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: It’s How Ferrari’s Going To Stay Independent
Ferrari put its shares on the public market for the first time yesterday, and the exact mechanism it plans to use to stop someone from just buying up the whole thing has been a little murky. We knew a plan was in place, we just didn’t know the details. Luckily, company scion Piero Ferrari told Bloomberg about some of the details:
“We have an agreement among the families to protect our interests in Ferrari,” Piero Ferrari said following the company’s initial public offering Wednesday. “We have a very strong understanding.”
Ferrari, 70, who is vice chairman of the company, said he has no plan to sell his 10 percent holding. John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and head of the Agnelli family, said he expects to remain Ferrari’s biggest shareholder. Exor SpA, the Agnelli’s holding company, will own about 23 percent of Ferrari after Fiat Chrysler spins off its 80 percent stake, probably in January.
Much of that “very strong understanding” boils down to a voting rights plan, which gives special voting powers to those who promise to hold their shares longer than three years. So far, only Piero and the Elkanns meet that criteria, giving them 48.7 percent of the voting rights. That should be more than enough to fend off any takeover bids.
2nd Gear: Volkswagen’s Cheating Might Be Even Bigger Than Expected
Alright, I know that’s pretty much a headline we constantly read nowadays, so we might as well just expect everything. But up until today, it was thought that Dieselgate was primarily limited to Volkswagen’s slightly older EA189 diesel engines , of which there are about 11 million floating around throughout the world. But early versions of VW’s EA288 might be affected as well, as Reuters reports:
U.S. regulators have said they are also investigating Volkswagen’s “generation 3” vehicles in the United States, which contained newer EA 288 diesel engine. But it has not been clear whether these engines were being examined elsewhere.
“Other generations of the EA 288 are currently being examined,” Volkswagen said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday, after German news agency DPA reported that additional engines types may be involved in the emissions scandal.
The EA288 lies underneath diesel examples of much of the Golf family, including the Jetta and Beetle.
3rd Gear: Union Workers At FCA Seem To Like Their New Contract
FCA factory workers represented by the UAW voted last night on a new four-year contract, and Automotive News has the nose count:
With most large locals and about half of all locals reporting, none had yet turned down the agreement. Most had voted to ratify by at least 60 percent to 40 percent, according to figures posted on local union web sites. At Local 685 in Kokomo, Ind., the largest FCA local, nearly 90 percent of production workers approved the pact.
While that might seem boring to the average, casual car enthusiast, it’s actually important. Happy workers not only mean solidly built cars, but they also mean stability for companies. And when the boat isn’t being rocked, automakers feel free to experiment. And when automakers experiment and push the boundaries, we all win.
4th Gear: Is Anyone Else Getting A Little Worried About China?
While companies like Mercedes-Benz have reported ongoing growth in the Chinese market, others on the lower end of the market, like Hyundai, have reported slowdowns thanks to reduced demand from a wobbly Chinese economy. And with an even longer-term view comes Honda, which just announced its delaying plans to build a new factory over there. Bloomberg reports:
Honda is postponing adding more production capacity in China despite boosting sales by 34 percent in the first nine months of this year. Industry deliveries of passenger vehicles had expanded at the slowest pace in three years in the first three quarters, weighed down by moderating economic growth, stock-market volatility and caps on registrations.
Despite big sales, postponing a factory like this isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the market. China’s economy, while still officially growing at what would be considered a gangbusters pace anywhere else, is showing signs of a slowdown. It’s hard to tell, as Chinese government figures aren’t considered exactly reliable, but it sounds like companies are getting a little nervous.
5th Gear: Looking for a job in Michigan? Try GM
But while the Chinese market slows, the American one is looking up. Accordingly, GM is hiring over 1,000 workers at its Hamtramck plant. Much of that is due to anticipated sales of the Cadillac CT6, along with a redesigned Chevrolet Volt. That’s a big bet to make for GM, but who doesn’t like relentless optimism?
Reverse: Who Doesn’t Like Pretty Highways?
On October 22, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Highway Beautification Act, which attempts to limit billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising, as well as with junkyards and other unsightly roadside messes, along America’s interstate highways. The act also encouraged “scenic enhancement” by funding local efforts to clean up and landscape the green spaces on either side of the roadways. “This bill will enrich our spirits and restore a small measure of our national greatness,” Johnson said at the bill’s signing ceremony. “Beauty belongs to all the people. And so long as I am President, what has been divinely given to nature will not be taken recklessly away by man.”
Neutral: Know anyone that bought Ferrari stock yet?
Or are you planning to?
Photo credit: Getty Images