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: It's Jeep-Time Y'all
Jeep has always been the crown jewel of Chrysler and, with Ferrari going away, I think that's true for the new Fiat-Chrysler as well. Yeah, sales in the U.S. of new cars are rapidly expanding as we go for our best year of sales in a long time.
And what's driving that growth? A lot of things, but of the cars we sold this year that didn't sell last year, about one-in-four is a Jeep according to Nick Bunkley:
The biggest contributor to this year’s growth has been Fiat Chrysler, whose sales are up 16 percent in 2014. The rest of the industry, excluding Fiat Chrysler, has increased 4 percent on the year.
The Jeep brand alone has managed to boost its sales by 44 percent in 2014. Jeep accounts for nearly three-quarters of Fiat Chrysler’s year-to-date sales gain.
IHS Automotive said Jeep has increased its brand-loyalty rating — measured by vehicles registered to buyers who already owned the same brand — by 16 percent this year, third best in the industry behind Maserati and Mitsubishi. In contrast, the average brand has increased its sales to existing customers by just 0.4 percent.
2nd Gear: Opel's Bochum Plant Closes
Opel's flagship plant closed, probably forever, after 52 years of production.
The last vehicle has rolled off Opel's production line at its flagship factory in Bochum, which General Motors is shuttering as it restructures its lossmaking European subsidiary.
The dpa news agency reported Friday that with the production of the last Opel Zafira compact van, the factory, which employed 22,000 in its heyday, is closing after 52 years. Around 300 of the plant's 3,000 workers are expected to remain employed at the facility in a parts operation, but the others face an uncertain future.
It's a new Europe.
3rd Gear: Who Is Cheap Oil Really Bad For?
Here's an interesting take from the NYT I missed last week about low oil prices and the real victims. Some carmakers think that it'll slow down progress on fuel efficiency. Other people think it's a nice shot in the arm for the economy.
While circumstances are never exactly the same, and the impact of cheap oil can be difficult to isolate from other economic factors, the broad consequence in each of these instances was the same: They stimulated global economic growth. Dr. Yergin estimated that global economic output would grow this year by an additional four-tenths of a percent with oil prices at $80 a barrel. If oil stays below $80, he said, “We may revise that to five-tenths.”
However, not everyone benefits. Producers obviously have an issue, although not all producers are equally susceptible to swings:
For Saudi Arabia and other major oil-producing countries, “oil production and exports are a primary source of government revenues,” Mr. Morse wrote in a recent research report. “The oil prices required for oil revenues to balance government budgets are far higher than the $70-90 range, with several countries requiring oil prices of well above $100.”
He estimates Venezuela needs $161-a-barrel oil to break even this year after decades of cronyism and mismanagement of its energy sector under the leftist government of Hugo Chávez. “Venezuela is a world-class example of economic mismanagement,” Dr. Yergin noted. Oil prices below $80 a barrel “will be devastating.”
And then there’s Russia, which acknowledged this week that its economy had fallen into recession as a result of Western penalties over Ukraine and falling oil revenue. Over half of Russia’s national budget is financed by oil and gas revenue. This week, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, canceled Russia’s long-sought gas pipeline to Europe through Bulgaria and Serbia, which would have bypassed Ukraine.
Your Jalopnik editors will be rapidly securing loans for cars that require premium fuel this winter.
4th Gear: UAW V. OEMs
The last round of negotiations between the UAW and the Big 2.5 automakers so everyone coming together to try and survive — with UAW pensioners/older employees doing relatively well at the expense of new employees. What about next time?
After 10 years without hourly wage increases as well as an agreement by the union to accept lower pay for new hires, compensation is increasingly tied to the auto makers’ performance, which has been in a boom-or-bust cycle for decades. “Workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler have made painful sacrifices,” UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in an interview. “Now it’s time for workers to share in the success, too.”
We'll see. Automakers will say they've put savings back into production and jobs and that they need to be ready in case the economy turns again.
5th Gear: BMW Gets Into Carsharing
After Daimler's Car2Go service closed in London, BMW is going to give it a shot with its DriveNow service, which allows people to rent BMW 1ers and Minis with their cellphones after paying a one-time service fee, similar to ZipCar (which is also in the city).
Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member with responsibility for mobility services, told Reuters that the company had learnt lessons in how to bring the scheme to London. The business has more than 360,000 customers worldwide.
“What we think we have to do differently is start on a smaller scale (and) prove the concept that this is something successful,” he said. “If you have proven it, then you can step by step ... grow this organically.”
Can we get an M135i?
On December 8, 1942, the architect and engineer Albert Kahn—known as "the man who built Detroit"—dies at his home there. He was 73 years old. Kahn and his assistants built more than 2,000 buildings in all, mostly for Ford and General Motors. According to his obituary in The New York Times, Kahn "revolutionized the concept of what a great factory should be: his designs made possible the marvels of modern mass production, and his buildings changed the faces of a thousand cities and towns from Detroit to Novosibirsk."
Neutral: How Long Can Jeep Keep It Up? Is this temporary or is Jeep going to be a major brand for years to come?
Photo Credit: Getty Images