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: Thanks, Truck Sales And China
Third-quarter financial results are in, and General Motors posted the biggest quarterly pretax operating profit since the 2009 bankruptcy. Although net income was down thanks to the ignition switch settlement, pretax operating profit soared 37 percent to $3.1 billion, Automotive News reports. Here’s why:
In North America, growing retail market share in midsize and full-size pickups helped pretax operating income jump 34 percent to $3.29 billion, also the highest quarterly result since bankruptcy. GM said its performance was also helped by a reduction in logistics and materials costs.
And they eked out profit margin gains in China, too:
In China, GM’s pretax profit slipped 4 percent, to $463 million. Despite cooling demand amid China’s stock market dive during the quarter, GM managed to expand its pretax profit margin there, to 9.8 percent, from 9.6 percent a year earlier.
“China has not fallen off the cliff as everyone expected,” GM CFO Chuck Stevens told reporters at GM’s headquarters today.
The even narrowed their losses in Europe. Good news for the General.
2nd Gear: Honda To Sell A ‘Robot Car’ By 2020
Autonomous cars within five years? At the very least, it’s what some automakers are aiming for, even if there’s a lot of other things to figure out first. Reuters reports Honda wants in on that game too:
Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. have also set 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics, as the target date to bring self-driving cars to market.
A spokesman for [Honda] today declined to give details about the vehicle’s planned capabilities ahead of next week’s Tokyo Motor Show, where other Japanese automakers are expected to show “robot car” prototypes to the public.
I like that the Japanese are calling them “robot cars.” That’s delightful.
3rd Gear: VW Suspends QC Chief
Automotive News, citing reports from German newspapers, says Volkswagen’s head of quality control Frank Tuch has been suspended in the wake of the emissions scandal.
Tuch, 48, is the fifth high-ranking VW executive put on leave as the company and external investigators probe how software designed to cheat emissions tests ended up in 11 million VW Group engines worldwide.
Tuch was not employed at VW in 2008 when the diesel engine with manipulated software began development but investigators found incriminating correspondence, Germany’s Bild newspaper said in a report.
Meanwhile, the automaker has done a stop-sale on diesel cars in Europe, much like was ordered in the U.S. a month ago.
4th Gear: Everyone Sucks
Consumer Reports’ 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey didn’t just call out Tesla for long-term reliability. Several brands, including Honda, Acura and Cadillac fell in the rankings, due to issues ranging from glitchy infotainment systems to problematic new transmissions optimized for fuel economy. Once again from Automotive News:
Acura and Cadillac both dropped seven spots to 18th and 25th place, respectively. Acura owners had issues with in-car electronics and transmissions in the newest RLX and TLX sedans, while Cadillac was dragged down by its CUE infotainment system.
Honda dropped four spots to eight place this year due to infotainment glitches in its redesigned and freshened vehicles. Infiniti also dropped four spots as problems continued with its InTouch infotainment system.
Typical infotainment malfunctions people experience include system lockups and screen freezes. Infotainment problems sometimes require replacement components to fix, Fisher said.
Porsche had a noticeable dip, slipping out of the top 10 to 14th place after losing five spots in the rankings. Consumer Reports said the Cayman declined, while the Macan crossover had a “below-average debut.”
5th Gear: Big Toyota Recall
But Toyota has a big headache of its own: 6.5 million vehicles are being recalled globally for a fire risk through a defective power window switch. Via Reuters:
Of the total, about 2.7 million are in North America, 1.2 million in Europe, and 600,000 in Japan, the automaker said. It said it was not aware of any crashes caused by the glitch.
[...] Among other models subject to the recall are the Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, Sequoia and Scion xB. The vehicles were produced between January 2005 and December 2010, Toyota said.
Reverse: Because They Were BEST PALS