Working in an auto parts factory in Ukraine feels like a time

The Leoni factory in Stryi, Ukraine, pictured under its initial construction

Workers at two wire harness factories in Ukraine are returning to work amid the Russian invasion, helping to revive car production across Europe. It doesn’t seem like an easy job, having fled several times to bunkers on site under threat of rocket attacks. All this and more in The morning shift for March 24, 2022.

1st Gear: Put their lives on the line to… Some Volkswagens

Volkswagen restarted production now that the wiring harness factories in Ukraine are back to work. I myself wouldn’t find any modern VW worth the risk described in this Automotive News status report:

Leoni is ramping up production of wire harnesses at its two factories in Ukraine – with workers operating under a nighttime curfew and the risk of Russian rocket attacks.Workers had to flee to on-site bunkers on several occasions, Aldo Kamper, CEO of Leoni said Wednesday.

The German supplier said it had resumed production at 40% capacity in Ukraine after a temporary shutdown due to Russia’s invasion of the country. A night shift is added to bring this figure to 70%. Cross-border trade is possible, with the company able to source components and raw materials and export products, Kamper said.


“It is both impressive and moving to see how our employees are determined not to let the situation get the better of them, but to defend their country and their way of life. Their safety and their lives are a top priority for us,” Kamper said.

I hope they get a hazard pay.

2nd Gear: Renault’s recovery plan in Russia lasted three days

Earlier this week we reported that Renault was, surprisingly, returning to work in Russia. It felt like a remarkable move in the face of what was undoubtedly spectacular bad press. Well, Renault listened to this reaction and replied: too bad!

From CNN:

French automaker Renault announced in a statement on Wednesday that it had suspended all activities at its Moscow plant. The announcement comes as Ukrainian leaders have called for a boycott of the company and accused Renault of “sponsoring the Russian war machine”.

Just a day earlier, Renault had said he was resumption of production for three days only.

Regarding its involvement in major Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, owned by Renault, the French automaker said it is “evaluating available options, taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees. in Russia”.

3rd Gear: Nikola says he’s started production on an electric truck

I really don’t care about the different states of startup EV manufacturers, but I wish the best to all of their engineers and workers, so I’m glad to hear that troubled Supported by PSPC startup Nikola says it actually builds some of its electric tractor-trailers, like Reuters reports:

Nikola Corp. (NKLA.O) shares rose about 15% on Thursday as Wall Street encouraged the company to start production of its electric truck on schedule.

The electric vehicle maker said at its analyst day on Wednesday that it began manufacturing the Tre battery electric vehicle (BEV) at its plant in Coolidge, Ariz., on March 21 and will deliver 300 to 500 semi-trailers this year. Read more

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company plans to start production of the Tre BEV truck at its plant in Germany in June 2023.

4th gear: Mazda factories idle due to Covid supply problems in China

In the words of the great Cardi B, this coronavirus shit is real, and back to China. Shanghai is locked down, etc. An example: Mazda is idling some of its factories in Japan due to supply shortages. From Reuters:

Mazda Motor Corp. will suspend production at its two domestic factories for two days in April due to parts supply disruptions.

The automaker said an increase in COVID-19 cases in China was among the factors that could cause component supply issues.

5th Gear: USPS Orders $2.9 Billion Delivery Vehicles

Incredibly, the USPS has doubled its order for electric versions of these vehicles, even though they are still only a small portion of the total order, because Reuters reports:

The U.S. Postal Service said Thursday it has placed an initial $2.98 billion order for 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles from Oshkosh Corp. (OSK.N) and will double its planned initial purchases of electric vehicles.

U.S. Postmaster Louis DeJoy said that based on the USPS’ ongoing reform efforts and “our prospects for improvement, we have determined that increasing our initial purchase of electric vehicles from 5,000 to 10,019 made operational and financial sense.”

To know more about the subject, please read the excellent article by Aaron Gordon, ex-Jalopnik, on the subject in Vice.

Back: I half remember this when it happened

Some 38 people died when a truck carrying margarine and flour caught fire in the Mont Blanc tunnel on March 24, 1999. According to the BBC:

The scale of the disaster only became apparent yesterday when rescuers finally extinguished the blaze after nearly three days and reached the center of the 7-mile tunnel, where they found around 20 trucks and 10 or 11 car bombs .

Most of the victims were trapped in cars and trucks halfway through the tunnel after the fire broke out on a Belgian truck on Wednesday morning.

The truck driver, Gilbert Degrave, told the Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper: “Everything ignited within half a minute. I ran for my life. Behind me, all hell broke loose. Within minutes, the tunnel was like an oven.

At one point, temperatures reached 1,000°C along a 700 meter section of the tunnel, one of three main crossing points for freight traffic through the Alps.

Neutral: Be sure to follow Jalopnik Alum Terrell Starr!

Our former colleague Terrell is still in one piece in Ukraine reporting from the field. Follow him on Twitter here!