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, Mitsubishi Is Not
When Volkswagen was caught cheating on diesel emissions tests, it was a huge scandal involving years of planning, sophisticated engineering, and coverups. Mitsubishi, on the other hand, has admitted to over-inflating the tires on cars that were being certified for fuel economy compliance in Japan.
But even then, the sheer longevity of it is worth noting, because it went on for 25 years, Bloomberg reports:
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it has improperly tested the fuel economy of its cars for the past quarter century, deepening a crisis that’s already wiped out half its market value.
The automaker formed a panel of three former prosecutors to investigate improper testing that goes back as far back as 1991, including the falsification of fuel efficiency data, according to a statement Tuesday. The company said last week it hadn’t been complying with Japanese testing standards since 2002.
Mitsubishi, the saddest car company in the world, can’t even cheat properly. And when it does, no one notices or cares.
2nd Gear: VW Is Back On Top
Speaking of Volkswagen, the company is back to being the biggest car company in the world, at least by sales volume. Despite all the scandals, nothing has really stopped Volkswagen from cranking out cars. An earthquake, on the other hand, has stopped Toyota (again via Bloomberg):
Toyota Motor Corp.’s global sales declined in the first quarter and fell behind Volkswagen AG’s, as a series of production disruptions threaten the Japanese automaker’s four-year reign atop auto industry sales charts.
Worldwide deliveries dropped 2.3 percent to 2.46 million vehicles in the January-to-March period, Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi said by phone Tuesday. While contending with its worst crisis in company history, Volkswagen deliveries rose 0.8 percent to 2.5 million.
Already handicapped by a one-week shutdown at domestic assembly plants in February, Toyota anticipates losing output of another 80,000 vehicles due to Japan’s most devastating earthquakes since March 2011.
I guess with everything else going on, VW executives can rest easy knowing “violent shaking of the Earth below their feet, capable of destroying buildings, hopes, and dreams” is not one of their big problems.
3rd Gear: Mary Barra’s Office Car Collection
Apropos of nothing at all, the Wall Street Journal did a fairly boring fluff-profile on GM CEO Mary Barra. There really wasn’t anything of consequence in there, though there was this mysterious tidbit:
34 model cars scattered throughout Barra’s office, including a mini version of one of her favorites, a Chevrolet Corvette C7.
Okay so she’s got a Corvette, but what are the other 33 cars in the collection? I’m guessing just 33 identical models of an AvtoZAZ-968 Zaporozhets.
4th Gear: Fiat Chrysler Is Making Money At Least
FCA might not be the healthiest company in the world right now, what with its CEO giving up and deciding to make only SUVs for the US market and then trying to ship its tired old bones onto someone else, but at least it’s making money. A lot more money, according to Automotive News:
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said its first-quarter operating profit nearly doubled to 1.38 billion euros ($1.56 billion) from 700 million euros a year ago, lifted by demand for Jeep SUVs in the U.S. and Europe, but its debt also increased.
FCA said net industrial debt rose to 6.6 billion euros at the end of March from 5.05 billion euros three months earlier, impacted by seasonality and currency effects.
North America accounted for almost 90 percent of the company’s profit, driven largely by Jeep, the report said. Which makes you wonder what the hell the “F” part of FCA is doing in Europe.
5th Gear: But Hyundai’s SUVs Aren’t Doing Too Hot
For all the cash FCA is making off the strength of its SUVs, Hyundai can’t seem to do the same. FCA’s buoyed by the notion that most of its SUV sales are in the United States, where the economy is humming along, but Hyundai’s trying to make more of an impact in China, where the economy is not humming along so great. And this Reuters story really is just a tale of what happens when anyone tries to plan out anything:
The Korean automaker today posted a net profit of 1.69 trillion won ($1.47 billion) for the first quarter, down 12 percent from the year-ago quarter. Operating profit declined 16 percent to 1.34 trillion won, while revenue rose 7 percent to 22.35 trillion won.
Hyundai’s strength in smaller, fuel-efficient sedans helped the automaker outperform the industry during the global economic downturn, but has left it reeling from a consumer shift to SUVs in recent years.
Hyundai will be fine in the long run, I’m sure.
On this day in 2009, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reach a tentative deal that meets government requirements for the struggling auto manufacturer to receive more federal funding.
As part of the deal, the UAW agreed to let Chrysler reduce the amount of money it would pay toward healthcare costs of its retired workers. The month before the deal was announced, President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to Chrysler that it must undergo a fundamental restructuring and shrink its costs in order to receive future government aid.
Neutral: What’s In Mary Barra’s Model Car Collection?
One is a Corvette, but she’s got 33 other cars in there. Got any ideas about what they could be? Speculate wildly in the comments below.