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Rivians may be a little less expensive, the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak is starting to affect the car world, and Ford offers to buy everyone lunch as an apology for selling cars with faulty transmissions. All that and more in the Morning Shift for January 27, 2020.

1st Gear: Probably Still Pretty Pricey

The Rivian R1T and R1S pickup and SUV were expected to start in the mid-$60,000 range, but over the weekend Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe told Reuters that those prices will be lowered somewhat:

Electric vehicle startup Rivian on Saturday displayed its pickup truck and SUV at an event in San Francisco’s Bay Area and said that when their prices are unveiled soon they will be lower than has been previously announced.

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Scaringe didn’t go into any details about how much lower he was talking about, specifically, but any sort of movement on price could be huge for how the electric vehicle market shapes up. Electric cars, by and large, are pretty expensive at the moment. That’s due to a variety of factors, but mostly relate to the cost of the batteries that store all the juice. Economies of scale can reduce the prices somewhat, but as we’ve seen with Tesla and its “$35,000" Model 3 that seems to be hard to find at best, there seems to be a barrier as to how cheap anyone can make an electric car and still make a buck.

And since these things can’t be that cheap because of materials cost, they might as well go for the luxury market.

So is Scaringe hinting at something like $500 off the base price? Or more like $10,000?

It’s probably closer to the former than the latter, though he really didn’t elaborate with Reuters. It depends on the motivating factor for the price cut. Is it just economies of scale, as Rivian begins production? Is it pressure from the Tesla Cybertruck?

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Or is it some sort of battery breakthrough? Or maybe Amazon, Rivian’s infinitely deep-pocketed backer, has agreed to absorb some losses to get Rivian going (Hell, it worked for Instagram, which didn’t make a buck until it got bought by Facebook.)

The first couple of motivators would imply a slight trim off the top. The second group of possible motivators could spell something significant.

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But despite the world being festooned with pricey Ford F-150s and Chevrolet Silverados, Rivians probably won’t have “work truck” street cred until you can pick them up cheap.

2nd Gear: Nissan And Renault’s Engineering Heads Start Talking Again

Before the whole Carlos Ghosn debacle, it was a little unclear how much Renault and Nissan were one company or two separate companies, and just how much both sides were really integrated. Did they do things together? Or was it all just sort of embodied in the person of Ghosn?

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But a new report from Reuters, detailing an upcoming meeting of the engineering chiefs of both companies, seems to imply that they’ve been much more independent than the Ghosn-era alliance would have anyone believe:

Renault’s (RENA.PA) engineering boss will meet his counterpart at Nissan (7201.T) in Japan this week, two sources close to Renault said, as the carmakers seek to revive projects crucial to an alliance left reeling by the Carlos Ghosn affair.

[...]

According to the two sources, Gilles Le Borgne, who was hired on Jan. 6 from rival automaker PSA (PEUP.PA), will meet Nissan’s Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, the Nissan executive in charge of delivering the joint engineering projects.

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That the engineering teams would work fairly closely together shouldn’t normally be the subject of a strategically leaked report, but it makes sense in the context of the “unhappy step siblings” narrative that’s been building.

Of course, Le Borgne started after Ghosn was arrested, so maybe a fresh face is what they all need.

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3rd Gear: Peugeot Pulls Its Workers In Face Of Outbreak

The Coronavirus outbreak centered around the Chinese city of Wuhan has infected more than 2,800 people and killed more than 80, according to the Washington Post. With the virus spreading fast not only in Wuhan, but globally, and Chinese officials scrambling to both care for the infected and prevent the virus from spreading further, Peugeot announced that it’s pulling its French workers and their families from Wuhan. Here’s the Associated Press:

France and a major automaker said Saturday that they are moving to get citizens out of a locked-down Chinese city where a deadly outbreak of a new virus originated and has spread worldwide.

French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees and their families from Wuhan in central China, quarantine them in another major Chinese city and then bring them back to France.

The Foreign Ministry said French officials were studying “eventual options” for all its nationals to leave if they wish.

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The virus, which causes symptoms similar to a severe cold or flu, has yet to be contained.

4th Gear: Oil Prices Slump Thanks To Virus

But since China’s economy is so intertwined with the global economy, the virus outbreak in Wuhan is also correlated with a drop in oil prices, as spending in China slows down during what is normally a busy time of the year. Here’s the Financial Times:

Global equity markets fell heavily and oil prices slumped after China warned the spread of the deadly coronavirus would accelerate, fuelling concern about the disease’s potential impact on the global economy.

Investors and China’s leaders are braced for a blow to first-quarter domestic growth as the virus weighs on consumer spending and travel during the lunar new year holiday and threatens to hit manufacturing.

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The price of crude oil fell 2.2 percent, to $59.35 a barrel.

5th Gear: That’s The Cost Of Lunch In A Big City

Ford has faced a heck of a time with the dual-clutch gearboxes originally fitted to some of its Ford Fiestas, known as the DPS6. Multiple lawsuits have been filed, including a class-action lawsuit, from owners seeking recompense for transmissions that were not only rough and jerky, but faced repeated reliability issues.

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In an effort to remedy the issue, Ford has proposed a $30 million settlement, the Detroit News reports:

The lawsuit represents nearly 2 million people who own or formerly owned a 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta or 2012-2016 Ford Focus. In addition to the $30 million in cash reimbursement, there will be an easier process for people to get compensated and a buyback program for defective vehicles, according to the Associated Press.

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But 30 million, spread among 2 million people, comes out to about $15 a person.

Or the cost of a mid-tier lunch in a big city.

I’m sure DPS6 owners will love it.

Reverse: I Hear It’s A Good Car

The racing circuit was forever changed when sales of the Shelby GT 350 launched on this day in 1965. Designed and developed by Carroll Shelby, the original GT 350 is based off of the 1965 Ford Mustang fastback. The cars originally came with a 289 V8 that put out 271 hp matched to a 4 speed manual transmission.

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Neutral: Rivian Or Cybertruck, Who Ya Got?

Based on looks alone, I like the Rivian. But so far no one outside of either company has driven one, let alone both.

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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