on the plant are ladies.

The consequence is a direct results of the hiring crew’s effort to dispel the longstanding stigma about ladies in manufacturing roles, Bell stated. To promote inclusivity, GM adjusted its job commercials and rooted out bias in its coaching program that favoured physicality over high quality.

“With the equipment, the technology that we have, even building heavy-duty trucks, it’s not about brute strength, it’s really about doing that job right and doing it with a great attention to detail,” Bell stated.

As the brand new hires acquire expertise, he stated, GM will be capable of draw from the pool of feminine expertise to spice up illustration inside its administration. Today, ladies make up about 23 per cent of GM’s international workforce and roughly 20 per cent of its executives, in keeping with the corporate’s 2020 sustainability report.

“Hopefully, this is the beginning of something for the long haul in all of our manufacturing facilities,” Bell stated.

Oshawa will run on a single shift by way of this month earlier than ramping as much as two shifts in early 2022. GM has crammed many of the 1,800 positions obtainable on the plant and is within the ultimate levels of coaching employees on the second shift.

‘CLEAN CANVAS’

Most are new to the five-million-square-foot (465,000-square-metre) plant, although round 500 of the two,300 employees who had been laid off when Oshawa closed in late 2019 retained their recall rights.

Unifor was transitioning the plant’s workforce when the retooling and restart had been introduced, stated union President Jerry Dias. Starting with a comparatively “clean canvas” let Unifor and the corporate work collectively on hiring a various workforce, Dias stated.

A yr after that course of began, when the primary pickup rolled off the road, the variety of younger employees created a palpably expectant environment, he stated.

“It’s not very often that you start a job and you think, ‘Boy, I’m going to be here for a long, long, long time,’ ” Dias stated.

The metropolis of Oshawa might not establish solely as an auto city, however Mayor Dan Carter stated the “psychological factor” of the plant’s reopening has reenergized the group. The restart of manufacturing means the town of 170,000 will proceed to carry a distinguished place within the business, he stated.

“It will be different than it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago, but I think it will play an important role,” Carter stated.

Along with the roles at Oshawa Assembly, elements suppliers within the space have been capable of ramp again up, returning hundreds of jobs, Dias stated. It additionally broadcasts a transparent sign past Oshawa.

“It’s showing … the claim of the death of our auto industry was premature, to say the least,” he stated.

 

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