Tesla Drops Range Estimates On Every Vehicle But One

Happy Wednesday! It’s January 10, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift — your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, all in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Tesla Lowers Estimated Range For All Vehicles Except Cybertruck

With EVs, the number on every buyer’s mind is range. Above toque, power, and 0-60 times, everyone wants to know how far they can make it on a single charge. Tesla, in a bold move, is lowering the range estimates across its lineup. From Reuters:

Jan 9 (Reuters) – Tesla has lowered driving-range estimates across its lineup of electric vehicles as a new U.S. government vehicle-testing regulation takes effect with the goal of ensuring that automakers accurately reflect real-world performance.

Tesla has historically issued range estimates that overstate what its cars can deliver, prompting widespread complaints from customers, according to some automotive testing experts and a Reuters investigation last year.

Reuters reported in July that the automaker, about a decade ago, rigged the algorithm that controls in-dash range estimates in Tesla vehicles to give rosy projections of how far owners can drive before needing to recharge. The story also found the automaker created a secret team in 2022 to suppress thousands of driving-range complaints and cancel owners’ range-related service appointments.

Tesla has recently lowered the driving range estimates for variants of its model X, S, Y, and 3 vehicles, according to a Reuters review of marketing pages on its website compared with archived versions of the same pages and range estimates for 2023 models on a U.S. government site.

Tesla’s website now estimates the range of a Model Y Long Range, for instance, at 310 miles, while the government’s fuel economy site, maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), still lists the same vehicle’s range at 330 miles. Tesla dropped the range estimate for the performance variant of the Model Y, a small crossover SUV, from 303 miles to 285 miles, the Reuters review showed.

Lowering your range estimates as soon as the government says it’s going to start actually checking those range estimates is a fun coincidence. It’ll be interesting to see whether any other automakers make the same sort of corrections.

2nd Gear: Stellantis Is Getting Fined Over Its Detroit Plant Air Quality

Do you love the smell of fresh paint? I know I do. Do you love it when it’s constant, out of your control, and emanating from a vehicle factory in larger-than-legal amounts? Well, maybe that’s less good. From the Detroit News:

State environmental regulators are planning to fine Stellantis NV for repeated air quality violations at a paint shop at the company’s Detroit Assembly Complex.

The Jefferson North Assembly Plant on Conner Avenue released more volatile organic compounds than it was allowed from September 2022 through September 2023, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said.

The violation involved emissions measured on a per-paint job basis. The plant was allowed to emit 4.8 pounds of the pollutant per car or truck painted there in a 12-month rolling time period, but it released 5.01 pounds per paint job.

Volatile organic compounds are man-made chemicals commonly used in paints, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants and other household products that become airborne. They often are emitted as a gas. Breathing VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and can damage the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Some can cause cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Yes, sure, VOCs have “consequences” for you “health” and “well-being.” Have those regulators considered, though, that they smell great?

3rd Gear: Fisker Throws In The Towel On Direct Sales

After Tesla, all the EV brands decided they didn’t want to deal with the whole “dealership” part of selling cars. Dealerships took this largely in stride, without ever funding any laws that banned direct automobile sales or generally making the D2C approach a pain to deal with, obviously. Now, it seems Fisker is giving in, and going the traditional route. From Automotive News:

LAS VEGAS — Fisker is abandoning its plan to deliver vehicles directly to customers and will transition to franchised dealerships starting this year.

The company already announced its intention to sign 50 dealers by midyear, but that is just the start of the move that will take the electric vehicle startup out of the vehicle distribution and service business, Henrik Fisker told Automotive News on the sidelines of CES.

Fisker said he will attend the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here next month and personally make the pitch to dealers to sell the Ocean crossover. He said that franchised dealers will also get future products currently under development, including a small $30,000 EV called the Pear and the Alaska, an electric midsize pickup.

Fisker dealers would be required to provide a separate area for the Ocean and buy signage and tools and pay for technician training. “When the consumer comes in to see that car, we want that to be separate,” he said. But they could share service and back-office functions with other brands. “We want it to be a low-cost entry for dealers,” Fisker said.

If there’s one thing I know dealership owners love, it’s mandates that they set up separate areas for specific makes or models. Even better, they absolutely adore having to pay for extra training. Yep, I foresee this being very popular.

4th Gear: Volkswagen And Toyota Lost Out In China Last Year

Last week, we talked about GM struggling last year with sales in China. Now, it seems the General wasn’t the only automaker that had a rough year in the market: Volkswagen and Toyota did too. From Reuters:

BEIJING, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Volkswagen Group (VOWG_p.DE) and Toyota Motor (7203.T) saw their share of the world’s largest auto market shrink last year, industry data showed on Wednesday, as legacy international automakers ceded ground to Chinese rivals.

VW’s two joint ventures in China with FAW and SAIC took a combined 14.2% share in sales terms in 2023, down from 14.8% in 2022, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). Sales of SAIC VW and FAW VW include brands of VW, Audi and Jetta.

Toyota’s China JVs with GAC and FAW held a combined 7.9% share, compared with 8.6% in 2022.

By comparison, Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD , which dethroned Tesla (TSLA.O) as the world’s top EV seller in the fourth quarter, led its home market with 12.5% share, up from 8.8% in 2022.

Plenty of folks here in the U.S. prefer homegrown makes and models. It’s a sentiment that can be found across the globe. Should we be surprised that, once Chinese manufacturers caught up to the level of polish available from imports, Chinese buyers would begin to think the same?

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