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: ‘Snow Problem
The entire Eastern seaboard is recovering from this weekend’s epic snowstorm, which landed 30 inches of snow in some areas and ended up being New York’s second-biggest blizzard ever. That includes automakers and dealerships up and down the East Coast, which all had to shut down in various ways too. Via Automotive News:
Automakers including General Motors, Toyota and BMW temporarily idled some of their production facilities over the weekend because of the storm.
BMW spokeswoman Sky Foster said the automaker canceled shifts Friday and Saturday at its Spartanburg, S.C., facility, which produces the X3, X4, X5 and X6.
“The safety of our associates is our top priority, and snow and ice throughout the region made the road conditions unsafe for our associates,” Foster said.
The facility began running on a normal schedule Saturday night. Foster said lost production will be made up, but it has not been decided whether that will be through overtime or ramped-up production.
The blip in production and sales was just a temporary one, and shouldn’t affect the glut of new car sales we’re likely to see this year again.
2nd Gear: GM Trial Gets Even Weirder
The plaintiffs for the first General Motors ignition switch lawsuit ended their case after it came out that they maybe committed fraud to buy a house. The plaintiffs’ lawyers didn’t know that. Now the other lawyers want those lawyers thrown off the case. Draaaamaaaaa! Via Bloomberg:
The lead attorneys in a sprawling group of lawsuits against General Motors Co. over defective ignition switches failed and should be removed, a rival lawyer who first revealed the deadly flaw urged in a blistering court filing.
Lance Cooper called the collapse of the first trial, held in Manhattan last week, “an embarrassing retreat,’’ in a request Monday to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to remove co-lead counsels Robert Hilliard, Steve Berman and Elizabeth Cabraser.
[...] The failure of the first trial was “the culmination of a long series of poor decisions and mismanagement” by Hilliard, Berman and Cabraser, Cooper said in the filing. A lawsuit he filed over the death of Beth Melton, who was killed in a 2010 crash of a Chevrolet Cobalt, spurred a massive recall of cars with the flawed ignition switches.
3rd Gear: VW Still In Crisis
Hey, what’s the latest with Dieselgate? Nothing, and that’s a big problem with the company. Here’s Reuters:
Europe’s largest automaker needs to prepare for what will likely be a stormy annual shareholders’ meeting in April, and is looking at how to account for the scandal in its 2015 results, due to be published in March, one of the people said.
The German company is mired in the biggest business crisis in its history after admitting in September that it rigged diesel emissions tests in the United States and cheat software could be installed in 11 million vehicles worldwide.
With U.S. customers still in the dark about when and how their cars will be fixed and hundreds of lawsuits looming, the executive committee of the company’s supervisory board will meet next Wednesday, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting has not been made public.
4th Gear: Hyundai Slumps
2015 was a banner year for most automakers in terms of sales and revenue, but Hyundai—after some 15 years of unprecedented growth—faced a decline largely because of the Chinese downturn. One more from Bloomberg:
Hyundai Motor Co. posted its lowest annual profit in five years after a slump in China deliveries overshadowed gains in the U.S., Europe and South Korea.
Net income declined 13 percent to 6.42 trillion won ($5.3 billion) in 2015, the Seoul-based automaker said Tuesday. That compares with the 6.35 trillion won average of 27 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 3 percent to 92 trillion won.
Hyundai’s profit fell for a third straight year and the automaker missed its annual sales target for the first time since 2008 after deliveries in China slumped and unfavorable exchange rates cut earnings in Russia and Brazil. The company has forecast sales growth this year will be the weakest since 2006 as it expects the economic slowdown to continue in China, its largest market by volume.
5th Gear: More Takata Recalls For Ford
Sigh. From The Detroit News:
Ford is recalling nearly 391,000 Ranger pickups because the driver’s air bag inflators can explode with too much force and cause injuries.
The recall covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years in the U.S. and Canada.
It comes just days after the government announced that a South Carolina man was killed when an inflator exploded in December. Joel Knight, 52, of Kershaw died when he was struck in the neck by metal shrapnel after his 2006 Ranger hit a cow in the road and struck a fence.
Reverse: Them Duke Boys