General Motors wants to be in the electric-pickup mix by fall of 2021, Carlos Ghosn gets to speak with his wife after a full seven months, and a whole lot of Fiat Chrysler news, because this is apparently FCA Friday. All of this and more in The Morning Shift for Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
1st Gear: GM Will Be In The Electric-Pickup Mix, In A Couple Of Years
Earlier this year, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the company sees a future where it’s ahead in both truck production and electrification of its lineup. Those two will obviously collide at some point, and she said the company “intend[s] to create an all-electric future that includes a complete range of EVs, including full-size pickups.”
But that was about all Barra said on the topic, adding that GM would have more details on an electric pickup “when competitively appropriate.” That time is apparently now, around the same time Tesla unveiled its new, very weird-looking electric Cybertruck.
Reuters reports that Thursday, the same day Tesla brought out the Cybertruck, Barra said GM’s planned electric pickup truck will go on sale in the fall of 2021. Conveniently, production of the Cybertruck is claimed to begin in late 2021, even though we’ve already seen it and its apparent stats.
As for the GM truck, Reuters has about all we know:
“General Motors understands truck buyers and ... people who are new coming into the truck market,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said at an investor conference in New York on Thursday. “It will be a very capable truck, I’m pretty excited about it.”
The No. 1 U.S. automaker has so far given few details on its planned line of electric pickup trucks.
Reuters reported last month that GM plans to build a new family of premium electric pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant beginning in late 2021, possibly reviving the imposing Hummer brand on some of them.
The future may be electric, but that doesn’t mean we’re leaving huge, luxury pickups in the past.
2nd Gear: Fiat Chrysler Calls GM Lawsuit Over Its Alleged Union Bribery ‘Meritless’
General Motors is going after Fiat Chrysler in a lawsuit over alleged bribery and corruption during bargaining with the United Auto Workers union, we learned Wednesday. GM alleges that during negotiations for the union contract in both 2011 and 2015, the corruption allowed FCA to win things like lower labor costs, more temporary workers at lower wages, and operating processes advantageous to the company—all things that GM alleges gave FCA an edge.
GM’s seeking financial damages but didn’t put a number on it.
But FCA isn’t too worried, at least outwardly. Reuters reports that FCA said the GM lawsuit was “meritless” and seemed to be an attempt to interfere with its planned $50-billion PSA merger.
“The GM lawsuit will be dealt with in appropriate places, but as we’ve said already it is absolutely groundless and so it does not worry us,” FCA Chairman John Elkann told reporters at a strategy briefing for Exor, the holding company of the Agnelli family which is FCA’s largest shareholder.
[...] JP Morgan auto analyst Ryan Brinkman said in a research note that GM could seek at least $6 billion in damages, but added a trial could be years away. He also noted that if GM’s allegations were vindicated, Ford Motor Co could have a claim. Ford declined to comment.
For GM’s part, Reuters reports that CEO Mary Barra reiterated something she’s said before: That when given “a level playing field,” GM will win.
“And so when we saw facts indicated that was not the case, we felt it was in the best interest of all of our stakeholders in the company,” the story quoted Barra as saying.
3rd Gear: FCA Thinks The Peugeot Deal Will Be Finalized By The End Of The Year
Speaking of FCA and PSA, the maker of Peugeot, Reuters also reports that FCA chairman John Elkann said this week that he thinks the merger between the two will be finalized by the end of the year. Contrary to popular belief, it is almost the end of the year already.
From the story:
“Judging from how both the FCA and PSA teams are working, I’m confident in saying that a binding memorandum will be signed by the end of the year,” he told reporters in Turin.
Reuters wrote in another story that PSA declined to comment about the lawsuit from GM or whether it would have an impact on the merger discussions.
If you need a refresher on what’s going on with FCA and PSA, Reuters has a rather quick rundown:
FCA and PSA announced plans last month to combine forces to better tackle the cost of new technologies such as electric and self-driving vehicles as well as a downturn in auto markets.
The merger would create a group with 8.7 million in annual vehicle sales, overtaking GM and putting it fourth globally behind Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), Toyota Motor Corp and the Renault-Nissan alliance.
4th Gear: FCA Recalls More Than 500,000 SUVs In The U.S.
This is the week of big recalls, evidently, with news of Nissan recalling 394,025 cars and General Motors recalling 556,399 trucks. But we’re not stopping there, because Fiat Chrysler is up next. The company said in a statement Thursday that it’s recalling 528,594 SUVs in the United States “to help ensure the integrity of an electrical connection.”
The statement said that FCA began an investigation into certain Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee models after receiving dealer feedback, and found that “silicon deposits on the contact points of certain fuel pump relays may interrupt electrical current and prevent engine start-up and/or contribute to stall.” The company isn’t aware of any related crashes or injuries, it said.
The details, via the statement:
Affected are certain 2011-13 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. Relays in the subject vehicles may have been installed in response to a previous recall.
Affected customers will be advised when they may schedule service, which will be provided free of charge. Those with questions or concerns may call 1-800-853-1403.
Additional vehicles will be subject to recall in Canada (est. 34,764), Mexico (est. 18,152) and certain markets outside North America (est. 116,511).
As always, this is a good reminder to check your recalls and get them done.
5th Gear: Ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn Allowed To Speak To Wife After Seven Months
It’s been just over a year since former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested over allegations of financial misconduct, and nearing that long since he’s gotten to speak to wife Carole Ghosn. Automotive News reports that seven months after a Japanese court banned contact between the two, they were able to speak on Friday. They haven’t seen each other since April, the story said.
Here’s the whole situation, from Automotive News:
Ghosn spoke with his wife Carole for about an hour around midday by video conference from Ghosn’s attorney’s office, one of his defense team lawyers confirmed.
The Tokyo District Court approved the brief one-off call a day earlier, after rejecting repeated petitions by Ghosn to do so over the months. The court had prohibited contact as part of the strict bail conditions set when Ghosn was released from jail a second time in late April.
Prosecutors had argued that allowing Ghosn direct contact ran the risk the two would conspire to tamper with evidence. Ghosn’s team countered that his wife has no direct involvement in his case and that the restriction is merely a penalty designed to apply psychological pressure.
Automotive News reports that one of Ghosn’s lawyers said the decision to let them talk was “valid only for this on time,” and that they’re “not sure if the court will grant another chance, going forward.”
Reverse: Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Cup Series Title After Missing 11 Races
After missing nearly a third of the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series season due to a broken leg in an Xfinity Series crash right before the Daytona 500, Kyle Busch came back to win his first-ever Cup Series championship on Nov. 22, 2015.
Neutral: Have You Checked Your Recalls Lately?
Seriously, do it. Right here. It doesn’t take long.