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: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?
With his company beset by a crisis involving potentially exploding airbags on tens of millions of cars, it’s kind of amazing that Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada has stuck around this long. Now there’s rumors the grandson of the company’s founder may step down, but that seems to depend on who you ask. Here’s the Wall Street Journal:
Takata Corp.’s chief executive has said he intends to resign, according to a person familiar with the matter, in hopes that auto makers would offer aid to the maker of tens of millions of recalled air bags.
Shigehisa Takada, the CEO of Takata and the grandson of the air-bag maker’s founder, is expected meet with auto makers on Friday, when the company will discuss its financial conditions and business plans, another person briefed about the matter said.
Takata is likely to need some kind of financial support from auto makers and lenders to stay afloat, such as a capital increase, securing loans or having auto makers pay for much of the costs to fix these air-bag inflaters, people involved in the recall process said.
“A precondition for any support is Mr. Takada’s intention to resign,” one of the people said.
So for the company to get financial life support from automakers, Takada has to leave Takata. But now here’s the latest from Reuters:
(Takata) said on Friday its Chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takada had no intention as of now to resign.
Citing two people close to Takata, Reuters earlier reported the company would tell its automaker customers at a meeting on Friday that Takada, grandson of the group’s founder, was willing to step down and take responsibility for the recalls.
[...] In a brief statement to the stock market, Takata said it had not announced Takada’s resignation and “as of now he has no intention to resign.”
What’s the deal, dude? Honestly though, I would not be surprised at all if we hear of his resignation in the coming days, if not sooner. Stay tuned.
2nd Gear: Honda Takes A Hit In Q4
Speaking of the Takata airbag crisis, that and a strong U.S. dollar meant a hit to Honda’s profits in the last quarter, Automotive News reports. Many automakers have been affected by recalling Takata airbags, but none so more than Honda. The currency situation didn’t help either.
Honda’s earnings took a hit from added expenses to address the ongoing recalls of Takata airbags. Honda and other automakers have had to call back millions of vehicles using potentially defective airbag inflators that can explode with too much force.
Honda booked 51.6 billion yen ($428.3 million) in quality-related expenses in the third quarter. The figure includes Takata recall costs, but Honda did not break out the amount.
Foreign exchange rates lopped another 19.1 billion yen ($158.5 million) off Honda’s quarterly operating profit. While it logged gains from the yen’s decline against the dollar, those were offset by the dollar’s increase against currencies in Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
3rd Gear: Toyota Buys All Of Daihatsu
Lots of news out of Japan this morning! Anyway, Toyota has long been a majority shareholder in small car maker Daihatsu, which sold dozens of cars in the U.S. for a few years, but now it will move to buy out the rest of the company entirely.
Why? Not to bring microcars to the U.S. again. (Nobody’s buying small cars anymore.) It’s to focus on emerging markets, says Reuters:
The companies intend to develop Daihatsu into a global brand as they focus on growing markets for compact cars, noting that entry-level car markets were expanding due to economic development and that vehicles were becoming smaller due to environmental and traffic concerns.
Acquiring full control of Daihatsu, of which Toyota currently owns 51.2 percent, will allow it to better leverage the lower-cost brand and enable Daihatsu to more easily adopt next-generation technologies developed by Toyota.
“We see this as the perfect opportunity to cement our relationship with Toyota, and, by doing so, to embark on a new period of growth, and to elevate the Daihatsu brand to a global standard,” Daihatsu said in a statement.
4th Gear: GM Forms Team Autonomous
Next year General Motors plans to debut the first iteration of its “hands-free” autonomous drive system called Super Cruise on the Cadillac CT6. In the meantime, management has formed a team that will focus entirely on AD tech, reports The Detroit Free Press:
The dedicated team is being formed under Doug Parks, who will shift from vice president of global product programs to the new position of vice president of autonomous technology and vehicle execution. Parks reports to Mark Reuss, head of global product development.
The new Autonomous and Technology Vehicle Development Team will recruit from across GM with a mandate to map out a strategy that includes engineering as well as identifying investments and partnerships to ensure leadership in self-driving technology.
5th Gear: The Ford GT Races This Weekend!
You should watch the 24 Hours of Daytona not just because it’s awesome, but because a reborn American icon makes its racing debut there this weekend. From The Detroit News:
Ford will race two GTs (the No. 66 and No. 67) alongside two prototype vehicles in the Daytona event. Six veteran drivers from the Chip Ganassi Racing Team will swap GT driving duties on the speedway’s 3.56-mile circuit which winds through a high-speed banked oval and a twisting infield road course.
The automaker has an impressive resume there: Ford won the inaugural 1966 24 Hours of Daytona and has six overall victories there in 1965, 1966, 1997, 1999, 2012 and 2015 (in that last race, using a prototype vehicle powered by the GT’s engine).
Reverse: Guy Loved To Do Burnouts Too
Neutral: How Does Takata Bounce Back?
This is one of the world’s biggest auto supplier companies. How does it get past this crisis?
Photo credit AP