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: I’d Be Pissed, Wouldn’t You Be Pissed?
Good news if you’re troubled potentially lethal airbag maker Takata, and bad news for everyone else involved: the supplier is clearing the way to get its clients, like Honda, to share in the billions and billions of dollars worth of recall costs. It may tank otherwise.
I’m sure the automakers are very very happy to pitch in and help. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)
Takata Corp. said the German research institute it hired to investigate the root cause of its defective airbag inflators submitted a preliminary report, clearing the way for crucial talks to begin with customers over how to split billions of dollars in recall costs.
[...] The cost of recalling all airbag inflators that don’t use a moisture-absorbing substance was estimated at about $12.7 billion (1.28 trillion yen) by Takaki Nakanishi, an analyst for Jefferies Group, in a report published in May.
Getting customers led by Honda to agree to shoulder the costs is pivotal to Takata’s plans to restructure and find potential buyers, some of which have balked at the uncertainty of liabilities they’d have to take on if they acquired the embattled supplier.
Nothing is more fun than paying for other people’s mistakes. Of course, Honda’s not without blame on this one by a long shot...
2nd Gear: Japan’s Automakers Ask For Help
On Morning Shift this week we talked about how an unusually strong yen poses huge challenges for the Japanese automakers; already, the seven companies have lost $5 billion in operating profit in Q1.
Now the industry is asking for the help of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. From Bloomberg again:
The headwinds Toyota and its peers are feeling from the stronger yen help explain the message delivered to Abe’s new cabinet by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association on Wednesday. Chairman Hiroto Saikawa highlighted global economic uncertainty spurred by Brexit and “rapid fluctuations in the foreign exchange market.”
“JAMA requests not only that the new Cabinet take the initiatives necessary to prevent those risks from negatively impacting Japan’s economy, but also that it implement the economic measures” that “will facilitate investments in Japan’s future,” wrote Saikawa, who’s also Nissan Motor Co.’s vice chairman and chief competitive officer.
3rd Gear: Another Airbag Investigation
Speaking of airbags, regulators in the U.S. and Canada are looking into a fatal crash in the latter country where an airbag deployment sent metal shards into the cabin and killed an occupant. Sound familiar?
This was a Chinese-manufactured airbag inflator in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra produced by Tennessee-based ARC Automotive Inc. That kind of airbag inflator isn’t in U.S. Elantras, but the company’s getting probed anyway. Via The Detroit News:
NHTSA estimates at least 8 million ARC air bag inflators in U.S. vehicles will be affected by the investigation. That’s the number of inflators installed in vehicles manufactured before September 2004 by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors Co., Kia and Hyundai. NHTSA said it does not know how many of the inflators have been installed since then.
The agency said it is upgrading its investigation of ARC’s air bag inflator from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis. An preliminary evaluation of the faulty parts was launched in July 2015 after a pair of non-fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2009 and 2014.
4th Gear: That’s Not Good
Here’s a Ford recall for doors that might fly open when you’re driving. Fun! Via the Detroit Free Press:
Defective side-door latches in several Ford models made in North America triggered a recall of 828,053 vehicles.
A faulty spring tab in a side-door latch could break, causing the door not to shut correctly and potentially causing it to swing open while driving, Ford said.
[...] The recall affects the 2013-15 C-MAX made at the Michigan Assembly Plant from April 19, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2015; the 2013-15 Escape made at the Louisville Assembly Plant from Oct. 19, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2015; the 2012-15 Focus made at the Michigan Assembly Plant from Aug. 1, 2010, to Jan. 31, 2015; the 2015 Lincoln MKC made at the Louisville Assembly Plant from Dec. 4, 2013, to Jan. 31, 2015; the 2015 Mustang made at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant from May 28, 2014, to April 30, 2015; and the 2014-16 Transit Connect made at the Valencia Assembly Plant from Aug. 9, 2013, to Feb. 1, 2016.
5th Gear: Corvette Wins Twitter
The Chevrolet Corvette blew past all other sports cars in the Twitter engagement race in July.
The Corvette Stingray was followed by the Ford Mustang, Audi R8, Porsche 911 and Nissan GTR, according to ListenFirst Media, a New York company that analyzes conversations around brands and vehicles on Twitter.
ListenFirst aggregates conversations about manufacturers, their models and their owned engagement — engagement that’s directly attributable to their Twitter accounts. The company says it then normalizes the stats by the total engagement earned by all of the manufacturers to find the “share of voice” earned by each company to rank them.
Neat! I guess.
Reverse: RIP Soichiro
Neutral: Does Social Media Engagement Help Sell Cars?
Social media consultants in the automotive industry say YES!