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: No Love For The Model X
People are buying SUVs like the world is about to end. You’d think that an SUV-anything would sell well, right? Especially a Tesla SUV? Wrong.
The poor Model X has not felt the warm and glowing touch of SUV love in the United States, reports Bloomberg. While the Model S has been a runaway sales success, the Model X’s sales figures have lagged comparatively:
Model X deliveries have yet to keep pace with the Model S, as Musk predicted, and U.S. registrations of the SUV have slipped the last two quarters, according to IHS Markit.
Tesla Dad Elon Musk thinks that the Model X’s complicated features, like its falcon-wing doors and its high price tag, are to blame for its tepid sales figures.
According to Bloomberg, Musk recognized that this was probably a mistake. “Model X became kind of like a technology bandwagon of every cool thing we could imagine all at once,” he said during an earnings call earlier this month. “That is a terrible strategy.”
For the upcoming Model 3, Musk says he will keep things simple. Because simple is better! We like simple.
2nd Gear: Bosch In Hot Water
Yesterday, news broke of a class-action lawsuit that is accusing GM of installing defeat devices in over 700,000 trucks to cheat through U.S. emissions tests. Auto supplier Bosch was also named a defendant. But the fun doesn’t stop there.
Now, German prosecutors are are looking into whether Bosch was involved in a separate and alleged Daimler diesel fraud, according to Reuters. From the story:
“There is an investigation into aiding and abetting fraud,” a spokesman for the Stuttgart prosecutor said following a media report published on Thursday.
The spokesman added that the Bosch investigation started a couple of weeks ago and was tied to the continuing probe of Daimler, the owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
Bosch is a provider of engine management software to Daimler and prosecutors are investigating whether the carmaker made use of illegal software to cheat emissions tests.
The latest investigation of Bosch in connection with Daimler comes in addition to a separate inquiry in which Stuttgart prosecutors are looking at what role Bosch may have had in helping engineers at Volkswagen manipulate diesel emissions.
Just this past week, German law enforcement searched 11 Daimler offices for evidence to support the diesel cheating allegations.
In addition to the GM and Daimler allegations, Bosch has also been cited in a lawsuit in the United States over FCA diesel emissions and was previously implicated in Volkswagen’s Dieselgate for allegedly helping develop the defeat devices.
3rd Gear: Electric Cars Will Soon Be Cheaper Than Gas Ones But Wait There’s A Catch
Cost is a huge factor for many when it comes to buying a car. And for electric cars to truly become more attractive than their gas-driven counterparts, one of the things that has to happen is that they need to be the cheaper option.
That day is coming, according to a new Bloomberg study. Except that day is probably in 2025. From the story:
Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said.
Plus, when gas gets expensive, those EVs are going to look real good.
4th Gear: California Is Dissatisfied With VW
As part of the Dieselgate settlement, VW will put $2 billion towards researching and promoting zero-emissions technology. VW’s plan, called Electrify America, would start off with increasing the number of car chargers across the nation.
This, apparently, wasn’t specific enough for the California Air Resources Board, reports Reuters. The remarks include concerns over hydrogen fuel cell research and helping disadvantaged communities:
The remarks in a Wednesday letter from the California Air Resources Board to VW’s Electrify America come after criticism that the German automaker’s plan, part of a deal to atone for diesel emissions cheating, could give it a competitive advantage on other vehicle and charging station makers and ignore poorer communities where the state wants to promote clean cars.
It asked VW to explain how it would meet a requirement to spend funds in disadvantaged communities, including installing electric vehicle charging stations.
“CARB recommends that Electrify America make every attempt to attain investment of 35 percent of the first 30-month investment cycle in these communities,” said the letter, which was seen by Reuters.
It also asked VW to describe potential plans for hydrogen vehicles over the 10-year investment period, since California’s zero-emission vehicle plan includes battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles.
Also, any money spent on education and outreach can’t be brand-y or feature VW cars. It’s like California is making VW bankroll these advancements in zero-emissions tech without any personal gain to its own company.
5th Gear: Maybe The SUV Crowd Is Onto Something
“I just feel safer in an SUV,” I’ve heard people gush. I’d always thought this was some kind of justification for wanting a fashionable barn on wheels, but maybe there’s some merit to this statement after all.
In recent years, the chance of death in a crash involving a small car has been greater than a crash involving a larger one or an SUV, reports The Detroit News, citing a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study found:
Models with the highest rates of driver deaths per million registered years, or vehicles registered for one year, for models that were made between 2012 and 2015 is the Hyundai Accent four-door sedan, which had 104 deaths per million registered vehicle years.
The Accent was followed by the Kia Rio sedan at 102 deaths per million registered vehicle years; the Scion tC 2-door car, which had 101 deaths; the Chevrolet Spark 4-door car; and the Nissan Versa.
The study found the top five models with the lowest driver death rates were the Volkswagen Tiguan 2WD SUV, Toyota Tacoma Double Cab long bed 4WD pickup, Mazda CX-9 2WD SUV, Audi A6 4WD and Audi Q7 4WD. All had zero driver deaths in the period measured.
Of course, having a small car isn’t the only reason for higher fatalities. Part of the reason is that gas is cheap, so people are driving more. More cars on the roads just increases the probability of crashes.
Still, though: best to be careful out there, everyone!
Reverse: The Last Day
Neutral: Personally, I find the Model X’s falcon-doors to be silly and gimmicky. And it’s expensive as all hell. Why do you think it’s not selling well?