Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: China No Longer An Easy Sale
China has been an area of easy expansion for automakers for the past decade. It seemed like all an automaker had to do was just sell a car in China and they’re numbers would go through the roof. It was a nice cushion.
The aggressive growth of the Chinese car market seems to be coming to a close as the country becomes saturated with cars and as buyers realize that they don’t just have to run out and buy the first car that they see.
Projections were for the car market to grow seven percent this year in China, which is still big, but now it looks like they’re going to fall short of those predictions. Automakers like BMW and Honda are cutting production and repricing their cars accordingly to go along with the sales slowdown that has been deemed a “new normal.”
2nd Gear: Do Trademarks Exist Anymore?
The Landwind X7, or, as you know it, a Range Rover Evoque but worse, is a pretty blatant knockoff of the Land Rover model. Land Rover has been trying to get the car taken off the market for copyright infringement.
But there’s a problem: They can’t do anything.
Speaking at the Shanghai Auto Show, JLR CEO Ralf Speth said that “there are no laws to protect us. We have to take it as it is.” In Europe, hey do have protection against these sorts of issues, but in China it’s nearly impossible to get it taken care of.
That’s depressing, and it also opens up the market for even more Chinese knockoffs, which I find delightful in a kind of awful way.
3rd Gear: GM Ignition Deaths Up To 87
Every few days, it seems that the approved death claims from the GM ignition switch recall climb incrementally. Now we’re at 87, with an additional 71 death claims still under review.
It’s the sort of thing where GM doesn’t want to come out and say that they approved all of them at once, because that’d be a hell of a jump. 1,335 claims have been deemed ineligible, and that includes 106 death claims
There are a total of 1,085 claims still under review.
4th Gear: VW Wants To Smooth Things Over
The little bruhaha that erupted within VW last week has simmered down a bit, but things still seem awkward. Kind of like the day after a fight with your girlfriend.
VW’s supervisory board is planing to meet before a May 5th meeting to figure out a working relationship between Winterkorn and Piech. It’s kind of sad that they have to do this since Winterkorn was once Piech’s handpicked successor. Now they’re divorced parents caring for a child.
A child that makes a shit ton of cars.
5th Gear: More From China
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that he is disappointed by the sales of EVs in China. So disappointed that he wants the Chinese government to do something about it.
They do sell the Leaf in China, but they have no plans to expand their offerings until they figure out how to sell it. Right now, there just isn’t the desire to buy one. Of course, that could also be because people don’t want the Leaf.
EV sales have jumped nearly 300 percent this year, but Nissan won’t disclose sales of the Leaf in China.
What will automakers need to do to standout in China?