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: Strike Avoided, For Now
After the United Auto Workers membership voted to spike a proposed contract with Fiat Chrysler, the automaker faced targeted strikes at certain plants or a big one that would have sent all 40,000 hourly workers off the job. But no! That won’t happen now, as an agreement on a possible new labor contract was reached between union leaders and Fiat Chrysler. Via Automotive News:
The tentative pact came after the UAW gave FCA notice Tuesday that it would no longer work under the extended terms of its former 2011 contract. The union and FCA had reached a tentative agreement Sept. 15 on a new labor contract, but its terms were rejected by UAW members at FCA 65 percent to 35 percent.
As it did last month, the union will schedule informational meetings with local leaders to go over terms of the proposed contract before another membership ratification vote in the coming days. That meeting is set for 11 a.m. on Friday, the UAW said in its announcement.
2nd Gear: Mr. Volkswagen Goes To Washington
Meanwhile, another automaker embattled for entirely different reasons heads to Washington D.C. today for a grilling before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
As we reported yesterday, VW’s U.S. CEO Michael Horn has a lot of explaining to do, mainly on why the company knew about the emissions issue in spring 2014 (if not earlier) and waited to act until just a few weeks ago, all while pimping Clean Diesel hard in America and selling as many TDIs as they could.
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. EST, and if Kinja cooperates I’ll have a livestream going here, if watching that sort of thing is your idea of a good time.
3rd Gear: Top VW Group Engineers
Even if you’re not intimately familiar with the VW Group’s management structure, you’ve likely heard of Ulrich Hackenberg and Wolfgang Hatz—two top engineers at Audi and Porsche, respectively, who led the teams responsible for their amazing technology and racing endeavors.
But since the beginning it’s been rumored that these men were among those suspended by VW in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal. While the company has not formally announced this, it is all but certain that they’re out, at least for now, as the investigation centers on them. From the Wall Street Journal:
The two men, Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi’s chief engineer, and Wolfgang Hatz, developer of Porsche’s Formula One and Le Mans racing engines, were among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the emissions cheating scandal that sank the company’s market value by 43% since Sept. 18 and triggered a world-wide recall to refit the engines to meet clear-air standards, these people said.
Messrs. Hackenberg and Hatz, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, are viewed as two of the best and brightest engineers in German industry. They were put in charge of research and development at the Volkswagen group shortly after Martin Winterkorn became chief executive in January 2007. Mr. Winterkorn, who resigned over the scandal, couldn’t be reached for comment.
4th Gear: TDI Owners May Fight A Recall
One more VW story, I promise (hey, it’s the story in this world right now.) Some fear VW’s effort to fix their polluting cars will be thwarted by TDI owners who don’t want to deal with the likely reduction in power and fuel economy of their cars, and just won’t get them repaired. And as Reuters reports, there’s little anyone can do about it:
Nationally, only 17 states are required by the Clean Air Act to confirm that owners of cars subjected to a recall show proof they have complied with it before they are allowed to take an emissions test required to register their cars, the Environmental Protection Agency said.
The EPA couldn’t confirm whether the 33 other states don’t require owners to prove they have complied with a recalI. Texas doesn’t include diesel vehicles in its emission inspection program and Florida no longer has a vehicle emission inspection program, EPA said. It isn’t known how many other states don’t require vehicles to pass emissions tests.
5th Gear: And Speaking Of Recalls...
Despite the blitz of recalls we had last year (or maybe even because of it) America’s recall completion rate is pretty low. Owners aren’t forced or obligated to fix their cars, even when the fix is free, so they don’t. New research showcased in The Detroit News highlights what it might take to get owners to do them:
The findings show most owners take recalls seriously — with 70 percent of owners saying they would not feel safe ignoring a low-risk recall. Just over one-third of owners say they have not gotten a recall completed.
The auto groups poll asked owners about a series of ideas to see if consumers would agree to get vehicles fixed — including a recall notification on their vehicle from the EZ Pass system when driving through a toll booth — and more than half had said that would be effective.
A majority of those polled endorsed tying recalls to vehicle registration or when registering used cars.
Neutral: Do You Get Your Cars Fixed Under Recall?
And if you own a TDI, will you do it here too?
Photo credit AP
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