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: Always Gotta Have A Backup Plan
Peugeot-Citroen is probably going to buy Opel off of GM at this point, but there’s always an increasingly slim chance that the deal could fall through. The Plan B – if it ever comes to that, which it probably won’t, but whatever – is to go all out on electrics, according to Automotive News:
Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has been working on a strategy to turn the automaker into an electric car only brand, German monthly Manager Magazin reported.
Neumann has been developing the EV strategy for months to help ensure Opel’s survival and GM’s board was due to decide on the plan in May, the magazine reported on Wednesday, citing company sources.
This vaguely, sorta makes sense, as GM’s been pushing Chevrolet more in Europe, and the Opel logo looks kinda like a lightning bolt, which is good a reason as any.
2nd Gear: But You May Wanna Consider Peugeot-Opel A Done Deal
It’s not done-done, of course, but Automotive News is reporting that GM’s top execs, including CEO Mary Barra and President Dan Ammann have flown to Germany for “discussions.”
Discussions, almost certainly, about selling Opel.
3rd Gear: With Preliminary Approval, The Clock Is Ticking For 3.0-Liter TDI Former Owners To Claim Volkswagen Dieselgate Cash
(This guest gear is provided by David Tracy, who had the mean blogging chops to write it and insisted on putting it in as the second gear. Who am I to chain the beast?)
Yesterday, the U.S. District Court Of Northern California granted Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter settlement preliminary approval, a crucial step in moving the Dieselgate crisis—which has been lingering since September 2015— further along.
This go-ahead means that, starting today, anyone who owned a 3.0-liter vehicle before September 18, 2015 (the day Dieselgate dropped) or Nov. 2 (when 3.0-liter cars got their notice of violation), and then sold it thereafter has until May 1 to identify themselves for an eligible former owner payment.
This means that if you owned a VW with a 3.0-liter diesel in the fall of 2015, and no longer have possession of that car, you should get on VW’s website and claim yourself thousands of dollars of free money.
Yesterday’s preliminary approval means that the only thing stopping the commencement of 3.0-liter buybacks is final approval, which is scheduled for early May. Once that goes through, VW will buy back approximately 19,000 generation one vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter diesel V6s for an average price of about $29,000, plus owners will receive a restitution payment that averages over $10,000.
The remaining 58,000 vehicles, called generation two, are expected to be repaired, but owners will still be offered a repair payment of approximately $8,600. VW will also pay $225 million into a mitigation trust, and eligible owners will receive money from Bosch as well.
There’s a lot of cash flying around, so make sure you don’t miss out on it.
4th Gear: Ford’s Building Another Enormous Wind Tunnel For Cool Wind Tunnel Purposes
(Just for clarity – this gear, and the rest of The Morning Shift, has been written by me. David Tracy will have to wrest gears one, three, four, five, and the rest of it from my cold, dead hands.)
Ford’s spending $300 million on a big fancy new wind tunnel situated on 13 acres, which is something I am also considering building, just for myself, with my $300 million and my 13 acres. All of the features that the Detroit Free Press reports that Ford will have in its wind tunnel, I will also have in my wind tunnel:
The new wind tunnel will enable the automaker to simulate wind speeds of up to 200 mph. It will also include a climate chamber with temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Construction is expected to begin later this year on the complex, which will be capable of simulating real-world driving.
The new wind tunnel will include a new five-belt conveyor system that can replicate real-world drag through a rolling road.
With that system, each wheel gets its own belt. A massive fifth belt runs under the center of the vehicle, allowing air to flow around the entire vehicle.
I’m just going to stand in mine.
5th Gear: Boeing Workers Voting To Unionize Today
Boeing workers in its South Carolina plant are voting on unionization today, and it’s iffy if it’ll pass. A lot of that is because Boeing is using demonstrably shitty tactics to try to defeat the unionization effort, Bloomberg notes:
The IAM says Boeing has been pressing its case aggressively in the workplace as well, including through mandatory meetings, casual conversations on the shop floor, TV screens placed in break rooms, free anti-union T-shirts, and a giant stack of food, diapers, and clothing labeled as all the things employees could buy for the same cost as annual union dues. A postcard titled “The Truth About IAM Wage Claims,” one of several the IAM says have been distributed by management at morning meetings, urges employees to “Just say NO to the IAM” and features an image of Pinocchio.
On Monday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Kevin McAllister joined Boeing South Carolina general manager Joan Robinson-Berry for group meetings with employees, at which a Boeing spokesperson said they discussed “the importance of their decision” about unionization. Workers say the executives suggested unionization would mean giving away all of their rights to the union and could ruin the plant’s competitiveness.
“They were threatening us basically” through “innuendo,” said employee Don Winckles. “They take the worst possible scenario and throw it out there, and a lot of people buy it, even though those people don’t like the way things are now.”
Corporations like to pull stuff like this all the time, even though unions verifiably make life better for their workers. Anecdotally, we hear at Jalopnik would know – our union is great.
Fun Jalopnik Fact: Raph and I are the site’s union representatives. We haven’t told Felton he doesn’t have to pay us bribes yet, but we still appreciate the free Yugo spindles and whatnot.
On February 15, 1998, after 20 years of trying, racing great Dale Earnhardt Sr. finally wins his first Daytona 500, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) season opener and an event dubbed the “Super Bowl of stock car racing.” Driving his black No. 3 Chevrolet, Earnhardt recorded an average speed of 172.712 mph and took home a then-record more than $1 million in prize money. Following his victory, crews from competing teams lined the pit road at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, to congratulate Earnhardt, who drove his car onto the grass and did several celebratory doughnuts, or circles.
Neutral: What Would You Do With Your Own Enormous Wind Tunnel?
What’s the point of having a treadmill if you can’t feel the breeze in your hair and 140 degree temperatures?