Electric cars

Vinfast $2 billion factory in North Carolina Vietnam EV Confusion

Vinfast $2 billion factory in North Carolina Vietnam EV Confusion

VinFast at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2021

The Vietnamese auto startup is making waves outside of Raleigh, and locals are intrigued to say the least. All this and more in The morning shift for March 30, 2022.

1st Gear: include our favorite email in the subject

At Jalopnik, we receive e-mails. We love our emails! Let’s include one who writes to ask us about VinFast, an automotive company we report since 2018.

So, I live in the Raleigh, NC area and have pretty much my whole life. The state government is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to a Vietnamese electric vehicle startup called Vinfast.

Who the hell is Vinfast? It hardly looks like they have any real automobiles on the market right now and the only details we have are what the company says in the pressers. Motor Trend tried to contact them about their supposed foray into the US market this year and got silence. They claim they will employ 13,000 (!) to build 2 SUVs (surprise). That’s twice as many people as work at Ford River Rouge to make a car people actually buy (F150). But the governor is desperate to cut a ribbon, so now a Vietnamese oligarch is getting half a billion in incentives and free land (a site they’ve sold to Toyota, Daimler, Kia and VW) to build… something. Nobody knows enough about these things to say if they will even survive the extremes of heat/cold in this country.

I would love to see you give a fuck and see what exactly this company is about. I doubt they’re worth an investment the size of Toyota (not that corporate welfare isn’t a disease, because it is).

I like the implication here that a car company from Vietnam couldn’t afford to develop a car for such a drastically different climate as…North Carolina.

In any case, VinFast is an automobile company created by a Vietnamese billionaire who his to start up selling instant noodles in Kharkiv, Ukraine in the early 1990s! It’s an oddly topical connection.

Here is the main news on the new plant said to be coming to North Carolina, laid out by Automotive News:

According to a report from News & ObserverVinFast plans to eventually spend more than $4 billion to open an assembly plant in North Carolina that will create approximately 7,500 jobs by 2027. The initial investment will be $2 billion, according to a statement released by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

The company eventually plans to build 200,000 or more vehicles a year at the North Carolina plant, which the newspaper said will be located on a 2,150-acre site in Moncure, a 30-minute drive south of Raleigh. .

AN points out that VinFast would not be the first EV-forward startup to look South, with Rivian sets up in Georgia.

2nd Gear: Genesis gets its first standalone store in the United States

I’ve always been interested in the story of Genesis, a butterfly slowly emerging from its chrysalis. When Japanese automakers researched luxury sub-brands, they came up fully formed like Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti (but not Amati.) Genesis started at Hyundai dealerships with a Hyundai name. The name was split for a while, now Genesis is getting its first US standalone dealership with more on the way, like Automotive News reports:

“Genesis has acquired a standalone brand position”, [Arthur LeBlanc Jr., dealer principal of the new store, Genesis of Lafayette] noted. “As a manufacturer of luxury vehicles, self-driving installation is not only necessary, but also expected by our consumers.”

Dealerships now have five more stand-alone Genesis stores under construction across the country. They include one in Cherry Hill, NJ, owned by Pierre Lanzavecchiathe head of Genesis’ retail advisory board, and another in Greer, South Carolina, not far from BMW’s large US manufacturing complex.

The other three are in the greater Los Angeles area, in the markets of Cerritos, Corona, and Santa Monica.

3rd Gear: Mercedes again cuts European production on Ukraine

Europe’s auto industry was quick to rush east when the Iron Curtain came down, and for the most part it was a quiet transition. Russia invading Ukraine, however, has put a real wrench in the international but intra-continental automotive industry there, for Automotive News:

Mercedes-Benz Group said its German factories are operating even though the automaker was forced to make shift adjustments at its home plant in Sindelfingen due to supply chain disruption caused by the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.

Sindelfingen, which builds the automaker’s flagship sedans, the S-Class and EQS, as well as the E-Class, continues to operate despite parts shortages, a Mercedes spokesman said. Automotive News Europe in a statement sent by e-mail.

According to Mercedes, the situation is monitored “on a daily basis”, which does not seem stressful at all.

4th gear: Stellantis wants layoffs at Jeep plant in Illinois

And the UAW is not particularly keen on it! Stellantis wants cuts, UAW says they’re not reasonable, as the Detroit News reports:

The local United Auto Workers representing workers at a Jeep plant in Belvidere, Illinois, warns that the job cut targets he says Stellantis NV communicated to him are “unattainable”.

The transatlantic automaker informed employees on Monday that it was offering retirement packages to UAW-represented employees at the Cherokee crossover plant and that it was also laying off hourly and salaried staff there. The aim is to operate Belvidere in a “more sustainable way”, according to the company. He declined to disclose how many of the nearly 2,000 workers there would be affected.

5th Gear: Uber’s NYC taxi dealership could be headed to SF

Uber is now showing real taxis in New York in addition to its usual cars, a dealership that hopefully isn’t too small or too late for a city that’s done everything to completely screw up its taxi drivers.

We saw a real sea change here in New York last year thanks to New York Taxi Workers Alliance collective bargaining, and some of that rising tide may be lifting the San Francisco boat. From New York Times:

The company is set to strike a deal with San Francisco partner Flywheel Technologies to allow Uber riders in the city to hail a cab through the Uber app, according to four people familiar with the matter and a video presentation by the city transit agency. which was seen by the New York Times.

The next step is for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors to approve changes to a pilot program at its April 5 meeting. The city’s transportation director would then have to authorize it, paving the way for Uber and Flywheel, which operate an app used by hundreds of taxi drivers in San Francisco at multiple taxi companies to accept rides.

The deal, following last week’s announcement of a similar partnership between Uber and taxi companies in New York, would mark a sharp break from years of fierce fighting between the two groups. If approved by regulators, the partnership in San Francisco could begin as early as May.

I’m glad this is happening, but it’s also important to see this as a step in the right direction, not the end of the road. It’s still a public-private partnership of something that, honestly, is a social good and should be fully regulated.

Setback: I’m still a bit disappointed that we didn’t keep the government engines around

As Jacobin pointed out in a beautiful article “Remaking GM Government Motors,” we used to own GM. We had the power, the financial pull, to arm our biggest automaker for good and not just for profit. As it happens, we had the Volt for a few years and a bunch of trucks.