Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn Has Been Arrested, Again

Photo: AP
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“Wasn’t he already in jail?” you ask. Yes, yes he was. Also, Volkswagen writes off a big investment, potential union trouble at General Motors, and a big Ford recall in the Morning Shift for Friday, December 21st, 2018.

1st Gear: The Cops Also Raided His House

While former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is surely fighting to clear his name after being deposed by Nissan’s CEO and board but while also remaining the head of Renault and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance but no longer the head of Mitsubishi while Renault fights to keep him in charge along with the French government which has a big stake in Renault and also the Alliance as a result so that it can maintain and possibly take ultimate control over the Nissan kingdom (yes, I know, it’s Game of Thrones over here, try to keep up), the Japanese authorities have re-arrested Ghosn to make sure he stays in jail for a bit, Bloomberg reports:

Japanese prosecutors re-arrested Nissan Motor Co.’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn on fresh, more serious allegations of financial misconduct, dealing a blow to the car titan’s efforts to end his month-long stay in jail and seek bail.

Prosecutors also raided Ghosn’s residence in Tokyo on Friday in search of evidence, broadcaster TV Asahi reported.

The Tokyo prosecutor said the fresh arrest was based on suspicions that around October 2008, Ghosn shifted personal trades to the automaker to make it responsible for 1.85 billion yen ($16.6 million) in appraisal losses, and inflicted damage on Nissan by having it deposit a total of $14.7 million on four occasions between June 2009 and March 2012 into a related bank account.

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Just last night, a Tokyo judge denied prosecutor’s request to hold him in jail a little while longer, Bloomberg added, so this should provide a little legal mechanism to keep him there for bit.

Also, the cops raided his house.

2nd Gear: Volkswagen Writes Off Gett

Every car company thinks they’re a “mobility” company these days, whatever that means, so they’ve been pouring into whatever hot new app can help convince investors that car companies are actually tech companies now, so please give them valuations as such.

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While that’s the basics of these sorts of plans, and it sounds simple enough, it doesn’t always work out in practice. As Volkswagen is learning now, Reuters reports:

German carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) will write off its investment in Gett after the Israel-based ride hailing app failed to gain ground on bigger rivals Uber [UBER.UL], Lyft and Didi, weekly Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

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Volkswagen poured at least $300 million into Gett, which as far as I can tell, differentiated itself from Uber and Lyft by offering a fixed price for rides. While that sounds great for people hailing rides, it apparently isn’t so great for people offering rides, and thus taxis appeared difficult to come by in reviews of Gett.

The end result is that Volkswagen is taking a bath.

3rd Gear: Ford Recalling Almost a Million Pickups

Ford, the SUV company, is recalling 874,000 pickup trucks due to the risk of fiery death. From a press release on its website:

Ford is issuing a recall for select 2015-19 F-150 and 2017-19 Super Duty vehicles equipped with engine block heaters. Water and contaminants can intrude into the block heater cable’s splice connector causing corrosion and damage to the cable over time. Prolonged corrosion in the cable splice connector can cause a short, make the engine block heater inoperable, and/or trip household breakers or GFCI-equipped outlets while the vehicle is parked and the block heater is plugged in.

The risk to safety only exists while the vehicle is parked and the block heater cable is plugged into an electrical outlet.

Ford is aware of three fires originating from the engine block heater cable splice connector, and minor property damage reported in one incident. Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries tied to this.

Affected vehicles include:

  • 2015-19 F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Truck Plant between March 18, 2014 and Nov. 17, 2018 and at Kansas City Assembly Plant between Aug. 21, 2014 and Nov. 17, 2018
  • 2017-19 Super Duty vehicles built at Ohio Assembly Plant between Feb. 5, 2016 and Nov. 17, 2018 and at Kentucky Truck Plant between Oct. 8, 2015 and Nov. 17, 2018
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Hey, it’s a good way to stay warm over the cold winter.

Fire, that is.

4th Gear: GM Wants to Shutter Plants But the Unions Are Not Having It

Just a few weeks ago, GM made the surprise announcement that it wanted to shut down a whole bunch of plants and lay off somewhere around 10,000 people. From the rumors we’ve heard, that decision was made surprisingly suddenly (and you can see evidence for that short decision timeline, as just up until very recently GM was announcing new variants of cars like the Cadillac CT6 and now the Cadillac CT6 will be dead), and that’s not only caught the unions off guard, but they’ve got protections in their contracts against this very thing.

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So the Detroit News says the unions are mad:

As Canadian trade union Unifor argued its case Thursday at GM’s Renaissance Center headquarters to keep open the automaker’s Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario, the United Auto Workers organized a vigil at the endangered Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the conversation with GM was “frustrating,” but says the Detroit automaker did not “unilaterally shut the door.” Dias said the automaker has promised to consider Unifor’s concerns and come back with any decisions by Jan. 7.

“The simple reality is we need to find a solution,” Dias said in a press conference in Windsor following his meeting with GM. Unifor’s “campaign will escalate, it will not die down.”

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What’s mystifying to me is that surely GM has known about GM’s problems for a long, long time. Why the sudden lurch?

5th Gear: Nissan Laying Off 1,000 Workers In Mexico

See? American workers aren’t the only ones getting the short shrift. These sorts of things affect factory workers around the globe, the Financial Times reports:

“In response to the challenging market conditions in Mexico, Nissan is adjusting production levels at its plants in Morelos and Aguascalientes. As part of this adjustment, approximately 1,000 employees in those plants will end their jobs with the company,” Nissan said.

Nissan saw sales plunge 14.3 per cent in November compared with November 2017. Its market share in the month was just over 21 per cent, down from 23.5 per cent in the same month last year, according to data from automobile industry association Amia.

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The economy is a weird thing. It works best when the most people have the most money. That way the most people can spend the most money buying vast quantities of inexpensive things, employing even more people. Billionaires don’t buy 1,000 Nissans. Somewhere around 500 middle-class families buy 1,000 Nissans.

Maybe we should do something for them, then, for a change?

Reverse: The Biggest Plane in The World

The Antonov An-225 Mriya, the biggest plane in the world, has officially been flying for 30 years.

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Neutral: Which Holiday Do You Celebrate?

This will be the last Morning Shift before Christmas, but at this blog we celebrate Happy Honda Days. Or Toyotathon. Or a December to Remember. We can’t remember which. Is there an automotive Festivus that you celebrate?

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About the author

Michael Ballaban

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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