This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: And Of Course They Blame Administrative Problems
This whole Takata mess falls heavily on Honda and it seems like Honda hasn't had exactly the best record when it comes to safety, or at least in reporting their issues to NHTSA as required by law. Specifically, they underreported more than 1,700 incidents involving injury or death. Of these, at least eight involved accidents with ruptured Takata airbag inflators, including a death.
Their excuse? Per Reuters:
The Japanese automaker said in a statement that its count of underreported claims came from a third-party audit. Honda cited "various errors related to data entry" and said it used an "overly narrow interpretation" of its legal reporting requirements. It said it is taking steps to remedy these shortcomings.
"I haven't got a detailed report yet, but it seems there were a lot of administrative mistakes on the ground," Honda CEO Takanobu Ito told reporters at a corporate event in southern Japan on Tuesday.
NHTSA will probably fine Honda, but the cost of those fines max out at $35 million, which is nothing.
2nd Gear: Mazda Recalls 100,000 Mazda6s Over TPMS
Mazda hasn't made a ton of news for non-spider-related recalls lately, but the company did say today that their federally mandated tire pressure monitoring system might not work.
The company says in documents posted Tuesday by U.S. safety regulators that if the air pressure drops on all four tires at the same time, the monitoring system may not warn drivers of the problem. Low air pressure can cause a sudden tire failure.
When temperatures change your tires can all lose pressure at the same time. Although, if all of your tires drop their pressure massively and suddenly it's because you just plowed over a spike-strip.
3rd Gear: Lexus Goes High End And Fast
As far as Japanese luxury brands go, Lexus and Acura seem to have swapped places in terms of cars for enthusiasts. Infiniti remains in the middle.
Lexus continues to press this advantage, saying they won't offer a sub $30k car and letting slip that they're going to show a performance car at the Detroit Auto Show.
The growth plans for Lexus are focused on performance and high-end vehicles, including the global debut of a performance vehicle in January at the North American International Auto Show, said Jeff Bracken, general manager of Toyota's luxury brand.
Bracken would not provide further details of the performance vehicle, but did say it could be one of two vehicles to bow at the NAIAS.
4th Gear: U.S. Going To Put Tariffs On Chinese Tires
The price of shitty tires is about to go up as the U.S. moves to put tariffs on Chinese tires that the Department of Commerce says are being heavily subsidized by the Chinese government and essentially dumped on consumers.
How bad is it? Via the WSJ:
The U.S. Commerce Department issued a preliminary finding that typical Chinese-made tires for passenger cars and light trucks were unfairly subsidized and should be subject to punitive tariffs ranging from 17.7% to 81.3%, depending on the manufacturer.
A Chinese unit of U.S.-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. , Cooper Kunshan Tire Co. Ltd., would face a 12.5% duty on tire shipments into the U.S. if the preliminary decision is confirmed next year.
The case, initiated by the union that represents tire workers, was widely anticipated and warehouses have reportedly been filling up with Chinese tires.
5th Gear: Mexico And The Wage Growth Problem
There's a great read from Bloomberg today that puts a face to the wage growth issues in the export-heavy nations that we've outsourced much of our production to.
Productivity has risen twice as fast as wages since 2005 in Mexico, Bank of America Corp. calculates, helping the country attract investment and become the second-largest auto supplier to the U.S. and the world’s biggest flat-screen TV exporter. The flip side is there’s not much left over for workers, capping retail sales and keeping economic growth in the past 10 years at less than half the pace of regional peers such as Chile, Peru and Argentina.
While Mexican exports have risen an average 7.1 percent a year since 2001 on the competitiveness of local industry, domestic retail sales gained 2 percent through the end of last year. That compares with 5 percent in Chile, 5.1 percent in Brazil and 5.6 percent in Colombia.
Say what you will about unionization in America, but fair wages mean a larger middle class mean a better society for everyone. And Mexico isn't alone. While GDP is up in the U.S., we've seen it take a lot longer to see that wealth flow down, although there are a few promising signs.
Reverse: I Would Have Live-Tweeted It
After a howling wind- and rainstorm on Thanksgiving Day, Washington state's historic floating Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge breaks apart and sinks to the bottom of Lake Washington, between Seattle and its suburbs to the east. Because the bridge's disintegration happened relatively slowly, news crews were able to capture the whole thing on camera, broadcasting it to a rapt audience across western Washington. "It looked like a big old battleship that had been hit by enemy fire and was sinking into the briny deep," said one observer. (He added: "It was awesome.")
Neutral: What Would Surprise You? Honda. GM. Chrysler. Takata. Would anything surprise you at this point?
Photo Credit: AP Images