The BMW Brilliance Zinoro 1e, an electric version of the X1. Photo: BMW Brilliance

Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. We’ve got the stories you need to know. We’ve got them right here.

1st Gear: BMW To Become First Foreign Carmaker To Own A Majority Stake In A Chinese Joint Venture

Of all foreign carmakers, foreign to China that is, which one do you think has the closest ties to China? GM thanks to Buick? Volkswagen thanks to Audi? Nope, it’s BMW, which currently owns a 50 percent stake in Brilliance. Now the two may be about to set a historic record on automotive partnerships in China, as Automotive News reports:

BMW AG stands to become the first foreign car manufacturer to own a majority stake in a Chinese joint venture, showing Beijing is following through on a pledge to increasingly open up the economy to global corporations.

BMW plans to unveil the new ownership structure in its joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings soon, according to a person familiar with the plan, who asked not to be identified because the accord remains confidential. BMW now holds 50 percent of the venture.

[...]

BMW declined to comment on the state of its discussions with Brilliance. The German company is set to boost its stake in the venture to at least 75 percent, Manager Magazin reported earlier. Brilliance, which now owns 40.5 percent of the venture, didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

BMW’s relationship with Brilliance has been remarkably close, or at least that’s how it has always looked to me judging by the cars themselves. Brilliance vehicles equipped with double-kidneys on the front have long stood out in a world of unlicensed copycats.

2nd Gear: Trump: If You Don’t Do What I Say I Will Bump Tariffs On EU Cars

The thing about Trump is that for all the talk there is about him being particularly gross and evil, for the most part he just follows an extreme version of the regular right wing party line. He just does it in as bumbling a way as possible. Take, for example, his most recent pronouncement that he’s ready to bump up tariffs on European cars coming to America, as reported in Automotive News:

“That’ll change also and I think we’ll see that because on the 25th of July they’re coming in to start negotiations with me. We’ll see,” [Trump] told a news conference at the end of a meeting of NATO leaders.

“And if they don’t negotiate in good faith we’ll do something having to do with all the millions of cars that are coming into our country and being taxed at a virtually zero level, at a very low level... I think it’s been a very effective way of negotiating, but I’m not negotiating, I just want fairness for the United States,” he said.

Advertisement

Again, this isn’t an outlandish position for any destructively protectionist administration, it’s just getting phrased like a petulant child.

3rd Gear: Senate Approves Symbolic Motion Against Trump Tariffs. Wait, Symbolic? Ugh.

At least the U.S. Senate is on the case, fighting against pointless tariffs that will make all of our cars more expensive and hurt American manufacturing, particularly as German automakers have such a strong presence right here in the States.

Advertisement

Wait.

The Senate is just giving a symbolic motion? Ugh.

Per Bloomberg:

The U.S. Senate took President Donald Trump to task on trade but fell short of curtailing his power to impose tariffs.

In an 88-11 vote on Wednesday, the Senate approved a symbolic motion backing a role for Congress in requiring tariffs based on national security, such as those Trump imposed on steel and aluminum imports and is contemplating on autos. The vote came a day after the administration said it would impose a new round of 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods as part of a dispute over alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Advertisement

This is a non-binding effort, as Bloomberg notes, and I’m sure it will do a lot to slow Trump’s roll.

4th Gear: China Considers More Cuts To EV Subsidies

This is an interesting one. China is planning on cutting back its world-leading subsidies for electric vehicles. The rationale, surprisingly, isn’t focused on skimping on spending, exactly, as Automotive News China reports:

China is considering a further reduction in electric-vehicle subsidies next year as the government pushes automakers to innovate rather than rely on fiscal policy to spur demand for alternative-energy cars, people familiar with the plan said.

The average sales incentive per EV may be lowered by more than a third from the 2018 levels, said the people, who asked not to be identified disclosing information that isn’t public.

Vehicles may be required to be able to go at least 200 kilometers (125 miles) on a single charge to be eligible for incentives, up from 150 kilometers currently, said the people. The plan is still under discussion and subject to changes, they said.

[...]

“China is switching away from carrots,” said Ali Izadi-Najafabadi, an analyst at Bloomberg NEF. “The government wants to ensure automakers will launch models that would be appealing to consumers hence setting subsidies contingent on minimum driving range requirements.”

Advertisement

There has been a big back and forth about EV subsidies just clinging on to existence in the Trump administration, something that American EV producers seem to desperately want to keep around. It’ll be interesting to see how this all works out in China, and what we Americans might have in store for us. I’m not holding out a ton of hope.

5th Gear: Alpine A110 Is Boosting Production To Meet Hot Demand

Bless you, you mad bastards. You’re all buying Alpine A110s, probably the best new car of the moment.

Advertisement

It looks like you’re actually buying more than Renault expected, because it’s boosting production to meet demand, as Automotive News Europe reports:

Renault Group’s Alpine sports car brand is raising production of its A110 coupe to try to reduce waiting times that stretch more than a year.

[...]

This demand has created a backlog stretching 14 months, Regis Fricotte, Alpine’s head of sales and marketing, said during an event this week at the brand’s factory here on France’s northwestern coast.

In response, the overhauled plant will increase production to 20 cars a day from 15, Fricotte said.

Advertisement

To the thousands of you who reserved this lightweight revival: Bless you all.

Reverse: Another Day, Another Car Of The Future

Advertisement

Neutral: Who’s Next After BMW?

If BMW is set to be the first foreign automaker to hold a majority stake in its Chinese joint venture, who’s next? Or rather, which automaker would you like to see step up?