Hello, Transmission members!

You know that your corner of the automotive industry isn’t exactly niche anymore when mainstream media outlets start encroaching on the topic. That’s the case today, as exemplified by an NPR segment Thursday morning discussing electric vehicle battery components.

That’s as good a place as any to start the newsletter, since the sourcing of advanced vehicle components is only going to get more and more important — in other words, more and more newsworthy — as the world’s vehicle manufacturers crank up their electric vehicle production.

Biden administration takes semiconductor shortage seriously

President Joe Biden is hosting a meeting next week to talk about the recent semiconductor supply chain issues and how they have disrupted automotive factories across the country. One of the attendees, Reuters reports, will be the CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger, who joins a list that includes other chipmaker and automotive executives, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and one of the president’s top economic aides, Brian Deese.

The guest list shows how serious the administration is taking the chip issue, which has affected car plants around the world in various ways since late 2020. The shortage has resulted in reduced supply on dealer lots — as well as a rise in prices for popular models — and automakers are coming up with creative solutions when possible. Some plants are simply pausing or slowing production, but Ford is building some F-150 trucks and Edge SUVs in North America without some of the parts that require semiconductor chips. The plan is to install these components at a later date, once the chip supply is back to normal.

When that will be, exactly, is a big unknown right now. At least plans are being developed to make more chips in America moving forward. Gelsinger said last month that Intel will build two new chip plants in Arizona at a cost of $20 billion. There was also a call for $50 billion in government support for the domestic chip industry in the Biden administration’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan that was announced last week. These moves won’t fix the shortage in the short term, but at least some action is being taken.

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Daimler EV plans

Daimler’s first all-electric trucks are the “longest-range commercial battery-electric vehicles in customer hands in North America today,” the company said in a statement. The range for these trucks is 230 miles for the medium-duty eM2 and 250 miles for the Class 8 eCascadia tractor.

The trucks that customers are using now are part of a 38-vehicle test fleet that Daimler is running with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. These pilot vehicles have driven almost 750,000 collective miles as they were used for things like drayage, regional and local pickup and delivery, and food and beverage delivery, Daimler said. All of these miles gave the company plenty of data to use as it gets ready to start production of actual consumer vehicles in late 2022. That data isn’t limited to battery performance or electric motor wear and tear, but also things like what the drivers themselves like and dislike about the electric trucks.

With production still a ways off, who knows if the chip shortage will affect these particular Daimler trucks? But we also don’t know what supply chain hiccups might exist a year from now. We’re just one moment away from everyone learning the name of another boath, like the MSC Ariane, which according to Twitter is never a good thing. Just think of all of the famous boats you can name, and then realize why you know them. The direct global shipping delays caused by the Ever Given’s recent episode in the Suez Canal are coming to an end, thanks to around 140 ships passing through the canal in the days after the stuck ship was released, but the effects will still be felt as some ships decided to sail around Africa instead of wait to go through the canal. And it’s a long way until the end of 2022.

Interested in more information on EVs and sustainability efforts?

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The transportation sector has recognized its role and is paving the way for a more sustainable future. From fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals to hydrogen-powered aircraft and battery-electric trucks, sustainable transportation technologies are advancing every day. 

Tune in to the Net-Zero Carbon Summit on Thursday, April 22, to hear industry experts discuss strategies to decarbonize the transportation sector!

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  • Angie Slaughter, vice president of sustainability procurement at Anheuser-Busch.
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  • Pablo Koziner, president of Nikola Energy.
  • Josh Raglin, chief sustainability officer at Norfolk Southern.

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