One must be moved by the seeming conscientiousness of electric vehicle buyers. The media is unanimous in reporting that the Tesla brand is dead, thanks to Elon Musk’s management actions since acquiring a previously upstanding company called Twitter, the town square dominated by celebrities, journalists, and the mostly nobodies who follow and care about these people. EV buyers are reportedly troubled by Musk’s alleged destruction of Twitter, so much so that they’re refusing to buy a Tesla because of their disgust.
Silly me, I expected that Tesla sales would have taken a hit in California, far and away the company’s biggest market, after Musk relocated its headquarters to Texas, a state with less-than-progressive abortion laws, but I was wrong. I also thought a report by California’s Labor Department alleging widespread racism and discrimination at Tesla’s Bay area manufacturing plant might have sparked some Tesla buyer’s remorse, but I was wrong about that, too. Abortion rights and allegations of racism and discrimination don’t appear be major issues for the EV buying crowd.
Musk allegedly destroying Twitter and making public how the company’s former top executives were in cahoots with government officials and censoring credible scientists and physicians the media tells us was a game changer. Despite Tesla being the only credible EV manufacturer with the foresight to invest in a national network of reliable superchargers, EV owners and buyers supposedly want to forgo Teslas for alternative electric vehicles, even if that means cooling their heels for hours at government subsidized charging stations that are notoriously faulty and unreliable.
As a public service, here’s a primer on some alternative electric vehicles and tidbits about the managements of the companies that sell them.
Ford Motor Co.
Ford has received lots of accolades from the EV cheerleading media for its Mustang Mach-E, which the Dearborn, MI-based company proudly manufactures in Mexico. The Mach-E is, or soon will be, eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credits, which the U.S. Congress has proudly made available to support the offshoring of U.S. jobs. Ford also is increasingly offshoring its design and engineering jobs to Mexico, so much so that I’ve taken to calling CEO Jim Farley El Señor.
If buying American might be important to you, Ford’s Lightning electric pickup truck is an option, providing you don’t need to do truck-like things like towing a trailer beyond your immediate neighborhood, particularly this time of the year. The Lightning loses about half its range if you attach something to do it, and cold temperatures also hamper the vehicle’s range performance.
The Mach-E and Lightning have already been subject to multiple recalls, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ford this year has issued nearly 70 recalls, and Farley has admitted it will take years before Ford can manufacture reliable and trouble-free vehicles, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
It’s publicly known that Ford knowingly sold vehicles with faulty transmissions and lied in its advertising. An Atlanta-area jury a few months ago awarded a family a $1.7 billion verdict after being presented with evidence that Ford sold heavy duty trucks the company knew couldn’t withstand a rollover like the one that killed a Georgia farming couple.
Unfortunately, GM has slim EV pickings at the moment, but CEO Mary Barra promises that will change, although she recently disclosed that her promised timeline will be delayed about a year.
GM’s Chevy Bolt is readily available thanks to a $6,000 price reduction. The vehicle was just recalled because of a seat belt fire risk. Don’t confuse the latest recall with the one from last year, when Chevy Bolts were recalled because of battery fire risks.
You might be able to get your hands on a monster 9,000-pound electric GM Hummer, whose battery alone weighs as much as a Honda Civic. Motor Trend said the Hummer “absolutely does not have brakes commensurate with its power and speed capabilities” but not to worry, the occupants of the vehicle in front of you will be the persons likely killed because of the known defect.
The Hummer was recalled in October because GM said there was risk of water leaking into the battery. Water and batteries — that’s not a good thing.
Buying a GM vehicle provides an opportunity to support obscene CEO compensation and widening wealth disparity in America. Although GM stock has mostly traded below the nearly $40 it opened at when Barra took over in 2014, Barra last year was awarded $29 million in compensation, well above the average $18.5 million paid to America’s other overpaid CEOs. Barra’s ratio of total compensation to the median of all GM employees’ total compensation was 420-1. By comparison, the average S&P company’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 324-1.
GM was the first company to publicly disclose it was pausing its advertising on Twitter because of Musk, which should give EV buyers repulsed by Musk much comfort.
Hyundai’s EV Ioniq and its Kia affiliate’s EV6 are two of the most stylish electric vehicles on the road. Call me old fashioned, but I’d be loath to buy vehicles from a company that employed child labor at some of its U.S. manufacturing facilities.
Hyundai and Kia this year recalled more than 280,000 SUVs because of fire risks, warning owners to park their trucks outside and away from buildings.
When I think automotive industry sleaze, Volkswagen immediately comes to mind.
That said, the company’s electric ID.4 has received favorable reviews, and the company this year fired its CEO who was an early pioneer of electric vehicles and was one of the few automotive executives Elon Musk ever spoke highly of.
If Musk liked and respected him, surely he was a very bad person.
Stellantis is another company where sleaze immediately comes to mind.
I know virtually nothing about Stellantis’ EV offerings because its U.S. business is the former Chrysler Corp.
Need I say more?
Earlier this year I posted this column about why I was rooting for Rivian, a commentary I stand behind. Although the company has had considerable manufacturing and other hiccups, CEO R.J. Scaringe still strikes me as a standup guy worthy of support.
I, of course, will defer to the moral and ethical judgments of EV buyers who think that Musk’s behavior is so egregiously more objectionable than most of his EV competitors.