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 auto-related stories to read in on this wonderful Thursday morning.
1st Gear: Bad Bags
It’s not shaping up to be a good summer for FCA. Yesterday, we learned that the same lab that first blew open VW’s Dieselgate scandal found that FCA’s diesels put out nitrogen oxide of three to 20 times the legal limit. Now there’s a recall for spontaneous airbag deployment.
FCA is recalling 297,000 2011 to 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, reports Reuters. So far, 13 minor injuries have been reported. “Wiring may short circuit that can result in the driver side air bag deploying without warning,” writes Reuters.
The recall will start in July and will include 209,000 cars from the U.S. and 88,000 cars from Canada.
That sounds like something that would really ruin a summer road trip.
2nd Gear: Tough Playing Field
It’s not easy being Carlos Ghosn. So many projects. So much money. Ugh.
Ghosn, ex Nissan CEO and current Renault CEO, walked away from Thursday’s annual shareholder’s meeting with a bunch of challenges facing him. These, according to Automotive News Europe, include:
- A furor over report that Ghosn and other Renault-Nissan executives may benefit from a hidden bonus fund
- France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron is an old adversary of Ghosn. Macron’s government, which is Renault’s biggest shareholder, may seek to rein in the CEO
- France’s consumer fraud watchdog has told prosecutors that Ghosn should be held responsible if accusations of suspected diesel emissions cheating are proven
- Activist shareholders say Ghosn’s top alliance posts amount to a conflict of interest.
Compensation has been a particularly sore subject between Ghosn and the French government, which thinks he shouldn’t be paid as much as he is. As a result, Automotive News writes, “Renault’s board reduced Ghosn’s variable pay component by 20 percent and adjusted his bonus criteria.”
A CEO that makes... too much money? I live in the United States, so I have never heard of that before.
3rd Gear: Nevermind That Diesel Cheating Business
No, seriously, just put that Bosch/diesel cheating stuff aside for now.
According to Reuters, which sites an unnamed source, Bosche is reportedly investing one billion Euros in a semiconductor plant in Germany.
From the story:
The factory will be built in the eastern German city of Dresden, with most of the investment coming from Bosch and the rest from government and European Union subsidies, the source said. It is set to start production in 2021 and will employ 700 people, the source said. Bosch declined to comment.
The source told Reuters that Bosch decided the build the factory in Dresden because there are more skilled potential workers there. Indeed, in April, Daimler and Bosch said that they would team up to make self-driving cars and taxis.
This new factory seems to be another step in that direction.
4th Gear: And Now For Some Science
Engine downsizing and turbocharging is the way things are going. And they seem to solve both issues of efficiency and power output. Foolproof, right? Not so fast, if Wards Auto has anything to say about it.
The high-compression nature of these engines can sometimes result in “broken piston rings, cracked off tops of pistons and bent connecting rods.”
The culprit? Low-speed pre-ignition, or LSPI. Here’s what happens:
It is an abnormal combustion phenomenon that occurs before the normal spark-plug ignition and is not widely known.
To facilitate downspeeding, which is changing gear ratios to lower engine speed in order to achieve better fuel economy, the smaller engines must produce high torque at low speeds.
The pressure required to achieve high levels of low-speed torque and quick throttle responsiveness can cause LSPI, which generates extremely high combustion-chamber pressures, Joachim Wagenblast, director of R&D-engine systems and components for engine supplier Mahle USA, says here at a technology presentation entitled “Problems Ahead for New Fuel-Efficient Engines.”
Solutions include fortified parts and systems designed especially to withstand LSPI. The EPA estimates that downsized engines will power half of all cars sold by 2025, so it’s pretty important to get this fixed before it becomes a more widespread problem.
5th Gear: Phew, No GTI Crossover
After the Golf GTI, the Up GTI and the Polo GTI, Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess says that the company is all done with GTI’ing stuff, according to Autocar. He said,
“I think with the three [GTI models] we have now, we are set,” Diess said. “GTI for us is ‘the’ hot hatch: a sporty car, classless, with potential for everyday use and accessible for many. It should be this car – a hot hatch.”
Onward and upward, man.
Reverse: Espionage Act
Neutral: Would you buy a Volkswagen Touareg GTI? An Atlas GTI?