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The Renault-Fiat Chrysler merger could still be in the works, the Chevy Silverado is on struggle street, Carlos Ghosn, and more in The Morning Shift for Monday, June 17, 2019.

1st Gear: Silverado Isn’t Bringing in Much ... Silver

The new Silverado always seemed like a tough sell, given that the base model came with a four cylinder engine, which is powerful enough but doesn’t excite people. Its face is also obnoxious, but some people like obnoxious faces.

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Anyway, because of these reasons, or perhaps for an entirely different set of reasons, Automotive News says that sales have not been great. The longtime number-two pickup on the market—behind the mighty F-150 of course—is now number three behind F-150 and Ram. Though, thanks to the Sierra, GM remains number two in the segment.

At any rate, GM says it’s not worried. It would never worry. From AN:

Including the GMC Sierra 1500, which was also redesigned at the same time, GM’s full-size pickup share was down 3 percentage points in the first five months of 2019 compared with the same period a year earlier.

With the Sierra, GM remains in second place in the full-size segment, behind Ford Motor Co.

But GM executives insist the shake-up in a closely watched battle with major image and profit implications isn’t a sign of trouble. They say the trucks’ launch is going as planned and that GM is focused on profits, not market share.

Barry Engle, who became GM’s president of the Americas on April 1, played down declining Silverado sales as a “temporary phenomenon” that will be corrected with more capacity and a normalization of production.

“Given our limited availability, we deliberately launched with a really high mix in trims,” Engle told Automotive News this month. “But as we get broader availability and get the full portfolio out there, we’ll be just fine.”

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Yes, this has all been deliberate. GM wanted sales to dip, in fact. It’s all part of the plan.

2nd Gear: Could the Renault-Fiat Chrysler Merger Be Back On?

Very possibly, per Bloomberg, but only if Nissan signs off.

Fiat blamed “political conditions in France’’ when it withdrew its proposal, and a signal from the French state that it would give up its sway over Renault would be necessary for a resumption of talks, people with knowledge of the situation said. One option would see France agreeing to reduce its 15% stake after obtaining commitments by Fiat on French jobs and plants, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

For Renault and the state, its most powerful shareholder, repairing the relationship with long-time partner Nissan Motor Co. will take priority over looking at a Fiat deal, officials have said. France in particular views securing the Japanese carmaker’s explicit backing as crucial for the success of a Fiat-Renault combination.

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I kind of think this will ultimately happen—perhaps has to ultimately happen—because Nissan will have to get over itself at some point to compete in a globalized marketplace that will force heavy investment in future car tech. But for now it’s a bit of a staring contest, with Ghosn as somewhat of a red herring.

Speaking of...

3rd Gear: Carlos Ghosn’s Wife Wants Trump to Intervene 

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is in a world of hurt, possibly self-inflicted, possibly the victim of a conspiracy. Time will tell. In the meantime, his wife Carole has been giving interviews, first to Nikkei in May and to CNBC earlier this month and now to the BBC, where she denies any wrongdoing and is asks President Trump to step in to help her husband.

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Well, Trump and a few other leaders.

During April’s raid and the re-arrest, prosecutors seized Mrs Ghosn’s Lebanese passport but failed to find her US one. She flew to France, where she appealed for help from Emmanuel Macron, and then to America, where she called on Donald Trump to intervene.

Both administrations say they “are doing everything they can,” said Mrs Ghosn, who also plans to ask Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro to take up her cause.

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Trump and Bolsonaro indeed have a lot in common, so on some level this makes sense.

4th Gear: Fiat Is on Trump’s Side When It Comes to Emissions

Here is another sensible move, given that FCA’s best-selling products are trucks and Jeeps. But in the longer term it’s questionable, given that FCA—like every car company in the world—will have to submit to our electric future sooner or later. Remember when it just putzed around with an electric Lotus concept car? That was a good use of time.

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Anyway, Bloomberg reports:

When a group of 17 of the world’s largest automakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump on June 6 asking him to compromise with California on vehicle-emission standards, one company was notably absent from the list of signatories: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

[...]

General Motors Co. suggested a national mandate for electric vehicles in 2021 in its written comments to regulators. Honda Motor Co. called for “strong 2025 targets” and said it did not support a Trump administration proposal to freeze the standards. Ford Motor Co.’s top executives said publicly they “support increasing clean-car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.”

In its written comments submitted to regulators last year, Fiat Chrysler said it agrees with one of the Trump administration’s central arguments: Stricter fuel-efficiency mandates drive up new vehicle prices, keeping older, dirtier and less-safe cars on the road longer. It said this could undermine the very air quality and safety benefits the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rules aim to deliver.

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Fiat can’t run forever. 

5th Gear: There Are Mobility Things Happening in Israel

Automotive News is in Tel Aviv, and, as was the case last week, their reporter on the ground has filed some copy. It’s all following Ford opening a research center there.

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There are some stats:

Since [2013], the number of mobility startups has exploded to 644 from 87, organizers say. They make up about 10 percent of the country’s total startups.

“We’re becoming this mobility hub that everyone comes to brainstorm, test and develop,” Orlie Dahan, EcoMotion’s executive director, told Automotive News. “You can Skype and fly in from time to time, but there’s nothing like being close and on the ground.”

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But then there are also a lot of weird sentences:

Near-universal conscription into the Israel Defense Forces has instilled a sense of maturity and leadership among Israeli entrepreneurs. And many autonomous technologies, from cybersecurity systems to radar and lidar sensors, have their roots in military applications.

The culture that encourages risk- taking, local leaders say, stems from a historical lack of natural resources and an ingrained belief that Israelis can overcome challenges by creating something where nothing exists.

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And here’s Bill Ford discovering things, like a college kid studying abroad in the Middle East:

Bill Ford’s visit last week was his first to Israel. He swam in the Dead Sea, hiked the ancient Masada mountaintop fortress and toured the Golan Heights region. He planned to visit Jerusalem after attending the r&d center opening.

He said he admired the country’s ability to innovate through struggles, whether crafting unique irrigation systems in a desert climate or adopting top-notch military practices because of constant tensions in the region.

“They keep running into obstacles, either natural or man-made, and they keep solving their problems,” Ford said. “It’s not surprising that kind of creativity and brainpower has the ability to change our industry and many other industries as well.”

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The automaker and its namesake definitely has absolutely zero history with antisemitism, none at all.

Reverse: OJ

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Neutral: Are You a Chevy Truck or Ford Truck Person?

Sorry, that’s basically the least interesting question in the history of cars. I’m Chevy.