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: Do Better Next Time
Shigehisa Takada, the CEO of the Japanese parts supplier Takata Corp. currently embroiled in a massive recall scandal involving deadly exploding airbags, took a huge pay cut in the last financial year. The company said it would slash executive salaries as the crisis escalated, which makes sense not only for PR reasons but because their costs are probably skyrocketing as they attempt to fix this issue. Via Reuters:
Chief Executive Shigehisa Takada earned less than 100 million yen ($810,373) in the business year ended in March, or less than half of the 206 million yen ($1.67 million) he took home in the previous year, a regulatory filing showed on Friday.
Listed Japanese companies are required to disclose individual executive compensation only if it exceeds 100 million yen. The filing did not specify his compensation.
Anyone else feel like if he was American, he would have gotten a pay raise? And a new boat?
2nd Gear: Honda Profits Down Over Airbag Recalls
While we’re on the subject of Takata, Honda today revised down their annual earnings from what was projected for the fiscal year that just ended. The bottom line has taken a hit over the Takata airbag recalls, now blamed for eight known deaths. From the AFP:
The nation’s third biggest automaker said its net profit for the year to March this year was 493 billion yen, or $4 billion, falling 14.1 percent from the previous year.
The level compared with the originally announced 522.7 billion yen that would have marked an 8.9 percent annual slide.
Honda and Takata reportedly knew about these problems for more than a decade. Maybe if they had taken more decisive action sooner, they wouldn’t be in this boat today. There’s a lesson here about fixing things before they snowball into catastrophes.
3rd Gear: No Driverless Jaguars And Land Rovers Coming Soon
Most automakers are exploring autonomous driving technologies to one degree or another. But the R&D chief at Jaguar Land Rover, a company currently in a renaissance of sorts with lots of fast and pretty vehicles, says they have no interest in that and never will. From Automotive News:
“We don’t consider customers cargo. We don’t want to build a robot that delivers the cargo from A to B,” he told journalists at an event held at JLR’s r&d center here in central England.
Epple said JLR is working on autonomous driving features for future models, including a remote control function to allow the driver to operate the car outside the vehicle using a smartphone.
Functions, yes, but not full control by the machine. Good to know not everyone’s on board with the driverless Uber pod thing.
4th Gear: Maker Of The Nissan Titan Gets The Stadium Where The Titans Play
Nissan’s U.S. headquarters is in Tennessee, and they now build a lot of their cars there. So it makes sense that they would try and sponsor the NFL stadium here where the Tennessee Titans play. They just won naming rights to the stadium for the next 20 years. From Automotive News:
But the pair-up also comes at a serendipitous moment for the automaker: Late this year in the midst of football season, Nissan will launch a major introduction of its redesigned full-size pickup — coincidentally named the Titan.
“That’s quite a cool coincidence for us,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for U.S. sales & marketing and operations. “But this is really a way to showcase Nissan’s presence and involvement here in the heartland of the United States. This is going to make our employees and customers here very proud.”
5th Gear: Can Alfa Romeo Do What Jaguar Has Done?
Speaking of Jaguar, The Detroit News’ Daniel Howes has an apt comparison to the attempted U.S. comeback of Alfa Romeo, starting with the 510 horsepower Giulia sport sedan:
Seriously, think Jaguar. Here was a storied British marque, its heritage mostly squandered, tracing a middling slide greased by its owners in Dearborn. Their alleged BMW 3-Series fighter, the X-Type, boasted substantial bits from the Ford Mondeo sedan, a lineage that (fairly or not) undermined the car’s credibility from the jump.
[...] Today’s Jaguar, like GM’s Cadillac, aspires to outperform the Germans, not look like them. Judging by the lines of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia unveiled this week in Italy, Marchionne & Co. are headed in the same direction — distinctive, slightly muscular Alfa styling that evokes more Maserati then Mercedes.
Comebacks are possible, they’re just tough.
Reverse: And We Haven’t Updated Or Repaired Them Since
On this day in 1956, the U.S. Congress approves the Federal Highway Act, which allocates more than $30 billion for the construction of some 41,000 miles of interstate highways; it will be the largest public construction project in U.S. history to that date.
Neutral: How Expensive Will The Takata Recalls Get For Automakers?
And Takata? This entire crisis is about to get very costly.
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