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: Volkswagen Will Survive, But It’s Not A Good Look
Volkswagen, a car company, has been caught up in a bit of a kerfuffle over some diesel engines it made. Those diesels were dirty. One of the large problems – of which there are many – is that Volkswagen advertised them as clean. Volkswagen did this in a few countries. One of those countries was South Korea, and now South Korea is demanding a big fine and an investigation into executives, Reuters reports:
South Korea said it will file criminal complaints against five former and current executives at Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) South Korean unit and fine the company a record 37.3 billion won ($31.87 million) for false advertising on vehicle emissions.
The fine, a record for false advertising in the Asian country, indicates South Korean authorities are in no mood to soften their tough line on the German carmaker’s emissions-test cheating, having already suspended most of its sales in the country since August.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on Wednesday it would ask prosecutors to investigate Volkswagen’s headquarters, its South Korean unit and five former and current executives including André Konsbruck, currently vice president of sales for the Americas at Volkswagen unit Audi, and Audi’s Head of Sales Overseas Terence Bryce Johnsson.
The nearly $32 million fine isn’t enough to truly put a hurt on VW, but it’ll be an annoyance.
Note: This gear originally said that South Korean prosecutors would be bringing charges against the executives, but it’s actually not clear from the Reuters report, which states that South Korea will both “file criminal complaints” against the executives and “would ask prosecutors to investigate... five former and current executives...” It’s been updated to reflect that discrepancy.
2nd Gear: Skoda Plans To Double By 2025
Skoda, Volkswagen’s only good company for the WORKIN’ CLASS, is planning a big push over the next few years, according to Bloomberg:
Skoda Auto AS, the Czech subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, plans to expand production to more than 2 million vehicles a year by 2025, according to its top executive. The brand, which is adding a new SUV model to its range, will invest “several billion euros” by the end of the decade to boost capacity of its Czech factories, Chief Executive Officer Bernhard Maier said in an interview with Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper published on Wednesday. It will also seek to enter new markets including Singapore, South Korea and Iran, he said.
We are desperately hoping out that Maier also meant to include the United States as a new Skoda market, but he just forgot to mention it. It’s okay, Bernhard, I forget about us sometimes, too.
3rd Gear: Renault And Nissan Still Aren’t Playing Nice: Report
Renault and Nissan, while technically not one company, are enmeshed by a tangled ownership web and a common CEO. This setup was supposed to have a lot of benefits, especially in product development where common platforms and whatnot could bring a lot of cost savings. That has apparently not worked out as well as Renault-Nissan planned, so Reuters says that the company is shuffling Alain Raposo, the person responsible for integrating all of its engines and gearboxes.
But I doubt that will fix everything:
“It’s a permanent punch-up - after 17 years we are still unable to think like a single company,” said one of Raposo’s management colleagues. “In powertrain it’s always been hell.”
Sounds like everyone’s having fun over there.
4th Gear: Volvo Gets A New Research And Development Chief
Volvo just named Henrik Green, a Swede, to lead the Swedish company’s R&D efforts, Automotive News reports:
Green, 43, replaces Peter Mertens, who is moving to Audi to become its board member for technical development.
Mertens’ surprise departure to Audi created an opportunity to put Green, a 20-year Volvo veteran, in charge of the Swedish automaker’s 6,500-person global r&d team, which has played a key role in putting the company in position to have its third straight year of record worldwide sales.
Volvo is also counting on Green and his team to add plug-in hybrid powertrains across the automaker’s entire range and get a fully autonomous car on the road by 2021.
We’re at a pivotal point for Volvo, as it’s already launched the big players of its top-of-the-line 90 series, it begins to launch all of the smaller cars, and it wants a self-driving car in five years. That’s a tall order.
5th Gear: Ford Sets China Sales Record For November
Ford’s Chinese sales are up 17.1 percent for November, the Detroit News reports, which is putting the company on track for a banner year. Good for them, I suppose.
Reverse: NYC Officials Vote To Ruin NYC
On this day in 1964, the New York City Board of Estimate votes to revive a controversial plan to build a 10-lane, $100 million elevated expressway across Lower Manhattan from the Holland Tunnel on the west to the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges on the east.
That highway never got built.
Neutral: What Skoda Is Best Skoda?
And why is it the Skoda Citigo?