Canadian Big Three Workers Are Ready To Strike As Well

A photo of a Unifor Union flag with The Morning Shift banner below.
A photo of a Unifor Union flag with The Morning Shift banner below.

Welcome to a brand new week. It’s Monday, August 28, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know today.

1st Gear: Canadian Union Votes In Favor Of Strikes

On Friday, members of the United Auto Workers union voted in favor of strike action at America’s Big Three automakers, which came just hours after Hyundai workers in Korea also voted in favor of industrial action. Now, unionized auto workers in Canada have gotten in on the action and come out in support of strikes of their own.


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2nd Gear: The People Don’t Want Autonomous Cars

After lawmakers in California refused to backtrack on autonomous vehicle testing across the state, residents have taken matters into their own hands. In order to show how fed up they are with self-driving cars from the likes of Waymo and Cruise blocking their streets, driving into concrete and generally annoying everyone, California residents are protesting the tech by putting a traffic cone on the hood of AVs.

The move might sound harmless, but putting a cone on the hood of an autonomous vehicle confuses its sensors and cameras, rendering it immobile. The simple action has become a protest among residents in cities like San Francisco, where the backlash against big tech is growing. As Automotive News reports:

The vigilantes began their vehicular mischief — it quickly became known as “coning” — ahead of a controversial vote this month in which the California Public Utilities Commission approved the expansion of commercial self-driving service throughout the city.

That green light came over the objections of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and city police and fire department officials, all who said self-driving vehicles often interfere with emergency responders and cause traffic fiascos.

Now, the originators of the protest, a group called Safe Street Rebel, say they are prepared to continue their protests against the tech. The move comes as the municipal transit agency petitions state regulators to reconsider their backing of self-driving taxi services in California.

Despite ongoing friction between residents and AV operators, both Cruise and Waymo claimed that incidents of coning had “dramatically slowed” since the vote on their future earlier this month.

3rd Gear: Tesla Prepares For Self-Drive Trial

While protestors continue fighting against self-driving cars in San Francisco, Tesla is preparing to head to court to defend its Autopilot driver assistance feature. The EV maker is facing its first trial over collisions involving Autopilot that resulted in fatalities.

The EV maker is facing two trials over crashes that resulted in fatalities. The first of which will be heard in September and, according to Reuters, relates to a 2019 crash that saw a Model 3 suddenly veer off highway the at 65 mph, hit a palm tree and burst into flames. The crash killed the car’s owner and driver, Micah Lee. Reuters reports:

The 2019 crash, which has not been previously reported, killed Lee and seriously injured his two passengers, including a then-8-year old boy who was disemboweled. The lawsuit, filed against Tesla by the passengers and Lee’s estate, accuses Tesla of knowing that Autopilot and other safety systems were defective when it sold the car.

The second trial, set for early October in a Florida state court, arose out of a 2019 crash north of Miami where owner Stephen Banner’s Model 3 drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler big rig truck that had pulled into the road, shearing off the Tesla’s roof and killing Banner. Autopilot failed to brake, steer or do anything to avoid the collision, according to the lawsuit filed by Banner’s wife.

Despite Autopilot remaining engaged in both collisions, Tesla has denied liability for the two crashes. Instead, the company blamed driver error and said that its driver assist software is only “safe when monitored by humans.”

4th Gear: EVs Passed 5 Percent Of New Car Sales In 23 Countries

Let’s end TMS with a little positive news from the world of EVs, where Bloomberg reports that sales in 23 countries around the world have reached an important milestone. According to the site, 23 countries now see EV sales make up more than five percent of new car sales, which it says is a “key tipping point” for their adoption. The site reports:

Most successful new technologies — televisions, mobile phones, LED lightbulbs — follow an S-shaped adoption curve. Sales move at a crawl in the early-adopter phase, then quickly once things go mainstream. In the case of fully electric vehicles, 5% seems to be the inflection point. The time it takes to get to that level varies widely by country, but once the universal challenges of car costs, charger availability and driver skepticism are solved for the few, the masses soon follow.

The results come from a Bloomberg study, which was also carried out in 2022. Last year, the site found that just 19 countries had reached the five percent threshold. Those 19 counties have now been joined by Canada, Australia, Spain, Thailand and Hungary.

The U.S. reached the five percent tipping point back in 2021. Since then, EV sales have risen, and were up 42 percent during the second quarter of the year compared with the same period in 2022.

Now, EV sales make up seven percent of new cars sales here in America. In contrast, Norway has the highest market share of EVs, where 82.1 percent of cars sold are battery-powered.

Neutral: A New Week

Happy Monday! How was your weekend, did you have a good one? Mine was nice, I’m in a brass band and we played a show Saturday night, which was a lot of fun, then I spent yesterday mooching around the New York Botanical Garden. It was good.

On The Radio: Two Door Cinema Club – “Talk”

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