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Not Another Rivian Delay

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Photo: Rivian

It looks like everyone is taking the end of 2021 to break the news that 2022 is going to be … as much of a slog as the rest of the pandemic. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 29, 2021.

1st Gear: Wait For 2023 For The Biggest Battery Rivians

We were all pretty stoked when Rivian got approval for production, but it’s been quietly a bit of a journey for people to actually get their trucks. The new drama is an admission of defeat for the biggest battery option on these things, as Electrek reports from a letter CEO RJ Scaringe sent to customers:

As of December 15, we had approximately 71,000 preorders for the R1T and R1S in the US and Canada, with the large majority having configured an Adventure Package with a Large pack battery (our Max pack represents approximately 20% of our preorders). In order to serve the largest number of preorder holders, we will be prioritizing building the Adventure Package with Large pack battery during the next year. Explore Package preorders and vehicles with a Max pack battery configuration will follow in 2023. In setting our delivery timing, we optimized our build sequence around the build combination that would support us ramping as quickly as possible and therefore have the largest possible positive climate impact.

The “Max” pack is real, real big, as Electrek lays out:

Rivian is currently delivering the R1T electric pickup truck with its “Large” battery pack, which gets 314 miles of range based on the EPA cycle.

The bigger “Max” pack is expected to get 400 miles of range on a single charge, but we won’t know that for sure until it enters production and now it sounds like this won’t happen until next year.

I’m sure that 300-odd miles is enough for anybody, but it does feel weird to have the biggest headline-grabbing pack not remotely available. Making cars is hard!

2nd Gear: Germany’s Push For EV Chargers Has Some New Resistance

Earlier this year Bloomberg had a big report on how Japan has too many EV chargers for its relatively small electric car fleet. Chargers are getting taken out of service amid the dearth of charging demand. Now Germany fears a similar fate, as Der Speigel reports:

The energy industry is against a rigid goal in expanding the charging station network for electric cars . “There is a risk that we will generate an oversupply and that many charging stations will simply not be used,” said the general manager of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW), Kerstin Andreae, the newspapers of the editorial network Germany . The consequence would be a lack of competition between the providers. This in turn is necessary for the best prices and the best service.

[…]

Andreae criticized this fixed requirement. “Nobody knows today exactly what mobility will look like in 2030,” she said. “But it depends on which charging infrastructure is needed.” For example, a city toll or a driving ban for combustion engines in city centers could have a major impact on development. “That is why the expansion target for charging infrastructure can only be a dynamic target,” she added.

I still find this all hard to believe, having just driven across southern Florida, which has a grand total of one (1) fast-charging station between Fort Myers and Miami and it’s always broken.

3rd Gear: Lansing Down For 11 Weeks Thanks To EV Production Shift

GM’s Delta plant will be down for 11 weeks for “upgrades” as the Detroit News reports:

Next month, the plant will take the weeks of Jan. 3, Jan. 10 and Jan. 17 off for the updates, GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said. The plant is on a scheduled holiday break this week.

The Lansing Delta plant makes the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, but last year GM said it would invest $100 million in the facility to relocate production of the GMC Acadia there from the Spring Hill, Tennessee, plant that is transitioning to build electric and gas-powered Cadillacs.

All of these EVs don’t make themselves!

4th Gear: Elon, Who Said He Would Soon Have Finished Selling Stock, Is Nearly Finished Selling Stock

Elon jettisoned another billion, as Bloomberg reports:

Elon Musk sold a further $1.02 billion of Tesla Inc. shares, taking him close to his target of reducing his stake in the electric-car maker by 10%.

The Tesla chief executive officer — also the world’s richest person — sold 934,090 shares, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

This has been an abundantly entertaining news cycle, in that it’s a major event when a rich guy so much as gestures towards paying taxes. He is still a looooong way from doing his share. It is important that everyone do their share.

5th Gear: Trucking, Shipping Workers Are Taking Charge

There is a whole genre of pandemic stories in which an industry moans that it’ll be in turmoil because of COVID and then you actually read the story and it becomes clear that workers just aren’t getting treated safely, or being adequately compensated. From Bloomberg, the shot:

As omicron infections surge and governments tighten restrictions, logistics companies around the world, from global giants to small businesses, can’t find enough staff. According to the International Road Transport Union, around one-fifth of all professional truck driving jobs are unfilled, despite many employers offering increased wages. Some pockets of shipping are also sounding the warning bell about future hiring prospects.

“2022 is shaping up to be another year of severe disruption, under supply and extreme cost for cargo owners,” said Simon Heaney, an analyst at maritime research consultancy Drewry. “The virus is once again showing it’s in charge,” he said, predicting another 12 months of stretched labor and healthcare-related red tape.

And the chaser, as they say:

As the mutated omicron variant takes hold, workers who deliver goods on ships and trucks are shouldering the brunt of a supply chain infrastructure still mired in chaos. Faced with long weeks of quarantine combined with the precarious nature of crossing borders and fears of getting sick, some people are refusing contracts while others are looking for work elsewhere, companies say.

In Romania, many truck drivers don’t want to accept long-haul jobs into other parts of Europe, stung by last year’s 30 mile (48 kilometer) traffic jams and waits of up to 18 hours at EU borders. Countries where infections are surging are particularly problematic, according to Alex Constantinescu, CEO of Alex International Transport 94 SRL, which operates 130 trucks that deliver pharmaceutical and food products throughout the continent.

Raising pay isn’t enough, as the article details, and I honestly don’t know what’s going to make any of this better so long as global governments keep washing their hands of any responsibility for getting us out of this.

Reverse: RIP Mike Beuttler

The Egyptian-born race car driver is recognized as the only openly gay driver in F1 history, competing through the 1970s before leaving the scene for California, where he died of AIDS, as the BBC reports:

Mike Beuttler raced against many of the all-time Formula 1 greats in the early 1970s – and then disappeared.

Even the British driver’s closest motorsport friends heard nothing from him over the final 14 years of his life.

Then, in late 1988, they learned from his family that he had died in Los Angeles of Aids, aged 48.

Beuttler remains the only known gay male driver to have competed at the highest level of motorsport.

Neutral: Have You Ever Liberated A Bike?

I’ve been staring at an abandoned bike for a few months now, and it reminds me of the time I “liberated” an abandoned bike on the university in my hometown. It was sun-baked far off on a distant corner of campus, out by the fleet vehicle lot. I had watched it deteriorate all summer and one day I clipped the lock and freed it, some blue-and-yellow ‘80s road bike of some kind. Maybe a Schwinn, maybe a Miyata, who knows. I fixed that bike up, over the rest of the summer and had just enough time for a single moonlit ride out into the farm roads outside of town. I remember how … I don’t know … metallic it felt on skinny, stiff tires, with friction downtube shifters. I think I gave the bike away at the end of the summer, I just don’t remember who got it. In any case, have you ever freed a forlorn bike? Did you ever get your town to cut the lock on…



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