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: Ferdinand Piëch Has Transferred His One Billion Euro Stake In Porsche To Other Family Members
That’s about $1.2 billion. Piëch, a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, is credited with reviving Audi in the 1980s before taking over VW and turning it into a behemoth. Piëch was CEO of VW from 1993 until 2015, when he was forced out in part due to Dieselgate. This final separation will mean that he is leaving a company that Automotive News says is more important to him “than his own family.”
From Automotive News:
Piëch transferred the bulk of his 14.7 percent stake, reportedly worth roughly 1 billion euros, in Porsche SE, his extended family’s investment vehicle, to other members of the Porsche and Piëch clan. Porsche owns just over half of VW’s voting stock.
“Following the completed transfer of Piëch has resigned his office as member of the board effective December 8,” Porsche SE in a statement Wednesday.
Despite the billions amassed by his family through the dynasty his grandfather Ferdinand Porsche built, Piëch said the three things most important to him in life were “Volkswagen, family and money – in that order.”
Piëch’s departure from the board marks the final chapter in the saga of Ferdinand Piëch, a gifted engineer and ruthless manager whose ambitions as Volkswagen CEO and later chairman helped turn the German carmaker into a global automotive powerhouse.
The 80-year-old Piëch will resign next month from the board of Porsche SE, the holding company that controls VW, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and a whole lot of other automakers.
2nd Gear: The Japanese Inspections Scandal Keeps Growing
Nissan has said that shoddy inspections at its manufacturing facilities in Japan have been going on for decades, and Subaru has also admitted as much, saying that final inspections at its plants were not always done by certified inspectors, as Japanese law requires. Now, Subaru’s recalling 400,000 vehicles over the issue. But don’t panic, the company says, the vehicles are probably fine. The recall adds an additional 150,000 or so vehicles to a previously announced recall related to the inspections scandal.
The maker of the Legacy sedan and the Outback SUV crossover said on Thursday it would widen the scope of the recall as a precaution, adding that costs associated with the issue would exceed 10 billion yen ($88.18 million).
The extra step does not affect product quality and is not needed for vehicles exported overseas.
The revelation followed a similar oversight at Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) while Kobe Steel Ltd (5406.T) has been grappling with a data fabrication scandal, tarnishing Japan’s reputation for quality control.
Earlier this week, Subaru said the improper inspection procedures would likely result in a negative impact of 10 billion yen for the year. The automaker is already smarting from weakening sales in the United States, its biggest market, which has prompted a downgrade of its full-year operating profit forecast.
3rd Gear: Arjay Miller, Who Helped Revive Ford In The ‘50s and ‘60s, Is Dead At 101
Miller was a close aide to Henry Ford II, who brought the company back from the (nearly) dead after his father’s anti-Semitism and anti-union tactics and senility left the company in dire straits at the end of World War II. But Miller and a host of other so-called “quiz kids” who helped save the Ford Motor Company.
From Automotive News:
His death was announced Wednesday by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where Miller served as dean through most of the 1970s.
Miller, raised on a Nebraska farm and educated at UCLA and later Harvard University, was one of the so-called ten whiz kids who famously persuaded Henry Ford II to hire them in the late 1940s from the Ivy League school, where they mastered statistical analysis for the U.S. military during World War II.
The team — dubbed the “quiz kids” because they cajoled Ford colleagues with so many questions early on — included Robert McNamara, who also became Ford president before serving as secretary of defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford and the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, called Miller “an extraordinary leader” who had a profound impact on the competitiveness and resurgence of Ford Motor Co. at a key juncture.
“During his time as president and a member of the board of directors, Arjay’s guidance and leadership played an important role in the company’s turnaround after World War II and through the changing times of the 1960s,” Bill Ford said in a statement Wednesday.
Ford was so poorly run when Miller and the other quiz kids took over that Miller once said that fixing problems at the company was, “just elementary... It was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Miller’s obituary in Automotive News is worth reading in full.
4th Gear: China Will Experiment With Loosening Its Rules On Foreign Companies Owning New Car And Energy Businesses
What does that mouthful actually mean, potentially? More room for Tesla to work, among many other companies. Tesla has been planning a production facility in Shanghai to get a foothold in the massive Chinese market, which will only keep getting bigger. The loosened restrictions will first start as a pilot project, before a potential wider rollout. The timing of the announcement isn’t an accident, and was likely planned to coincide with President Trump’s visit to the country.
China, which levies a duty of 25 percent on imported vehicles, has not allowed foreign automakers to establish wholly owned factories in the world’s largest auto market. Media say it is considering allowing foreign investors to increase stakes in new electric vehicle firms.
The foreign ministry also urged the United States to ease controls on exports of high-tech products to China and support China International Capital Corp Ltd’s (3908.HK) application for a financial business license in the country.
5th Gear: Peugeot Wants Opel To Have An All-Electric Lineup By 2024
The auto industry has been moving towards electrification for awhile now. You might have heard. Now PSA Group, which owns Peugeot and bought the money-losing Opel off of GM earlier this year, says its plans for Opel to make money for the first time in nearly 20 years hinge on electric cars as well.
The goal is to cut costs per car by 700 euros ($812) by 2020 to generate an operating profit margin of 2 percent, the Paris-based manufacturer said in a statement on Thursday. By 2026, PSA expects Opel’s integration to save 1.7 billion euros annually to boost the German brand’s margin to 6 percent.
“The status quo is not an option,” PSA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares told reporters and analysts in Ruesselsheim, Germany, where Opel is based. “We have a great sense of urgency: The situation is dramatic.”
In addition, the French carmaker plans to introduce electrified variants across Opel’s range, starting with a plug-in hybrid version of the Grandland X sport utility vehicle and an all-electric Corsa hatchback by 2020. The new strategy will allow Opel to comply with EU regulations on CO2 emission targets, Tavares said.
Reaping synergies in vehicle development, factory investments and purchasing will be key drivers for Opel’s revival strategy. Two PSA technology platforms will be introduced in Opel plants by 2024, down from nine currently, as the brand switches to the French company’s engines and transmissions to generate economies of scale within Europe’s second-largest automaker after Volkswagen.
Good luck, Peugeot.
Reverse: Robert McNamara Becomes President Of Ford In 1960
Just a few months later, McNamara became Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968, responsible for the troop build-up in Vietnam that precipitated the war.
[Ford] had been steadily losing money since the stock market crash of 1929, and by 1945 it was losing about $9 million every month.
At GM and Chrysler, by contrast, business was booming. In order to catch up, in September 1945 Henry Ford’s wife and daughter-in-law presented the elderly man with an ultimatum: make 28-year-old Henry Ford II (the elder Ford’s grandson) the company’s president, or his mother would sell her controlling stake in the company to the highest bidder.
Left without much choice, the elder Ford gave in and put his grandson in charge. Right away, Ford II hired 10 “Whiz Kids,” including McNamara, all straight out of the Army Air Corps and all with training in economics and statistics from places like Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and Princeton. These “Whiz Kids” managed to streamline the company and make it profitable again, in part by creating a sleek new look for Ford cars. The company’s ’49 coupe, with its “spinner” grille, slab sides and integrated fenders, was an immediate hit.
Neutral: What Was It Like The Last Time You Drove An Opel?
I have, uh, never driven one. I know of them mainly as a favorite automaker of crossword constructors, since it is short and has two common vowels.