GM Sells Controversial Shuttered Ohio Plant To EV Truck Startup

The Morning ShiftAll your daily car news in one convenient place. Isn't your time more important?

General Motors sells controversial Chevy Cruze plant to EV truck startup Workhorse, PSA Group isn’t planning on killing any Fiat Chrysler brands, that Boeing model that crashed twice is still having issues and a ton more in The Morning Shift for Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.

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1st Gear: It’s Lordstown Motors Now

Even the month-like United Auto Workers strike against GM couldn’t save the automaker’s shuttered Lordstown, Ohio plant, which used to make the Chevrolet Cruze but has since been “unallocated.” One solution that emerged this summer was a sale of the plant to Workhorse, an EV startup most hadn’t heard of.

Now the deal is settled, from Bloomberg:

Lordstown Motors Corp., the electric-truck startup formed specifically to save a shuttered Ohio car factory, has acquired the highly politicized plant from General Motors.

The acquisition that the two companies plan to announce Thursday ends an era that began when GM opened the complex in 1966. The factory’s fate was largely sealed when the UAW was unable to convince GM to keep it in the fold as part of a new labor contact ratified late last month.

[...]

Trump was so eager to endorse GM’s discussions to sell the Lordstown plant that he preempted the announcement of the talks in May by the largest U.S. automaker and Workhorse, which totaled just $6,000 of revenue during its latest quarter.

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How many cars can you make with $6,000? Help me budget this, my community is dying. Also, does this look like a real interior to you?

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The Ohio plant has been a political flashpoint, with President Donald Trump tweeting about his desire to keep it open as part of his promises to bring manufacturing jobs back to America. But even as Workhorse aims to secure a contract to build the next U.S. Postal Service truck, its future is far from certain, and it’s highly unlikely to be an employer at the scale of the GM plant.

Steve Burns, former head of Workhorse and now CEO of the newly formed “Lordstown Motors” named in the sale, told Auto News, “We are going to be fundraising for a while. We have to stand up an auto company.”

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Yeah, it sounds like it.

2nd Gear: Chrysler Lives, For Now

The newly sealed deal between Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA will shockingly not result in the slaughtering of a bunch of under-performing car brands, like Chrysler and Alfa Romeo, according to PSA CEO Carlos Tavares via Automotive News:

Industry watchers have questioned whether PSA-FCA will need all the brands, especially since some of Fiat Chrysler’s brands need heavy investments to renew their lineups and also because of the risks of brands competing against each other for sales.

“It is part of the challenge to properly manage these brands to cover the market,” Tavares told BFM Business on Friday.

“I see that all these brands, without exception, have one thing in common: they have a fabulous history,” Tavares said. “We love the history of car brands, it gives us a foundation on which we can project ourselves into the future. So today, I don’t see any need, if this deal is concluded, to remove brands because they all have their history and they all have their strengths.”

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Confusingly, Tavares also mentioned that the new merger would have fewer brands than Volkswagen Group, which has 10, but all of the brands involved in the FCA-PSA merger total to 13. Maybe there will be some cuts somewhere after all, as I think this guy knows how to do math. What the hell is Lancia doing, anyway?

3rd Gear: The Jet That Keeps On Crashing

After two fatal crashes involving a sudden dive on Boeing 737 Max aircraft, the company thought it may have had the issue sorted back in June. And then the plane almost crashed in simulations again, according to Bloomberg:

Boeing Co. engineers were nearly done redesigning software on the grounded 737 Max in June when some pilots hopped into a simulator to test a few things. It didn’t go well.

A simulated computer glitch caused it to to dive aggressively in a way that resembled the problem that had caused deadly crashes off Indonesia and in Ethiopia months earlier.

That led to an extensive redesign of the plane’s flight computers that has dragged on for months and repeatedly pushed back the date of its return to service, according to people briefed on the work. The company — which initially expressed confidence it could complete its application to recertify the plane with the Federal Aviation Administration within months — now says it hopes to do that before the end of the year.

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An incomplete audit forced regulators to fully delay certifying the plane for flight again. Maybe you just gotta throw the whole plane out, Boeing.

4th Gear: In The Future, Every Car Is The Same

After making deals with Ford to share its electric vehicle platform among two of the world’s biggest automakers, Volkswagen is now considering the same deals for its autonomous vehicle technology, according to Bloomberg:

Volkswagen AG is open to sharing future autonomous-vehicle systems with other manufacturers as it races to catch up with the likes of Waymo LLC in cost-intensive technologies that could transform the way people and goods move, according to an executive at the German automaker.

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“We do have to catch up in some fields but we’re not massively far behind here, and as VW group we can really generate very large economies of scale,” Hitzinger told Bloomberg on the sidelines of a press briefing in Hamburg. “And this will be a scale game,” he said.

VW’s efforts to develop robotic cars date back more than a decade to tests hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, in the U.S. But the industrial giant’s unwieldy corporate structure — with operations scattered across 12 automotive brands and 122 factories worldwide — led to fragmented development that allowed quicker rivals to take the lead.

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The good thing about every car in the future riding on the same electric, autonomous platform, is that all of my personalized settings for watching 2008's Hot Fuzz and listening to the Minecraft soundtrack will port over to any car I’m in.

5th Gear: EU Cars Don’t Seem Tariffied

After settling new deals over threatened automotive tariffs with Japan and South Korea, the Trump administration hasn’t managed to figure out a deal with the European Union as quickly. But the EU doesn’t seem too worried, at least not yet. From Automotive News:

Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker does not believe President Donald Trump will impose tariffs on imported European cars next week, he told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

“Trump is going to make some criticism, but there won’t be any auto tariffs,” Juncker told the Sueddeutsche in pre-released extracts of an interview to run in its Friday edition. “He won’t do it. ... You are speaking to a fully informed man.”

The U.S. Commerce Department declined to comment.

Tariffs on the EU were already delayed six months ago, and they seem confident it will all be delayed again.

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Automakers have tried to warn the two governments that any U.S. tariffs imposed on auto parts and cars would not be great, including BMW claiming its South Carolina plant would be in jeopardy of cuts. A trade group representing General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also opposed the tariff proposal, according to Automotive News.

Reverse: Red-Hot Rotunda

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Neutral: You Get A Brand, You Get A Brand! Everybody Gets A Brand!!

Between PSA and FCA, who deserves to go and who deserves to stay? I’m interested to learn what there is to be done successfully with Chrysler.

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A proper Lincoln rival, maybe?

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