Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Gas Prices Up :(
Is the cheap gas party over? After almost nine months with some of the lowest gasoline prices we’ve seen in a decade, the price of regular gasoline has jumped up 22 cents in three weeks, NBC News reports. The average national gas price is up 35 cents since April 10.
Rises in crude oil prices over the three-week period were not driven by changes in oil supplies, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the survey, but rather were caused by a recent weakening of the dollar against key foreign currencies.
[...] The price increase for the nation would have been substantially smaller if not for significant hikes in California, the state with the highest gasoline consumption, and the rest of the West Coast, Lundberg said.
Way to suck, California. The good news is that gas is still 93 cents cheaper on average than they were a year ago and likely to stay low-ish going into summer.
2nd Gear: Volvo Is Doing The BMW And Mercedes Thing
Volvo is building a South Carolina plant that aims to build 100,000 vehicles a year. Currently they sell 56,000 vehicles a year in the United States. Is the plant ambitious? Absolutely, and that’s the point, according to Automotive News. And it’s worked before for ze Germans.
“We have reinvented ourselves,” declares Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, “and we believe it now makes sense to go on the attack again in the United States.”
Volvo’s comeback plan might sound like a stretch to industry skeptics. But building an oversized U.S. factory in anticipation of future sales growth — as well as exports — is a strategy that worked brilliantly for BMW and Mercedes-Benz two decades ago. Both European luxury competitors transformed themselves from low-volume importers to new levels by investing in U.S. manufacturing in the 1990s.
3rd Gear: BMW’s New CEO Is A Cipher
What do we know about BMW’s new incoming CEO, Harald Krueger? Besides the fact that’s a boyishly-handsome consensus builder, and popular at the company, basically nothing.
That’s the way BMW likes it, Automotive News says. The company has no patience for the egos and “survival-of-the-fittest” drama that pervades the Volkswagen Group. They want their executives to be like a de-badged M5, quiet but effective.
Sources close to the supervisory board say that wasn’t coincidental. Since Krueger won the top job in December, BMW has shielded him as much as possible from the limelight. Outside of spending time with his family, his hobbies are largely unknown. One of Germany’s leading newspapers even incorrectly reported which German soccer club he supports — no small screw-up.
Influential business publication Manager Magazin dubbed him the “master of the noiseless ascent.” After stints in Germany, the U.S. and U.K., Krueger joined BMW’s management board in 2008 where he was first responsible for personnel, and later for the Mini brand as well as production.
The man’s a ghost. If you see Harald Krueger coming, it’s already too late.
4th Gear: Suppliers Love Toyota And Honda The Best
Which carmakers do the automotive suppliers love working with best? Honda and Toyota, according to a new survey that focuses on that sort of thing. The ones they don’t like dealing with as much are General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Nissan. From The Detroit Free Press:
He also said Toyota and Honda traditionally stand out from their competitors because their suppliers see them as pursuing fair and equitable financial practices, consistently honor contracts, and value and protect suppliers’ intellectual property.
Not surprising. In particular, GM is known for historically poor relationships with suppliers, something they’ve been trying to fix for years.
5th Gear: CAMARO!
Speaking of GM, they had a major debut at Belle Isle this weekend: the all-new 2016 Camaro. It’s 200 pounds lighter, full of hi-po tech you find on the Stingray and V-series Cadillacs, and has a new turbo engine for the first time ever. A lot of the reviews and news in the car world you’ll see today is 2016 Camaro-related, so here’s all the relevant details.
Our take on the car, which was cut short by an unfortunate incident, is coming later today.
Reverse: Lotus Debuts In Formula One
In Monaco, France, on this day in 1958, Team Lotus makes its Formula One debut in the Monaco Grand Prix, the opening event of the year’s European racing season. Over the next four decades, Team Lotus will go on to become one of the most successful teams in Formula One history.
Neutral: Can Volvo Pull A BMW/Mercedes Move In The U.S.?
They’re doing what worked with the original M-Class and X5 back in the 1990s. Will the third time be the charm for Volvo’s big comeback?
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