1st Gear: Don’t Act All Surprised That Everything Sucks Now
We told you, British people, that unilaterally withdrawing from the European Union would be a terrible idea. We told you that it would have far and wide implications. We told you it would hurt the American auto industry. Pretty much everyone told you it was dumb. But now you’ve gone and did it, and Bloomberg reports that even Teslas are getting more expensive because of it.
That may sound odd, because Teslas are made in the United States (a country that itself is now also great again), which wouldn’t have much to do with the United Kingdom, the E.U., or anything like that. But it’s not like the U.K. pulled out of the E.U. in a vacuum. The very act sent the British pound into a plunge, and now look what’s happened:
Tesla Motors will increase prices in the U.K. by 5% in 2017, a move attributed to the falling pound and described as “due to currency fluctuations,” a company spokeswoman said.
Sterling’s fall of more than 15% since the Brexit vote has led to price increases on imported goods, as well as on products made domestically using components or ingredients sourced overseas. In October, consumers had an early warning of the prospects for 2017 when retailer Tesco stopped online sales of Marmite and other British products during a dispute with manufacturer Unilever.
First Marmite, now Tesla. Will the indignities ever end for the British people after this world-historical self-own?
They will not.
2nd Gear: No More Self-Driving Ubers In California, For Now
California repeatedly threatened to shut down Uber’s self-driving car program in the state, as Uber didn’t have the right permits for it. The gist of Uber’s response to those threats seemed to mostly just be “awwww, c’mon, California,” but apparently California was totally serious about the whole thing. And now Automotive News reports that Uber’s self-driving car program in the state has been shut down:
The state disagreed, and followed up on its threat to take action against the company. Jean Shiomoto, director of the California DMV, informed Uber that its vehicles’ registration had been revoked in a letter on Wednesday, and invited the company to apply for a testing permit.
“It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles,” the agency said in a statement.
It’ll probably just be a small blip on the long road to our inevitable robo-car future.
3rd Gear: Volvo Just Raised $500 Million
When Chinese carmaker Geely first bought Volvo, there were laments from all corners that Volvo would soon be ruined and/or dead. But since all the new Volvos are actually really, incredibly, wonderfully good, that shut everyone up pretty quickly. But it seems like this match made in heaven is not to last. One day little Volvo will be all grown up, and it’ll head off on its own into the big scary world.
What I mean is, Geely apparently plans to one day float Volvo’s shares on the stock market in the form of an initial public offering. It might maintain a stake in the carmaker, much the same way that FCA does with Ferrari, but one day it’ll be a bit more independent. And Volvo just took a big step down that path, Reuters reports:
Volvo Cars has raised 5 billion Swedish crowns ($532 million) from a group of Swedish institutional investors, taking it a step towards a share market flotation nearly seven years after being bought by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings [GEELY.UL].
The investors have bought newly-issued preference shares that would have “an immaterial dilutive effect” on Geely’s 100 percent ownership, Volvo said on Tuesday, while suggesting that the deal marks a milestone in its turnaround in Chinese hands after deep losses under previous owner Ford Motor Co. (F.N).
“Today’s move is another step towards Volvo Cars’ long expressed ambition to act as a listed company,” Volvo said in a statement.
Geely told Reuters it has “no immediate plans” for an IPO, but, you know, eventually.
4th Gear: Ford Recalling 8,000 Trucks Over Risk Of Fiery Death
The blazing specter of fiery death looms over us all, but today it shines especially bright for 8,000 lucky owners of some Ford trucks, Automotive News says:
In the Super Duty truck issue, a missing reinforcement could lead to a fuel tank strap separating from the frame, resulting in the fuel tank moving out of position and potentially contacting the ground, increasing the risk of a fuel leak, Ford said.
That could potentially lead to a fire. The trucks were built at the Kentucky Truck Plant from Aug. 10 to Sept. 17 this year.
Ford is also recalling 1,300 other vehicles over “an improperly brazed turbocharger oil supply tube could leak engine oil,” which could also lead to fiery death. The company is reportedly not aware of any accidents, injuries, or actual incidents of fiery death just yet, but let’s just be safe.
5th Gear: Ford Australia Isn’t Dead, Sort Of
Ford ended Australian manufacturing operations back in October after 91 years of making cars there, and it was very sad. It seemed like the end for uniquely Australian Fords, like the Falcon XR6, and a small corner of global automotive history appeared to have died that day. But maybe not! Reuters is now saying that Ford is investing in Australia, just not when it comes to manufacturing:
The company will now spend a total of A$500 million on Australian research and development over three years, it said in a statement. It will spend A$450 million in 2017, an increase of A$150 million compared with last year, and A$50 million over three years to upgrade design and testing facilities.
Ford’s Australian design facility is one of three “key centres” capable of full vehicle development worldwide, alongside Detroit, Michigan and Cologne, Germany, spokesman Wes Sherwood told Reuters.
It’ll probably still end up being an overall loss of jobs, but it’s better than the alternative.
Reverse: The First Mercedes Is Delivered
On this day in 1900, the first car to be produced under the “Mercedes” name is delivered to its buyer: Emil Jellinek, the Austrian car racer, auto dealer to the rich and famous, and bon vivant. Jellinek had commissioned the Mercedes car from the German company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. It was faster, lighter, and sleeker than any car the company had ever made before, and Jellinek was confident that it would win races so handily that besotted buyers would snap it up. (He was so confident that he bought 36 of them, paying D-M-G 550,000 marks in all.) In exchange for his extraordinary patronage, the company agreed to name its new machine after Jellinek’s 11-year-old daughter, Mercedes.
Neutral: What Do You Think Volvo Will Do With The $500 Million?
My guess is more little Swedish flags. I like those.