Mercedes Will Build A Mini Electric G-Wagen For The U.S.

Good morning! It’s Friday, September 8, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Mercedes Minimizes The G-Wagen

When Mercedes unveiled the new the electric CLA Concept earlier this week the company said it would form the basis of three other EVs set to launch in the coming years. Now we’ve found out what one of those new cars could be: a miniature version of its iconic G-Wagen SUV.

The EV G-Wagen will be built on the same Mercedes Modular Architecture as the new CLA, according to a report from Automotive News:

Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius teased the compact G-Class this week ahead of the Munich auto show.

“There will be a smaller version of one of our most iconic shapes,” Källenius said at an event Sunday. “Yes, there will be a little G.”

In a teaser image shared by Mercedes, the brand showed the boxy outline of the new car as well as a stylized G-Wagen emblem, which Automotive News suggested could be the badge Mercedes uses on the new EV.

Other than the confirmation that a smaller G-Class is coming, we don’t know a lot about the new EV. However, forecasters suggested that Mercedes could build as many as 50,000 units a year when it goes into production in Germany in 2026, so we still have a little time for the company to share all the juicy details.

2nd Gear: Faraday Thinks The World Is Out To Get It

Of all of the electric vehicle startups in all of the land, Faraday Futures has to be one of the more perplexing. The company burst onto the scene with a shiny EV concept years ago, but has since been hit with production delays and mounting debt since then. Despite all that, it did actually manage to deliver a production model to a customer just last month, so maybe things are looking up?

In the face of all its struggles, the company now thinks that the world might be out to get it. According to a new report from Reuters, Faraday Future says it has noticed some “suspicious activities” in recent months that led it to believe that there could be a “coordinated effort” to undermine its valuation. Reuters reports:

The EV maker alleged efforts to spread misinformation and manipulate market sentiment. Faraday did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ query seeking details on the claim.

The Los Angeles-based company said it intends to take legal action if it finds any illegal short selling and other market manipulation or misinformation.

Despite initially aiming for its car to be on the road by 2017, Faraday Future has delivered its first car to a customer in the U.S. just last month. The car, which is officially called the Ultimate AI Techluxury FF 91 2.0 Futurist Alliance, has a range of up to 381 miles, according to the company, and will get from zero to 60 in just 2.27 seconds. Speedy.

3rd Gear: Cruise Will Start Building Self-Driving Cars Any Day Now

Cruise and its fleet of autonomous taxis might not be popular with the residents of San Francisco, but that isn’t going to stop the company from plowing on regardless. Now, after getting permission from California lawmakers to expand its services, the GM-backed company is awaiting approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin building its own self-driving cars.

Up until now, Cruise has been running modified Chevrolet Bolt EVs in places like San Francisco, CA, and Phoenix, AZ, to offer its autonomous ride-hailing services. But now, the Detroit Free Press reports that it will soon start assembling its own autonomous cars that don’t even have a steering wheel. The site reports:

General Motors’ Factory Zero in Detroit and Hamtramck could start mass producing self-driving cars soon.

Factory Zero will build the Cruise Origin, a small bus-like vehicle that will transport up to six people without a driver, for Cruise. Cruise is GM’s self-driving subsidiary headquartered in San Francisco. It operates there and in four other cities.

The cars, which will be assembled at the GM plant, are still waiting on a few final regulatory hurdles before they can enter production. The Free Press reports that Cruise and GM have been “waiting since early 2022” for the NHTSA to pass an exemption for its cars on certain federal safety standards, which the site says are “written for cars that have a steering wheel and pedals,” which the Origin will not have.

Once the exemption is passed, Cruise is targeting a 2,500-vehicle fleet that can roll out to several cities across the U.S. offering self-driving rides around town.

4th Gear: Parts Shortage Shutters VW’s Factories

If you thought you’d heard the last of the parts shortage when GM slowed production at its truck plants, then you’d be wrong. Supply chain issues are about to hit yet another automotive giant and force it to slow production at its factories.

This time, it’s Germany’s Volkswagen Group that’s taking the hit as it prepares to close one of its sites for at least a week from September 11, according to Reuters. On Monday, VW will close the doors at its Kvasiny plant in Czechia, which is where it builds models for Škoda. As Reuters reports:

“Due to a disruption in the provision of components across the Volkswagen Group’s supply chain, Skoda Auto will also face shortages in the upcoming period,” Skoda said in a statement confirming the halt at Kvasiny in the east of the country, as reported by Czech media earlier.

“At the moment, we cannot rule out any changes to production volumes at the Mlada Boleslav plant, where production is currently running without alterations.”

According to Reuters, the shutdown on Monday follows flooding at a parts supplier in Slovenia. The company reportedly produces combustion engine parts and Reuters adds that its slowdown has “affected the whole VW group.”

Neutral: Finally Friday

Happy Friday, we made it through another week – congratulations! What do you have planned for the coming weekend, anything nice? I’ve promised to take a friend from home for the best pancakes in NYC and have tickets to see Sheffield’s finest play the Big Apple. It should be a good one.

On The Radio: Arctic Monkeys – “From The Ritz To The Rubble”

From The Ritz To The Rubble