Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Takata Changes
Takata just doubled its recall of cars impacted by its faulty airbags to 34 million, which is not only the largest vehicle recall in US history, it’s the largest recall in the last decade.
(Update: This was previously called the biggest recall in US history, but as Consumerist points out, that is not the case.)
But, if you’ve noticed, the vast majority of cars that are being recalled are from before 2008. And that’s because Takata knew that there was a problem with their airbags and secretly changed the propellant then, around the same time as the first Honda recall relating to the airbags.
Bloomberg reports that Takata knew that humidity wreaked havoc with its propellant and changed the formula seven years ago to avoid issues. Takata had been assuring people that its airbags were safe now, but hadn’t given any reason as to why they’d suddenly be safe after years of issues. And its because they never told anyone that there was an issue they had fixed in the first place.
That’s a big issue.
2nd Gear: Autonomous Cars Could Make Car Sales Plummet
Of course, this is all speculation, just like how autonomous cars will take away every automotive job and leave one robot called Stan to build every car in the next ten years. Right?
But a study from Barclays says that driverless cars could start a return to the one car household, something that we haven’t seen for quite a while. The good news is that the vehicles that are going to be consolidated and have their sales eroded are the cars that are bought just for transportation. That’s your Camrys of the world.
Cars that are bought for pleasure aren’t really at risk of becoming autonomous. Has anyone asked for an autonomous Caterham? I doubt it. Barclays says it’ll work the same as when the car replaced the horse:
Just as horses have become either true beasts of burden (e.g., on a cattle ranch) or a rich person’s play-thing – we think of the Hampton Classic Horse Shows – we see a smaller auto market, with individually owned vehicles either for work purposes or for status/performance.
For the rest, shared autonomous vehicles will replace individually owned cars, just as the Model T replaced the horse
Fine by us.
3rd Gear: Renegades Being Held
The Jeep Renegade is an adorable little scamp, isn’t it? Unfortunately they aren’t getting out to customers as fast as possible, and that’s down to some software hiccups.
Like the Cherokee, it sounds like the issue is an interaction between the nine speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel drive system (which is different in the Renegade than in the Cherokee). Marchionne said that these little engineering issues are “making his life horrible.”
The Renegades should be fixed and good to go by the end of June.
4th Gear: Renault Wants To Sell A Ton Of Cheap Cars
Renault is launching a new cheap car in India that is meant to challenge the dominance of Maruti Suzuki in the market. The new car, the Kwid, will be built in India and sell for around $4,700.
That’s pretty damn cheap.
Carlos Ghosn is behind the car fully and expects it to be a “game changer” for Renault in India. We’ll see. Looks like a Dacia Duster to me.
5th Gear: FCA Beats Ford
Fiat Chrysler has beaten Ford twice in one week in the stock market. These are the first times that the Italian-American company has beaten the home grown kids from Dearborn since FCA’s stock was listed.
Of course, analysts say that this doesn’t mean much, but it possibly did have Marchionne call Fields and make a snide remark. Or not.
On this day in 1995, to the likely dismay of Washington, D.C.-bound road trippers hoping for a glimpse of the presidential residence through their car windows, President Bill Clinton permanently closes the two-block stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to all non-pedestrian traffic as a security measure.
What sort of punishment should Takata face for all of this?
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