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Dodge Is Ready To Save The Viper

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This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: First Hellcat, Then Viper

There's a rah-rah piece in The Detroit News about the Dodge centennial and what it means for the company with an interesting spin: Dodge CEO/Prez Tim Kuniskis says Fiat wants to focus on the Viper.


I guess that assumes the Charger, Challenger, Caravan, and Dart are all set for now?


Here's the important bit:

"We're going to tell a story here shortly that I think has needed to be told for a long time about how this is the only handmade supercar in the industry," he told The Detroit News on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Obviously, the big change was dropping the price $15,000 and making it a Dodge again, so it sounds like the rest is marketing.

2nd Gear: Chinese Sales Slow, Inventories Up


It's not just BMW that's having an issue, sales in China are slowing for almost everyone and now dealers are trying to contend with dealer bonuses and oversupply and all sorts of mess. Granted, the market is still expanding, just not like it was before.

From Bloomberg:

“There are more and more auto dealers selling vehicles at losses as they struggle to keep afloat,” said Wang Ji, a Beijing-based director at the dealer chamber of commerce. “Overcapacity is the fundamental reason behind the production surplus and unless they fix it, there will be a reshuffle of auto dealers and automakers sooner or later.”

Foreign automakers have announced plans to increase production to win more sales in the world’s largest auto market.

Volkswagen AG said last month it will raise its Chinese plant capacity to more than the previously targeted 4 million autos a year by 2018. That compares with capacity there of more than 3.1 million vehicles in 2013.


There are obviously parallels to the U.S. market pre-Carpocalypse, but it's a little early to expect a market collapse. More likely, we'll either see some dealers go away or see car companies adjust production.

Why? Because China is still growing, because part of the deceleration is the government trying to control the country's car explosion, and because there are still plenty of consumers.


3rd Gear: Fiat's $2.5 Million Bond Goes Up Just as we were all expecting, FCA will fund its five-year plan with a $2.5 million mandatory convertible bond.


Per Reuters:

The bond is expected to pay an annual coupon. The underwriters have the option to buy an additional $375 million in mandatory convertible securities.

J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, UBS, Citigroup, BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley are acting as joint bookrunning managers for both offerings.

FCA's controlling investor Exor (EXOR.MI), the holding company of the Agnelli family that founded Fiat, said it would participate in the bond issue by purchasing an amount that would protect its stake of around 31 percent from dilution.


Hopefully, this results in a Hellcat-powered Fiat 500.

4th Gear: GM Replacing Ignition Keys In Non-Recall If an automaker doesn't think an issue rises to the level of a recall they'll issue a Technical Service Bulletin that instructs dealers to repair a problem if a customer comes in or complains.


GM has one now for its full-sized trucks built in 2014 and 2015, including the Sierra/Silverado 1500s and Yukon/Suburban variants.

Advertisement via the Freep:

The lever only can be move out of "park" into a gear when the engine is running and the driver's foot is on the brake.

Spokesman Alan Adler said in an email: "Our safety leadership looked at this and determined it was not a safety issue because all the movements are done with a foot on the brake."


Another reason why push-button is better.

5th Gear: Actually, I Blame TMS We linked to a story in TMS on Monday from The Upshot that looked at how services like Uber and Lyft were impacting Medallion prices.


Well, this happened:


Medallion Financial is a specialty finance company with about half of its portfolio in loans secured by taxi medallions, mostly in New York, with a significant presence in Chicago and Boston. Last Thursday, with the stock market closed for Thanksgiving, my article about falling taxi medallion prices in those cities went up on the web. The next day Medallion Financial’s stock closed more than 7 percent lower, with nearly all that drop coming in the first minute of trading.

Josh Barro, the author, goes into some theories or why this is that are worth reading.


Reverse: The Last Time There Was No Traffic On it

On this day, highway administrators pile into a car and take a ceremonial drive through a paper ribbon at the entrance to the final segment, known as the West Leg, of the infamous Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. (Most of the Dan Ryan proper had opened in 1961; construction on the West Leg, or Interstate 57, began in 1967.) The road got its name from Cook County Chairman Dan Ryan, who had written the 1955 bond issue that directed many millions of dollars to the county's expressway-building fund. Today, his namesake road, despite being one of the widest in the world, is known for its frequent traffic jams.




Neutral: How would you sell the Viper? More power? More options? More advertising?

Photo Credit: AP/ Getty Images