Folks, we’ve got another huge Takata airbag recall for you. Plus, some news about upcoming General Motors layoffs and a United Auto Workers guilty plea. All of this and more in The Morning Shift for Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.
1st Gear: Another Takata Recall
Takata, the automotive parts supplier that is responsible for the biggest auto recall in history over faulty airbags, is recalling more cars again over another airbag safety issue.
The death of a BMW driver in Australia and two other injuries, one in Cyprus, due to defective airbags prompted Takata to alert the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more cars need to be fixed, reports Bloomberg. About 1.4 million other cars now require repairs.
From the story:
Components Takata supplied to five of the world’s biggest car manufacturers may absorb moisture that could either cause air bags to rupture or under-inflate, according to a notice on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. The recall involves parts produced from 1995 through 1999 and sold to BMW, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Emphasis mine, because it’s important to me that you are all aware which cars need the fix.
BMW has announced three recalls that affect about 116,000 cars here in the U.S. that are defective and say that approximately 8,000 of them shouldn’t be driven until they’ve been repaired, according to Bloomberg. It continues to say Honda is still working on figuring out which models have been affected, while Mitsubishi says the Montero is the only U.S.-sold car that’s affected. It is also working to determine which models and countries are involved in this new recall.
Further, Toyota is looking into the issue as well. An Audi spokesperson told Bloomberg it is reviewing its U.S.- sold 1997 through 1999 models to see if any of them are affected.
If you drive a Radwood-era car from any of the manufacturers mentioned above, keep an eye out because these recalls could mean you. Meanwhile, I’m over here wishing for a day when a corporate fuckup stops costing human lives.
2nd Gear: Layoffs Coming
Now that we know General Motors has plans to build all-electric SUVs and pickups at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, I suppose news of layoffs doesn’t seem terribly surprising.
Starting on Feb. 28, GM will lay off 814 hourly and salaried employees at the plant reports the Detroit Free Press. The employees will be relocated while the plant gets “retooled for a new line of electric vehicles” that will supposedly start production in 2021.
About 753 employees are members of the UAW. They will “remain employed” and be offered buyouts or other positions at one of GM’s other properties. And other job openings are expected, too, according to the Detroit News:
GM will have job opportunities for all Detroit Hamtramck employees covered by the UAW-GM National Agreement, company spokesman Dan Flores said. The automaker expects to have job openings in Michigan and Ohio, and will begin making job offers to employees starting in January.
Detroit-Hamtramck presently builds the Cadillac CT6 and the Chevrolet Impala, notes the News. Though production was supposed to stop next month, it’s now been extended because of the United Auto Workers strike. The Impala will keep being made until Feb. 28.
3rd Gear: Guilty Plea
Actually, while we’re on the topic of the UAW, let’s revisit that federal corruption probe that’s currently happening.
Joseph Ashton, who is formerly the UAW’s vice president, has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud yesterday, reports Reuters. From the story:
Ashton, a former General Motors Co board member, was charged last month with conspiring with other union officials to receive “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Ashton, when asked by the judge whether he was pleading guilty because he was guilty, responded “Yes, your honor.” He declined to comment after the brief hearing.
“Sometimes you just find that good people just make really bad decisions,” Ashton’s attorney, Jerome Ballarotto, told reporters.
“He has asked me to apologize to all the members of the UAW,” Ballarotto said of Ashton.
Ashton will face 30 to 37 months of prison time per the plea agreement, but his lawyer said they will try to seek a lower sentence, Reuters continues. Also, Ashton will forfeit the $250,000 he got in kickbacks—which, like, duh? I thought that’d be a given.
This whole scandal sucks and is a particularly bad look for organized labor.
4th Gear: A Corvette SUV? (Dear God, Please No)
It has happened. The Ford Mustang is now a crossover. And an all-electric, battery-powered one at that. Reception was a mixed bag, but overall pretty positive. But now there are people telling Chevrolet it should do the same with a Corvette. Do we live in hell?
Yes, there are apparently people who’d like to see a Corvette lineup expanded to include an SUV, according to the Detroit News. From the story:
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has added his name to a chorus of voices calling for General Motors to create a Corvette sub-brand making SUVs. He estimates the sub-brand could be worth $7 billion to $12 billion, and says a battery-powered, Corvette-badged vehicle would help GM convince customers that electric vehicles are a desirable performance option.
Jonas sees a Corvette SUV — along with increased demand for its first-ever mid-engine C8 sports car — leading to an increase in Corvette volume to 85,000 units by 2025 with a bullish market valuation of $12 billion.
I’m laughing so hard at the thought of how the white New Balance-wearing Corvette crowd would receive news of their beloved brand suddenly selling SUVs. They were mad as hell over the chromies; can you imagine all the rage an SUV would cause? Don’t you just want to see that anger? Don’t you just want to experience it from afar, like watching a tsunami destroy something?
I’ve no love for SUVs myself, but GM should do it. Do it for the money, but also for the gold-tier trolling.
5th Gear: Battery Joint Venture
Today, LG Chem of South Korea said it will invest $916 million in an electric car battery joint venture with GM in Ohio. An unnamed source told Reuters,
... the facility, expected to be located in the Lordstown area of Ohio, would see investment of more than $2 billion, with GM and LG Chem expected to invest more than $1 billion each.
This also means, likely, that workers at the plant will be represented by the UAW.
The outlet also reports LG Chem is debating a second factory in the U.S. that could start production in 2022. That second factory could produce batteries for other GM cars, such as the unnamed Cadillac EV that we saw nearly a year ago.
This makes sense, as GM has said it has plans for Cadillac to become its lead EV brand. I haven’t really heard anything from Cadillac since its January announcement, so I’m curious to see what it’s working on.
Reverse: Bermuda Triangle
Neutral: Get Your Car Repaired
I don’t have a question for you today. I just want you all to get your cars fixed and be safe!