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: BMW's Sales Chief Gets It Half Right
There's a lot in this Bloomberg article to make enthusiasts want to grab pitchforks and throw them at someone.
Here are the relevant parts:
“The sports-car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”
In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with sport-utility vehicles and their smaller crossover cousins becoming more popular. In China and emerging markets, Robertson said, hot weather, pollution and a penchant for chauffeur-driven limousines have made sports cars less popular among well-heeled clients.
The report goes on to mention that BMW hasn't given up, just that they're teaming up with Toyota to make a new platform that'll share costs.
And here's why this is actually good news for enthusiasts: The kind of sports cars they made kind of sucked. Does anyone really want an SLK? I like the Z4, but i don't love the Z4. The same goes for the TT. Trying to make a luxury car and a sports car is a tough business.
Porsche works because they build sports cars way to the enthusiast side of things with a few luxury touches.
So will the market for the kind of sports cars that the Germans built a lot of in the last decade be the mode? No. Will wealthy young people buy crossovers to attain status in many cases? Yes.
This will create, I hope, a new but smaller market for cars like the FR-S, the Miata, and whatever the Toyota Supra will be. Enthusiasts get the cars they want and wealthy urbaines get cars they want that are, in many ways, better for them. A GLA makes sense, an SLK doesn't.
Plus, BMW makes the i8. More of those please.
2nd Gear: So Far The F-150 Launch Has Gone Pretty Well
Car launches are rarely easy (ahem Jeep Cherokee), although we haven't seen as many fuckups with the F-150 as we'd expect. It just goes to show how important a project it is for Ford and how much money they've invested in getting it right.
With the first F-150s being shat forth from the production line today we'll find out soon if customers agree. It's a huge bet, with the Freep reporting that Ford closed their Dearborn assembly and replaced basically everything in the body shop to make it work.
What do you think, is Ford going to nail it? Have they just been good about hiding their fuckups?
3rd Gear: Once Again, Stop Making Public Sales Targets
Essentially the worst thing you can do as a carmaker is to announce very ambitious public sales targets. Look at Volkswagen. The people who work at Volkswagen cringe whenever you mention how many cars they were supposed to sell.
When it works, you just meet expectations, when it fails, you feel like assholes. And you can fail for all sorts of reasons: Natural disasters, recalls, politics, currency.
Thus Takanobu Ito is saying maybe that 6 million thing is wrong. This is similar to what he said yesterday about "focusing on quality" which we should have just take to mean "It ain't fucking happening."
Here's the best quote from the WSJ that sums up everything and might just be a different translation of what he said yesterday:
“I am pondering about the keyword ‘6 million vehicles,’ ” he said. “The priority is to make our customers happy through products and services,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo, where Honda unveiled a redesign of its Legend luxury sedan for the Japanese market.
4th Gear: Hyundai's HQ Keeps Getting Pricier
In what will end up as the most expensive HQ since the Spruce Goose, Hyundai is now trying to make their shareholders happier about spending literally trillions of won on some prime real estate.
This is actually a great thing for Korean investors, because corporations are finally being called out for generally being dickweasels.
Seoul-listed stocks tend to trade at discounts to shares elsewhere partly due to low dividends and investor worries about corporate governance. The government is considering taxes on large corporate cash piles to increase dividends and investment.
"Since Hyundai has now rolled up its sleeves, we expect it to get on with more shareholder returns such as dividends," Kim Yong-goo, a market analyst at Samsung Securities.
"This may be a turning point for shareholder policy at Korean companies," he said.
5th Gear: The UAW Will Win In Tennessee Eventually
Well, this was sort of inevitable.
Volkswagen and the union reached an agreement last spring, according to a letter to members of Local 42 in Chattanooga obtained by The Associated Press. The UAW said that it would cooperate with efforts to win production of a new SUV in Chattanooga, and that it would drop its National Labor Relations Board challenge of a February union vote.
In return, Volkswagen committed to recognizing the UAW, which would give it the authority to bargain on behalf of both members and non-members, according to the letter signed by Mike Cantrell and Steve Cochran, the president and vice president of Local 42. Tennessee’s right-to-work laws mean that no worker can be forced to join a union, though the UAW says more than half of eligible workers have signed up.
Which is the way it should be. If you want to join a union you should be able to. If you don't want to, you shouldn't have to.
On this day in 1978, a stuntman on the Georgia set of "The Dukes of Hazzard" launches the show's iconic automobile, a 1969 Dodge Charger named the General Lee, off a makeshift dirt ramp and over a police car. That jump, 16 feet high and 82 feet long (its landing totaled the car), made TV history. Although more than 300 different General Lees appeared in the series, which ran on CBS from 1979 until 1985, this first one was the only one to play a part in every episode: That jump over the squad car ran every week at the end of the show's opening credits.
Neutral: How Will The Sportscar Market Change?
Is the Mustang the new SLK?
Photo Credit: Getty Images