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: All Those Cheap Little Crossovers Are Even Cheaper On Resale
The auto industry has been pumping out subcompact crossovers lately to woo #millenials by making the auto trend du jour in a smaller, more affordable package. Just don’t expect these already cheap cars to be worth anything when you sell them to a second owner.
Per used car market analysts Black Book, subcompact crossovers depreciated the most out of any category in their analysis last week, dropping 1.18 percent in value. Full-size cars (down 1.17 percent), subcompact cars (down 0.98 percent) and sports cars (0.97 percent) were the next biggest losers, as you’d likely expect.
But the big surprise was those cheap little crossovers everyone’s hyping up. No, these won’t hold value like your mom’s old Accord—unless you get a luxury subcompact crossover. Those only depreciated 0.20 percent, the second lowest category behind full-size pickup trucks.
Maybe you should just buy a nice used Accord instead of one of these penalty boxes on stilts? I’m just saying.
2nd Gear: Former NHTSA Head Thinks We’re Moving Too Fast On Autonomous Cars
Former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Joan Claybrook put lawmakers on blast for what she believes are too-lax standards for the development and road use of autonomous cars. Automotive News writes:
The former head of NHTSA said the leniency of current bills and guidelines sacrifices safety for innovation and ignores the industry’s history of safety defects.
“I think the legislation is very inadequate,” Claybrook said during a panel here on Tuesday. “This ought to be a gradual implementation, not this rush-to-judgment hype about these vehicles.”
In October, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to go to a floor vote that would allow manufacturers to sell as many as 80,000 self-driving cars a year and give NHTSA the authority to give companies exemptions from federal safety standards. The legislation unanimously passed the House of Representatives in September.
These allowances for selling autonomous vehicles will make consumers the “guinea pigs” for this technology, Claybrook said, adding that instances such as the Ford and Firestone tire controversy prove automakers don’t have a perfect track record with consumer safety.
Claybrook now serves as the consumer co-chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. She attended a panel discussion on upcoming policy at the Detroit auto show, where she hounded several lawmakers on the new relaxed policies on autonomous technology.
Gary Peters, a U.S. senator from Michigan who is for the new policies, argues that the government needs to step back to make sure American companies can keep pace with other countries’ on autonomous development.
Yet Claybrook wasn’t buying that excuse, saying that this would allow autonomous cars to skip many common safety standards we expect from normal cars and human drivers on the road. She also noted that the new legislation failed to allocate any more funding to the NHTSA, who will need them to deal with all the new technologies they’ll now have to oversee.
3rd Gear: Hyundai Drops Big Money On Electric And Autonomous Cars
It’s a story we’re becoming all too familiar with as automotive companies ramp up to develop and produce new technologies, but it’s Hyundai’s turn. Reuters writes:
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group pledged to hire about 45,000 people over the next five years amid an emphasis on jobs by the government, but analysts doubted if the conglomerate would meet the goal as it was eyeing cost cuts to counter sluggish sales.
South Korea’s finance ministry announced on Wednesday Hyundai Motor Group’s plan for hiring and investing about 23 trillion won ($21.56 billion) over five years after Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon visited the group’s lab earlier in the day. The group includes flagship Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS).
Even if they don’t hit that target of adding 45,000 jobs with job cuts and other cost-cutting measures on the near-term horizon, $21.56 billion in investment is no slouch.
Much of that investment will be going into electric and autonomous vehicles, and the announcement also fits in line with South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s emphasis on job creation. But some of that investment will also go into diversifying what Hyundai does, moving into areas like artificial intelligence, hydrogen energy and batteries—likely as a response to last year’s slump in auto sales that put them behind.
4th Gear: This Driverless Subaru Better Be Piloted By The Ghost Of Colin McRae
Subaru of America is also among the latest to drop some cash on autonomous development, dropping $2 million into the development of the American Center for Mobility, reports the Detroit News.
The American Center for Mobility is a 500-acre autonomous car proving ground being built on the site of the former Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that will have a full urban environment, headquarters and technical park on site.
The test site has gotten $110 million so far towards the $135 million first phase of development, with AT&T, Visteon, Ford, and the American divisions of Toyota and Hyundai America among its other investors. Construction is expected to start this spring.
5th Gear: Metal Workers Strike At Daimler
About 33,000 workers in Germany’s IG Metall union including some 1,000 at Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler went on strike Tuesday to demonstrate their support for a six percent raise, additional family leave and the first cut in work hours since the 1980s, reports Reuters. It’s part of a wave of “warning strikes” by Germany’s largest trade union, which represents 3.9 million metal and engineering workers.
Unemployment is at a record low in Germany, so the union is confident that they’ll get their demands, but they haven’t gotten them yet, with employers offering raises closer to two percent in its place, and arguing that working conditions in Germany are miles above those in other countries. Reuters writes:
Employers reject the demands to cut hours unless working time for others could be increased temporarily as well. They argue that workers in Germany’s industrial sector already have shorter weeks than their peers in other countries and worry that reducing their hours further would hurt German competitiveness.
Reverse: GM’s Brightest Star Is Born
One of America’s greatest sports cars was unveiled to the public 65 years ago, via History:
On this day in 1953, a prototype Chevrolet Corvette sports car makes its debut at General Motors’ (GM) Motorama auto show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Corvette, named for a fast type of naval warship, would eventually become an iconic American muscle car and remains in production today.
I’ll do a burnout to that.
Neutral: Does It Matter?
If you’re in the market for a cheap car already, do you care about resale values or not? Or is your priority more on getting cheap, reliable transportation for yourself?