- A looming strike is a “nightmare situation” for Detroit automakers.
- Work stoppages and labor cost increases pose setbacks for their EV ambitions.
- Tesla is already having a banner year for both sales and production.
A looming strike by the United Auto Workers union, which represents hourly workers at the Detroit Three car companies, could be great news for Tesla, one analyst says.
The UAW has spent the summer negotiating new contracts with Ford, General Motors, and Jeep-owner Stellantis. The union is asking for historic wage increases, elimination of a tier system implemented during the depths of the recession, cost of living adjustments, and more. If an agreement isn’t reached by September 14, some 150,000 UAW workers across the US will go on strike, a move that could cost the industry as much as $5 billion in 10 days.
This is all “a potential nightmare situation for GM and Ford,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to clients this month. Any threat to supply would also inevitably diminish year-end production and inventory, chipping away at holiday season deals.
Tesla, which does not use union labor, is situated to benefit from any work stoppage at competitors, especially at a time when the industry is pushing harder into electric vehicles, Ives said.
“Tesla does not face similar issues which speaks to the complexity both GM and Ford face going up against the EV leader Tesla, while trying to satisfy rising union demands,” Ives said. “If a strike happens then ultimately production and the EV roadmap could be pushed out into 2024 and delays would be on the horizon at this crucial period for GM, Ford, and Stellantis.”
Setbacks come just as Ford and GM are looking to unseat Tesla
Ford and GM have both set lofty goals for electric vehicle production over the next several years, with Farley putting Elon Musk and Tesla directly in his sights when Ford launched the F-150 Lightning last year.
But production slowdowns from a work stoppage combined with potentially large labor cost increases could put the brakes on Detroit’s race to beat Tesla at the EV game, Ives said.
Raising the stakes for GM and Ford: Tesla is already having a banner year for both sales and production, on track to hit its nearly 2 million-unit production target by the end of the year. And the long-awaited Cybertruck is expected to add to that success when it hits customers’ driveways later this year.
“Farley and Barra both face some tough decisions ahead,” he said. “The options around facing a strike OR accepting a major cost intake for the next decade is a dynamic the Street will be closely watching over the next week.”