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.
It’s my birthday today! I’m 33! Fuck!
1st Gear: Who Wants To Buy A New Harley? Anyone?
Harley has had a rough few years as of late, mainly because young people aren’t very interested in buying a Harley-Davidson. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports, their profits have fallen even further, as the company tries to appeal not just to young people but also women, minorities, and city dwellers. Which is a lot of people!
From The Wall Street Journal:
Revenue fell 9% to $1.2 billion in the third quarter as the Milwaukee-based company retained guidance for shipping 241,000 to 246,000 motorcycles to dealers world-wide in 2017, down 6-8% from last year.
Harley, seeking to grow its customer base, has embarked upon plans to add 2 million new riders in the U.S. over the coming decade, and grow its international business to 50% of its total annual volume. The company is working to expand its appeal to women, minorities, young adults and city dwellers.
The challenge of the targets remained evident in the third quarter. Harley’s U.S. motorcycle sales dipped 8.1% to 41,793, while its international retail sales were off 4.6% to 22,416.
Harley said its U.S. market share increased in the latest quarter and its sales decline wasn’t as steep as the broader industry.
The company reported profit of $68.2 million, or 40 cents a share, in third quarter, down from $114.1 million, or 64 cents, the same period a year ago.
As a city dweller and a young adult I have also not thought of purchasing a Harley but that is just me and companies should not be making any marketing choices based on me. Though I wouldn’t mind it if they did.
2nd Gear: Another Uber Executive Is Out!
Uber, which is worth $70 billion or $100 billion or maybe nothing, depending on who you believe, is dealing with the loss of yet another high-level employee—this time its European head of policy. He’s leaving for a post at an electric vehicle charging network company.
[Christopher Burghardt], the head of policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, departs after one year with Uber and will become managing director for Chargepoint in Europe in November, he told Reuters.
Earlier this month, Uber’s top boss in Britain also quit the Silicon Valley company, which was told last month by London’s transport regulator (TfL) that its license to operate in the British capital would not be renewed. It is appealing that decision.
Uber has suffered a tumultuous few months which has seen former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick being forced out after a series of boardroom controversies and other regulatory battles in multiple U.S. states and around the world.
Uber keeps Ubering.
3rd Gear: Car Sales In Europe Are Down Thanks To Brexit
Brexit, a thing which you may have heard about, continues to be a slow, exasperating, impossibly complex thing, which is now affecting car sales in Britain, since the British pound has been weakened and people are generally apprehensive about the future and unwilling to commit a lot of money to buying a new car.
Registrations declined 2 percent from a year earlier to 1.47 million vehicles, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said Tuesday in a statement. Figures were dragged down by a 9.3 slide in the U.K., the region’s second-biggest market. Top-ranked Germany slumped 3.3 percent, burdened by one less business day than a year ago. Nine-month sales in the region rose 3.6 percent to 12 million autos.
The U.K. contraction was the sixth straight monthly decline and the first drop for September since 2011. The month is normally upbeat because of a buying binge to secure new license plates, which can help resale value. The pullback by British buyers amid the weak pound and stalled Brexit negotiations came as the British Chambers of Commerce downgraded its medium-term economic growth outlook in early September. French carmaker PSA Group said Monday that it’s cutting 400 jobs at a U.K. plant to adapt production to declining sales.
4th Gear: Will Driverless Cars Expand Suburbia Even More?
Probably! Since if having an extremely long commute to work is more pleasant because you can do work on the way in as your car drives itself and also get drunk on the way back as your car drives itself you’re more likely to be fine with going three hours in each direction. Conversely, the opposite might happen as well, with cities becoming even more dense, because autonomous public transit vehicles will be much more pleasant. Or so a new report from MIT’s Center For Real Estate thinks.
In the first scenario, cities become more like New York, with walkable streets and fleets of autonomous vehicles for public transit. In the second, they become more like Dallas or Phoenix, which already function as a collection of suburbs.
“It’s a polarization,” said Albert Saiz, a co-author of the paper, which also covers subjects such as the future of retail space and strategies for producing more-affordable housing. “I see both things happening at once.”
In New York, it won’t be until 2040 that “land use planning is permanently altered” to accommodate self-driving cars, according to a study this month by the Regional Plan Association, an urban research and advocacy group for the metropolitan area.
Still, Saiz is optimistic that self-driving cars will unlock buildable space. Developers are already starting to target parking structures, gas stations and auto dealerships, betting that they’ll be able to redevelop the sites as car ownership becomes obsolete, said Rick Palacios, director of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
Palacios also sees the vehicles driving suburban sprawl, though, in his view, builders will start by redeveloping downtown sites, then move to the suburbs after they’re done with the parking garages and other legacy sites.
When the self-driving car revolution comes I will be weeping softly in my Honda Fit, repeatedly revving its 109-horsepower engine.
5th Gear: Tesla Is Changing Its Cars For China
In trying to boost its appeal in China, which is potentially a huge market for Tesla, the company said Tuesday that it would be changing its charging ports to comply with Chinese standards.
The autos will come with ports based on China’s own GB standard, a company spokeswoman said via WeChat Monday. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla will also start retrofitting its Supercharger stations and destination charging sites in the country and complete the changeover by next spring, the carmaker said.
Sales of electric vehicles have been hampered by so-called range anxiety — a fear of running out of electricity while on the road — that has been exacerbated by the incompatibility of Tesla’s vehicles to charging facilities built by China’s State Grid. In 2015, the company said it would sell cars with domestic port specifications, replacing the European standard it adopts elsewhere. Tesla has the biggest charging network in China outside the U.S.
Reverse: The End Of Cheap Gasoline In America
On this day in 1973, OPEC declared an oil embargo for states that had supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The embargo led to an American recession and some misery at the gas pumps.
Domestic oil prices increased too, but shortages persisted. People waited for hours in long lines at gas stations—at some New Jersey pumps, lines were four miles long!–and by the time the embargo ended in March 1974, the average retail price of gas had climbed to 84 cents per gallon from 38 cents per gallon. Sales of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars skyrocketed. At the same time, declining demand for the big, heavy gas-guzzlers that most American car companies were producing spelled disaster for the domestic auto industry.
Neutral: Would You Buy A New Harley If You Had The Money?
If not, why not? Because you don’t want to risk life and limb riding a motorcycle on the streets of America? Or because you associate the brand with your dad and/or old white men? Or because you prefer Indian? Or because... Tell us in the comments.