The UAW strike and the inexorable math of electric vehicles

the uaw strike and the inexorable math of electric vehicles

Robots during the production of the Tesla Model Y in the Tesla Gigafactory in Grünheide, Germany, October 2021. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

  • Workers at GM, Ford, and Stellantis went on strike last week. 
  • The work stoppage will exacerbate a structural advantage enjoyed by EV leader Tesla.
  • EVs have fewer parts than gas-powered vehicles. This means fewer jobs in the industry.

When auto workers went on strike at GM, Ford, and Stellantis last week I immediately thought of this video.

It’s from a 2019 Bloomberg story about Germany’s car industry. But the technological changes shown here, and inexorable math at the heart of them, apply globally:

The traditional internal combustion engine has more than 1,000 parts. New electric engines have about 50. That means fewer jobs because EVs are much simpler and therefore easier to assemble.

With all the ink spilled about the rise of electric vehicles since 2019, I’ve been surprised by how few words have focused on what will be a radical and painful industry transformation.

The auto industry has been a powerful job generator for decades, forging huge cities with healthy and relatively stable paychecks for millions of workers and their families. As EVs take over, this will no longer be the case. Forget about AI. This is the job destruction that’s guaranteed to happen soon.

‘Fewer employees’

The Congressional Research Service, which provides analysis to US legislators, warned about this a few years ago. Gas-powered vehicles have as many as 2,000 components in their powertrains, while Tesla has said its drivetrain has 17 moving parts, including just 2 in the motor, it noted.

“Electric vehicle powertrains, if built domestically and not imported, would generate production employment, but fewer employees may be needed than at present because vehicle battery packs have relatively few components and are less complicated to assemble than internal combustion engine powertrains,” the Congressional Research Service wrote. “Electric vehicles utilize a large number of electronic sensors, but these devices require little labor to produce and assemble.”

Labor is one of the main expenses that companies try to flex when competing against each other. If one business has an approach that gives it a clear cost advantage, everyone else will quickly try to adopt a similar strategy.

Tesla had a decade headstart, in terms of EV manufacturing, but other automakers are now racing to catch up. There may be some environmental benefits to EVs, but a bigger driver of this is that they are just way more efficient to manufacture.

About 40% less labor

Auto executives don’t like talking about this much, because it basically means jobs will be lost and that’s hard to bring up. But some of the industry’s top leaders have discussed it occasionally.

In late 2022, Ford CEO Jim Farley told the Financial Times that manufacturing EVs requires about 40% less labor than making the same number of internal combustion vehicles. VW’s CEO in 2019 estimated that building EVs involves about 30% less effort than making gas-powered cars.

the uaw strike and the inexorable math of electric vehicles

Employees work on an engine production line at a Ford factory on January 13, 2015 in Dagenham, England. Carl Court/Getty Images

The UAW strike could cost America’s 3 main traditional automakers as much as $5 billion within just 10 days. This will exacerbate the structural disadvantage they already face.

Elon Musk has already won

Whatever the outcome of the strike, Elon Musk has already won, Tim Higgins, one of the top auto industry reporters, wrote this weekend in The Wall Street Journal.

Higgins wrote a book about Tesla, called Power Play, that expertly explains how the company developed a more efficient vehicle manufacturing process.

As a pure EV maker, Tesla doesn’t have to deal with internal combustion engines, gas lines, exhaust pipes and other complex designs that cost more to assemble.

GM, Ford, and Stellantis have begun making more EVs, but those operations are still relatively small and that lack of scale means they mostly lose money selling those new vehicles. The rest of their operations still focus on gas-powered cars and trucks.

Tesla’s workers are not unionized, so the company will keep churning out Model 3s, Model Ss, Model Ys, and soon the new Cybertruck, while some factories of its main US rivals sit idle.

the uaw strike and the inexorable math of electric vehicles

Tesla Giga Shanghai Tesla

The Giga Press

And Tesla is not resting on its laurels. Instead, the company is trying to extend its manufacturing advantage. It recently introduced Gigacasting technology to its auto plants.

