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?
Oh boy, we're going to talk Tesla today. And Politics. So this should get exciting. Also, I'm going to come to the defense of Tesla not once, but twice, and say some things about Sarah Palin. If any of that is going to offend you it's probably best to stop reading right now.
May I suggest a GIF roundup of the Astros victory last night that includes a guy catching a ball in his beer and then chugging said beer? That's an America I think we can all agree on.
1st Gear: Sarah Palin Calls Fisker, Tesla A Loser
I do not regularly read the Facebook pages of politicians, much preferring Facebook pages dedicated to flying cars, thus I'm going to be a little late to this news.
Sarah Palin, apparently, wrote that Fisker and Tesla were losers. She also called Tesla, the Volt, and Fisker "Obama-subsidized." Where to start?
Fisker is definitely a loser, there's no doubt about it. The Chevy Volt? You could argue it either way, but sales are up and it's a first stab at a big technological shift for the automaker so I'd take issue with the claim. Tesla has lost something like a billion dollars since its founding ten years ago, but every other car company wishes they could build the Tesla Model S and, eventually, the company will be successful. Even if that means getting sold first.
She may be an expert at losing, having lost the third most important thing you can lose (Vice Presidency, which is third after the Presidency (2nd) and the Pennant (1st)), but she's mostly wrong here.
Obama-subsidized, though? No. The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (AVTM) was created by the Bush administration and the original applications were approved by the Bush administration. If anything, the complaints against the Obama administration center around him not approving more of the loans. In the sense that President Obama pays taxes, yes, but then again it's also a Sarah Palin-subsidized Fisker, too.
So… wrong and wrong. Now let's get to the next charge:
… or like the Obama-subsidized Tesla that turns into a “brick” when the battery completely discharges and then costs $40,000 to repair.
We are definitely the experts on Tesla bricking and it's true that a bricked first-gen Roadster with a battery problem would have cost you $40,000 (though Tesla may have bought off most of the people who had a bricked Roadster with cheap/free batteries). For all we know Ms. Palin is a Jalopnik reader (we both love snow machines) and got that info on this website. Awesome. Happy to have you here.
This claim is a little misleading, though, because it's nearly impossible to brick a Model S and, should you do it, they claim they're covering it under warranty.
With all the things we spend money on that we lose money on, I think Tesla isn't a great thing to focus on Ms. Palin. Instead, can we talk about Ethanol subsidies? Gas subsidies? Oil company subsidies? There's a lot of real waste.
Or, if that doesn't work, here's a list of other crazy shit.
2nd Gear: Elon Musk V. Texas Dealers
I'm usually far more comfortable lambasting Tesla for the weirdness they engage in that, for some reason, the rest of the media used to routinely ignore. I'm starting to sense that this pattern may finally be over, so to continue to be contrarian I'm going to now defend Elon Musk.
Once again, auto dealers are trying to prevent Tesla from selling cars in the state by sticking to dealer-protection laws that aren't in step with the 21st century.
To be clear: Laws that protect dealerships from having to compete with factory-backed stores are not terrible. It sort of makes sense, although I largely don't think it's a necessity anymore. Either way, those laws shouldn't be used to prevent Tesla from having "showrooms" that only show cars and don't talk pricing or sales.
Tesla has put forth a bill in the Texas Legislature that'll let them get around those strict requirements and the Lege should consider it. I worked for a while in the office of Texas State Rep. Hope (R-Conroe) and there I heard many passionate defenses of the free market. Let's hope that still holds true.
3rd Gear: Ford Builds Its First Russian Explorer
No, it isn't Yuri Gagarin. It's the first Ford Explorer built in Tatarstan, Russia. It's also the first Explorer to be built outside of the United States.
Russians love SUVs. The Detroit News cites a report that says 31% of all cars sold las year were SUVs.
After watching all those dash cams I think I understand why.
4th Gear: Daimler Ain't Pulling In Those Euros
A weak Europe means that Mercedes is probably not going to hit earlier, rosier, projections according to The Wall Street Journal.
The German luxury-car and truck maker already tempered expectations earlier this year by warning that a grim European market and the company's recent stumbles in China would lead to flat earnings in 2013. But Wednesday, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said an even sharper-than-anticipated drop in European demand would force the company to "reassess" whether its assumptions for 2013 were still valid. Daimler will update its profit outlook when it reports first-quarter earnings April 24.
Dr. Z is not alone as everyone else pretty much agrees that the car market is going to suck over there for a while. We're hopeful the new CLA is worth driving.
5th Gear: Dan Akerson Wants You To Get To Know Him
Being head of GM means getting kicked around a lot, especially in an election year that saw automakers used as political footballs. Chinese Jeeps. Osama's dead, GM's Alive. Blah blah blah.
That's why Akerson kept his melon off the scene for a while, reports Nathan Bomey. Now, though, Akerson is back doing television, giving speeches, and touting GM.
He's also, apparently, looking out to make sure he doesn't get burned that pesky media:
Dave Cole, chairman emeritus of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, said Akerson "inherently had a distrust of the media because of his private equity" background. He said Akerson got a rude awakening early in his tenure when journalists reported his aggressive sales projections for the Chevy Volt, which turned out to be too optimistic.
"Nobody with any significant auto experience would ever have done that," Cole said. "After that, he realized, 'Uh oh, I've got some work to do' — and he has," Cole said. "He's learning the business. He's a smart guy."
Yeah, only Lutz gets away with that, and that's only because everyone knows Bob Lutz will strafe you with his fighter jet if you cross him.
Reverse: Mazel Tov Henry Ford!
On this day in 1888, 24-year-old Henry Ford marries Clara Jane Bryant on her 22nd birthday at her parent's home in Greenfield Township, Michigan. Clara Ford would prove to be a big supporter of her husband's business ideas: Fifty years later, Henry Ford—who by then had founded the Ford Motor Company, invented the top-selling Model T car and revolutionized the auto industry with his mass-production technology—was quoted in a 1938 New York Times Magazine article as saying, "The greatest day of my life is when I married Mrs. Ford."
Neutral: We're tightening up the front page
A lot of you have complained about the amount of scrolling it takes to see a story. We're trying to fix that with a tighter front page that should launch tomorrow. Thoughts on the layout?
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