Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Can You Believe It’s Been A Year Already?
We’re just past the one year mark of Dieselgate, and I’m sure that means you’re all popping champagne and pills and whatnot in celebration (please don’t). But while we’re still sitting here getting through this long, exceptionally dumb slog, remember that Volkswagen hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about who knew what and when. Though initially the company tried to claim it must’ve just been some rogue engineers and none of the top brass knew anything, that story now looks to be changing.
And Dieselgate has now ensnared Audi’s research and development head, according to Bild am Sonntag (via Reuters):
Investigations by Jones Day have shown that Stefan Knirsch, an Audi board member, knew about the use of cheat software in 3.0 liter diesel engines and gave a false promise under oath, the paper said on Sunday.
Knirsch has already been asked to clear his desk, it said.
If you think this will finally solve the mystery of who was responsible for Dieselgate, keep dreaming my child.
2nd Gear: The Lawsuits Will Never End, Either
There are at least 5,000 separate lawsuits pending against Volkswagen, by the way, Bloomberg reports. Oh, and that’s just in Germany. Not every other country in the world as well. And they all must be written in paper, because Lower Saxony “doesn’t do” electronic filing for civil lawsuits.
Someone please do the math on how many trees died for Volkswagen’s sins, and then please do the math on how much all that printer ink cost.
3rd Gear: The Dodge Dart Is Dead
Remember the Dodge Dart? It’s a car! Or rather, soon will be was a car. It was a lot like the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, except worse. And because of that, not too many people bought it. And because of that, production will end this month, the Detroit Free Press reports:
Less than four and a half years later, the Dart is a footnote. Few people other than Dodge dealers are likely to notice when production ends this month.
Developed to compete with cars that regularly sell 200,000 to 300,000 units a year like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla, the Dart managed just 87,392 sales in its best year, 2015.
Which is really sad. The Giulietta was actually delightfully and charmingly terrible, and Dodge supposedly had huge plans for the Dart over the years. There was even supposed to be a hot version at one point.
“At one point,” he says, wistfully.
4th Gear: Ford Wants To Make Money But Not Off Of Selling Cars
Old, stodgy companies like Ford gaze out upon the moneyed landscape, and they see companies like Uber. Uber has an absurd valuation, and its executives are invited to all the cool parties.
Ford would like this for its bosses and its parties as well.
To do so, it will look to make money in the future not off of selling cars, as is traditional, but with ride-sharing and ride-hailing. I think. I’m not entirely sure, but that’s the gist of what I’m getting from a new interview with Ford CEO Mark Fields in Automotive News:
“This is very different thinking for us,” he said. “For years we have always thought about the thing and how many of the thing we sold. We’ve opened up the aperture of the lens to think about the usage of the products.”
If anyone can explain this zen camera analogy, please do so in the comments.
5th Gear: Haldex Likely To Be Bought By ZF
Haldex, the Swedish company which you know for its differentials, is probably going to get acquired by ZF, a German company which you know for its transmissions. I say “probably” because it’s not a done deal yet, and another company is actually offering a higher bid, according to Reuters:
Swedish braking systems maker Haldex has backed a 5.53 billion crowns ($647 million) takeover offer from German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen, even though it is less than a rival bid from Germany’s Knorr-Bremse.
Haldex said on Monday that its board had unanimously recommended shareholders accept ZF’s offer because there was greater certainty it would go through. ZF has received clearances from antitrust regulators, while Knorr-Bremse’s bid ran the risk of not clearing all regulatory hurdles, Haldex said.
This will likely affect nothing in your day-to-day life.
Reverse: Who Hasn’t Done This Among Friends?
On September 19, 1973, 26-year-old musician Gram Parsons dies of “multiple drug use” (morphine and tequila) in a California motel room. His death inspired one of the more bizarre automobile-related crimes on record: Two of his friends stashed his body in a borrowed hearse and drove it into the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park, where they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.
Neutral: What Could The Dodge Dart Have Been?
If I had never heard of the most recent Dodge Dart, and told me its premise – a hot little Dodge that’s essentially an Alfa Romeo underneath – I would still be jazzed. But that wasn’t what it was. What do you wish the Dart could have been?