Tesla Cybertruck Deliveries Begin Today… Sort Of

A photo of a Tesla Cybertruck with the TMS banner below.
A photo of a Tesla Cybertruck with the TMS banner below.

Good morning! It’s Thursday, November 30, 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.

1st Gear: Hark! Cybertruck Deliveries Are Really Starting

Tesla is set to start delivering its years-in-the-making Cybertruck on November 30 (which is today if you are paying attention.) However, it’s not all good news. CEO Elon Musk has tempered investor expectations because of issues with production ramp-up on his “radical” new product.

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The billionaire has said Tesla was likely to reach a production rate of roughly 250,000 Cybertrucks a year in 2025. Tesla has faced “enormous challenges in reaching volume production” with the Cybertruck because of its new technology and design, Musk said.

Cybertruck’s new body material and unconventional, futuristic styling add complexity and costs to production, and threatens to alienate traditional pickup truck buyers who focus on utility, experts say.

It’s been a long time coming for the Cybertruck, which was first revealed back in 2019. Its design has stayed largely true to the concept, but a few years ago Musk floated the idea of building “a normal looking truck” if people weren’t into it.

Cybertruck, which is two years behind schedule, enters a hot and highly profitable pickup truck market to compete with the likes of Ford’s F150 Lightning, Rivian Automotive’s R1T and General Motors’ Hummer EV.

Rivian’s R1T has a starting price of $73,000, while Ford’s F-150 Lightning starts at about $50,000.

Analysts suggest the Cybertruck will probably be priced between $50,000 to the low-$70,000 range.

So far, over one million reservations (at $100 a pop) have been put down for the Cybertruck, so it’s going to take a good long while to get through all those.

2nd Gear: UAW Launches Massive Organizing Drive

The United Auto Workers union has officially launched one of the largest organizing drives in history. It includes campaigns at 13 automakers in the U.S., and it’s being done to leverage the big gains it saw from its recent labor deals with the Big Three automakers. The union represents about 145,000 workers at those three companies From The Wall Street Journal:

The UAW plans to target nearly 150,000 workers at U.S. factories owned by large foreign automakers including Toyota Motor and Volkswagen, as well as newer electric-vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla and Rivian Automotive, the union said Wednesday.


The widespread organizing campaigns are a bid to significantly add to its ranks for the first time in decades and rebuild the union’s clout in the auto industry, after company downsizing and outsourcing reduced its U.S. footprint.

UAW membership has slipped from a peak of roughly 1.5 million people decades ago to around 400,000 today, a tally that includes nonautomotive workers.

UAW President Shawn Fain has broadly outlined plans to organize nonunion automakers, but the union detailed the scope of the effort for the first time Wednesday. The union said the organizing efforts encompass more than three dozen factories.

“When we return to the bargaining table in 2028, it won’t just be with the Big Three, but with the Big Five or Big Six,” Fain said in October, as the union neared tentative agreements with the Detroit carmakers.

A number of nonunion automakers like Honda, Subaru and Toyota have raised wages following the Big Three deal in an effort to keep people from unionizing and to stay competitive in terms of pay. Fain says those pay bumps show the UAW’s power, and he has urged workers at those automakers to consider pushing to join the union.

Spokespeople for Honda and Nissan said the companies don’t think an outside party would improve its employees’ experience. Toyota, Rivian and Volkswagen declined to comment.

The UAW tried unsuccessfully over the past decade to unionize factories owned by Tesla, Nissan Motor and Volkswagen. Many of those plants are in southern states that are politically less hospitable to organized labor, said Harry Katz, a professor of collective bargaining at Cornell University.

This latest organizing drive comes right as organized labor is seeing a bit of a resurgence in support. There have been several high-profile strikes for workers at casinos, healthcare groups and the entertainment industry to go along with the UAW strike.

3rd Gear: Musk Says Unions Are Bad For Vibes

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, unsurprisingly, has a dissenting take about unions at his company. He said the automaker treats employees well, and it allows line workers to become managers and even millionaires through stock options. Because of that, he doesn’t see a need for the UAW at his plants. From Automotive News:

“I think it’s generally not good to have an adversarial relationship between one group at the company and another group,” Musk said Wednesday at a New York Times event. “The unions naturally try to create negativity in a company and create a sort of lords and peasants situation.”

In contrast, Musk said Tesla workers and management eat at the same table and park in the same parking lot, suggesting less of a hierarchy at Tesla factories than at UAW plants.

“If Tesla gets unionized, it will be because we deserve it, and we failed in some way,” Musk said. “But we certainly try hard to ensure the prosperity of everyone. We give everyone stock options. We’ve made many people who were just working the line, who didn’t even know what stocks were, we’ve made them millionaires.”

Tesla’s stock price has risen about tenfold over the last five years, although it’s down significantly compared with its November 2021 peak.

Musk’s comments about unions aren’t anything new, though they do come in the wake of an announcement by the UAW that it has started organization drives at 13 automakers.

Back in 2018, Musk tweeted that the original Tesla Fremont factory was free to join a union. “But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?” Following that move, the National Labor Relations Board ruled the commend violated labor laws.

4th Gear: Ford Says UAW Contract Will Cost $8.8 Billion

Ford said its new four-and-a-half-year labor deal with the United Auto Workers union is expected to cost the automaker about $8.8 billion. That’ll work out to an average of about $900 per vehicle by 2028. For also said it lost $1.7 billion in profits during the union’s 41-day strike.

Because of that, adjusted earnings before interest and taxes are expected to be between $10 billion and $10.5 billion. It’s down a bit from the original guidance of $11 billion to $12 billion. From Automotive News:

The work stoppage reduced production by about 100,000 vehicles, Ford said. As a result, the company reduced its projection for full-year adjusted free cash by $1.5 billion, to a range of $5 billion to $5.5 billion.

The UAW contract, ratified by workers earlier this month, includes 25 percent raises and a cost-of-living adjustment that will bring top pay to around $42 by April 2028. The deal also shortens the time it takes for new hires to reach top wages, boosts retirement plans and calls for $8.1 billion in manufacturing investment.

Despite the added cost, the automaker said it was confident in its growth plan called Ford+.

“This industry is going through the biggest technology-led transformation we’ve ever seen and some companies, new and old, are going to be left behind,” CFO John Lawler said in a statement. “Ford+ is the right strategy to win — we’ve got a highly talented team that allocates capital with great discipline, so that we’re executing with consistency, generating strong growth and profitability, and are less cyclical.”

Through the first three quarters of 2023, Ford has generated $4.9 billion in net income at $9.4 billion in adjusted EBIT.

The statement from Ford comes just a day after similar news came from General Motors. It said the new deal would increase costs by $9.3 billion, or about $575 per vehicle. GM’s estimates also included a three-year deal with Canada’s Unifor union.

Reverse: RIP Corvair

Neutral: You Guys Should Go See “Saltburn”

I saw it last night. It’s an incredibly bizarre film that I highly recommend. Just really, really weird stuff.

On the Radio: The 1975 - “Wintering”

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