This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
From an engineering standpoint, moving the gas tanks on 2.7 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee models was a potentially expensive and awful task. Chrysler fronted like they'd ignore it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pushed forward. Everyone wondered if the cost of bad PR would overcome the cost of fixing it.
Now we know the agreement that Chrysler and NHTSA appear to have come to: Trailer hitches to fix the problem. This updated story from BusinessWeek gives the details:
The repair involves installing or repairing trailer hitches to enhance crash protection. For 1.56 million Liberty and older Grand Cherokee vehicles, a hitch assembly will be installed if one isn't there now, the company said in an e-mailed statement. If a vehicle has an aftermarket hitch not made by Chrysler, it may be replaced.
On Grand Cherokees from model years 1999 through 2004, no action will be taken on vehicles that don't have a hitch. Vehicles with hitches will be inspected, and the units will be replaced if necessary, Chrysler said.
If NHTSA accepts this then it'll be a nice dodge for Jeep, who still insists their vehicles are not pintos that'll leave everyone at risk for… fiery death. No word on whether or not Truck Nutz provide any crash protection.
2nd Gear: Porsche Hedge-Fund Suit Now In Cartel CourtS The failed bid by a surging Porsche to takeover Volkswagen Group in 2008 resulted in just the opposite happening and the hedge funds involved, as well as a handful of other people, have all tried to untangle the mess and place blame where they think it belongs.
On ongoing suit is a $2.6 billion action by seven of the hedge funds involved in the botched action who say Porsche manipulated shares to get what they want.
The case that was hearing it just agreed to move the case to a special "Cartel" court, which Automotive News speculates means the plaintiffs may have a better shot at getting a judge who understand the complexities of what occurred.
3rd Gear: Japan Hoping To Fix Very Obvious Market Issues Ahead Of TalksS From Bloomberg comes this update on Japan's ongoing attempts to not make its car market entirely protectionist in the face of American/Pacific trade talks that could benefit Japanese companies.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership will be negotiated next month and, understandably, The Big three aren't happy that Japan gets a place at the table given that, in their words, Japan is manipulating its currency so that exports are cheaper and foreign companies can't compete.
There's also been talk, lately, about making it less impossible for foreign companies to compete in the Japanese domestic market. We'll see.
4th Gear: And Speaking Of Benefiting From Currency Fluctuations…S Nissan's price-cutting is suddenly freaking out its competitors reports the Detroit News.
As you may remember, Nissan looked at what they could do with the new money they'd get in the discrepancy between what it cost to produce goods and the cost they were selling them for and thought they'd do better to just cut the cost of their vehicles and boost incentives to gain market share.
It worked. The entire brand jumped 25% in May, outpacing the industry by a ton. This was all led by the Altima which, with a $580 price cut, saw a 41% leap in sales and beat the Fusion while nearly beating the Accord.
How to respond? Detroit tries not to lean on incentives on everything as there's a perception it was one cause of the Carpocalypse and yet, faced with the big move by Nissan, they've got to do something. GM seems to be taking the lead with free maintenance and a few big discounts on vehicles like the Volt.
5th Gear: But Nothing Is Working In EuropeS Per the AP, the European car market had its worst May in 20 years as the region struggles to come out of a recession.
Demand for passenger cars dropped 5.9% compared to last May, and last May wasn't great either.
As with the recession in the U.S., no one wants to buy a car if their economic prospects look bleak, even if they have the money. Car sales even dropped 9.9% in Germany which is, generally, the most robust European market. Just Britain saw a market increase of 11%.
Reverse: McLaren Time
2013 marks the 50th anniversary since Bruce McLaren established the team which still bears his name, and has become arguably the most successful team in motorsport history. This announcement is 13 years to the day since the number 59 McLaren F1 GTR, piloted by Yannick Dalmas, J.J. Lehto and Masanori Sekiya crossed the finish line at Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans to claim victory. With the result, McLaren became the only racing team ever to have won the Formula 1™, Indy 500, Can-Am and Le Mans championships.
Neutral: How much cheaper would a Nissan have to be to make you consider it? Most Nissans aren't the best car in their respective classes, but none of them are the worst. At what price point would you take an Altima over a Fusion or a Sentra over a Mazda3?
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