The Tesla Giga Press is a giant machine that uses aluminum die casting to make much larger vehicle parts. Again, the goal here is to reduce the number of car parts to make the manufacturing process simpler and more efficient. And yes, that probably means even fewer jobs.

Toyota, GM, Hyundai and China’s Geely are beginning to use this technology, too, or are planning to do so, according to Reuters.

News Related


Nadiya Hussain says 'I'm not scared anymore' after winning The Great British Bake Off

Nadiya Hussain is warm, generous and never stops smiling, so it’s surprising to discover that her favourite word is “no”. After years of people pleasing, the TV chef, 38, has ... Read more »

1st Haikyuu!! final film gets a release date and trailer!

ALBAWABA- Gekijōban Haikyuu!! Gomi Suteba no Kessen (Haikyuu!! The Movie: Decisive Battle at the Garbage Dump) has finally received a trailer and release date with the addition of the unveiling ... Read more »

Logan Paul's startling transformation from YouTuber joker to MMA star

Logan Paul started out trying to make people laugh on Vine and YouTube Now, he is trying to make people feel pain with his MMA and boxing pursuits His body ... Read more »

Non-Tesla Supercharging Now Possible Also In Alaska

Tesla magic dock supercharger Tesla installed the Magic Dock built-in CCS1 adapters at a site in Chugiak. Tesla is gradually expanding its non-Tesla Supercharging pilot in North America, recently opening ... Read more »

Best Saudi National Day Activities Offers in Dubai

Best Saudi National Day Activities Offers in Dubai Dubai will host an extensive programme of special celebrations for the Kingdom celebrations for Saudi National Day taking place across the city ... Read more »

Read Your Daily Horoscope: Monday, 25 September 2023

Read Your Daily Horoscope: Monday, 25 September 2023 Sagittarius Horoscope for Monday, September 25, 2023 (Monday, 25 September 2023) You didn`t think that you were looking for a friend, but ... Read more »

Milan Fashion Week 2023 trends: Pastels, sensible chic and handwork

As Milan Fashion Week begins to wind down, here are trends I clocked that have emerged from all the fashionable noise. First up, there has been a noticeable lack of ... Read more »

World champion Al Qemzi crowns brilliant season with dominant victory in Portugal

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi in action in Portugal.- Supplied photo Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al Qemzi recorded another emphatic victory in the Grand Prix of Portugal today to ... Read more »

Munoz steals the lead from Dubai's Lahiri at LIV Golf Chicago

Anirban Lahiri chips onto the 15th green during the second round of the LIV Golf Chicago golf tournament at Rich Harvest Farms. – USA TODAY Sports Despite playing what he ... Read more »

'I love the Solheim Cup' says home heroine Ciganda as she helps Europe retain the trophy

Europe’s captain Suzann Pettersen celebrates with the trophy after retaining the Solheim Cup, on the last day of the golf competition against the US at Finca Cortesin golf club in ... Read more »

Liverpool extend unbeaten start to season with comfortable win over West Ham

Liverpool continued their flying start to the Premier League season as they eased past West Ham with a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s team ticked most boxes ... Read more »

India outplay Australia in second ODI after Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer centuries

India put in a near-perfect performance in the second ODI against Australia in a rain-affected match to establish themselves as the hot favourites for the home World Cup that begins ... Read more »

US city of El Paso 'at breaking point' amid migrant surge

The mayor of El Paso, Texas, has said his town is at “breaking point” as record numbers of migrants arrive claiming asylum, at a rate of 2,000 a day. His ... Read more »

Newcastle United thrash Sheffield United with eight different goal scorers

Newcastle United came close to matching the Premier League’s record margin of victory as they thrashed Sheffield United 8-0 at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Eddie Howe’s side ran riot with ... Read more »

India-Australia clash: Iyer, Gill slam tons as SKY's hurricane knock propels hosts to 399/5

