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 can read instead of the words on the box of Cocoa Puffs for the eleven billionth time.
1st Gear: Takata Offers Condolences To Victims
Takata, whose defective airbags have been connected to at least known 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide, offered its condolences—although notably, no apologies—to victims during its final annual shareholder as a company, reports Reuters.
“We offer our condolences to the those who lost their lives and to those who suffered injuries,” Takata chairman, CEO and grandson of its founder Shigehisa Takada said at the meeting, as quoted by Reuters.
Takada (the man) was criticized for not addressing victims in when the company announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan and the United States Monday. So, he and other executives offered their condolences today, as Reuters writes:
At Tuesday’s meeting, he joined other executives in making a deep bow of contrition for the lives lost and shattered by the company’s defective air-bag inflators. Most victims were in the United States.
“I was told that I shouldn’t cause any bias and that I should leave it to others,” Takada said, responding to the criticism. “I too felt shame about this.”
Defective Takata airbags spurred the largest automotive safety recall in history and have cost the company tens of billions of dollars. As a result, Takata will be sold to Key Safety Systems for $1.6 billion.
However, not everyone felt Takada and the other Takata executives’ condolences were genuine. Reuters writes:
Takada “was full of excuses,” said one female investor in her 40s from Tokyo.
“Constantly blaming the media and those around him, it’s not surprising things ended up like this,” she said.
Perhaps it would have been more believable had Takata not waited until after they were scolded for not addressing the matter to offer their condolences, or had they offered some kind of apology for what happened.
2nd Gear: GM Is Now Paying The French $5.5 Billion To Take Sad Failing Opel Off Their Hands
Opel just keeps finding new ways to lose General Motors money.
GM now expects to have to pay $5.5 billion instead to sell Opel to the PSA Group to cover additional, previously unforeseen costs, reports Automotive News.
GM said in March that it would sell its chronic money-losing European operations of Germany’s Opel and UK sister brand Vauxhall to PSA. At the time, the automaker said it would take a primarily non-cash special charge of $4 billion to $4.5 billion in connection with the sale. GM said it would pay PSA 3 billion euros ($3.18 billion) to settle transferred pension obligations.
The sale is expected to take place as early as July 31, pending regulatory approval from the relevant antitrust authorities.
3rd Gear: BMW Attempts To Schmooze Trump With Jobs, Sweet Jobs
In an attempt to convince xenophobe-in-chief Donald Trump that German marques aren’t the bad guy, BMW is pushing its revised X3 American-made SUV hard, reports Bloomberg. The X3 is made at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant, where BMW plans to increase its investment and add an additional 1,000 jobs. It is already the largest BMW plant in the world, employing over 9,000 people.
Trump, who has threatened to slap automakers like BMW with tariffs as large as 35 percent on imports, declined BMW’s invitation to Monday’s announcement. Other Republican lawmakers, including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham, did come to the X3 announcement to echo the company’s sentiments on free trade. Bloomberg writes:
“I’m an American politician who likes German cars,” [Graham] told the crowd. Graham — who said he drives a BMW — called on Trump to negotiate a trade deal with Europe so the U.S. could export cars there without a tariff, as Mexico does. “To those who fear globalization, embrace it, because it’s not going away.”
Who knew Lindsey Graham was a BMW guy? Maybe it’s good points in his district, maybe he loves smooth inline-six power.
Anyway, BMW hopes that the sheer size of their investment in America will safeguard them from potentially harmful restrictions on free trade, which they credit for the Spartanburg facility’s success.
Currently, BMW is the largest car exporter from the United States on a net basis, sending $10 billion worth of cars abroad.
The company has invested $8 billion in its Spartanburg facility since it was announced in 1992, with plans for another $800 million in spending in the next few years. It produced 411,000 cars last year with a whopping 70 percent of those getting exported.
4th Gear: Automakers Fear They’ll Pay For Takata’s Mistakes
Back to Takata momentarily. With the company getting sold, seventeen automakers are wondering who will pick up the tab for replacing the hundreds of millions of defective airbags, reports Bloomberg:
Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.on Monday issued separate statements saying they may not be reimbursed for the majority of their recall-related claims by Takata, which earlier filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Japan.
Seventeen vehicle makers including BMW AG and Tesla Inc.were named as unsecured creditors with unknown claims related to recalls and indemnification, according to Takata’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which listed more than $10 billion in liabilities. Takata is unable to disclose the exact total of its liabilities as the company hasn’t reached an agreement on how to split the recall costs with the automakers, Nobuaki Kobayashi, a member of the steering committee, said at a news conference on Monday.
With no agreements in place as to how to pay for recall costs, as many as seventeen automakers fear that the money Takata gets from the sale may not be enough to cover the outstanding costs of the recall, which will eventually extend to over 120 million defective inflators worldwide.
Honda’s statement on the matter noted that the bankruptcy filing will make it extremely difficult for them to recoup their costs, which could reach over $5 billion for Honda alone.
5th Gear: Volkswagen Cuts Management Positions Because Dieselgate Won’t Pay For Itself
Volkswagen is offering early retirement plans in order to thin out its management ranks, reports Automotive News. Not only are younger workers less expensive to pay, but Volkswagen is hoping to shake up the office culture in letting some of its older management staff go.
Automotive News writes:
The plan is part of a broader transformation at the brand following VW Group’s costly diesel-emissions scandal. VW targets savings of 3 billion euros in Germany.
“We are expecting our management levels to become younger and slimmer,” VW brand CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement on Monday.
Volkswagen declined to say how many managerial positions would be affected, however, it’s one more way they’re being forced to cut costs in the wake of their ultra-expensive diesel emissions scandal.
Reverse: Route 66 Is No More
Neutral: Should Takata’s buyers pick up the tab?
Who do you think should be responsible for the outstanding costs of Takata’s recall after they’re sold?