Autoworkers Contract Talks Not Going Well; Tesla Introduces Revamped Model 3 in Europe

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) issued a press release late Thursday touting the company’s “generous offer” to the United Autoworkers (UAW) for a new four-year contract to replace the one that expires at one minute before midnight on September 14.

UAW President Shawn Fain was not impressed, calling the offer one that “insults our very worth.” That is harsh but better for Ford than the union filings of unfair labor practices against General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Stellantis N.V. (NYSE: STLA) for “an illegal refusal to bargain in good faith.” Spokespeople for both GM and Ford were shocked, shocked at the charge, and both intend to defend themselves vigorously.

Earlier this week, Fain said the UAW would strike all three automakers simultaneously, an unprecedented action by the union. He also said the union was seeking a 46% wage boost, reinstatement of company-paid pensions, and a four-day workweek. In comments after Ford issued its press release Thursday night, Fain noted that the union was seeking a 40% wage increase and a return of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Ford’s offer included a 9% general wage increase plus a 6% lump-sum bonus. The company said the average worker’s wage would rise from $78,000 to $92,000, a 17.9% increase in the first year of the contract, plus $12,000 in what it calls COLA bonuses, including a first-year bonus of $6,000.

The union has also abandoned its previous practice of negotiating with one of the automakers, reaching a deal with that one, and then using that deal as a template for negotiations with the other two. This time, negotiations are being held with all three at the same time.

In other auto industry news, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) introduced the “Highland” version of its Model 3 sedan on Thursday. The debut occurred in Europe, not the United States or China, and European buyers are expected to see first deliveries of the new EV in October.

In addition to the revamped Model 3, Tesla also dropped the price of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) package in the United States from $15,000 to $12,000, the level FSD was selling for before last year’s price hike. A price drop from CAD$19,500 to CAD$16,000 will also be implemented in Canada. FSD pricing has not changed (yet) in the United Kingdom (£6,800) or Norway (NOK59,600) in Norway.

In China, the new Model 3 is reported to carry a sticker price of 259,900 yuan (around $38,500), an increase of 12% over the older model, according to a Bloomberg report. That price point is not expected to hold for long. Competitors like BYD and others have been willing to go toe-to-toe with Tesla’s seemingly endless round of price drops since the beginning of the year. Those competitors are also coming out with new models.

The end of the month also brings reports from China’s three U.S.-traded EV makers, Li Auto Inc. (NASDAQ: LI),  Nio Inc. (NYSE: NIO) and XPeng Inc. (NYSE: XPEV). Li delivered nearly 35,000 vehicles in August, a monthly record. Last year, the company delivered just over 4,500 units in August. Deliveries to date top 208,000 units, a year-over-year increase of about 175%.

Nio delivered more than 19,000 vehicles last month, about 1,100 fewer than in July, but almost double its deliveries in August 2022. The company has delivered about 94,000 units so far this year, a 32% year-over-year increase.

XPeng delivered more than 13,000 units in August, up from 11,008 in July, but well short of the 16,000 units it delivered in December 2021, the company’s best month ever. For the year to date, XPeng has shipped around 66,000 units, down 26% year over year.

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