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: Good Times Are Here Again For The Small(ish) Pickup
When I say that GM workers are “losing their lunch” over the Chevy Colorado, I don’t mean, like, they’re upchucking all over the new trucks as soon as they leave the factory. I mean they’re literally losing their lunch break, in order to have just a few more minutes to crank out the hot-selling truck, along with its GMC Canyon sibling.
Via the Automotive News:
The Wentzville, Mo., factory recently cut an unpaid lunch break, part of a broader schedule reshuffling that eliminated the six-minute production lulls between shifts. The result: An extra 18 minutes of production in a three-shift day, which should translate into more than 3,500 more trucks a year.
The factory’s already added a third shift, on top of 1,000 extra workers that mostly work weekends. But let’s hope everyone can eat a sandwich on the go.
2nd Gear: Ports In Mexico May Force A Bottleneck
Ever since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement during the Clinton administration, automakers have been building factories like crazy in Mexico. We can argue until the cows come home about “free trade” versus “fair trade,” but at this point, Mexican ports are starting to have a hard time keeping up with all the shipping demands because of all the extra exports. The port of Veracruz, in particular, is on a collision course with some serious bottlenecks in the next five years, and is nearing capacity.
What it means for you is that come 2020, you might have to wait quite a bit for your Nissan. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
3rd Gear: GM’s Ignition Fiasco Might Be Over Sooner Rather Than Later
At least as far as the criminal justice aspect is concerned. The Detroit News reports that the investigation into the automaker’s faulty ignition switches by the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan could be wrapped up by the end of the summer, and a settlement with victims could arrive even earlier than that.
GM officials told the News that the settlement could be even higher than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid out in its sudden-acceleration case, though no one knows a precise dollar figure just yet. And even though it won’t be responsible for civil suits filed by individuals, the Justice Department will still want its due.
4th Gear: Get Ready For Your First Chinese Volvo
Little old Volvo is actually going to be the first automaker in the world to start exporting its cars in the US, and the first shipment went out last week. Partially, that’s due to Volvo’s Chinese ownership, but really, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have Chinese-built cars. As Máté pointed out back in January, plenty of high-tech, great products are already built there. And as Máté also pointed out in January, the first Chinese Volvo will be a long-wheelbase S60, called the Volvo S60 Inscription.
Get ready for that first Chinese Volvo, and get ready for supreme back-seat Swedish comfort.
5th Gear: Audi Is All About Electronics
Audi actually believes that gizmos and do-dads will be just as important to buyers in the future as horsepower, according to a speech by Luca de Meo, the guy in charge of sales at Audi, at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai. And while that may sounds nuts on the face of it, I actually completely understand the logic, at least for most of the Audi range. Alright, most RS5 buyers are still going to care a lot about horsepower to the exclusion of everything else, but most Audi buyers don’t buy RS5s. They buy A3s, and very few people are buying A3s to win races.
They want the most Audi they can get for the money. And “the most Audi” often means plenty of gizmos and do-dads.
GM workers now need some sort of lunch they can eat on-the-go. What would you suggest for them? Ice cold Hot Pocket? 15 Power Bars at once? Or maybe just a funnel filled with Soylent? Let us know in the comments below.