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: Like All Of Your Other Dreams
Baby boomers! They’re your parents, your teachers, everyone who scolded you as a kid. They gave us student loans, Donald Trump, and unaffordable housing. And now they’re killing sports cars, too, Bloomberg reports:
It was a sign of things to come this month when Ford Motor Co. idled its Mustang plant for a week as sales for the year fell 9 percent. Other sports cars have faded at a similar rate, and even stalwarts like the Chevrolet Corvette and most Porsche models are slumping.
“Boomers are starting to age out of sports cars,” said Eric Noble, president of the CarLab, a consulting firm in Orange, California. “When you get into your 60s, comfort becomes more important. Sports cars are not going away, but the market will get smaller.”
The generational handoff won’t help sports cars much either, Noble said, because there are fewer Generation Xers, or those about 35 to 50 years old. And the boomer children — the millennial generation — aren’t yet earning enough money to buy Mustangs, which start at $24,915, let alone a Corvette Z06 that can sell for more than $100,000, Noble said.
Alright, so it’s not really their fault that they’re getting old and their tired, decrepit bones can’t take the beating of a REAL SUSPENSION anymore.
The Bloomberg story then goes on to the heart of the matter:
Research shows that car buyers, especially 20-somethings, still like sporty cars, according to Noble of the CarLab. They especially favor classics from the 1970s, the golden age of muscle cars. They just can’t afford them yet. And boomers want something comfortable but sporty.
Let’s just say it now so that we have a reference for when all the crappy takes come out. It’s not that young people don’t like fast cars, it’s that they can’t afford them.
Eventually us Youths will become our parents, at which point we’ll have mid-life crises and start buying Mustangs. And then we, too, will become old and disgusting, at which point we will viscerally hate the young, nubile Youths.
It’s the circle of life.
2nd Gear: We’ll Soon Know How Bad Brexit Will Get
We know that the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will have some sort of impact on the car industry, we just don’t know how bad it will get. We’re probably going to find out soon, though, Reuters says:
Japanese carmaker Nissan will decide next month whether to make its new Qashqai model in Britain or elsewhere in the first major investment decision affecting the country’s car industry since the vote to leave the European Union.
Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, who met British Prime Minister Theresa May last week, said on Friday he had been reassured by the government it would be “extremely cautious” about preserving the competitiveness of Nissan’s factory in northern England.
The crux of the issue is that if the U.K. makes a hard break from the E.U. and if everyone starts laying big tariffs on each other, it will make the Nissan Qashqai very expensive in the rest of Europe. And you can have a car with a silly name or a car that’s pointlessly expensive, but not both. And Nissan is keeping the name.
3rd Gear: U.S. Officials Confirm 11th Takata Airbag Death
An 11th person has been killed by an exploding airbag made by Takata, reports Automotive News:
U.S. regulators and American Honda Motor Co. have confirmed the 11th U.S. fatality linked to a ruptured Takata airbag inflator.
The victim, a 50-year-old woman, died from injuries sustained during the Sept. 30 crash in Riverside County, Calif., which caused the driver-side Takata airbag inflator in her 2001 Honda Civic to rupture, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Honda.
NHTSA has already told people they should stop driving that particular model due to “grave danger,” until the cars can be fixed. Airbags made by Takata had a tendency to spew shrapnel onto their unsuspecting victims, a tendency which Takata knew about.
4th Gear: Michigan Wants To Make Autonomous Murder A Very Serious Crime
In case regular old murder wasn’t Very Serious enough, Michigan wants you to know it takes murder Very Seriously. Especially if you kill someone by screwing with their self-driving car, the Detroit Free Press reports:
The Michigan Senate unanimously passed a pair of bills Thursday that would increase the penalties for interfering with the computer systems of autonomous vehicles.
Currently, there is a 10-year sentence and $50,000 fine for anyone who tampers with the computer system of a driverless vehicle that results in injury. The new bill would increase the penalty to life in prison if the interference with the computer system resulted in death.
The law doesn’t apply to manufacturers or mechanics. But still, I thought sabotaging someone’s car in order to kill them already counted as murder? I dunno. I’m not a lawyer.
5th: The CEO of Nissan Is Also Going To Be The Boss Of Mitsubishi
Ford’s museum was an epic expression of his own interpretation of American history, emphasizing industrial and technological progress and the “practical genius” of great Americans. Its collection grew to include every Ford car ever built, along with other advances in automotive and locomotive technology. There were also farm tools, home appliances, furniture and industrial machines such as the printing press and the Newcomen steam engine. On a 200-acre tract next door, Ford built a quaint all-American village by importing historic homes and buildings from across the United States. “When we are through,” Ford told The New York Times, “we shall have reproduced American life as lived; and that, I think, is the best way of preserving at least a part of our history and tradition.”
Today it’s better known as The Henry Ford.
Neutral: The 1990s Are Back, Baby
While we can lament declining sports car sales all we want, it shouldn’t be the end of the world. We can look to a time when Boomers didn’t have a lot of cash to find out what that would be like, and we’re getting a 1980s-1990s vibe. And cars weren’t so bad then, were they? Were they????