This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Blackberry And Google (And Apple), Sitting In A Tree
We've touched on why automakers might find Blackberry attractive so I won't rehash, but the basic thing you need to know is that Blackberry bought a company called QNX and QNX's product is very robust and simple.
Also remember that most of the buying decisions for auto systems, as opposed to individual consumer products, are made by mostly stodgy old men six years ago. And stodgy old men in 2008 used Blackberry products.
Inside the car, Apple and BlackBerry are collaborators rather than rivals. QNX software allows CarPlay to recreate the iPhone experience on the console's screen, with icons familiar to iPhone users, including "Phone," "Messages" and "Maps."
Mary Chan, president of GM's Connected Consumer unit, said in a statement that day that the carmaker saw "huge opportunities" for Android to pair with its OnStar car communications and tracking system. OnStar, however, relies on QNX for alerts in emergencies and for hands-free operations.
This may change over time, but the car world moves slowly.
2nd Gear: The U.S. Wants To Unload Its Last Auto Asset
When GM went under it jettisoned Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), including handing a giant chunk of it over to the United States Treasury. For various reasons, the Treasury doesn't like owning large corporations so it's in the process of offloading most of its 177.3 million shares of the auto lender.
As David Shepardson reports, the Treasury put about $17.2 billion into the company and has already received $15.3 billion from sales of its stocks. In order to recoup the rest they're going to launch an IPO.
Back-of-the-napkin math says if they get their low-end $25 share price the Government could recoup the rest.
3rd Gear: New Alfa To Be The Old BMW
Good news from Blooomberg, who reports that Alfa basically wants to be Fiat's BMW by being more like Ferrari. That's a lot of words, I know, but it's mostly great news.
Here's the good part:
Fiat plans to develop a new line of rear-wheel-drive sedans and SUVs to bolster Alfa Romeo and take on carmakers like BMW Group, people familiar with the matter said. The models will start to hit the market in 2016, and high-end versions will be equipped with engines developed by sister brand Ferrari, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Here's the bad part:
Fiat is considering ditching the current versions of Alfa Romeo's MiTo and Giulietta hatchbacks, which accounted for 99 percent of sales last year, under the plan, which is still being finalized, the people said.
BMW is just starting to sell FWD vehicles and, while we malign them, it makes money for the company and we generally like the MiTo.
4th Gear: There's Something About Mary
I sincerely mean this with no offense aimed at Ed Whitacre, Dan Akerson, or Rick Wagoner, but all those guys look like the assholes who would cut corners because their kids ain't driving no Cobalts anyways. I think America is basically saturated with RICH WHITE EXECUTIVE MAN APOLOGIZING FOR ALL THOSE DEAD PEOPLE THEY LEFT IN THEIR WAKE.
Which is to say, that it's curiously good timing for GM that their CEO is a MOM-LIKE RICH WHITE WOMAN APOLOGIZING FOR ALL THOSE DEAD PEOPLE MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE (MAYBE) LEFT IN HER WAKE.
Every journo is calling this a "TRIAL BY FIRE" but we're reserving that for Porsche now, we'll just say she's getting the shit end of the stick. But she's a mom and doesn't look as insufferably out-of-touch as GM's last… oh… basically all of their CEOs. The GM Board of Directors must really have a thing for dudes who look like old shitheads. Fritz Henderson was maybe the kindest, gentlest looking of their CEOs and he still looks like the dirty cop in an '80s action movies who turns on the protagonist and is eventually killed in the blades of a helicopter.
For now, Barra's seemingly personable nature is among the company's most powerful assets. That was exemplified Wednesday in five online videos directly addressing customer concerns about GM's ignition switch recall, which involves 1.6 million pre-bankruptcy small car models, including 2005-07 Cobalts and 2003-07 Saturn Ions, Pontiac G5s, Pontiac Solstices and Chevrolet HHRs.
Simply convincing people that she truly cares (something stiff executives of the auto industry's past at times struggled to do) and that she'll fix the problem will go a long way.
I feel like Mulally would also be good in this setting, in that big dopey sweater vest, tearing up while he THINKS OF THE CHILDREN.
5th Gear: It's Going To Cost GM Maybe $2 Billion-ish
No matter how much they like her, there are plenty of people who are going to try and take a piece of the recall out of GM's ass. The total cost?
One guy says about $2 billion-ish all in for the legal side.
A major automotive analyst today predicted that General Motors will establish a settlement fund of $1 billion to $1.5 billion for customers affected by the ignition switch defect involving 1.6 million small cars from GM's pre-bankruptcy era.
Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note that GM could funnel the cash through its bankruptcy estate, an entity called Motors Liquidation Co. That legal maneuver could help GM maintain its protection against pre-bankruptcy liabilities.
The company may also need about $1 billion to pay a federal fine, similar to the fine Toyota recently agreed to.
There will, of course, be other costs.
Reverse: And His Legacy Lives On
Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of the Toyota Motor Corporation, which in 2008 surpassed America's General Motors as the world's largest automaker, dies at the age of 57 in Japan on this day 1952.
Neutral: Is Mary Barra Doing A Good Job?
Relative to how shitty her position is, how is she doing?
Photo Credit: Getty Images