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: Ford Can’t Catch A Brake
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America, and now our auto safety regulators have opened an investigation into 282,000 of them over reports of brake problems. Not great! Via Reuters:
There have been 25 consumer complaints that include claims of “a sudden and complete loss of brakes,” the agency said. The vehicles affected are the 2015 and 2016 model year F-150s that have 3.5-liter engines.
No injuries or accidents have been reported, the NHTSA said.
We’ll be keeping an eye on that one.
2nd Gear: Ford Still Hasn’t Confirmed The Bronco But Everyone Knows
Despite breathless headlines on a litany of websites—seriously, the “new Bronco” brings in clicks like you wouldn’t believe, especially with that rendering as the lead photo—Ford itself still has not officially confirmed that a new Bronco will be built in Michigan to replace small car production. Or the Ranger.
It was a UAW official who did that, joining the growing chorus of people telling Donald Trump he’s full of shit. But he would know, probably, and we’ve all kind of known it would be the case for about a year.
Either way, while it’s not confirmed directly from the OEM yet, it’s still all very likely to happen, even if we are skeptical that the “new Bronco” will really be a rugged Wrangler-slaying off-roader like we all want. Here’s Ford itself in the Detroit Free Press:
On Tuesday, Ford again refused to confirm its plans.
“We have committed to two additional vehicles moving into the Michigan Assembly Plant, beginning in 2018, and we remain on plan. We are not announcing specific products at this time,” the company said in a statement.
But yeah, NEW BRONCO! Woooooo.
3rd Gear: Coalition Zero
Imagine zero deaths from traffic accidents. As unfathomable as that sounds, it is the goal auto safety regulators—and carmakers, increasingly—say they are working toward. They want to achieve that goal in the next 30 years.
Now regulators and safety groups are teaming up to fund grants worth $1 million annually for the next three years to work to that end. Those groups include the National Safety Council, NHTSA, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Via Automotive News:
Some 35,092 people died in traffic crashes last year, the most since 2008 and a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. It was the largest increase since 1966. Regulators also said today thatpreliminary estimates released today showed fatalities in the first half of 2016 jumped by 10.4 percent to 17,775. The total is the highest posted since 2008 and the largest first-half increase in at least the last decade.
Automakers are rapidly deploying advanced safety technologies and readying autonomous vehicles as key tools to improve vehicle safety and avoid crashes. And while stopping short of cementing the goal as official U.S. policy, the coalition marks the first effort by the U.S. government specifically aimed at eliminating all traffic deaths from American roads.
“We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety — from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
We’ll see what they can do that automakers aren’t already attempting to do with better, safer cars.
4th Gear: EVs Are A Boom For The Metals Industry
Here’s another industry set to possibly benefit by this new wave of electric vehicles we’re set to see in the next few years. Via Reuters:
Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf may look no different from the standard family runaround. But the new materials that go into them could revolutionize the market for metals used in the industry, opening up a new field for commodities investors.
“We identified electric vehicles as an area where we are at an inflection point for demand,” said Duncan Goodwin, portfolio manager of the Baring Global Resources Fund.
Around 12 percent of the fund’s $378.2 million in assets is exposed to materials that are used in electric vehicles. It has investments in New York-listed Albemarle and Australia’s Orocobre, two companies producing lithium, a key element in electric car batteries. Shares in both companies have risen sharply this year.
Governments, keen to push growth in electric cars in a bid to meet their carbon emissions targets, are tempting consumers with perks like subsidies, free parking and tax breaks. Growth in the market is in turn creating an opportunity for commodities investments currently estimated at $235 billion.
5th Gear: GM Still Can’t Get Wall Street Love
As has been the case for years now, General Motors, despite profits, continued sales success and a forward-thinking attitude that would have been unfathomable a decade ago, is still dealing with a stock price that is down from last year. What gives? Via Bloomberg:
It’s one of the more vexing questions Dan Ammann, the company’s president, faces every day. The automaker posted record profits last year, will be close to that level this year and is putting the pieces in place for a run at more growth in 2017, Ammann said in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York.
GM has a wave of new, high-margin SUVs coming to market in the next few years, and the company believes that, even with the rapid growth of ride-sharing services, cars sales will continue to be steady and profitable.
“The core of where we make money will be sustained for a long time to come,” he said. “We are delivering real results and we see opportunity to grow.”
[...] Still, investors aren’t listening to Ammann’s message. GM stock is down about 6 percent this year to $32.17 a share, below the 2010 initial public offering price of $33 and way off its Dec. 17, 2013, high of $41.53. That’s despite record net income of $9.7 billion last year and a company forecast for $9.2 billion this year.
Ammann and GM CEO Mary Barra have had to wrestle with investor perceptions that the traditional car market has peaked. It hasn’t helped that crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. has reined in its own earnings forecast, pulling GM shares down as its stock falters.
Reverse: You May Have Heard Of This Guy
Neutral: Can We Bring Traffic Deaths To Zero?
If so, how?