Peugeot Ces2023

So That Happened: UAW Strike Impacts Mount

Oct. 18, 2023
IndustryWeek editors offer several updates on the impact that ongoing automotive strike continues to have, looks at plant openings, painting education projects and how buying a new EV could get a little easier in January.

Editor’s note: Welcome to So That Happened, our editors’ takes on things going on in the manufacturing world that deserve some extra attention. This will appear regularly in the Member’s Only section of the site. (Lead photo is Stellantis' planned Consumer Electronics Show booth design for 2023: Photo courtesy of Stellantis)

No End in Strike

The United Auto Workers strike is now in its fifth week, and automotive suppliers of all sizes are feeling the strain.

Late last week, MEMA, the national automotive suppliers association, reported that 39% of its members surveyed have laid off employees since the strike began. Of those employers who haven’t had layoffs yet, half expect to lay off workers beginning the week of October 30.

Even if the strike ends soon, supplier production will take a week to three weeks to ramp back up, MEMA estimates. Former General Motors economist Marc Robinson, in his C-Suite newsletter last week, said he doesn’t see the union reaching a tentative settlement with any of the three automakers before November. That’s bad news especially for smaller suppliers who are the last to get paid.

—Laura Putre

CE-Yes? CE-No

How’s this for a signal that the United Auto Workers strike against the Detroit Three auto makers might run a while longer: Stellantis executives on Oct. 17 said they will pass on attending January’s CES techno-bonanza, which has grown into a mainstay for many car companies.

“In light of the current status of negotiations in the United States, preserving business fundamentals and therefore protecting the future of the company is a top priority of Stellantis leadership,” the parent company of Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat and a basket of other brands said in a short statement.

Missing CES in Las Vegas will sting a bit. CEO Carlos Tavares has made software and related services a cornerstone of his vision for Amsterdam-based Stellantis: Nearly two years ago, he said his team is targeting at least $20 billion in annual revenue from that category by 2030.

—Geert De Lombaerde

New Smart Factory for Smart Pet Foods

Hill’s Pet Nutrition, that featured in our story in August about how parent company Colgate-Palmolive scales technology, on Tuesday opened a new smart factory in Tonganoxie, Kansas. We’re going to wait a bit before looking into the plant because the proof is in the pudding, or the kibble in this case, per what industry 4.0 technologies bring to the table performance- and innovation-wise.

The press release cites an AI-powered food safety vigilance (read: inspection?) system, automation and robotics, and digital process monitoring as the high points of the new plant’s technologies. Hill’s Pet Nutrition also touts the plant’s shortened production cycle, flexibility to support new products over time, an “enclosed system” for food production that prevents exposure to environmental hazards and a water reclamation system.

—Dennis Scimeca

PPG Paints the Way for Industrial Education

PPG and the PPG Foundation plan to introduce students to skilled trades and manufacturing careers with their recent commitment to invest $2 million in workforce development initiatives through 2025; the opportunities and training from this investment will support the education of future skilled workers in technical fields like advanced manufacturing, automotive refinishing and painting.

“The PPG Foundation is a long-time supporter of workforce development programs. As we recognize the important contributions of skilled workers during U.S. Manufacturing Month in October, we’re dedicating our commitment to connect students with access to the tools and training needed for a vast range of career possibilities,” said Malesia Dunn, executive director, PPG Foundation and corporate global social responsibility.

This commitment to invest aims to foster students’ interest in STEM-related fields, and their partnerships with local technical schools, community colleges and other organizations will create a path that leads to industrial career placement.

“The PPG Foundation stands to open the door for future pipelines of talent and invest in programs that support the next generation of workers,” said Dunn.

In 2022, PPG and the PPG Foundation invested a total of $16.2 million to support hundreds of community partners, organizations and programs.

—Anna Smith

Now or Later for EV Tax Credits

Would you like $7,500 in cash? Would you prefer that now or in seven months after waiting for the federal bureaucracy to process reams of technical documents?

It’s not that hard of a question, but it’s one that the Treasury Department and the IRS finally figured out was a roadblock to electric vehicle sales.

Since the start of 2023, most consumers buying EVs qualified for $7,500 tax credits—depending on their incomes and the American-made content in the EVs. But, because the incentive was a tax credit, consumers (like me) would have to pay full price for the car in 2023 and get that tax credit as a rebate on their income taxes in April of 2024.

Starting at the beginning of next year, EV buyers can turn over their expected tax credits to the car dealers selling them their vehicles—effectively getting the government incentive immediately at the time of purchase. So, that $32,000 Chevy Bolt would fall to $24,500 at the dealership, making for an easier purchase and lower monthly payments.

In a statement that ranks somewhere between “water is wet” and “fire is hot” in stating the obvious, Treasury officials said, “Researchers have found that consumers overwhelmingly prefer an immediate rebate at point of sale.”

Researchers have also found that consumers overwhelmingly prefer paying less for vehicles and avoiding cumbersome tax filings. Expect to see a lot of EV ads in January promoting the new tax credit structure, like with lots of vehicles listed at their post-rebate prices.

—Robert Schoenberger

Popular Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!