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: Watch Your Back Ito
Since taking over in 2009, former NSX engineer Takanobu Ito has tried to invigorate Honda by changing how they do business and investing more in technology. Part of that reform has been to streamline suppliers and that hasn't gone over so well according to Reuters:
"Honda's group suppliers were thrown into disarray by Ito's actions. The way things are going, they're soon all going to become subcontractors with no technologies of their own," said one former Honda chief.
But Ito, a former super-car engineer, is determined to see his reforms through, and told his critics as much at a recent meeting with some former Honda chiefs, said two of the knowledgeable individuals. None of the sources wanted to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
"Since the start of this year, we've been operating on the assumption that Ito will continue as chief executive," said a Honda divisional head, adding Ito has a "70 percent" chance of keeping his job.
"Ito is determined to keep going as CEO," said another individual, who was a senior Honda executive in the 1980s. "We're generally okay with that."
As the article points out, in Japan there's a big culture of old CEOs hanging around and offering their advice. I'd throw in another tradition, and that's the tradition of Honda being the un-Toyota and not giving a fuck and trying to out-dream their competition. What happened to that?
I haven't seen a ton out of Honda in the U.S. that's gotten my shaft to crank lately, but the new Type R looks interesting and the Acura NSX is at least finally coming to market. Also, McLaren Honda anyone? I say give Ito a chance.
2nd Gear: Chinese TV Company Wants To Build An EV?
Building cars ain't easy, but for some reason every billionaire thinks he or she can do it. Thus, Beijing's Leshi Internet Information & Technology Co. is ready to hire more people and invest its yuan in an electric car. For America.
Founded by billionaire Chairman Jia Yueting, Leshi is the latest technology company to announce ambitions to “disrupt” the auto industry by building a smarter, more Web-connected car. Leshi goes further by targeting something that more established Chinese automakers including BYD Co. and Great Wall Motor Co. have so far failed at: selling to U.S. consumers.
“I truly believe for every new thing, the first time the people look at us, just like Mr. Jia said, first they’ll ignore you, then they’ll laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” said Lu, who previously worked at Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti. “We have a chance to disrupt the traditional car industry by using our own strengths, including design, manufacturing and distribution.”
Ok, if by "just like Mr. Jia said" you mean "just like Ghandi said." That's a Ghandi quote, not something a Chinese TV billionaire made up. FYI.
3rd Gear: Ford Up 9.8% In Europe
Ford's January sales are in and, yeah, not bad Ford. Even though the continent continues to present some difficulties, sales were up 9.8% to a total of 88,7000 vehicles for the month.
That compares favorably in growth to budget brands like Skoda and Dacia, bringing their total market share to 7.7%.
According to The Detroit News, Europe is like the rest of the world and they like compact crossovers like the Ford Kuga and EcoSport. BTW, Ford should bring the EcoSport here.
4th Gear: Where There's Money There's Activist Investors
With the car market back up again we're seeing activist investors suddenly getting up in the Big 2.5's business again. Sometimes, this is a good thing, as investors can see what slow-witted, lumbering corporations can't.
Aaaaand then there's dudes just trying to get money.
"Activist shareholders can be detrimental because they are looking to extract cash and immediate shareholder value from an industry that operates on lengthy cycles and that needs to be prepared when cycles unexpectedly get bad," said Richard Hilgert, an automotive analyst for Morningstar in Chicago. "If things heat up with ISIS, or in Ukraine, or if we have some sort of shock to the economy, sales volume in this industry can turn on a dime."
5th Gear: We're Getting A New Mail Truck
The existing U.S.P.S. Long Life Vehicles are nearing the end of their long lives and aren't particularly up to the task of delivering a million Soap.com boxes full of tampons and coffee filters.
As Gabe Nelson reports, there's an RFP out for a replacement.
he agency has scheduled a meeting with potential bidders next week in Washington. It says it will pick vendors this summer to build prototypes, which will undergo tests in 2016 before a contract is awarded in early 2017.
It could be one of the largest fleet purchases ever. According to specifications released to potential bidders Jan. 20, the Postal Service would buy 180,000 vehicles at $25,000 to $35,000 apiece, valuing the contract at $4.5 billion to $6.3 billion.
“I don’t think there is any area of the Postal Service where investment is more needed,” said Brian Renfroe, director of city delivery at the National Association of Letter Carriers union.
Whoa, that's awesome.
Reverse: The First Sign Of The Carpocalypse
On this day in 2008, in an attempt to cut costs, struggling auto giant General Motors (GM) offers buyouts to all 74,000 of its hourly employees in the U.S. represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The move came after GM lost $38.7 billion in 2007, which at the time was the largest loss ever experienced by any car maker. (Two weeks later, on February 26, the loss was adjusted by $4.6 billion, to $43.3 billion.)
Neutral: What Is Your Opinion Of Honda? Stalwart make of high value cars? Sell outs? What's up?
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