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: Of Course VW Wasn’t Alone
Did anyone really think Volkswagen was alone in trying to skirt diesel emissions regulations? According to tests from the German environmental lobbying group Deutsche Umwelthilfe, or DUH (the jokes write themselves), the Renault Espace 1.6-liter diesel van also has NOx emissions 25 times higher than EURO6 legal limits. An excerpt of the report from The Daily Kanban, which has been predicting this story for about a week:
“The tests show a certain pattern. Only when the car was prepared in a certain way for next day’s test, the car passed with flying colors. Any deviations of the reconditioning resulted in emissions which we had never measured that high.”
The DUH study was done in cooperation with the U.S.-based International Council on Clean Transportation, the group that commissioned the original study that exposed Volkswagen. Here is how the alleged cheat works, via Reuters:
The DUH, which had earlier singled out General Motors’ Opel brand over results suggesting high NOx emissions outside the regulator’s lab, turned its fire on France’s Renault in a report commissioned from the University of Applied Sciences in Bern.
When run with a warm or hot engine, a 1.6-litre Espace of the latest Euro 6 diesel generation emitted up to 2.06 grammes of NOx per kilometre, the campaign group said, more than 25 times the EU limit. The vehicle met the statutory 80 milligramme cap only with a cold engine after “specific pre-conditioning”.
Renault has not yet made a comment on the matter to news outlets.
2nd Gear: A ‘Cheaper’ Tesla Model X
Don’t feel like paying $132,000 for the new Tesla Model X? You can get the 70D, which will put you out a mere $80,000 instead! Via Automotive News:
When general deliveries of the Model X begin in early 2016, Tesla will offer 90D and 70D variants, the latter of which will include a 70 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a sticker price of $80,000, plus a $1,200 shipping charge, the company said Monday.
That price, which is $5,000 more than that of Tesla’s basic Model S sedan, is being closely watched by rivals such as Audi AG, which plans to take on the Model X in 2018 with a crossover based on the E-tron Quattro concept unveiled this fall.
3rd Gear: Wanna Buy A VW Dealership?
Right now, VW’s struggles mean that you—yes, YOU!—could start your own franchise at a relatively low cost. Valuation of VW franchises just hit a new low, the opposite of what the truck-savvy domestic brands are going through right now. Once more from Automotive News:
“Certain aggressive buyers may be willing to acquire VW franchises at very low blue sky values with the expectation that the company will weather the storm,” wrote Erin Kerrigan, managing director of Irvine, Calif., buy-sell advisory firm Kerrigan Advisors, in her quarterly Blue Sky Report. “If correct, these prescient investors will likely earn attractive returns on their investments.”
Meanwhile, the reports gave domestic brand dealerships rising valuations due to low gasoline prices that have spurred truck sales.
I’m going to start my own VW franchise but it only sells Golf Rs. Stanced Golf Rs. And bourbon.
4th Gear: Women In China Love Audi
What was once the favored ride of bureaucrats, businessmen and party officials in China is now the choice of young, professional women. Here’s Bloomberg on Audi’s appeal in that country:
“Audi drivers are the progressive, white-collar workers and it’s an image I identify with,” said the 32-year-old furniture designer, who’s deciding between an A4L sedan and the Q5 SUV. “I work hard and want to make sure my money is well spent.”
It’s a description that would have sounded unusual in the late 1980s, when Audi was the de facto ride of high-ranking government officials and privileged businessmen in the decade following the adoption of market reforms. Back then, the German brand accounted for about 70 percent of the government and state-owned company fleets, a proportion that has declined steadily over the years. Today, women make up about a third of Audi’s buyers in China, even higher in the more prosperous eastern regions.
5th Gear: Gas Drops Again!
Go hoon something! From the AP:
AAA Michigan has one more reason for holiday travelers to be thankful: Gas prices statewide have decreased by about 23 cents in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $1.94 per gallon on Sunday. That’s about 94 cents less than it was at the same point last year. The price drop comes just before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.
Reverse: The Traction Motor!