Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Marchionne Wants A Partner
Welcome. This week we’re alternating between talking about Sergio Marchionne or the inner battle at VW. Today, you get a dose of Marchionne. It just is what it is. They’re the only people making news.
About a year ago, Marchionne came out and said that there was a great opportunity to make a new largest automaker in the world, that returns aren’t what they need to be to sustain this many automakers and they’d be better served forming alliances or merging.
Of course, nothing happened, and we still have the same number of huge automakers with very little interest in merging.
But Marchionne hasn’t given up. Ahead of Fiat’s annual shareholder’s meeting, Marchionne once again came out and said that the “lethargic” industry needs to change and merge, and that he can produce data that proves it should happen. Marchionne is still the only one talking about this, which gives off the vibe that the merger is less about the industry as a whole and more about FCA.
If he can produce that data and it shows benefits for people that aren’t FCA, however, I’ll gladly eat my words.
2nd Gear: GM Is Keeping Tabs On Recalled Cars
File this to the “I thought they already did this” department: GM has just launched software that will flag recalled cars that are sitting on dealer lots and make it harder for dealers to sell them before they are repaired.
Now, I thought this would be a thing once computers and recalls coexisted, but apparently that’s not the case.
The software will be rolled out as the year progresses, but the first step is an “incentive block,” which is exactly what it sounds like. If a car is flagged as not being fixed, a dealer will not be able to look up available incentives to sell it.
Here’s a better idea: Just fix the cars on your lots please. Thanks.
3rd Gear: The Chevy Bolt Will Be Called The Chevy Bolt EV
Chevy’s forthcoming all-electric car will officially be called the Bolt EV when it goes on sale. The car, which is said to have a 200 mile range, is expected to go into production in late 2016.
Of course, the name Bolt sounds quite similar to the Volt, GM’s plug-in hybrid car. That may be why EV was added to the end of the Bolt name, to differentiate it somewhat from Volt. Of course, nobody will go around calling their car a Bolt EV, they’ll just say Bolt.
It’ll get confusing.
GM expects to build 20,000 to 30,000 Bolts per year, once it goes into production.
4th Gear: European Sales Are On The Rise
Auto sales in Europe rose a pretty swell 11 percent in March compared to a year earlier. 1.6 million cars were registered in the EU last month, and that marks 19 months straight of growth. For a market that was in the doldrums not too long ago, that’s a great improvement.
The European automakers have the decline of the Euro to thank, which has been helping sales across the EU.
5th Gear: A New Big Buick?
The Buick Avenir Concept appeared at the Detroit Auto Show and wowed pretty much everyone. Big and beautiful and not at all an Opel, it was the sort of car that everyone though Buick needed.
Apparently, it might not be as far off as we thought. GM’s Mark Reuss said at the NY Auto Show that the Cadillac CT6 could spawn a large Buick, like the Avenir. Technically he said “we’re working on it,” which I take to mean “thinking about it maybe.”
It’s a great idea, hopefully it comes true. The days of the big, floaty, comfy Buick need to come back.
On this day in 1946, Arthur Chevrolet, an auto racer and the brother of Chevrolet auto namesake Louis Chevrolet, commits suicide in Slidell, Louisiana.
Would consolidation help the auto industry or harm it?