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 that you’ll be able to text to your friends to prove how smart you are.
1st Gear: Ford Employees Aren’t Even Allowed To Buy Expeditions Themselves
Remember when we said that Ford can’t make Lincoln Navigators fast enough because it wasn’t used to people actually, you know, wanting them?
The situation has expanded out to the Ford Expedition as well and Ford announced today that it’s dropping $25 million on the Kentucky Truck Plant to speed up production, as Automotive News reports.
The company’s stopgap measures are astounding, per AN:
CEO Jim Hackett has banned Ford employees from ordering Navigators or Expeditions for personal use, a source with direct knowledge of the directive told Automotive News. Typically, employees who get vehicles through the company’s manager lease program can have their pick of the lineup, excluding some high-performance models. Restrictions on mainstream vehicles are rare, if not unprecedented, the source said.
Retail sales are up 59 percent for the Expedition in January, 132 percent for the Navigator.
You maniacs still can’t get enough of these gigantic SUVs.
2nd Gear: Meanwhile, Porsche Preps For Even More EVs
It’s only a matter of time before all Porsches are either turbo or electric, buds. The other week, the company doubled its electric car investment up nearly $8 billion. Now a member of the board has said that on the strength of god Panamera hybrid sales, the company is looking to up production of the Mission E sedan and possibly go all-electric for the Macan super big hatchback crossover thing, as Automotive News Europe reports:
Porsche may increase the annual production capacity of its Mission E model beyond 20,000 cars and decide shortly about whether to electrify its Macan SUV, board member Detlev von Platen said.
I’m going to keep chanting to myself that this is good until I believe it.
3rd Gear: UK Will Lose Its Vehicle Approval Authority For The Rest Of Europe
Brexit continues to mess with the British auto industry, as the UK’s government agency’s approval that cars are safe for road use is going to lose its approval for the EU, as the Financial Times reports:
Documents released by the European Commission on Friday stated that “the United Kingdom approval authority will cease to be an EU type-approval authority” from the withdrawal date of March 30 2019. It adds that “the United Kingdom approval authority will no longer be in a position to perform any of the functions and activities of an approval authority” for cars sold in Europe.
A number of car companies are already looking to go get their cars approved in the EU rather than in the UK, per the FT:
This means that all of the car manufacturers that use the VCA will have to find a European alternative within a few years of Britain leaving the EU. Several major brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Skoda, Peugeot and Citroën use the VCA, each paying several hundred thousand pounds for each new model that is approved by the agency, according to industry estimates.
This is going to lose a lot of money for the post-Brexit UK government, by the looks of things.
4th Gear: Didi Has Been Testing Self-Driving Cars On Public Roads For Months
Didi Chuxing, China’s Uber, only gave its first demonstration of a self-driving car a few days ago, and now the company is saying that it has been testing on public roads for the past two months, as the Financial Times reports.
Driving in China is wild, and I support any company trying to figure this whole thing out beyond the sterile environments of Silicon Valley.
5th Gear: Waymo Might Miss Out On The Whole Making Money Part Of The Self-Driving Car Business
Google’s Waymo might be out of the courtroom since it and Uber settled a stolen tech lawsuit, but The New York Times just published a report detailing that the company is not completely free of worries.
Now everyone is worried that the company might have a lead on tech but no way to make money off of it, per the NYT:
“Waymo may have a technical advantage,” said Jason Doran, who helped run the delivery service Sidecar and joined General Motors when the carmaker acquired the start-up. “But they have to figure out a business model.”It is not uncommon for a tech pioneer to miss out on becoming the company that cashes in on the technology it has been working on. The industry is littered with stories of people with a great idea that someone else turned into a great business.The concept for the databases used by most of the world’s big corporations came out of IBM. But another company, Oracle, turned that software into a big business. Researchers at the Silicon Valley lab of Xerox famously pioneered the technology that went into many of Apple’s computers.
The Times notes that Waymo doesn’t make cars, nor does it even have a ride-hailing service like Uber, so it has its work cut out for it.
Neutral: Enter The Carpocalypse
Reverse: How Much Longer Will The SUV Craze Last?
I give it a collapse before the end of the year. You?