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: Here's Hoping You Like Your Turkey Stuffed With Congestion
If you have to travel more than, say, 500 miles for Thanksgiving day you'll probably fly. Under 500, though? You might just find yourself joining the 89.5% of travelers who are choosing to drive this Thanksgiving according to estimates from IHS.
The car-over-plane travel choice is made easier by the fact that airfares aren’t coming down like gasoline pump prices are. While the plunge in oil has driven down wholesale jet fuel prices 17 percent since August, almost matching the 18 percent drop in retail gasoline, airfares have risen 3.4 percent over that time, data compiled by industry groups show.
“Ground travel is going to gain over air,” said Shane Norton, director of economics and country risk at IHS, which helps the motoring club AAA prepare its holiday travel forecasts. AAA is due to release its projection for total travelers this Thanksgiving tomorrow. “The change toward car travel seems like a little, in terms of one-tenth of a percentage point, but you’re taking from an air share of less than 10 percent.”
Driving isn't fast, but it's not as annoying as flying and airline tickets aren't getting cheaper.
2nd Gear: Why The Takata Recall Might Expand
The ongoing Takata airbag crisis is probably going to get worse before it gets better as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just told five automakers that recalls limited to humid areas aren't enough and that they want a nation-wide recall.
This, David Shepardson reports, is after NHTSA discovered ruptures in North Carolina and California, which are both states not within the "high humidity" area originally covered.
None of the automakers have agreed to a recall, but NHTSA said they'd force them if they have to so... this isn't going away.
3rd Gear: Volvo Is Either A Player In The U.S. Or A Player Nowhere
It's a quirk of the global luxury market that no one will accept you as a real company if you can't sell in the United States. It's possibly the reason why Buick survived when Pontiac didn't, although Buick is doing fine on its own now.
So what of Volvo? It's doing well in China but still struggling in the United States. New CEO Hakan Samuelsson told the WSJ:
Mr. Samuelsson said Volvo will double its U.S. marketing budget in 2015, aiming to insert itself in a luxury-car business dominated by BMW AG , Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG ’s Audi . The company has hired McKinsey & Co. to help forge a U.S. comeback plan, with the goal of returning sales to 100,000 vehicles a year, up from about 60,000.
The luxury space has been the most competitive for the last three years and a strong Volvo is good for consumers.
4th Gear: Volkswagen Can't Build Cars Fast Enough In China
While it's strategy in the United States needs some reworking so its demand meets its capacity, Volkswagen's issue in China is roughly the opposite with growth limited to 10% year-over-year simply based on how many cars they can build.
Not like you should blame VW for being cautious, it's still a maturing market and there are risks to overexpansion.
Even as growth in China's overall car market is expected to slow to single-digit pace over the next five years, it will still be "tremendous growth ... much higher than any other relevant market in the world", he said.
Separately, Heizmann said that plans to raise Volkswagen's current 40 percent stake in its joint venture with Chinese partner FAW Group Corp would likely take time.
It's true. The market is the biggest in the world so a small improvement there is better than like a 100% sales improvement in Norway or whatever.
5th Gear: Two Visions Of The Future
Greg Gardner over at the Detroit Free Press does a nice job comparing and contrasting two visions for the automotive future.
Both Bill Ford and KPMG consulting see a world population that's growing and, likely, going to view mobility differently than we do now thanks to increasing urbanization.
Where the KPMG study and Ford diverged was on the role the traditional auto industry will play in solving the challenge of urban mobility.
"Not since the first automotive revolution has there been such massive innovation and displacement of the status quo," said Gary Silberg, who heads KPMG's automotive practice. "We will see new players surge forth, some old players reinvent themselves and others totally left behind."
By contrast, Ford said the connected car is already with us and it provides multiple options to use vehicles more efficiently.
"Imagine what is possible when our cars begin talking to each other and the roadways and networks around them," said the executive chairman of the company his great-grandfather founded. "The systems that we use today to bring entertainment into the vehicle and help us with directions are the same systems that will help us create a smart vehicle network."
Ford is the most innovative American automaker so it's quite possible that the visions will align eventually.
Reverse: That Didn't Quite Work
On this day in 1993, Toyota and General Motors sign an historic agreement: Beginning in 1996, GM will offer its bestselling Chevy Cavalier, refitted with right-hand drive, for sale in Japan. The Cavalier was one of the first American automobiles to hit the Japanese market.
Neutral: How Are You Getting To Thanksgiving? Is it a train? Does anyone take trains?
Photo Credit: Getty Images