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.
How was your Halloween? Mine was great, thanks for asking. Nobody rang my doorbell, I got pizza delivery and I watched Van Helsing.
1st Gear: Talking Cars, And We Don’t Mean Datsuns Either
It’s widely believed that if you want roads full of autonomous cars that cause zero deaths or crashes, those cars need to be able to talk to each other. For a while it was thought that a federal mandate would at some point require new cars to have this vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology equipped on some level to begin laying the foundation for that to happen. Update: The Department of Transportation and NHTSA have released a statement regarding a V2V mandate.
But the Trump Administration, which as we all know isn’t big on regulations in general, is not expected to pursue such a mandate, the AP reports:
The Obama administration proposed last December that all new cars and light trucks come equipped with technology known as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V. It would enable vehicles to transmit their location, speed, direction and other information 10 times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light or coming around a blind turn in time to prevent a crash.
The administration has decided not to pursue a final V2V mandate, said two auto industry officials who have spoken with White House and Transportation Department officials and two others whose organizations have spoken to the administration. The industry officials spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their relations with the administration.
The White House and the Department of Transportation declined to comment, but the proposal has been dropped from the White House Office of Management and Budget’s list of regulations actively under consideration and instead has been relegated to its long-term agenda.
The story notes that the administration seems wary of imposing more costly regulations on the auto industry, hence the decision.
Even if you are deeply ambivalent about autonomous cars, let alone the thought of owning one, this will have big ripple effects on how automakers plan things moving forward.
Update 10:41 p.m.: The statement, in full:
“The Department of Transportation and NHTSA have not made any final decision on the proposed rulemaking concerning a V2V mandate. Any reports to the contrary are mistaken. In all events, DOT hopes to use the dedicated spectrum for transportation lifesaving technologies. Safety is the Department’s number one priority.”
On background – In response to the proposal, NHTSA is still reviewing and considering over 460 comments submitted and other relevant new information to inform its next steps. An update on these actions will be provided when a decision is made at the appropriate time taking into consideration the rich comments received in response to the proposed action published in December 2016. While DOT withdrew, or revised 13 rules this year, V2V is not one of them, as it remains on the DOT’s significant rulemaking report.
2nd Gear: Ford Annoyed With Wall Street
Earlier this month, Ford CEO Jim Hackett spoke at length about the company’s plan to slash costs from trucks and SUVs and dump money into mobility and electrification. It basically laid out what investors could expect from Ford in the coming years, which seemed a lot like Ford trying to get Wall Street to value it like it does Tesla. Wall Street doesn’t seem like it cares and now Ford says that it revealed too much.
Hackett’s presentation was criticized as being light on the details and that analysts at Barclays Plc and RBC Capital Markets “downgraded their ratings on Ford stock” afterwards, reports Bloomberg. That obviously nettled Ford, which said yesterday,
“In the past, maybe we said too much,” Bill Ford said Tuesday. “This is a very competitive world we’re in. You want to give Wall Street enough information, but you also don’t want to telegraph exactly where you’re going. And I think that’s a balance that we are going to continue to work on.
“We are trying to provide clarity without being so open that we tip our hand in some areas that we think are very key for competitive advantage. The key is providing clarity when we’re ready so that investors can make an informed decision.”
On the consumer side of things, though, a push for electrification and The Future would only benefit us.
3rd Gear: Aston Martin Pulling Out All The Stops
Hah, so, remember how Aston Martin opened a high-rise luxury apartment building in Miami? There’s an actual reason for that, and it’s not just to appease FancyKristen, either.
Aston Martin is throwing boatloads of money into the U.S. market (its biggest market) as part of a Brexit contingency plan, reports Bloomberg. From the story:
“We’ve been putting a lot of effort in the U.S.,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer said in an interview in Tokyo. The reason is the company doesn’t think any contagion will spread to the U.S. in the event consumer confidence drops when Britain leaves the European Union, he said.
As a European maker, Aston Martin has about 95 percent local content, but from the standpoint of the U.K., that drops to about 45 percent because the company manufactures its engines in Germany and sources gearboxes from there, he said. “That would require us to, for example, move the production of our engines,” he said.
Globally, Aston Martin sold about 3,600 cars last year. We accounted for about 20 percent of those sales.
Aston Martin’s projected lineup is packed pretty full, too. Palmer has said in the past that the British automaker will “have one car every year for the next seven years.” That would include the DB11, DBX and an unnamed Ferrari competitor.
More Aston Martins? I can’t think of a downside to this.
4th Gear: A Light At The End Of A Tense Tunnel
Hyundai has been having a rough time in China. South Korea’s installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system angered China, which believed would help outside forces spy on its military activities deep within the mainland.
China’s response was to cut down on Korean-held businesses. Tour groups avoided Korea. Visiting Korea retail businesses was discouraged. Korea car sales plunged in the world’s biggest car market. It was bad.
Thankfully, though, the two countries agreed yesterday to put the standoff to rest, according to Reuters.
From the story:
“Both sides shared the view that the strengthening of exchange and cooperation between Korea and China serves their common interests and agreed to expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“At this critical moment all stakeholders should be working together to address the North Korea nuclear challenge instead of creating problems for others,” said Wang Dong, associate professor of international studies at China’s Peking University.
“This sends a very positive signal that Beijing and Seoul are determined to improve their relations.”
This is excellent news for Korean tourism and retail businesses, which rely heavily on Chinese consumers. But, this is also the stark truth of the matter: China has the ability to put the squeeze on businesses (or even countries, for that matter) that don’t agree with it.
5th Gear: Audi A7 Sportback Going To Detroit
We saw pictures at the handsome 2019 Audi A7 Sportback, but for its IRL debut, Audi won’t bring it to the upcoming LA Auto Show. Instead, we’ll see it at the Detroit Auto Show in January, writes Automotive News.
As we previously reported, the new A7 will have all-wheel steering and the new 48-volt electrical system. Audi broke it down for us:
With the two V6 engines, this uses a 48-volt primary electrical system. A belt alternator starter (BAS) works together with a lithium-ion battery and achieves a recuperation performance of up to 12 kW when braking. At speeds between 55 and 160 km/h (34.2 – 99.4 mph), the four-door coupe can coast in freewheeling mode with the engine deactivated and then restarted comfortably via the BAS.
Cool! Also can’t wait to see this thing get RS’ed up.
Reverse: Another Step In The Nuclear Arms Race
Neutral: Do We Need V2V Yet?
What happens to autonomous cars if it’s not yet a requirement?