The Era Of The $70,000 Luxury Pickup Truck

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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: It’s Called The Ford F-150 Limited And It’s Nice And Expensive

Why are pickup trucks such a huge deal for American manufacturers? Margins. Ford, for example, makes something like $10,000 in profit on each F-Series truck, way more than the $2,500 pretax profit on your average vehicle. This, and the fact that loaded trucks are also status symbols for many, helps explain the new 2016 Ford F-150 Limited set to be unveiled in Los Angeles (of course it’s LA) today.


Full briefing coming soon from Truck Yeah, but for now here’s Automotive News:

Ford Motor Co. is responding to surging demand for high-end pickups by introducing a Limited version of the F-150 that will start at about $60,000 and likely top $70,000 when loaded with options.

[...] In the first half of this year, Ford said 60 percent of F-series sales were so-called high-series trims: Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum. As a result, the truck’s average transaction price has jumped 9 percent to $44,100 from a year ago.

Though the Limited trim isn’t expected to sell in large numbers, it gives Ford another way to maximize revenue from the hugely profitable F-series lineup. Its starting price is about $10,000 more than that of the Chevrolet Silverado High Country, $8,000 more than a Ram 1500 Limited and the same as a BMW X6.


Get all the truck moneys, Ford!

2nd Gear: Why Maps Are Such A Huge Deal

Two big deals involving in-car maps are about to be underway: TomTom is ramping up its partnership with supplier Robert Bosch, and Nokia is preparing to sell its map unit HERE to BMW Group, Audi and Mercedes-Benz for a possible $4 billion.


Why are maps increasingly important? They need to be good for autonomous cars. From Reuters:

Road coverage will subsequently be extended to the rest of Europe and North America, Bosch said. Multi-layered high-definition maps are key to efforts to introduce automated driving on freeways from 2020, Bosch board member Dirk Hoheisel said.

The new maps will contain a “localization layer” and a “planning layer” for cars to calculate their position on a road by comparing high-definition map data with that gathered by on-board sensors.


Remember when people had paper map books in their cars? Does anyone still do that?

3rd Gear: Leaf Lawsuit Settled

In 2012 a group of Nissan Leaf owners sued the carmaker over steadily declining battery performance in the electric compacts. The owners said Nissan’s range claims were based on excessively charged battery packs.


That suit has been settled, and now Nissan has to fix the packs. Via Green Car Reports:

Under the new terms, Nissan will no longer have the option to repair a battery pack that shows less than nine “bars” of indicated capacity on the dashboard gauge. Instead, it will have to replace those packs with updated versions identical to those used in the 2015 Leaf, which use a newer and more heat-tolerant cell chemistry.

Nissan will also provide 90 days of free access to DC fast-charging through its EZ Charge card program.


4th Gear: The Feds Are Still Up Fiat Chrysler’s Asses

In a newfound show of force, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been hammering Fiat Chrysler lately over their handling (or mishandling) of 23 recalls involving some 11 million vehicles. No agreement or penalties have been announced yet, but NHTSA says they’re just getting this party started. From The Detroit News:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Mark Rosekind said the U.S. vehicle safety watchdog is continuing to evaluate the automaker’s procedures and efforts outside the previously announced campaigns that date back to 2013.

“Just because we come out and handle these 23 doesn’t mean that we’re done going after some of those other things that maybe didn’t fit into these particular 23 recalls that we identified,” he told reporters Monday in Detroit.


Get some!

5th Gear: Change At NHTSA

Speaking of NHTSA and Rosekind, he was in Detroit yesterday to speak with reporters about a variety of issues, one of them being making the change needed at the important but troubled auto safety regulator. While NHTSA is trying to bare its teeth more, a move he says began with General Motors’ ignition crisis, they have a long way to go after their own damning audit. From The Detroit Free Press:

Before being named administrator, he was a member of the National Transportation Safety Board — another safety agency which investigates aviation, marine and railroad accidents, He points to the NTSB as a model for the culture he hopes to instill at NHTSA.

Rosekind, who has a doctorate from Yale, and an expert on fatigue.

“Given the resources we have, we’re going to use all available tools to get things done,” he said. “Having said all of that that, I don’t mind telling you that I also think one of our agendas clearly — because I keep talking about this — is to try to get the auto industry more proactive. Everybody is reactive, even NHTSA.”


Reverse: The Volkswagen Law

On this day in 1960, the German government passes the “Law Concerning the Transfer of the Share Rights in Volkswagenwerk Limited Liability Company into Private Hands,” known informally as the “Volkswagen Law.”

[...] The Volkswagen Law, passed in July 1960, changed the company to a joint stock corporation, with 20 percent held each by Germany and Lower Saxony, the region in which Volkswagen is still headquartered. By limiting the share of any other stockholder to 20 percent, regardless of how many shares owned, the law effectively protected the company from any attempt at a hostile takeover.


That law was struck down in 2007, paving the way for Porsche’s botched attempt at a takeover of VW, which later went the other way.

Neutral: Luxury Pickups, Awesome Or Ridiculous?

I’m always kind of amazed at how expensive modern pickups are, but people definitely buy them.


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