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: Save Us, Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet unveiled the all-new 2016 Cruze last night, and maybe I’m nuts, but I think it’s a pretty sharp-looking car. While it’s 2.7 inches longer than the car it replaces, it’s also 250 pounds lighter, has a new 1.4-liter turbo four with 153 horsepower, stop-start as a standard feature and all the cool 4G LTE stuff Chevy’s been doing lately.
But as we’ve discussed on TMS before, it comes at a time when sedan sales are slumping as buyers switch to crossovers of all sizes. From Automotive News:
Despite the improvements, IHS expects U.S. Cruze sales to dip in coming years amid a shift toward small crossovers. It projects sales of about 250,000 Cruzes in 2016, falling to about 220,000 in 2017 before rebounding to around 255,000 in 2018.
Sales will be aided by a new hatchback model. IHS expects the hatch to account for nearly 30 percent of overall U.S. sales in 2018. U.S. dealers were shown a 2016 Cruze hatchback last week at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas, three sources told Automotive News. GM has declined to comment.
You know, I actually really liked the first-gen Cruze. It was a damn decent small sedan, better than a lot of the abysmal penalty boxes in that segment. Any chance Chevy will give us a hot hatch (or sedan!) version of the new one?
2nd Gear: Takata CEO Makes Public Apology
At a press conference in Tokyo yesterday, Takata Corp. President Shigehisa Takada made his first-ever public apology for the eight deaths and hundreds of injuries resulting from his company’s defective, explosive airbags. From Bloomberg:
Takada, 49, bowed and apologized at a press briefing in Tokyo after the company’s annual shareholders meeting Thursday. He said the auto-parts maker is considering ways to help victims, including by setting up a fund to compensate them.
“I apologize for not having been able to communicate directly earlier, and also apologize for people who died or were injured,” Takada said. “I feel sorry our products hurt customers, despite the fact that we are a supplier of safety products.”
Anything in there about “Sorry we knew about this for a decade and didn’t do anything about it?”
3rd Gear: Takata Recalls Expand Worldwide
Speaking of Takata, following the expansion of the airbag recall in the U.S. to 34 million cars, Toyota and Nissan said they would also recall some non-North American vehicles with the same airbags. Via Reuters:
Toyota said it would recall another 2.86 million vehicles across 24 models produced between April 2003 and December 2008, including 1.729 million in Europe, 360,000 in Japan and 190,000 in China. Toyota on June 16 recalled 1.37 million vehicles in the United States after Takata agreed to comply with an order by U.S. regulators to declare more inflators defective and expand the recalls.
Nissan said it was calling back 198,000 vehicles including the Navara, Caravan, and Teana built between April 2007 and December 2008, after a corresponding recall in the United States and Canada previously.
Get your Nissan Teanas fixed, people.
4th Gear: Should An Autonomous Car Decide Who Lives Or Dies?
It’s a question straight out of an Isaac Asimov book, but it must be brought up: in certain situations, is an autonomous car responsible for saving its driver and passengers, or other people on the roads? Via Bloomberg:
The promise of self-driving cars is that they’ll anticipate and avoid collisions, dramatically reducing the 33,000 deaths on U.S. highways each year. But accidents will still happen. And in those moments, the robot car may have to choose the lesser of two evils — swerve onto a crowded sidewalk to avoid being rear-ended by a speeding truck or stay put and place the driver in mortal danger.
“Those kinds of questions do have to be answered before automated driving becomes a reality,” Jeff Greenberg, Ford’s senior technical leader for human-machine interface, said during a tour of the automaker’s new Silicon Valley research lab this week.
That’s a good article and you should read the whole thing. It’s also why I roll my eyes whenever people say that cars will be fully driverless in, like, five years. We have a lot we need to figure out first.
5th Gear: Always Clear The Corners, Rookie
Ford will unveil split-view cameras for their SUVs and trucks that let you see around corners, which is clever and also useful. From The Detroit Free Press:
Ford said it has a new split-view camera for vehicles in the U.S. and China that allows drivers to see around corners at slow speeds, such as pulling out of a parking spot. The Ford Edge and Explorer are the first vehicles to get the feature that shows traffic approaching from the side to avoid a potential collision.
The new Super Duty pickups in development for the 2017 model year will have seven cameras for a full view of the surroundings. That compares with five cameras in the 2015 F-150. The next-generation Super Duty trucks will switch to aluminum bodies like the 2015 F-150.
Reverse: Packard No More
The last Packard–the classic American luxury car with the famously enigmatic slogan “Ask the Man Who Owns One”–rolls off the production line at Packard’s plant in Detroit, Michigan on this day in 1956.
Neutral: Where Should The Priority Be For Autonomous Cars?
The driver? The passengers? Other motorists? Pedestrians?
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