This isn’t exactly a spicy hot take, but I really can’t say I miss the late 2000s. OK, sure, it was when Flo Rida was at the ostensible peak of his powers. But global economic collapse? I wasn’t a fan, personally speaking. There’s nothing from that era that I’d like to see come back today—certainly not the high rates of car repossessions, which can be absolutely devastating to people’s lives. And yet, for a variety of reasons, here we are.
That leads off today’s morning news roundup, unfortunately. But we also have items about Mazda’s foray into the electric world, General Motors’ decision to spend more money on ICE-powered trucks and some surprising Tesla-related news out of Texas. It’s enough to spin your heads right round, right round.
The Cars Remain Too Damn Expensive
According to a new report from S&P Global Mobility (via Automotive News), auto loans more than 60 days past due reached 1.69% in the first three months of this year. That’s actually higher than what we saw in 2009 and 2010 (1.46% and 1.43%, respectively) and higher than 2021, when everything was extra-weird at the height of the global pandemic. (Can’t say I miss that time, either!)
From AN’s story:
One of them is Mazda. It’s got big plans for electrification and EVs, which is tough for them as one of the few small, independent players left in the space. Now we know it’s potentially looking to partner with tech giant Panasonic on batteries, including some made in North America to take advantage of tax deals. Here’s Reuters:
Such an effort on lithium-ion batteries is likely to carry Mazda a step closer to ramping up production of EVs, in a 1.5-trillion-yen ($10.6-billion) spending plan it unveiled in November to drive electrification of vehicles.
In the partnership, Panasonic Energy would supply Mazda with automotive cylindrical lithium-ion batteries made in Japan and North America for Mazda EVs expected to be rolled out in the latter half of this decade, the companies said in a statement.
A Mazda spokesperson declined to say exactly what battery cells the Hiroshima-based automaker was planning to use in its EVs, adding that it would hold talks with an eye to secure supply from 2025-2027 onwards or later.
[…] Japan said on Friday it would boost support for domestic battery production to up to $2.2 billion, pledging support to Toyota and other makers in a push for greater economic supply chain security.
I point this out for two reasons: one, I get the growing sense that Japan’s increasingly freaked out about the growing EV space and its place in it. And two, perhaps selfishly, I’m a Mazda fan. I have a Mazda 3 and I love the car, and who doesn’t at least appreciate the Miata? I like what this brand does, I like the cars it builds and I want to see it survive into the future. I hope it can pull this off. The day we get a really competent, well-built, fun-to-drive Mazda with decent EV range will hopefully be a good one. The MX-30 ain’t it, kids.
Texas Backs Tesla Secession On The Charging War
Well, folks, it’s a rare day when the Lone Star State decides to regulate anything [Ed note: Well… there’s one thing they don’t mind regulating. – MH]. But now, Texas—the home base for Elon Musk’s companies, these days—is backing Tesla and its charging format in a very big way. Following moves by GM, Ford, Rivian and maybe others to use Tesla’s plug as the EV charging standard from 2025 onward instead of the more universally-used CCS plugs, Texas will now require charging companies to include both Tesla’s standard as well as CCS if they want to access federal funding for EV infrastructure.
In case you didn’t know, the Biden Administration is dumping $7.5 billion into grants to build EV fast chargers. The money goes to the states first, and then the states allocate that money to companies that apply. Now Texas says to get that money, companies have to build Tesla plus as well as CCS ones, in a story broken by Reuters:
Texas – home to Tesla’s headquarters and a new car factory complex – is the first state that will mandate Tesla’s charging technology, giving a boost to CEO Elon Musk’s hope of making it the national charging standard.
“The decision by Ford, GM, and now Rivian to adopt NACS changed requirements for Phase 1” of the rollout, the Texas Department of Transportation said in an email to Reuters on Tuesday, adding that it would require direct current fast chargers to have one CCS and one North American Charging Standard (NACS) connector.
Texas’s decision will put a ton of pressure on other states to adopt Tesla’s NACS, said Lew Cox, director of business development at MD7, which helps companies deploy chargers.
“It’ll effectively make an NACS the new charging standard,” Cox said.
That’s a pretty big coup. Texas is a gigantic car market and one whose long stretches of highway and huge rural population make it a tough but ultimately ideal contender for EV infrastructure. Requiring charging grants to carry both standards—at least for now—indeed all but guarantees Tesla’s charging takeover is an inevitability.
When do you think the last gasoline (or diesel, even, why not) vehicle will be made in America, and what is it? Sometime in the 2050s—that’s my bet. I do hope that at least by then they’ll mostly be hybrids or PHEVs to cut back on emissions, but even GM says it’s not interested in making that happen.