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1st Gear: It’s About To Go Down At Bosch
Up until now, Dieselgate punishments have been aimed at carmakers themselves. It was Volkswagen that cheated; it was Volkswagen that got fined. Fiat may soon be implicated in a similar crisis.
But now it looks like Bosch is about to get roped in, according to the results of a year-long study by the University of California, San Diego and Ruhr-Universitat Bochum in Germany entitled “How They Did It,” as Bloomberg reports:
“We find strong evidence that both defeat devices were created by Bosch and then enabled by Volkswagen and Fiat for their respective vehicles,” the study said, citing technical documents.
In a statement, Bosch declined to comment on the study, citing “the sensitive legal nature of these matters,” adding that it would “not comment further concerning matters under investigation and in litigation.” Bosch has previously rejected as “wild and unfounded” claims from vehicle owners that its employees conspired with VW to conceal defeat-device software.
The study claims to have found technical documents for VW cheatery bearing Bosch copyright, which backs up basically what we all thought before. I will also point out that Bosch is the world’s largest auto supplier. Oh boy.
2nd Gear: 15,000 Offered Buyouts At Ford
Ford just got a new CEO after kicking The Mullet Man out of his office and the new guy Jim Hackett is starting his tenure off in the most new-CEO-ey way possible: by cutting 15,000 jobs, as The Detroit Free Press reports:
Ford has started offering buyouts to 15,000 salaried employees in North America and Asia as part of its effort to reduce its global workforce by 1,400.
Workers are being offered voluntary buyout packages that range from three months’ pay to 18 months’ pay, according to a Ford spokesman. The amount of the offer depends on how long the employee has worked for Ford, the person’s salary, position and other benefits.
Employees have several weeks to review the offer and make a decision. All employees accepting the offer will leave the company by Sept. 30. The cost of the buyouts will be reported as part of Ford’s third-quarter earnings.
We knew these cuts were coming last month, only now are finding out how severe they are. The car industry is not nice.
3rd Gear: Trump Bump Fades For U.S. Auto Sales
For some reason, Wall Street thought that the new Trump administration would somehow organize some significant stimulus to the economy and started projecting that car sales nationwide would blossom because of it. A few months into the Trump presidency and it’s clear that organization is not Trump’s strong suit, and things are only going to get more muddled. This does not look great for car sales, as Bloomberg reports:
More than half of the analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News have reduced their full-year projections this spring, dialing the consensus back to 17.2 million light vehicles. The industry set a record with 17.55 million cars and light trucks sold last year, aided by a jump in shipments to rental-car companies and other fleet buyers.
The auto industry has been a fixation for President Donald Trump, who’s said carmakers will build vehicles in the U.S. again because of him. While he’s promised the industry less regulation and lower taxes, the struggle the Republican-led White House and Congress have had with health-care reform has cast doubt on the Trump administration’s ability to follow through on measures that would boost car demand.
Anticipation for tax cuts, infrastructure spending and other policies that would give automakers a lift contributed to analysts raising their sales estimates to 17.4 million as of the end of January, from an average of 17.2 million in November. That optimism has been dashed in part by how consumed Washington has been with investigations into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.
How is this a surprise to anyone? Goddammit.
4th Gear: Say Goodbye To Interesting Toyotas, Such As They Were
Budgets are tightening at Toyota and the company is forming a task force for cutting costs as Automotive News reports. We know what cost-cutting means: fewer interesting, weird, desirable cars.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda said last month at the company’s earnings results briefing that the automaker will take a closer look at its investments after forecasting a second straight annual decline in operating profit. The company sees the risks of a further slide in operating profit beyond this fiscal year as it forecasts stagnant sales, according to the newsletter.
Like its peers, Toyota faces investments in self-driving and connected technology, and is now developing electric vehicles after focusing largely on fuel cells in the past several years.
The Japanese automaker has identified costs such as upgrading factories to Toyota’s new global architecture, or TNGA, and increasing the number of vehicles using the platform, as well as spending toward meeting stricter environmental regulations and on other new technologies, according to the newsletter.
I’m sad, man. Toyota has spent big on some of the most interesting cars and car technologies of the modern era, investing heavily in hybrid tech for years before it ever showed a glimmer of profitability, in addition to making ultra-interesting cars from the Toyobaru Twins to the Lexus LFA and LC.
This period in Toyota’s history may be coming to an end.
5th Gear: Aston Martin Would Like You To Know It’s Confused About The British Election, Too
If you woke up this morning hoping to get a clear answer on how the British election went, only to hit upon even more confusion, you are not alone. Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer would like you to know that his company wants to know what’s going on, and it wants to know real bad, per Reuters:
“We cannot stress strongly enough the need for rapid and decisive policy direction to ensure that business can continue to invest for the long term growth and ensure the global competitiveness of the British economy,” Chief Executive Andy Palmer said in a statement on Friday.
“Clarity over our relationship with Europe must be established quickly together with the wider reassurance to our key trading partners that Britain remains a dynamic and thriving business environment,” he said.
Basically, how Brexit goes down is on the line, and that’s a huge deal for the British car industry. We’ll see how it all plays out, but nothing looks great.
Neutral: How Much Do You Think Bosch Knew?
I get the feeling there was a close working relationship, if you know what I mean. What’s your read on how responsible Bosch was for making Dieselgate happen?