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 read before showing up to your morning seminar of Decision Making Processes In The Automobile Industry 101.
1st Gear: Everyone Is Still Talking About Tesla For Some Reason (Money)
Yesterday’s news was that Tesla briefly was valued higher than GM, as Bloomberg and the rest of the business world reported.
I have no clue why this came across every business pub news ticker. We reported on the same thing happening last week.
The general story is that not only do car writers hate crossovers, so do investors, and would rather bet on the shaky future of some EV newcomer than staid old GM plodding away with trucks and SUVs. That or everyone just hates GM, the car industry’s constant screwup.
2nd Gear: Everyone Who Isn’t Already Selling EVs Is Scrambling To Do So
In what I’m sure is related news, every automaker that isn’t already trying to get the public to buy into high-end electric cars is furiously scrambling to do so, particularly in China. The Shanghai Auto Show is approaching fast, and it should be stuffed with EVs, as Automotive News Europe reports.
Chinese regulations require carmakers to have 8% of their sales be electric starting in 2018, and foreign carmakers are having to invest heavily to compete with home market cheap Chinese EVs, heavily subsidized by the Chinese gov’t. Automotive News Europe broke down what these investment plans look like:
Major automakers plan to invest heavily in EVs:
• GM will spend $3.8 billion to develop ten EVs and hybrids by 2020
• Mercedes has a $10.7 billion plan to develop 10 electric models
• Ford will launch a plug-in hybrid in 2018 and a fully electric crossover in the next five years as it electrifies most of its China lineup by 2025.
• Volkswagen will introduce 15 EV and hybrid models over the next three or four years. The vehicles are expected to generate sales of 400,000 units annually by 2020.
These companies have had how many years to get their acts together on EVs now?
3rd Gear: Porsche Is Taking Over The Top Of Volkswagen Group
Porsche has been consistently one of the most profitable brands in the car world, hauling in more profit per vehicle than anybody else. Now they’re taking over more and more of the upper end of the VW empire, doing more development for Bentley and even Bugatti, as Automotive News Europe reports:
The VW-owned brands, along with the Bugatti supercar marque, are looking to share costs across a wide spectrum of activities and will achieve annual savings of 100 million euros ($106 million) starting next year, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said.
Tangible proof of the synergies will be seen when Bentley’s new Continental GT arrives next year. The coupe will use Porsche’s rear-wheel drive MSB platform that underpins the recently launched second-generation Panamera. The current car’s platform is shared with the discontinued VW Phaeton.
Bentley could also use EV technology that Porsche is developing for its first electric car, the Mission E. Bentley showed the full-electric EXP12 Speed 6e concept at the Geneva auto show last month.
This comes after Porsche took over much of Audi’s spot in developing big platforms in the Volkswagen-verse. Audi got its ass handed to it in Dieselgate, and now it looks like the VAG Empire’s development king is Porsche now.
4th Gear: Ford Knows You Assholes Will Stay Buying SUVs
Last month Ford claimed that its profits will be down in 2017 given how much it’s investing in driverless tech and other futurecore stuff that excites Wall Street. With that declaration out of the way, the company would like to remind you that crossovers are actually what you’re all buying right now and for the immediate future, as Reuters reports:
The market share of SUVs has increased to nearly 40 percent from 32.6 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in 2016.
Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service told reporters at an event on Monday ahead of this week’s New York International Auto Show that the company expects that figure to rise to 45 percent of industry sales within five to seven years.
Ford has half a dozen new SUVs in the pipeline if you count Lincoln.
The car industry is weird. You can’t be too far ahead of the trends, but you can’t be too far behind either.
5th Gear: EU To Carmakers: Don’t Pay Warlords, Please
While cars in the early 20th Century were hammered together out of rods of solid iron, cars today are made of a mishmosh of exotic materials, which has the EU concerned, as Wards Auto reports:
There has been significant concern within the industry about the impact of a law designed to prevent money raised from sales of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold – the so-called 3TG minerals – from entering the pockets of warlords and violent rebels. This is because these metals are present in up to 50% of car parts, according to ACEA, the European automakers’ organization, and its CLEPA counterpart for parts manufacturers.
But in the final text of an EU regulation due to take effect Jan. 1, 2021, a voluntary due-diligence system for downstream users such as automakers will apply, provided the manufacturers buy their 3TG from EU suppliers and do not import raw minerals or metals directly.
It looks like much of the European auto industry will be working to voluntarily make its own checks on this, which is good.
Reverse: Henry Ford Found Somebody To Hate Other Rich People With
Neutral: Let’s say you’re the head of a major carmaker (congrats!) would you be doubling down on EV development now, or staying true to what works with traditional crossovers?