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: Lotus S90? Lotus S90.
Lotus, the last earthly and good preacher of the cult of Add Lightness, is one of those companies that seems to be perennially up for sale. Owned by Malaysian carmaker Proton, which most Westerners have never heard of, Lotus always seemed destined for something more, but at the same time has always appeared to be a bit of a management basket case.
But hope thunders over the horizon. Proton is rumored to be selling, and at least two contenders have emerged in the race, according to the Financial Times:
China’s Geely and France’s PSA are in the race to buy Proton, the struggling Malaysian carmaker that owns Lotus, with the two groups set to submit rival offers in the coming days.
Geely, which owns Volvo, will table a bid for part or all of Proton this week, according to two people familiar with the timing, while Peugeot owner PSA is also preparing to make an offer. Proton is owned by DRB-Hicom, the Kuala Lumpur-listed conglomerate, and has been seeking a foreign strategic partner to help expand its range of products and the quality of its cars.
Renault, which had been expected to bid, has dropped out of the race, according to two people.
Proton? Who cares, you’ve never driven a Proton in your life. Peugeot? Meh. They don’t sell anything here. But the possibility of Geely buying Lotus? Hell yeah. Geely’s done an incredible job resurrecting Volvo from the near-dead, which gives us confidence in its ability to do the same with Lotus.
Also, Lotus has a history of modifying cars in its own right, which has given us such beauties as the Lotus Omega.
Lotus S90, here we come.
2nd Gear: Is Tesla Stock Overvalued?
Depending on whether or not you’re a Tesla-lover or Tesla-hater (those are the only two options NO OTHERS), the answer to that is either a resounding NO or a resounding YES. But Bloomberg spoke to some stock analysts that all seem to be moving into the YES camp with a surprising amount of unity:
With all this going on, the stock has been on a tear—rising 48 percent in just three months. But Wall Street has begun to dissent. Analysts now consider Tesla more overvalued than at any previous time, and a technical analysis of the stock is setting off alarms.
The signs all point to Tesla’s stock price being a bit crazy for a car company. But as the Bloomberg piece points out, the problem is that the analysts may be comparing it to other car companies – almost all of which have been around for 100 years, if not more, and almost all of which seem to have days of massive growth behind them.
Tesla’s shares right now, then, are more of a gamble, and the price can reflect that risk-reward system. If the Tesla Model 3 takes off, investors will be handsomely rewarded. If it doesn’t, they’re screwed. That promise of a big reward, however, is driving the price ever higher.
3rd Gear: AWD Chargers And 300s Being Recalled
Model year 2014 to 2017 all-wheel-drive Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s are being recalled due to the possibility that the driveshaft could come undone, according to a NHTSA recall:
Chrysler (FCA US LLC) is recalling certain 2014-2017 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). The front driveshaft bolts may loosen and allow the front driveshaft to disconnect, potentially causing a loss of motive power.
Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace all eight front driveshaft bolts, free of charge.
I’m no mechanic, but a “driveshaft” seems like something important.
4th Gear: Peugeot Gets Government Support For Buying Opel
It looks like the business side of GM selling Opel to Peugeot is proceeding smoothly, but one of the main hurdles to any merger is government oversight. From the noises French and German government ministers are making, though, it sounds like this will sail through just fine (via Reuters):
Germany and France believe that a proposed acquisition of General Motors’ European division Opel by PSA Group would be a win-win situation for both countries, their labour ministers said on Tuesday.
You will never see a new Opel sold in the United States for the rest of eternity.
5th Gear: Shell To Build Seven Hydrogen Fueling Stations
One of those funny, hilarious jokes oil companies like to play sometimes is when they pretend to “invest” in alternative fuels, make a big show about it, but end up really doing so little it might as well be nothing. A real knee slapper, that is. Anyways, Shell’s doing it again, according to Automotive News:
Royal Dutch Shell Plc will build seven fueling stations for hydrogen cars in California through a partnership with Toyota Motor Corp., laying down their latest bet on the demise of the internal-combustion engine.
Seven more hydrogen stations throughout all of California is nothing. This will not make a dent. This is all for show. It’s a song and dance. Don’t let it fool you.
Reverse: NASCAR Founded
On this day in 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Racing–or NASCAR, as it will come to be widely known–is officially incorporated. NASCAR racing will go on to become one of America’s most popular spectator sports, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Neutral: What Would Your Hopes Be For A Resurrected Lotus?
If you asked Lotus right now, it would tell you that no, it is not dead yet. And this is true. But it’s not quite living a full and vigorous life. What would you hope for in a resurrected Lotus?