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: That’s Not A Lot, In The Grand Scheme Of Things
PROTIP: As with anything in life, set an unusually low bar, so that when you exceed it you look like a goddamn hero. Volvo seems to be following this strategy perfectly, as Automotive News reports that it only hopes to sell 15,000 of its new flagship, the S90, in its first year of availability:
Volvo Car USA expects to sell about 15,000 of its new S90 flagship in a full year and capture about 5 percent of the midsize import sedan segment.
Volvo estimates the S90, which goes on sale next month, will compete in a segment of about 300,000 vehicles, said Anders Robertson, product manager for the 90 cluster at Volvo Car USA.
For comparison, the BMW shifted more than 44,000 5 Series units in 2015. That’s nearly triple Volvo’s meek goal.
Let’s put that into perspective. The S90's predecessor, the Ford-created S80, sold less than 13,000 units at its most popular. Which means that in its first year alone, Volvo wants to sell more S90s than it ever did of the S80.
On the other hand, the S80 wasn’t very good. And by all accounts, the 2017 Volvo S90 is quite good.
2nd Gear: You’re Complaining Less About Airlines
Flying on planes is The Worst, but it is possibly getting better. Flights in April, the most recent month for which there is data available, were had an on-time rate of 84.5 percent, USA Today reports, which was a nearly three percent improvement from April of 2015:
As service improved, complaints declined. Passengers filed 1,122 complaints during April, which was down 21.5% from the 1,429 in March and a similar decline for the same month a year earlier, according to the bureau’s Air Travel Consumer Report.
So either airplanes are getting better, or we’re beginning to accept the inevitability of suck, and we just don’t complain anymore when everything is terrible because what’s the point?
3rd Gear: Tesla Is Making 2,000 Cars A Week, Tesla Says
Tesla’s production rate is up to 2,000 cars a week, a Tesla product specialist told Electrek. That works out to a rate of 104,000 cars a year, if you are capable of basic math and know that there are 52 weeks in a year, like a human person would.
That’s good news for Tesla, which has been dogged by rumors (and the possible results) of production issues. It needs to scale up fast if it’s ever going to deliver the many hundreds of thousands of Model 3s it’s taken orders for.
On the other hand, Tesla still says it plans to raise its production level to 500,000 units a year by the end of 2018, or nearly five times the rate it’s at now.
Good luck, Tesla.
4th Gear: Takata Is Selling Shares In Carmakers
A lot of people would tell you that the auto industry is a bit incestuous, in various ways. One of those ways is that suppliers often own not-insignificant chunks of automakers, and vice versa. Takata is one of those companies, and it owns shares of Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries. Or rather it did own shares, Bloomberg notes:
Takata Corp., the embattled air-bag maker behind the biggest automotive safety recall, said it’s selling shares it owns in automakers to raise funds as the company faces compensation claims for its defective devices.
Takata is selling the stakes with the carmakers’ approval, said Akiko Watanabe, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based supplier, declining to give more details. The company sold much of its 2.2 million shares in Honda Motor Co., its largest customer, by late April, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported Tuesday.
5th Gear: GMC Would Like To Remind You Not To Forget Your Progeny, Your Child, The Result Of A Cherished Love, The Future, The Very Continued Existence Of Humankind, In The Back Seat Of Your Acadia
Forgetting that you have a child and it is in the back seat of your car – it’s a problem! Especially on hot days. GMC would like to prevent that, you monster, so it’s installing a system in the Acadia to stop you from going to jail for a while when a cop has to bust in your windows on a hot day:
The Rear Seat Reminder works by monitoring the Acadia’s rear doors. The feature is intended to activate when either rear door is opened and closed within 10 minutes before the vehicle is started, or if they are opened and closed while the vehicle is running. Under these circumstances, the next time the vehicle is turned off after a door activation, the Acadia is designed to sound five audible chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads, “Rear Seat Reminder / Look in Rear Seat.”
This actually sounds like a good premise for Home Alone 17: Car Alone, starring Kieran Culkin.
Macaulay’s busy these days.
Reverse: A Movie With A Car Chase Happened
In one of the most memorable scenes in the film “The Bourne Identity,” released on this day in 2002, the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) drives a vintage Austin Mini Cooper through the traffic-heavy streets of Paris to evade his police and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pursuers.
Neutral: What’s The Worst Thing You’ve Forgotten In The Back Seat?
Your child? A life-saving vaccine? A carton of eggs on a particularly warm day? Let us know in the comments below. Stories welcome. We have no way of verifying if you are embellishing, so you might as well. Please, no true crime confessions.