Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Vans, Man. Vans.
For a long while, vans just weren’t popular. People thought they were mainly purchased by dirty old men that wanted to give children candy, and not in a joking sort of way. But those times are over, baby. The van is back.
A report from Bloomberg verifies what we’ve all been hoping for so very long: The van is selling like the opposite of a cold corn muffin.
To give you an idea, Ford’s van sales in April were more than its van sales in any April for nearly 30 years. In fact, Americans are on track to buy something like 475,000 vans this year. It’s not hard to see why, either. The latest generation of vans like the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, Ram Promaster (along with their little brothers), and others are actually great places to spend some time. They drive better than before, have creature comforts, and provide security to belongings that just can’t be found in a pickup truck.
They’re also taller, which makes it easier for workers to use them and more enticing for companies to convert them into luxury transport for VIPs.
Basically, long live the van because vans rock.
2nd Gear: Ford Sexual Harrassment Case
A report from Automotive News says that Ford has removed the plant manager, an HR officials, and people in labor relations at its Chicago plant amid allegations of ‘rampant’ sexual harassment against dozens of female employees were found to have merit by an investigator.
The problems have been ongoing for months, with AN reporting that at least eight managers have been removed in the last few months. Women at the plant say that they have been denied overtime when they’ve reported behavior that includes groping, attempts to have intercourse, as well as exposing their genitals or showing them photos of them.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment at the Chicago plant isn’t really a new thing. In 2000, a sexual harassment suit saw Ford pay out $19 million.
3rd Gear: BMW Beats Estimates
BMW has been on a bit of a roll lately. And that has translated to the books. BMW posted a $1.7 billion profit for the quarter, a four percent jump compared to a year ago. Even though growth of the BMW brand itself was outpaced by Audi and Mercedes, sales in Europe and the US both had large gains and profit margin is steady at 9.5 percent.
The growth of the three largest German luxury automakers directly correlates with their expansion into new segments with the aim of being the only automaker you’ll ever have to buy from. Seems to be working.
4th Gear: $13.5 Billion TRW-ZF Deal Going Through
ZF has received the blessing of the FTC to complete its merger/buyout of TRW Automotive Holdings after fearing that they might run afoul of antitrust laws.
ZF’s huge deal with TRW can go through, provided certain assets of TRW are sold. Specifically, TRW and ZF are two of the three people who make tie rods for cars (whoda thunk it was that few?). They got the approval by agreeing to sell TRW’s suspension business.
The huge deal was been in the works since September, but jumping this final hurdle should help it come to fruition.
5th Gear: Cars Repaired In Jeep Recall Are Catching Fire
A recall for 895,000 Jeeps from last year that was to fix wiring in the vanity mirrors that were causing fires is coming under... ummm... fire. Literally. Some of the repaired cars are now catching fire, which is exactly what they aren’t supposed to do.
NHTSA is reopening the inquiry as they have received eight reports of cars that were repaired by dealers catching fire. Chrysler is cooperating with the inquiry.
On this day in 1991, 51-year-old race car driver Harry Gant racks up his 12th National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup career victory in the Winston 500 in Talladega, Alabama. In doing so, Gant bettered his own record as the oldest man ever to win a NASCAR event.
What ways are vans better than pickups? How are they worse?
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