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: And It’s The Lamest Cheat Ever
I actually have to applaud Mitsubishi Motors for this hilariously brazen, low-budget method for cheating on fuel economy tests, which the automaker admitted to on some of its Japanese-market kei cars.
Rather than spend a decade developing a complex, secretive computer-based cheating system like Volkswagen did for diesel emissions, Mitsubishi just... screwed with their tire pressures. Here’s the BBC:
Mitsubishi Motors has admitted falsifying fuel economy data for more than 600,000 vehicles sold in Japan.
Tyre pressure figures were falsified by employees to flatter mileage rates, the company said. Almost 470,000 vehicles that Mitsubishi made for Nissan were affected and the issue was uncovered after Nissan found inconsistencies.
The announcement sent shares in Mitsubishi down more than 15% in Tokyo.
[...] It seems Mitsubishi deliberately used the wrong tyre pressures, as a way of cheating the treadmill test to get more miles per gallon out of the car. Artificially over-inflated tyres give better results.
Cars affected include Mitsubishi’s ek Wagon and eK Space kei cars, which are also sold as the Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox. In fact, that’s how this “cheat” got found out: Nissan discovered inconsistencies on the cars during their own testing. The worst part was the vast majority of the 600,000-plus vehicles were Nissans.
2nd Gear: Now HERE Is How You Cheat
Contrast Mitsubishi’s shitty MacGyver fix with what Volkswagen did: apparently the company’s diesel cheating started with a system invented all the way back in 1999. Via Reuters:
Engineers at Audi developed software capable of turning off certain engine functions in 1999, but it was never used by the VW luxury division, the newspaper said in an advance release of an article due to be published on Wednesday, which cited industry and company sources.
Six years later, when VW engineers at the firm’s Wolfsburg headquarters were unable to bring nitrogen oxide emissions below legal thresholds, they started to install the software developed by Audi, Handelsblatt said.
At least they stayed in-house. It’s good to keep costs down.
3rd Gear: Trouble At BMW’s i?
The BMW i8 and i3 are amazing machines in completely different ways, and impressive forward-thinking experiments from BMW.
But as electric cars struggle in the era of cheap gas, and everyone looks to BMW for a more mainstream i-car, the brand’s core development team just got poached by a Chinese startup. Via The Wall Street Journal:
Carsten Breitfeld, a 20-year BMW veteran who developed the company’s i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, left the Munich-based car maker last month to become chief executive of the Chinese electric car company. Now, three key executives from the “BMW i” electric car group are following him.
Dirk Abendroth, who developed electric powertrains for the i-series, Benoit Jacob, who was head of design at BMW i, and Henrik Wenders, head of BMW i product management, will take up positions at Future Mobility, according to two people familiar with the situation.
[...] The defections come as BMW and other premium brand manufacturers are struggling with weak sales of their electric vehicles and a growing threat from new rivals in the nascent electric car market.
4th Gear: Toyota Set To Restart Production Next Week After Quakes
April 25 marks the slow but steady restart of Toyota models in Japan, after the automaker was hit hard by a recent series of earthquakes. Via Automotive News:
The announcement comes just days after it said it would shut down virtually all production in the home market when the quakes hit two factories at supplier Aisin Seiki Co.
Toyota was able to bounce back by working with the Toyota Group supplier to source key parts from other factories in Japan or import them from overseas, Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said.
Toyota will gradually bring the plants back online, with most in operation by April 28. Still, some will remain down, including its Motomachi plant in central Japan and its Miyata plant near the quake zone, both of which make Lexus vehicles.
5th Gear: GM Strong In U.S., Hampered Elsewhere
General Motors is clearly in a resurgence here in the United States, but “a robust recovery in North America is covering up the trouble spots elsewhere, reports The Detroit Free Press:
The consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet is that General Motors will show earnings of $1 per share for the three months ended March 31. That would be up from 86 cents in the year earlier quarter.
GM is expected to post improved earnings for the first quarter Thursday morning largely because U.S. sales continue to be strong and profitable, offsetting weakness in South America and a tamped down growth rate in China.
Tuesday the automaker disclosed first-quarter global sales of 2.36 million vehicles, a 2.5% decline from a year earlier. But that reflects a 26% drop in South America, where the Brazilian economy is in a funk with the gross domestic product shrinking by 3.8% last year and another contraction expected for this year.
Reverse: Viva Danica
Neutral: Can BMW’s i-brand survive?
What does the i need to do to hit mainstream success?