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: Meh
In 2006, when he came to Ford from Boeing, former CEO Alan Mulally was hailed as a genius for ordering the Five Hundred sedan change its name to the Taurus. Mulally thought it was dumb for Ford to throw away decades of brand equity in the well-known Taurus name.
Now it’s 2015, buyers are abandoning sedans for crossovers and nobody gives a shit about the Taurus anymore. Via Automotive News:
U.S. sales of the Taurus, like many large cars, are tanking, down 28 percent through July. Ford unveiled a redesigned Taurus in April but said it was designed only to be built and sold in China.
Ford hasn’t revealed any updates for the Taurus in North America, suggesting the current generation, introduced in 2009 and updated in 2012, will linger on dealership lots for at least a few more years. If sales keep falling, analysts speculate Ford could eliminate U.S. production of it and either import the small volume it needs here from China or leave the full-size sedan segment to its Lincoln brand, which will roll out the Continental next year.
The Taurus has also been hurt by sales of the Fusion, which is actually a bit bigger inside, although some 20 percent of Tauruses end up as cop cars. And even then, police prefer Explorers.
2nd Gear: Buicks From China?
The U.S. is set to get its first Chinese-made export cars soon in the form of the Volvo S60 Inscription. As compact crossover sales blow up, dealers and industry watchers wonder what happened to the Envision, which General Motors talked about bringing to the U.S. from China. That was two years ago, and now, nothing. One more from Automotive News:
But for GM, importing the Envision from China is complicated. For one, the company is in the middle of contract negotiations with the UAW, whose leaders likely would blanch at the prospect of Chinese imports. A UAW spokeswoman declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Buick is busy trying to quench booming demand for crossovers in China, where the brand sells four times its U.S. volume. The Envision went on sale there last fall. GM says 57,413 were sold in the first half of this year.
A U.S. rollout would require GM eventually to boost Envision production by more than 20 percent, based on third-party sales forecasts for China and the U.S.
Imported cars from China seem all but inevitable, no matter where they’re from.
3rd Gear: Toyota Halts Production After Explosions:
Wednesday’s explosions came during holidays for the Japanese carmaker, so there has been no impact so far on production at its three lines near the affected area, Toyota said in a statement.
“However, due to ongoing evacuation advisories, none of the three lines at Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co Ltd will be (in) operation from Aug. 17 through 19,” Toyota said.
4th Gear: Big VW Airbag Recall
Airbag recalls: they’re not just for Takata anymore! From Bloomberg:
Volkswagen AG is recalling as many as 420,000 cars in the U.S. to fix a flaw that may prevent their air bags from deploying in an accident.
The recall affects seven models made between 2010 and 2014, including the Golf, Jetta and Passat, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday on its website.
Debris may contaminate the clock spring that keeps the cars’ air bags powered, tearing the spring and cutting off the electrical connection to the front air bag on the driver’s side, the auto-safety regulator said.
5th Gear: Woodward!
If you were in the Detroit area this past weekend, and you didn’t attend the Woodward Dream Cruise, you are a crazy person. From The Detroit News:
Bright taillights and even brighter sunshine revved up crowds from Ferndale to Pontiac at this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.
From Dodge Hellcat burnouts to marriage renewals, the annual end-of-summer auto-fest had gearheads and people-watchers alike in awe from early Saturday morning until police ushered the cars off M-1 promptly at 9 p.m.
Picture perfect weather further enhanced the experience for a global crowd that likely topped one million.
“It’s the greatest car event in the world,” said Dennis Pendley, 46, of Plymouth. “You see everything.”
Reverse: Thanks, Kettering
Charles F. Kettering, co-founder of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) in Dayton, Ohio, is issued U.S. Patent No. 1,150,523 for his “engine-starting device”–the first electric ignition device for automobiles–on August 17, 1915.
Neutral: Would You Buy A Chinese-Made Car?
Or would quality concerns keep you sticking with what you know?
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Volvo XC90 will be built in China and exported to the U.S.; this is not the case. The XC90 is built in Sweden.
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