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 about resurrecting the nearly-dead.
1st Gear: Lotus Is Risen, Tell It Out With Joyful Voice
Lotus has been decrepitly ambling along since... well, always. It makes some of the best, purest cars for hardcore driving enthusiasts, and yet perpetually seems to be run by cretinous business minds and on the verge of doom.
It would be a tragic tale, if it wasn’t for the fact that it is the same old story as with every single British car company. But, no longer, for it was just bought by Geely, the Chinese Savior, new owners of Volvo, according to a company press release:
Geely Holding will also acquire a majority share of 51 percent of Lotus from PROTON. Both parties expect to sign the definitive agreement by mid-July 2017.
Reflecting our experience accumulated through Volvo Car’s revitalization, we also aim to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new products and technologies.
Geely is also buying a huge chunk of Proton, Lotus’ old parent company, but who the hell cares about that besides millions of human beings in southeast Asia.
THIS IS ABOUT LOTUS. UNLEASHING THE FULL POTENTIAL OF LOTUS.
And also, this is about Geely, and how this really is the best possible situation for Lotus. The small British sports car company looked like it was on its last legs, as it trotted out reductive iteration after reductive iteration of the Elise, a car that is 16 years old. But Geely has attained a stellar reputation thanks to its turnaround efforts at Volvo, which is coming out with some of its best cars in decades and is accordingly seeing sales go through the roof.
Which Geely managed by basically just throwing a ton of money at Volvo and saying “we’ll leave you alone, you guys just do what you best and make the cars you’ve always wanted to make.”
That’s great. When Lotus does what it does best, the entire world benefits.
2nd Gear: German Prosecutors Are Talking To Americans About Mercedes
In keeping with the whole diesel-will-eventually-get-everyone theme going on in the world these days, German prosecutors are in contact with their American cousins about potential Mercedes diesel cheating, according to Reuters:
German prosecutors, who searched Daimler’s offices this week as part of an investigation into diesel pollution, are talking to U.S. authorities, the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.
“We are in contact with U.S. authorities,” the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office said, declining to elaborate further about the nature of potential cooperation and whether extensive searches of Daimler’s offices in Germany had also been conducted at the behest of requests from U.S. regulators.
Stuttgart-based Daimler, owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand, said it was fully cooperating with authorities, and had been in touch with both German and U.S. authorities probing potential diesel emissions violations.
Good on Germany, which actually treats bad things as crimes that people need to go to jail for.
3rd Gear: People Don’t Trust Uber To Build A Self-Driving Car
Aw, c’mon, People. Everyone loves Uber. Can’t you trust Uber? Uber wants to build you a self-driving car of its very own. Can’t you trust that Uber’s self-driving car plans are going great? There’s no reason you shouldn’t trust Uber.
Even if only four percent of people trust Uber to actually do it.
4th Gear: Subaru Going Electric
Subaru might be going electric like everyone else, its CEO told the Detroit News:
The Japanese company, which plans to make record investments in research and development in this financial year, is weighing installing electric powertrains in current models rather than designing an all-new car, Chief Executive Officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, 63, said in an interview.
Subaru can take this approach because what defines the brand now is safety, not the boxer engine that is found in its entire lineup of only gasoline-powered vehicles, according to Yoshinaga.
And if this all sounds very dumb and bad and wrong to you, that’s because it is. Not going electric, I mean, that’s probably smart. But claiming that one of the main hallmarks of your company is not the boxer engine when it very much is, and then only adapting existing models for electric powertrains? That’s just atrocious.
The reason why everyone and their mother is building electric cars from the ground up is because, really, you have to. Electric cars need to be stuffed to the gills with batteries to work properly, and virtually every electric car that does so has the floor totally lined with batteries. If the batteries aren’t lining the floor, they’re usually stuffed in the trunk. Where there isn’t a lot of space for them. So trunk space is severely cramped, and the end result is a car that can really only do 100 miles on a charge.
There’s a reason you don’t see California Special electric cars everywhere, but you do see Teslas.
Subaru. Don’t do this. You know better.
5th Gear: Automakers Like NAFTA
Reverse: There Was A Movie
On this day in 1991, the critically acclaimed road movie “Thelma and Louise” debuts in theaters, stunning audiences with a climactic scene in which its two heroines drive off a cliff into the Grand Canyon, in a vintage 1966 green Ford Thunderbird convertible.
Neutral: What Should Lotus Do?
Imagine you’re Lotus. Now imagine you’re given virtually unlimited funds. Now imagine you’re told to go ahead and make your dream car. What do you do?