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, and I swear, you have to know these things.
1st Gear: No One’s Stepping Up
As far as we know, someone is interested in buying Fiat Chrysler. That someone is based in China. But no Chinese automaker has stepped up to claim they’re looking to make FCA boss Sergio Marchionne’s wildest dreams come true, according to Reuters.
“Currently, we don’t have plans to acquire Fiat Chrysler,” Guangzhou Automobile spokeswoman Wu Yunchong told Reuters in a statement.
Again with this present-tense look on things. Geely offered a similar statement earlier in the week, saying: “We don’t have such a plan at the moment.”
I think my colleague David Tracy’s right, in that most consumers won’t care where the product’s being made. But it’d be nice to know who’s interested in fulfilling Marchionne’s well-known wish.
2nd Gear: Auto Groups Turn To Canada, Mexico In NAFTA Talks
The long-touted renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement kicked off this week. Auto companies initially seemed intrigued with the Trump administration’s idea of tweaking the pact, but they’ve now joined up to mount an opposition to the U.S. plans for changing NAFTA’s rules of origin provisions, according to Reuters.
At talks underway this week in Washington, automaker and parts groups from all three countries were urging negotiators against tighter rules of origin, said Eduardo Solis, president of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association.
But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed the industry’s fears that the administration of President Donald Trump was seeking major changes to these rules to try to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico.
“Rules of origin, particularly on autos and auto parts, must require higher NAFTA content and substantial U.S. content. Country of origin should be verified, not ‘deemed,’” Lighthizer said on Wednesday in opening remarks.
At this point, it’s kind of a toss up as to what’ll happen in the auto industry as a result of the negotiations. But it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.
3rd Gear: UAW/FCA Corruption Case Heats Up
The feds’ case of alleged corruption against a former FCA exec and a union official’s wife makes for a scintillating read. Stolen cash! A Ferrari! Fancy pens! Now the investigation is expanding, and now involves current UAW officials, reports The Detroit News.
The investigation has entangled current and former top UAW officials, including union Vice President Norwood Jewell, who received the shotgun as a birthday present in 2015 after the firearm was purchased with funds earmarked for blue-collar workers, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The purchase is part of a broader pattern of personal spending by some board members at the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, multiple sources told The News. The UAW said that Jewell didn’t know the shotgun was purchased with training center money.
This case is going to be wild if it ever gets to trial.
4th Gear: More Microbus News This Week
We caught a glimpse this week of the new electric Volkswagen Microbus out on the road, and for everyone who’s deeply invested in the idea of VW relaunching the bus, get excited: more details about the vehicle are coming this week, according to Automotive News.
Volkswagen brand CEO Herbert Diess is expected to announce on Saturday details regarding the production of the battery-powered I.D. Buzz microbus slated to debut in 2022, a company source told Automotive News Europe.
The information on the Buzz, which is one of three electric vehicles that VW plans from its forthcoming I.D. family, will come at the Concours d’Elegance this weekend.
VW’s escape from endless scandal will hinge on the rollout of feel-good rides like the I.D. Buzz. Maybe Diess is going to announce a hybrid model. That’d be cool.
5th Gear: Tesla Investors Step Back A Bit
Tesla’s in the middle of ramping up production of the Model 3, and recently sought out investors with a $1.8 billion bond issue. A couple of the company’s largest investors recently reduced their Tesla stake, however, Reuters reports.
Top Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) investors Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price cut their holdings in the second quarter and indicated they were taking profits from the electric car maker stock, which is up 65 percent this year.
Sellers included Fidelity funds like Fidelity OTC Portfolio, which sold 1.62 million shares, or 43 percent of its position during the quarter, as well as funds managed by T. Rowe Price Group (TROW.O), including T. Rowe Price Growth Stock Fund (PRGFX.O), which sold 1.33 million shares during the quarter or 48 percent of its position, recent securities filings show.
Reuters says that both funds are among the top 10 largest investors in Tesla. Whatever the case, Tesla successfully managed to raise that $1.8 billion last week, so Wall Street’s clearly not afraid of the Model 3.
Reverse: Speaking Of Chrysler
Neutral: Who’s It Going To Be For FCA?
Do you think anyone’s going to step up and claim they’re trying to bid for FCA? Does it even matter to you?