Detroit’s Empty Factories Can Help Win the Electric Truck War

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Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Detroit’s Empty Factories Can Help Win the Electric Truck War” – below is their description.

In the nascent truck wars, Detroit won’t need tents.

In the summer of 2018, when Tesla needed to quickly ramp up production at its Fremont, Calif., factory, the company erected a big top the size of two football fields in the parking lot. The strategy brought into stark relief the difficulty of taking a vehicle from the drawing board to the end of an assembly line.

The future of the auto industry in America will be largely determined by a parade of new electric trucks — at least four from Detroit incumbents facing off against at least six from Tesla and other upstarts. The newcomers will be building pickups for the first time, but they also will be building truck factories for the first time, which is arguably a more difficult task. Not only have Ford Motor, General Motors, and Stellantis refined the blocking and tackling of building and tooling a factory, they have scads of them sitting empty or ticking away at reduced capacity.

“A distinct advantage of the incumbent automakers is their installed capacity and their ability to pivot that to building something new,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Ramsay. “It’s not only an advantage, it might be the advantage.”

The house cleaning puts the auto industry’s old-guard in the unique position to spool up production quickly as it launches new electric models, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kevin Tynan. “It is an oversight to discount the legacy automakers that already have design, engineering, production, distribution, and after-sales scale already in place,” Tynan said. The new variables are the electric motor and the machinery linking an EV to the wheels — technology, Tynan said, that isn’t “knowable only to tiny, nascent metal-benders that want to be labeled as software companies.”

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