This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: And Honda's Role In It
The most important thing you can read this morning is this article on the Honda/Takata airbag recall that is, frankly, terrifying. Hiroko Tabuchi does a great job of breaking down the obvious malfeasance at Honda and Takata, the inability of NHTSA to notice it, and the overwhelming systematic disfunction at many levels that has allowed it to continue.
Airbags in Honda vehicles — but also in BMWs, Nissans, Mazdas, Toyotas, and Chryslers — are at risk of exploding and sending shrapnel into people. In one instance, a driver in Virginia got hit in the neck and chest and bled to death in front of her three children.
And Honda appears to have delayed other automakers in addressing it:
The danger of exploding air bags was not disclosed for years after the first reported incident in 2004, despite red flags — including three additional ruptures reported to Honda in 2007, according to interviews, regulatory filings and court records.
In each of the incidents, Honda settled confidential financial claims with people injured by the air bags, but the automaker did not issue a safety recall until late 2008, and then for only a small fraction — about 4,200 — of its vehicles eventually found to be equipped with the potentially explosive air bags.
The delays by both Honda and Takata in alerting the public about the defect — and later in Takata’s acknowledging it extended beyond a small group of Honda vehicles — meant other automakers like BMW, Toyota and Nissan were not aware of possible defects in their own vehicles for years, putting off their recalls. Only last month, Honda issued yet another recall of its own — its ninth for the defect — bringing to six million the total of recalled Honda and Acura vehicles.
Where's the outrage over this? You should be raging.
UPDATE: Honda sent us the following statement:
The safety of our customers is our top priority and we care deeply about their wellbeing. Contrary to what the New York Times has asserted, Honda has always been forthright with our customers and the NHTSA about our actions.
When we identify an incident that raises concerns about the design or manufacture of one of our vehicles, we investigate it earnestly. When appropriate, we work in conjunction with our suppliers. When we determine a recall is necessary, we act swiftly and without hesitation.
With regard to the Takata airbag inflators, in each instance where we understood that there might be a safety defect present in some of our vehicles, we identified the population of affected vehicles to the best of our ability at that time and recalled them.
For any of our customers concerned about a recall potentially affecting their vehicle, we invite them to please visit recalls.honda.com or call 1-800-999-1009, option 4, for more information.
2nd Gear: The Gigafactory Is The New Hoover Dam?
The state legislature in Nevada unanimously voted for a package that will give about $1.3 billion in incentives to Tesla to build a gigafactory in the state.
One lawmaker said it was the most important development in Nevada since the construction of the Hoover Dam southeast of Las Vegas during the Great Depression
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” Sandoval said as he put his signature to four bills late Thursday night, shortly after the state Legislature unanimously approved the package that includes tax credits and other incentives worth up to $1.3 billion.
“This is some of the most important legislation that’s hit this state in perhaps our history,” the Republican governor said. “We have changed the trajectory of this state, perhaps forever.”
Well, that and prostitution.
3rd Gear: GM Issues Stop-Sale On Some Corvettes
Speaking of airbag issues, GM appears to have one with about 2,000 Corvettes in an unrelated issue that involves a part that attaches the driver's airbag to the steering wheel.
Additionally, the Freep says another 800 vehicles are being checked to make sure that both rear parking brake cables were fully "seated and engaged." Yeah, working parking brakes, always important.
This is the first recall for GM in more than a month.
4th Gear: The Problem With India
India should be the third largest car market in the world by 2018, but it's a relatively young market considering it's a large, established democracy. As the market there rebounds, automakers are going to have to figure out how to appeal to consumers.
The biggest challenge may be for GM.
Despite a portfolio that includes compact cars, a favorite among buyers in India, GM has faced stiff competition from Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), Japan's Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Maruti Suzuki India (MRTI.NS), which together account for two-thirds of car sales in the country.
GM, which entered India in 1994, saw its market share fall to 3.2 percent in the fiscal year ended March 31 from 3.3 percent the year before, industry body data showed.
"We are undertaking right now a transformation and a significant restructure of our organization including India and we are building our strategy," said Stefan Jacoby, executive vice president of GM's consolidated international operations.
5th Gear: Peugeot To Build Cars In Nigeria
Africa is another developing market where major automakers want to play, and it's one of the few global markets where French automakers have historically done well.
Thus, it's no surprise that Peugeot picked Nigeria to work on a version of its 301. What has surprised people is that there wasn't a move to build RHD versions for South Africa under a program to spur development in the country.
The issue appears to be that 50,000 units have to be produced and the market for RHD French cars was only about 5,000 - 6,000. Oh well.
On September 12, 1993, the rebuilt Lacey V. Murrow Bridge over Lake Washington opens in Seattle. The new bridge, which was actually the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 (the westbound lanes cross the lake on a separate bridge), connects the city and its eastern suburbs. It replaced the original Murrow Bridge, the first floating concrete bridge in the world, which was destroyed by a flood in November 1990.
Neutral: Why Not Anti-Honda Outrage? What's the difference between GM and Honda here?
Photo Credit: Getty Images