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: Screwing Up Is Expensive
As we’ve learned over the past few days, we can complain about government fines not being enough to deter corporate malfeasance until the cows come home, but the real penalty comes with the various incidental costs. But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s American arm, which from now on we’ll just call Chrysler because that’s what it was before the Carpocalypse, and which encompasses Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram, saw its profits plunge 90 percent as it needed to fix cars that were recalled.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Hitting the third-quarter results was a $1 billion charge with the majority of that money—$848 million—going to cover future recall costs. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has said the U.S. auto industry is now in a new phase whereby the government will scrutinize potential problems much more closely and push companies to issue recalls.
Four months ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the auto maker $105 million for its not finishing recall campaigns. It also ordered the company to repurchase about 200,000 Ram pickups and Dodge sport-utility vehicles it had failed to correctly fix in 2013.
When this whole recall business was initially going on for Jeep back in 2014, we called it “the recall that never ends.”
Chrysler’s still feeling the effects of it.
2nd Gear: Toyota Drops Takata
Takata may be circling the drain, folks. FCA, Honda, Subaru, and Mitsubishi have all said they’re going to stop supplying airbags from the beleaguered Japanese supplier in the wake of news that its airbags killed at least seven people. And while it couldn’t seem to get any worse for Takata, it now has. Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, announced that it would no longer be using Takata’s airbag inflators (via Fortune).
The free market, coupled with government influence, strikes again.
3rd Gear: Republicans Are Cutting Money For Auto Safety
Remember how we just talked about how the government needs to act to spur the free market to do its thing? Remember how we just saw that the system is working, just barely? Remember how no one wants to, you know, die in their cars?
Anyways, House Republicans are cutting money for car safety, Reuters reports:
Despite public outrage over deadly auto defects including faulty ignition switches and airbags inflators, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted to slash proposed spending increases for vehicle safety including defect investigations.
In a Republican amendment to the House transportation funding bill, lawmakers scaled back spending for the fiscally embattled National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by one-fifth to one-third from funding levels sought by the Obama administration and approved by the Senate last July.
4th Gear: Volkswagen’s Design Chief Is Out
The Volkswagen org chart shuffle continues. The company’s lost its CEO, Martin Winterkorn, and a whole bunch of other executives, and now with them goes Walter de Silva, the company’s head of design, Automotive News reports:
De Silva’s departure from VW comes as the company accelerates a reorganization following its costly emissions cheating scandal, which De Silva is not implicated in. However, VW is seeking to reduce its design department’s 100 million euro annual budget, German business magazine Handelsblattreported.
It is not clear whether VW will appoint a new group design chief responsible for coordinating styling at all 12 brands or eliminate the position.
De Silva was among an elite group of close confidantes that Martin Winterkorn took with him to Wolfsburg when Winterkorn was promoted to VW Group CEO from Audi chief in 2007.
De Silva’s 64. Maybe he wants to just try playing golf for a while? That’s what I’d do.
5th Gear: Maserati’s Get Even More Exclusive
See what I did there? Right there? With the “Maserati getting more exclusive” bit? Jokes, just jokes, friends.
In actuality, Bloomberg reports that its cutting production:
Maserati is deepening production cuts as a
boom prompted by the more affordable Ghibli sedan fades, raising
questions about ambitions at parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV
to expand in the luxury-car segment.
Maserati, known for cars like the $99,900 Quattroporte
sedan, will halt production for six weeks in the next two
months, including four consecutive weeks from Dec. 14, according
to unions at luxury unit’s main plant in Grugliasco in northern
Italy. About 2,000 workers at the site will be put on temporary
furloughs for most of the days and will have a longer than usual Christmas break.
Well, that is one way to make the brand more exclusive. Though it does make me sad, as by some law of the Universe every single Maserati, including and especially the Ghibli, sounds absolutely glorious.
And with fewer Maseratis, that means that there’s a little bit less music in the world.
On November 6, 1998, President Bill Clinton declares that part of Detroit will become an “Automobile National Heritage Area.” The designation restricted land use and drew attention to what Michigan Congressman John Dingell called “the automobile’s contribution to our history and economic strength and the role of organized labor in that history.”
Neutral: What Car Maker Should Be More Popular?
This Maserati news is really bumming me out. There should be more Maseratis. A Maserati for everyone.
What other car maker should be allowed to just churn out cars for everyone that possibly wants one?
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