This year’s Labor Day travel volume may be a sign of a big recovery in the travel industry, the U.S. Treasury secretary is set to deliver a speech on the economy at a Ford plant in Michigan, and Mercedes-Benz is about to cut thousands of jobs. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, September 7, 2022.
1st Gear: A Good Sign for Holiday Travel
A whole lot of people traveled this Labor Day. In fact, it was the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic started that holiday travel surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The agency said 8.76 million travelers went through its checkpoints between Friday September 2nd and Monday the 5th. That just squeaks past the number set during the same time period in 2019: 8.62 million. The TSA also says Friday was the busiest travel day, when nearly 2.5 million people went through airport security. From the Wall Street Journal:
While more people have been taking to the skies again during the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, air travel’s recovery has been troubled, with this summer being one of the most chaotic travel seasons in decades. Many travelers have faced flight cancellations or delays, long lines at airports and lost luggage as airlines contend with labor shortages and schedule changes.
Airline experts had recommended people flying over Labor Day weekend book nonstop flights and get to airports early to avoid potential headaches. But most travelers over the last long holiday of the summer fared pretty well, according to data from FlightAware. The flight-data provider said 0.6% of flights over the long weekend were canceled, while 16.6% of flights were delayed. Both measures were lower than they were during this year’s July 4th and Memorial Day weekends.
“The airlines really got it together,” said FlightAware spokeswoman Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot. She added that airlines had good weather and had already pared back flight schedules.
To cope with all of the disruptions over the summer, WSJ says airlines and airports all over have extended passengers caps and cut flight schedules.
2nd Gear: Yellen’s Big Speech At aFord Plant
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to deliver a “major” speech at Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan tomorrow. The speech will be focused on President Biden’s economic agenda.
Yellen is said to be touring the facility where Ford makes the F-150 Lightning before delivering the 2 p.m. speech, which will touch on the administration’s plans to expand the economy, increase investments in new tech and address climate change.
The speech and tour are meant to kick off a month-long initiative by Yellen to explain Biden’s plans. From the Detroit Free Press:
In a statement, Ford said it was “looking forward to hosting Treasury Secretary Yellen at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn for an up-close look at the state-of-the-art facility where Ford is leading the EV revolution and assembling America’s best-selling electric truck, the F-150 Lightning.” The automaker’s electric vehicle sales are up fourfold in August over the same month last year.
Biden toured the facility himself in May 2021 just ahead of the launch of the F-150 Lightning, tearing around a test track in the vehicle.
In Dearborn, Yellen is expected to defend the $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed in early 2021 — criticized by some as fueling inflation — as having supported a historically fast recovery from the pandemic slowdowns. She is also expected to talk about three other Biden administration achievements, including an infrastructure bill passed late last year, legislation that will pump billions into semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. and a big climate change and medical bill passed this summer.
Yellen will be discussing how the Biden administration’s plans are helping to build a stronger economy.
3rd Gear: Mercedes-Benz To Cut 3,600 Jobs
Mercedes-Benz made an announcement that it will fire 3,600 employees at its truck and bus chassis plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company said this is being done in an effort to restructure the plant amid production pressures.
M-B said it plans to outsource parts of its operations from Sao Bernardo, Brazil in an attempt to combat cost pressures and a changing automotive landscape. From Reuters:
Mercedes-Benz said it will outsource the production of front axles and medium transmissions, as well as logistics and maintenance services, with the priority given to local companies.
Meanwhile, it will focus instead on its “core business,” which includes the production of bus chassis and trucks, the company said in a statement.
The company will cut 2,200 jobs from the Sao Bernardo plant. An additional 1,400 employees won’t have their temp contracts renewed when they’re up in December.
The main union for the company’s workers, Sindicato dos Metalurgicos do Grande ABC, said its leaders met with Mercedes-Benz’s board on Tuesday afternoon, and that the company’s representatives requested the start of negotiations regarding the decision.
4th Gear: Porsche Panamera to Go Electric
There are now reports that Porsche’s Panamera could end up switching to electric power in an effort to get the automaker to hit its goal of 80 percent fully electric vehicles by 2030.
It’s said the new Panamera could go electric in the second half of this decade, and it’ll be timed with the arrival of the next-generation Taycan. From Autocar:
Both new EVs are based on a sporting version of the Volkswagen Group’s Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), which is being developed by Porsche.
The so-called SSP Sport structure adopts the backbone of the SSP architecture set to be used by other more volume-orientated electric Volkswagen Group models. However, it will be combined with what have been described to Autocar as “Porsche-specific modules”.
Among the key architectural developments being pushed by Porsche for the new SSP Sport platform is a low cabin floor, courtesy of a slimline battery pack, and rear footwells (or foot garages, as they’re known at Porsche) similar to those of the J1 platform used by the existing Taycan.
The electric Panamera will be sold alongside today’s combustion-engined and plug-in hybrid Panamera models, which are based on Porsche’s MSB platform. The engineering for the electric Panamera is twinned with that of the new Taycan, due out in 2027.
The Panamera EV is still in the infancy of development, but the suggestions are that it will have a wheelbase and overall length similar to those of the existing long-wheelbase Panamera sold in China (3100mm and 5199mm).
The EV Panamera will most likely be offered with single- and dual-motor drivetrains and get an 800-volt battery pack.
Autocar also expects the all-electric Panamera to be styled pretty similarly to its internal combustion and plug-in hybrid sisters.
5th Gear: Stellantis Is Cranking Out Minivans
Stellantis said it will continue to build minivans on two shifts at its Windsor Assembly Plant in Canada until at least June of next year. Right now there’s no word on exactly why the decision was made.
The new announcement is actually a reversal of a previous plan to eliminate that second shift in the spring of this year, but since then its life has been extended three times. It’s still not at full capacity, however. Two years ago the company cut a third shift, terminating 1,400 jobs at the plant. From Automotive News:
Prior to its merger with PSA Group, Fiat Chrysler pledged during 2020 contract negotiations with Unifor to invest between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion to begin building electrified vehicles at the Windsor assembly plant.
Both the union and automaker maintain that promise will be kept.
Stellantis has not said which new product the factory will eventually build.
About 4,500 people build the Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid for global markets. They also build the Chrysler Grand Caravan for the Canadian market and the Chrysler Voyager for fleet sales.