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.
1st Gear: Building The Tesla-Slayer
At the forefront of the Volkswagen Group’s planned electric revolution will be Audi and Porsche, and the latter just raised the number of new jobs it will need at a revamped Zuffenhausen plant to build its first electric performance car. The automaker now needs 1,400 new workers, up from 1,000. Via Reuters:
More than 1,200 of the new positions will be created at the Volkwagen-owned brand’s base in Zuffenhausen where Porsche is building a new paint shop and assembly line for the battery-powered Mission E due to be built by the end of the decade.
As long as it looks just like the stunning Mission E concept, I don’t care how many people it takes to build it.
2nd Gear: Mazda Still Wants A Diesel In America, Somehow
Thanks to Volkswagen, the future of diesel on passenger cars in America looks extremely bleak, from both a regulatory and a public perception standpoint. But! Mazda, the scrappy Japanese automaker, is not giving up. For some reason. Here’s Automotive News:
Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Masamichi Kogai said Mazda still plans an American diesel debut — and even has an internal timeline for the launch. But he is not saying when.
“We are not giving up,” Kogai said of the U.S. diesel ambition during the July 14 unveiling here of the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback midcycle refresh. “We have a timeline.”
Kogai, 61, declined to give specifics about the timing but said he wants the diesel drivetrain introduced stateside while he’s still at the helm.
“...while he’s still at the helm.” This may be one of those situations where your boss asks you to do something that’s not a great idea, and so you just quietly kind of don’t and hope he forgets about it, and when he asks you what’s going on with that you say “Oh, still working on that!” and just pray it all kind of works itself out eventually.
3rd Gear: Lack Of SUVs Hurts Hyundai Again
Sure, Hyundai in the U.S. has the Tucson and Santa Fe, but that crossover lineup isn’t nearly as extensive as some rivals. And those cars are what Americans are buying right now. So Hyundai continued to feel the sting, reports Reuters (via Automotive News:)
Hyundai Motor posted its 10th straight profit drop in its second quarter as it soaked up stiff competition and shrinking demand for its sedans in the U.S. and in its South Korean home market.
April-June net income slipped 2.6 percent to 1.66 trillion won ($1.46 billion) from a year ago, the automaker said today.
Hyundai had bet on newer versions of its sedans such as the Elantra and the Sonata to help it reverse its slowdown. But low oil prices have prompted consumers in the U.S. — the company’s second-biggest market after China — to switch to SUVs and pickups, hitting Hyundai harder than rivals because of its heavier reliance on sedan sales.
4th Gear: Or You Could Just Keep Driving Your Volkswagen
Bloomberg has an update on the ongoing Volkswagen settlement, pointing out “it may be years before 482,000 polluting vehicles are either taken off U.S. roads or repaired.” And there’s a third option, too:
The San Francisco federal judge who demanded in February that Volkswagen get the cars off the road one way or another will turn his attention Tuesday to the carmaker’s plans to buy back the cars for as much as $10 billion. While fixing the cars might cost far less, the company so far hasn’t been able to devise a plan that passes muster with U.S. regulators.
Owners are under no obligation to accept the buyback offer for the value of the cars before Volkswagen’s test-rigging scheme was disclosed, plus $5,100 to $9,852 in additional compensation. If the carmaker fails to win the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval for fixes before June 30, 2019, there’s nothing to stop owners from driving the pollutant-spewing cars as long as they don’t run afoul of regulations set by individual states.
I’d take the buyback, but that’s just me.
5th Gear: European VW Owners Are Screwed
Once again in Europe, owners and regulators are complaining about the lack of a sweet deal—or any deal—that diesel drivers are getting. Americans get a buyback offer and cash. In Europe? Nothing. Via Politico:
Lawmakers in Brussels and other European capitals are more and more incensed over how differently Volkswagen is treating American and European consumers who purchased cars equipped with devices intended to cheat on emissions tests.
In June, the German carmaker set aside some $10 billion to fix or buy back cars in the United States that were affected by its efforts to cheat on emissions, and further compensate their owners with up to $10,000 per vehicle.
In Europe, the automaker’s message to the ruling classes and car owners could not be more different: Forget about it.
“For the same car, in the U.S., you get a compensation, while in Europe you get an apology,” said Maroš Šefčovič, a Commission vice president overseeing energy and climate policy. “I don’t think it is fair.”
Reverse: Death At CART
Neutral: Can Mazda Make Diesels Work?
Or should the tiny but impressive automaker find another path?