This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. 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: Oh Fisker...
If Fisker had somehow succeeded and was still on the market, instead of going bankrupt, it would be about due for a slight refresh here in the coming years. That didn't happen. Instead, they blew through $1.4 billion, lost a bunch of cars in Hurricane Sandy, and went bankrupt.
In fact, the only new Fisker Karma we got had a V8 engine.
Now the company is in the hands of a Chinese billionaire and he plans to reintroduce the Karma as a first step in rebuilding the company. And what will it look like?
According to Reuters, it'll look exactly the same.
"It will have to be nearly identical to the 2012 model, or it would need to go through (safety) testing and certification again," a person close to Fisker's suppliers said. "I don’t think they want to put a lot of engineering into it either, as well as probably use up some of the old parts that are in inventory."
Still, some parts of it will be new.
Fisker does not plan to simply reintroduce the 2012 Karma, a source close to Fisker said. “Not 100 percent identical," the person said. "The new Karma will be different in many key areas. It will have noticeable upgrades.” He declined to provide details.
Using the 2012 Karma design could present problems given it has older features and technologies. "You’re not buying something that’s considered ‘state of the art’ necessarily," the supplier source said. "It’s a big hurdle to overcome.”
Well, good luck with that!
2nd Gear: What Does The Actually Successful Green Carmaker Think About Autonomous Cars?
Elon Musk, who handily defeated Fisker in the green car wars of 2012, thinks we're on the verge of having autonomous cars that are 10x safer than human drivers.
At least, that's what he told The Wall Street Journal:
"They will be a factor of 10 safer than a person [at the wheel] in a six-year time frame," Mr. Musk said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Once the technology is available, it likely would take several more years, however, to work out the regulatory impediments, he said.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla is working on its own autonomous driving technology for its electric vehicles in addition to talking with auto suppliers. He said he expects more suppliers of autonomous vehicle parts to emerge in coming years.
"Tesla is going to do quite a bit of development itself," he said. He didn't mention any development partners by name.
Mr. Musk said "machine vision," or the ability for a computer to quickly recognize objects, is the biggest technological impediment to fully implementing the technology.
"And I should know, I actually see objects like a machine sees objects," Musk was heard to say before a Tesla spokeswoman pressed a button on the CEO's back and the conversation shifted to hyperloops.
3rd Gear: Toyota Is Running Out Of Space To Build Things
How long will the good times continue to roll? It's not clear, which is why carmakers are trying to crap out every last car from the plants and workers they already have.
The latest example is the Toyota Tacoma but we could see more shirts from Toyota before we see more plants.
“Akio Toyoda is conservative about setting up a completely new plant, as the company was damaged by problems with overcapacity after the Lehman shock,” Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan, said by telephone. “It’s just a matter of time before Toyota has to decide if they really want to have a big, full assembly plant in Mexico.”
Props to Craig Trudell for using both "squeeze" and "eke out" thereby forcing me to use "crap out."
4th Gear: Ford Glad It Didn't Build More Plants In Europe
While the European car market was up overall, a lot of that was from pent up demand in markets like Portugal. Some of the biggest markets (Germany, France, and Italy) actually saw a slowdown.
It's why Ford is cutting back hours at its Cologne, Germany plant where they produce the Fiesta.
5th Gear: More Uber Drama
Uber apparently takes a surcharge on the 20% gratuity you're automatically paying with every Uber ride and thus are facing a lawsuit over it. I should say, another lawsuit.
Uber retains “a substantial portion” of the gratuity as additional revenue rather than giving it to drivers, according to a complaint this year by an Illinois resident who accused the ride-share company of misleading customers about the true cost of its service. The lawsuit seeks group status on behalf of Uber users.
A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday denied in part the company’s bid for dismissal of the case, letting it go forward on claims the company violated unfair-competition and consumer-protection laws. The judge threw out a breach-of-contract claim.
Disrupters be disrupting.
On September 19, 1973, 26-year-old musician Gram Parsons dies of "multiple drug use" (morphine and tequila) in a California motel room. His death inspired one of the more bizarre automobile-related crimes on record: Two of his friends stashed his body in a borrowed hearse and drove it into the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park, where they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.
Neutral: Can Fisker Survive? Or will people avoid it like a... flaming Fisker?
Photo Credit: Getty Images