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: Maybe That’s Why He Got The Job?
Once Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal broke in September of last year, old VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was out faster than an English speaker could properly pronounce auf wiedersehen. He was replaced with the guy who was running Porsche, Matthias Müller. That mostly makes sense because Porsche has been making a bunch of money the past few years, but it may make sense for another reason, Reuters reports:
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) Chief Executive Matthias Mueller had no knowledge of the carmaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper said, citing a report by Jones Day, the lawfirm tasked with investigating the scandal.
Mueller found out about Volkswagen’s emissions cheating software on Sept. 18, 2015, when U.S. regulators revealed the German carmaker had faked pollution tests, Bild am Sonntag reported.
While Porsche offers a few Diesel models, it’s theoretically possible that it was such a small figure that Müller didn’t really care what was going into them.
It’s also not inconceivable that Müller’s lack of knowledge helped him rise to the top. Volkswagen wouldn’t exactly want someone tainted running the entire show once more.
2nd Gear: There Will Be No Mercy (Because Automakers Don’t Need It)
The government is planning on raising fuel economy standards once more, and the auto industry is pleading poverty once more. This is the dance we do every couple of years. The fuel standards are raised, automakers wail and clutch pearls claiming there’s NO POSSIBLE WAY they could meet such tough standards, and then they do it anyway. They’re saying they can’t meet the new standards again, but the Detroit Free Press says that any reprieve ain’t gonna happen:
Automakers have been aggressively lobbying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Traffic Administration and Congress. The lobbying is part of a mid-term evaluation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE, Standards and greenhouse gas emission standards that were adopted in 2012 as part of a mid-term evaluation of the regulations.
The problem is that government regulators say automakers have proven over the past four years they’re able to meet tougher future standards.
”Manufacturers are adopting CO2-reducing technologies very rapidly. In fact, we are seeing technologies that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy entering the fleet at faster rates than we originally expected,” Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the U.S. EPA’s office of air and radiation, said in a congressional hearing last month.
If anything, the standards of the free market are already more stringent than the standards of los federales. If Ferrari can make a hybrid that people will buy, so can GM. Maybe.
3rd Gear: FCA Workers Might Go On Strike
FCA workers at three plants in Canada, where the company builds the Chrysler Pacifica, the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger, the Dodge Challenger, and a bunch of pistons, are set to go on strike at midnight tonight if a new labor deal isn’t reached. That’s pretty much every car that the Chrysler side of Fiat Chrysler, already makes (except Jeeps, the 200, and, uh, the Durango? Please no one talk about the Journey), which means FCA wants this deal bad.
The union is asking for pretty much the same deal that GM gave its Canadian workers, but it’s not going so well, Automotive News reports:
The GM contract includes a change to the 10-year wage grow-in for new hires. It gives them pay increases each year as opposed to the three-year wage freeze, which was instituted in the previous contract.
FCA executives have said the new wage provisions could prove to be too costly for the company, particularly at its Windsor assembly plant, where roughly 5,000 employees build minivans, Dias said.
Hey, did you know Dodge still makes the Grand Caravan?
4th Gear: Start Buying Jeeps Again You Bastards
Don’t you know, don’t you realize, that Jeep is FCA’s only hope? And while banking an entire company that isn’t Isuzu on building SUVs seems unhinged to the casual observer, it only works if people actually buy Jeeps. That’s worked for a very long time, as Americans have a mysterious bloodlust for all things slightly lifted, but it’s started to plateau as other companies start building more SUVs, Auto News reports:
Jeep, FCA’s most valuable and globally important brand, suffered a 2.7 percent sales decline in September, its first monthly year-over-year decline since September 2013 — the month before the then-delayed Cherokee went on sale in the U.S.
Jeep’s sales decline was widespread across its lineup: Cherokee fell 12 percent; Renegade dropped 13 percent; Compass declined 16 percent; and Wrangler sales dropped 18 percent.
Hey, how’s Isuzu doing these days? I haven’t checked on them in a while. They still going? I hear the new Axiom’s a real hoot!
5th Gear: Tesla Doesn’t Need Money That Fast
Tesla’s probably going to need more cash at some point, since the Gigafactory and the Model 3 and the re-organization of the Fremont plant and buying SolarCity and the development of electric cars are all very expensive, but CEO Elon Musk would like you to know that the company doesn’t need money right this second:
Please stop mailing him your dimes. He doesn’t know what to do with them.
On this day in 1987, the song “Here I Go Again” by English hard-rock group Whitesnake tops the Billboard pop singles chart in the United States. Today, what most people remember about the song is its saucy video: The actress Tawny Kitaen spends a great deal of it in a white negligee, writhing and cartwheeling across the hoods of two Jaguars parked next to one another. It is one of the most iconic music videos of the 1980s, and it features two of the most famous cars in pop-culture history.
Neutral: What Car Are You Still Amazed Is Getting Made?
We live in a world in which cars are starting to drive themselves and can tell if you’re getting sleepy, but Dodge still makes the Grand Caravan. It’s good, honest, salt-of-the-earth transportation that belongs in another era. What are you surprised is still being built?