India, Sept. 24 — Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill’s centuries and a hurricane half-century by Suryakumar Yadav in the death overs, saw India post highest ODI total of 399/5 against ... Read more »

Kuwait football team exit Asian Games after draw

HANGZHOU: Kuwait U23’s final Group E match in the 19th Asian Games against Thailand ended in a 1-1 draw on Monday, ending the national team’s hopes of qualifying for the ... Read more »

Lusail International Circuit ready to host Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix

DOHA: With the start of the countdown to the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix competitions to be held at the Lusail International Circuit from October 6 to 8, the Public ... Read more »

Watch: Suryakumar Yadav shows no mercy to IPL teammate, smashes 4 sixes in a row in insane display of power-hitting

Suryakumar Yadav smashed 4 sixes in a row during India vs Australia 2nd ODI Suryakumar Yadav is here and he is here to dominate ODI cricket as well. A project ... Read more »

Meet business tycoon only behind Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra in social media followers, not Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella

Meet business tycoon only behind Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra in social media followers, not Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella Legendary industrialist Ratan Tata is the most popular Indian business tycoon on social ... Read more »

Zara Just Launched A Major Fashion Collab – Modelled By Linda Evangelista, Gigi Hadid And Irina Shayk

It’s impossible to think of a famous fashion image from the last 30 years without conjuring one of Steven Meisel’s photographs in your mind. From his work with Madonna on ... Read more »

Glimpse Into Akshata Murty's Fashion Choices That Made A Style Statement At The G20 New Delhi Summit

For the G20 Summit 2023, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and First Lady Akshata Murty visited India. During their visit to India, the UK Prime Minister and First Lady headed ... Read more »

'Have been proven to be abusers': Christina Ricci speaks out amid Ashton Kutcher-Mila Kunis letter controversy

‘Have been proven to be abusers’: Christina Ricci speaks out amid Ashton Kutcher-Mila Kunis letter controversy Days after actress Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher released an apology for the letters ... Read more »

UAE and Armenia Agree to Visa-Free Travel

UAE and Armenia Agree to Visa-Free Travel The United Arab Emirates and Armenia have agreed to waive visa requirements for citizens of both countries. This means that UAE and Armenian ... Read more »

Toyota Isn’t Planning Small Truck Even Though Dealers Want It

Toyota Stout The company admits the Ford Maverick has “done reasonably well” in terms of sales. A little over a month ago, a report emerged about Toyota’s alleged desire to ... Read more »

New York label Collina Strada unveils AI-created collection at fashion week

Collina Strada has called on AI to help create its spring/summer 2024 collection, unveiled during New York Fashion Week. With fashion so future facing – the entire industry works a ... Read more »

Novak Djokovic channels 'Mamba Mentality' to create more tennis history at US Open

In the moments between sealing victory in the US Open final and being presented with a Grand Slam trophy for a record 24th time, Novak Djokovic had time for a ... Read more »

Economic and political synergy: Saudi-Indian ties deepen with Crown Prince's visit

Saudi Gazette report NEW DELHI — The eagerly awaited official visit of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman to India holds great significance for both nations. This ... Read more »

Daniel Khalife charged with escaping custody

Terrorism suspect Daniel Khalife has been charged with escaping custody at HMP Wandsworth, the Metropolitan Police said on Sunday. The 21-year-old former soldier, who was recaptured by police on Saturday, ... Read more »

Gadar 2 box office: Sunny Deol's film becomes 2nd-highest-grossing Hindi movie

Gadar 2 box office: Sunny Deol's film becomes 2nd-highest-grossing Hindi movie Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 has made history at the box office. Released on the Independence Day weekend, the film ... Read more »

Jawan box office: Shah Rukh Khan starrer crosses a whopping Rs 2 billion on first weekend

Jawan box office: Shah Rukh Khan starrer crosses a whopping Rs 2 billion on first weekend If you haven’t taken out time to watch Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, Jawan, ... Read more »
Kênh kiến thức kỹ năng, phát triển bản thân, hướng nghiệp, blog nhân sự