Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
It’s Friday. Life is good. You should do something fun this weekend. Drive a car! Drive a truck! Drive some other vehicle! Make love to someone! See a movie! Go to the beach! Or sit quietly at your home, with some hot herbal tea and a good book! These are all good options.
1st Gear: Google Ponders Investing $1 Billion In Lyft
This is especially interesting given that Google and Uber are currently locked in a bitter lawsuit over whether an engineer at the former worked to steal self-driving technology and hand it off in a nicely wrapped bow to Uber. That case heads to trial next month.
So this could be seen as both a strategic move in the ride-hailing game by Google, and a way to further hobble a company that they’re currently at legal war with.
An investment of about $1 billion in Lyft may come from Google or CapitalG, Alphabet’s private-equity arm, said some of the [people familiar with the matter], who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. A deal may not come together. Alphabet and Lyft declined to comment.
While Lyft has recently focused on controlling spending, the cash would allow the San Francisco-based startup to pursue more aggressive growth with subsidies for drivers, discounts for riders and marketing. Lyft kicked off a major television campaign this month that stars Jeff Bridges.
With an extra $1 billion, Lyft would be able to ensure its independence for the near future, something co-founder John Zimmer has said is a priority. But some investors have suggested Alphabet would be a natural home for the ride-hailing startup. Lyft held informal talks with Alphabet and other potential acquirers last year but didn’t pursue a sale.
Lyft has gained market share this year as Uber has bent under a series of self-inflicted scandals. Uber faces at least three U.S. probes and several high-profile lawsuits.
“Self-inflicted scandals,” indeed.
2nd Gear: BMW Might Be Done With Car Keys
I love car keys; they represent so much possibility all in a small package. A BMW board member said in Frankfurt that the company might soon be done with them, though, according to Reuters. This is thanks to smartphones.
What would we use instead of keys? Mobile phone apps.
“Honestly, how many people really need it,” Robertson said in an interview at the Frankfurt car show, explaining that customers no longer had to put the key in the ignition to make the car start.
“They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?,” Robertson said, adding that the company was looking at getting rid of keys altogether.
“We are looking at whether it is feasible, and whether we can do it. Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future, remains to be seen,” Robertson said.
“Honestly, how many people really need it,” is a good sentence that could be applied to many things.
3rd Gear: Mazda Says All Of Their Models Will Be Electrified By 2030, Or Something
Mazda, which has said some sensible things about the true utility of electric cars (tl;dr they are not as environmentally friendly as they are purported to be), is planning to offer electrified versions of all of its cars by the early 2030s, according to Reuters. Mazda sells a single hybrid model at the moment.
From Reuters (the details, for now, are pretty light):
The Japanese automaker plans to use electric motors in all of its models by that time, Kyodo News reported, without citing sources. A Mazda spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.
The company has said it will introduce electric powertrain technologies including electronic vehicles (EVs) from 2019.
To catch up with other larger automakers including Nissan Motor Co, which already market electric cars, Mazda has partnered with Toyota Motor Corp to develop technology.
Meanwhile, it has also developed an ultra-efficient petrol engine, which can be used in hybrids, and plans to incorporate that into its cars from 2019.
This is interesting because Mazda lately has spent a lot of time and money working to make the gasoline engine as efficient as it can possibly be, maybe even extending the life of internal combustion past what a lot of competitors expect.
But even Mazda must recognize electrification is the future, especially with cities in Europe and China mulling bans on internal combustion engines entirely.
4th Gear: Genesis’ Sedan Attack Plan
We really like the new Genesis G70, which is aimed at being a competitor to the BMW 3 Series and others. But that’s a tougher game than ever, thanks to a super crowded marketplace of “compact” sport sedans and the massive shift to crossovers and SUVs. Here’s what the G70 is up against, from Automotive News:
The U.S. luxury compact car segment is one of the industry’s most crowded — the Jaguar XE is the latest entry — and hotly contested: It is dominated by the Mercedes C class, BMW 3 series, Infiniti Q50 and Audi A4. The segment generated annual sales of just over 500,000 units as recently as 2014 and 2015 but has shrunk 9.2 percent this year after a 14 percent decline in 2016.
Still, the G70 is expected to deliver more volume for a nascent luxury brand that has become a bright spot for the otherwise struggling Hyundai Group in the U.S. While U.S. sales have slipped 15 percent at Hyundai and 8.4 percent at Kia, through August, Genesis has racked up deliveries of 13,366 behind just two car models — the G80 and the G90 — in a market that has shifted decidedly to crossovers and SUVs.
Good luck, Genesis.
5th Gear: Daimler Has Delivered Some New Electric Trucks!
The trucks are coming to UPS, which will get three (3) of them, in addition to eight more being delivered to some New York-based non-profit organizations, according to Reuters. The trucks are just a handful of the 500 being produced. The number is small, for now, while Daimler waits for technology improvements. (Among other things, the trucks’ range is just 62 miles.)
“The game has started,” Daimler Trucks Asia chief Mark Llistosella told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. The Fuso eCanter is a relatively small urban delivery truck, but Llistosella said larger, Class 7 electric trucks are coming and hinted that Daimler will show a larger electric truck at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.
Daimler is leasing the trucks to UPS, Llistosella said, because within about two years “we know there will be a next level of technology” that will produce batteries with longer range, lower cost and lower weight.
Battery costs that are currently about $180 to $200 a kilowatt-hour could drop to about $100 a kilowatt-hour, Llistosella said. “This is the main lever” to move electric commercial trucks to higher sales volumes, he said.
Reverse: Forty-Eight Years Ago, The Italian Job Premiered In Sweden
I have never seen this movie even though I consider myself somewhat of a “film buff”! Everyone has gaps. Sorry.
The film starred Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, the leader of a gang of goodhearted thieves determined to steal a 4-million-pound shipment of gold on its way from China to a bank in Turin, Italy. The film also featured three Mini Coopers–a red one, a blue one, and a white one–as getaway cars for the pilfered gold. The popular British-made “microcars” get Croker’s gang out of Turin in a spectacular chase through the city, across crowded shopping arcades and plazas, over rooftops, around a Fiat factory and even down the steps of a church during a wedding.
I will see this movie.
Neutral: Can The G70 Succeed?
Or is the market just too crowded and too SUV-centric for it to make a real dent?