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: Buicks From China
Buick was one of the first Western brands to really hit it big in China when that country’s economy started blowing up over the last decade or so. Now it looks like Buicks from China are headed to our shores in the coming years. Here’s a report from Reuters:
Most Buick vehicles sold in the United States after 2016 could be imported from China and Europe, according to two sources familiar with parent General Motors Co’s (GM.N) plans.
Only two of Buick’s future U.S. models, replacements for the mid-size LaCrosse sedan and the large Enclave crossover, are expected to be built in North America, according to the sources, who did not want to be identified because their companies work with GM.
[...] Buick is planning to shift production of the compact Verano sedan from Michigan to China in late 2016, the sources said. Production of the mid-size Regal sedan is likely to shift from Canada to either China or Europe in 2017, they added.
Rumors about this have been swirling for days and this is the most definitive information to surface yet.
GM declined to comment, and keep in mind the report hasn’t been officially confirmed by anyone. But it seems all but inevitable at this point — there was no way the Volvo S60 Inscription would stay the only Chinese-made car imported in the U.S. Most Buicks in recent years have been re-badged Opels anyway, so it’s also not shocking that trend will continue.
Expect this plan to be a big sticking point with the UAW as they enter contract negotiations with GM.
2nd Gear: Some Good News For North America
But GM does have some good news in store for this continent. The automaker’s Oshawa, Ontario plant, set for closure for years now, will stay open through 2017. Once again from Reuters:
GM said it would invest C$12 million to increase Chevrolet Equinox production and make related changes at the separate CAMI Assembly, extending production on its consolidated line to 2017.
GM first announced plans to close the consolidated line, one of its two remaining Oshawa assembly lines, in 2005. It was scheduled to cease production in 2008, but GM has repeatedly moved that date. In 2012, it was set to close in 2013. Most recently, it was expected to shut down in 2016.
3rd Gear: Tesla Raises $738 Million
So Tesla, which has been looking to raise capital for Model X production and construction of its Nevada battery plant, originally sought to bring in $500 million through a stock sale. They did a lot more than that. From Bloomberg:
Tesla Motors Inc. said the underwriters of its secondary stock sale exercised their option for additional shares, boosting the proceeds to an estimated $738.3 million.
The electric-car company sold 3.1 million shares at $242 each to give itself a cash cushion as it prepares to begin deliveries of its Model X sport utility vehicle. The smallest and youngest publicly held U.S. automaker faces major capital spending as it expands globally and builds a large battery factory near Reno, Nevada.
Nice haul, Tesla.
4th Gear: UAW Blasts Trump
To be clear: I don’t really like wading into politics unless I have to or covering Donald Trump for fairly obvious reasons. But Trump, the current GOP front-runner, is the one who has waded into the auto industry lately. He’s been making speeches in Michigan claiming he’d impose hefty tariffs (somehow) on Ford for importing cars and parts from Mexico, and then suggesting automakers move car production out of Michigan so they can pay workers less.
Needless to say, the UAW President Dennis Williams isn’t happy with the last suggestion. From The Detroit News:
Williams says Trump is telling automakers “don’t build in Mexico, but go somewhere else where you can find lower wages and take advantage of people. What’s the difference? Philosophically, if we’re going to have a middle class in this country, people have to have disposable incomes; they have to have purchasing power; they have to have a right to buy a house, a car; they’ve got to send their kids to school. There’s a whole lot of things that we ought to be doing as a country, and Donald Trump is not about that.
The big issue was that Trump was wrong anyway; even if U.S. automakers move to the south, UAW agreements mean hourly employees get paid the same no matter where they are. Try and keep up, Donald.
5th Gear: McConaughey’s Back!
Oh thank god! On the heels of an utterly depressing and disappointing second season of True Detective without him, actor and luxury vehicle superstar (and fellow University of Texas at Austin grad) Matthew McConaughey will be returning for more Lincoln ads. Via Automotive News:
Actor Matthew McConaughey is getting behind the wheel of another Lincoln, the redesigned MKX crossover, for a series of commercials set to run next month.
Ford’s luxury brand has not revealed how many commercials it will make, but Lincoln spokesman Stephane Cesareo said it would be a multiplatform campaign. National Football League games are included in broadcast plans, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The campaign is scheduled to start Sept. 12.
“We started a collaboration with Matthew McConaughey last year, and it is working very well,” Cesareo said.
Reverse: Definitely A Slow News Day On History.com
On August 20, 2004, 83 tow trucks roll through the streets of Wenatchee, Washington, in an event arranged by the Washington Tow Truck Association (WTTA). “The Guinness Book of World Records” dubbed it the world’s largest parade of tow trucks.
Neutral: Buicks From China?
I don’t think buyers will care much. Buick’s been suffering from a lack of brand identity for a long time anyway. Will this hurt or just not matter?
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