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: VW To Announce Investigation Results
Even though Volkswagen has suspended several managers and engineers in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, the “who knew what and when” question looms large over the company—as does the question of how they’ll fix millions of emissions-cheating diesel engines.
The world may get at least some answers on Thursday, as VW will hold a press conference to discuss the initial results of an internal investigation into the matter. Via Bloomberg:
The investor briefing and press conference follows a trip by top managers, including Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, to Qatar to visit the carmaker’s third-largest shareholder.
Volkswagen has provided little information on the people and processes involved in rigging diesel vehicles to pass emissions tests and providing inaccurate carbon-dioxide data in Europe. The meeting last weekend with Qatar Holdings LLC, the only major shareholder not in Germany, shows that Volkswagen’s management is now in a position to provide at least some answers.
“We believe Thursday will provide the first significant watershed” on the scandal, with details about recalls, the investigation and strategic shifts expected, Arndt Ellinghorst, a London-based analyst with Evercore ISI, said in a note. Greater transparency “will be a positive trigger for the stock.”
For sure, the U.S. in particular is waiting on details of recalls and fixes.
2nd Gear: Wanna Buy Pep Boys?
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn does. Via The Wall Street Journal:
Icahn Enterprises on Monday offered to buy Pep Boys - Manny Moe & Jack for $15.50 a share in cash, casting doubt on Bridgestone Corp.’s previously announced purchase of the car-parts and repair company.
Pep Boys reached a deal in October to be acquired by Japanese tire company Bridgestone for $15 a share, or about $835 million. The Icahn offer values the firm at about $863 million.
Pep Boys just posted a profit of $1.3 million, up from a loss of $2 million last year. The auto parts and service giant has struggled in recent years as buyers work on their cars less and turn to new ones in record numbers.
3rd Gear: Hyundai Wants To Make Its Own Autonomous Driving Chips
Bloomberg reports Hyundai wants to be more hands-on with tech:
Hyundai Motor Co. is considering developing its own computer chips and sensors used in autonomous driving to gain fuller control over components seen as being crucial to future development of cars.
South Korea’s largest carmaker currently buys parts for autonomous driving-related technologies from affiliates and other suppliers, Kim Dae Sung, director at the automaker’s automotive control system development group, said at a forum in Seoul on Tuesday, without naming the companies.
4th Gear: Ford Looks To Export From Russia
Thanks to sanctions and other factors, Russia’s economy is slumping hard right now, and that includes their car market. Automakers like Ford are now looking at moving Russian vehicles into Eastern Europe to offset losses there, reports Reuters:
“Export is something we’re looking at,” said Mark Ovenden, president and CEO of Ford Sollers, Ford’s joint venture with Russian partners. “I’d like to look at it beyond a few thousand (vehicles) ... and see whether there is a more strategic export opportunity for us.”
Ford Sollers already exports into former Soviet countries such as Kazakhstan in small volumes, but Ovenden said the company could also target markets in Eastern Europe and beyond.
Ford has a presence in Eastern Europe with a factory in Romania but it does not produce all of the models there that it produces in Russia, where it makes the Fiesta, Focus, EcoSport and Transit, among others.
5th Gear: Strike At Supplier Nexteel
The United Auto Workers may have secured contracts with the automakers, but all is not well with supplier Nexteel, reports The Detroit Free Press:
More than 3,200 UAW members who work at Nexteer Automotive went on strike shortly after 12 a.m. on Tuesday after the automotive supplier rejected a new proposal from the union.
The UAW presented Nexteer Automotive with new demands for a labor agreement late Monday after 97% of its members rejected a tentative agreement on Sunday.
Nexteer makes steering and driveline components and was once a part of General Motors before it was spun off as part of Delphi.
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