Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: The Lamborghini Corporation You Imagine In Your Head Died Decades Ago
A Lamborghini SUV that isn’t some wide-tired desert basher is anathema to most, but an electric Lamborghini? That would surely set the forums on fire, right before Lamborghini sells approximately 970 billion of them. And Lamborghini told Automotive News that for RIGHT NOW, it has no plans to make one:
Maybe never, Lamborghini Chief Technical Officer Maurizio Reggiani said at the Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.
“Our target is to deliver a super sports car, and these specifications don’t exist with a battery package in terms of energy and power,” Reggiani said.
Except it almost definitely has plans to make one anyway, as Lamborghini cited the ever-so-slight criteria of a top speed of 300 kilometers an hour (or about 186 mph) and three laps of the Nurburgring as hurdles to the first production electric Lamborghini.
But at the rate battery technology is advancing, we’ll probably be seeing an electric Lamborghini sooner rather than later. Which means the company is pouring money into figuring out how to make the inevitable electric Lamborghini a Lamborghini:
Then there’s another issue — sound, which is “the other fundamental point we are looking at,” Reggiani said.
“A super sports car is an emotion,” Reggiani said. “It must be perceivable based on acceleration, the emotion the car must give you.”
Lamborghini is conducting tests to gauge the reaction of people when they perceive engine sounds.
I guess it’s nice that they’re at least thinking of these things.
2nd Gear: Volvo Wants One-Third Of Its Cars To Be Driverless By 2025
Despite Volvo making fantastic cars as of late, Volvo’s current semi-autonomous tech, known as Pilot Assist, is genuinely quite terrible, and is quite truly useless. Nevertheless, Volvo is determined to make sure that seven years from now, or just one product cycle in the automotive world, a full third of its cars will be driverless, according to Bloomberg:
Volvo Cars is betting driverless vehicles will make up one-third of its deliveries by the middle of the next decade, setting the auto industry’s most ambitious target yet for the new technology.
Half of the cars the Swedish company offers will be available through its subscription service, creating links to more than 5 million consumers and generating new sources of revenue, Volvo said Thursday in a business update.
Driverless cars for the public are decades off at best. Good luck with your targets, Volvo.
3rd Gear: Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Tried To Overthrow Elon Musk
Norway is like your neighbor who is secretly crazy rich. They live in a normal house, drive a normal boring car, and yet they’ve got literally a trillion dollars in the bank. That’s $1,000,000,000,000. That’s Norway.
It’s a bit complicated, but I’ll try to explain why briefly. Basically, Norway has a ton of oil. Like, Saudi Arabia-style levels of oil. But the reason why Norway isn’t really known for oil and the unimaginable resource curse and ostentatious wealth it brings to other countries, like Saudi Arabia, is because decades ago the Norwegians had a bright idea. Instead of taking all that money and just handing it out all willy-nelly and embezzling it to high heaven, they decided to put it away for their grandkids. Instead of buying Bugattis with it, the Norwegians decided to use it as seed money for investments, putting the oil profits into what’s known as a “sovereign wealth fund.” Think of it like a country-sized E-Trade account, or something.
And it’s got literally a trillion dollars in it. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund owns 1.4 percent of all the publicly traded companies, according to Reuters. Not all of the publicly traded companies in the United States. Norway functionally owns 1.4 percent of all the publicly traded companies on planet Earth.
That means that Norwegian values and whims can have a significant impact in the business world, and this week it tried to flex a little lutefisk muscle over Tesla.
The problem is that Elon Musk is both the CEO (meaning he runs the business) and the Chairman (meaning he represents the interests of the shareholders) of Tesla. And because the interests of the CEO often run counter to the interests of shareholders, for example if the CEO decides to greenlight himself a huge pay package, it’s often considered not the best corporate governance. Well, at least Norway doesn’t consider it the best for corporate governance.
And since the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund owns nearly 0.5 percent of Tesla, it now admits to Reuters that it tried to take Musk down as Chairman of the company:
Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund said on Wednesday it had backed an initiative to wrest the role of chairman away from Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk.
The proposal, which was defeated in a vote at Tesla’s annual meeting of stockholders on Tuesday, represented the strongest challenge yet to Musk’s grip on the Silicon Valley car company.
It’s kinda scary to think that if it wanted, Norway could pretty much just own a lot of the modern world.
But it doesn’t. Thank you, benevolent Norwegians, for not making the rest of us peons live in your nightmare financial dystopia in which you own everything and we slave away at the feet of the Norwegian elites.
4th Gear: Jet Fuel Prices Shoot Through The Roof
Jet fuel prices are leading the way, because oil is getting more expensive, the Wall Street Journal says:
Delta, the nation’s No. 2 carrier, said Wednesday it could take six to 12 months to recoup the extra fuel costs via pricier tickets.
Fuel is again the single-largest expense for most airlines, accounting for about a quarter of operating costs. The recent run-up in prices echoes the jump seen from 2009 to 2011, which first spawned stand-alone surcharges on many international flights.
Hmmm.... fuel is getting way more expensive, and no one seems to realize it. You sure you love all those huge SUVs?
5th Gear: You All Love Those Huge SUVs
Huh. Well. I GUESS I’M JUST CASSANDRA OVER HERE DON’T MIND ME GUYS.
Reverse: Cool, Banks, I Guess
On this day in 1962, the banking institution Credit Suisse–then known as Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA)–opens the first drive-through bank in Switzerland at St. Peter-Strasse 17, near Paradeplatz (Parade Square) in downtown Zurich.
Neutral: What Lamborghini Would You Find Unacceptable?
Not that anything with the Lamborghini name on it wouldn’t sell like hotcakes, of course.