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: Good News And Bad News For Tesla
It seems to be news anytime Elon Musk opens his mouth about anything, but Tesla Motors brought some actual news yesterday in their Q2 call. Mainly, that the Model X is coming next month (hopefully) and they’ll do public beta trials for autopilot.
Here’s the bad news, via Bloomberg. After revising down their delivery expectations for 2015, their stock took a hit:
Assembly snags on Tesla Motors Inc.’s first SUV could also slow output of the Model S sedan, Musk said. So now the company may deliver 50,000 to 55,000 autos in 2015, down from an initial target of 55,000. Tesla shares, which cost $270.13 at the close on Wednesday, fell as much as 9.3 percent after regular U.S. trading, and in European markets were down 6 percent at $253.79 as of 12:53 p.m. Thursday in Frankfurt.
“It was a surprise to us,” said Ben Kallo of Robert W. Baird & Co. about the lower forecast for the year. “In the long run 5,000 cars is not a big deal, but it does raise eyebrows about the longer-term ramp.”
2nd Gear: Tesla Car Hacking, BUT...
One reason you’re hearing so much about car hacking lately is that the huge annual cyber security conference Def Con starts Friday. Among other things, the white hat hackers who remotely seized control of that Jeep Cherokee, prompting a 1.4 million vehicle recall, will present their findings.
As will researchers who say they hacked a Tesla Model S. Via the Financial Times (sub req:)
This allowed them to take control of the screens. They were able to manipulate the speedometer to show the wrong speed, lower and raise the windows, lock and unlock the car and turn the car on or off.
“We shut the car down when it was driving initially at a low speed of five miles per hour. All the screens go black, the music turns off and the handbrake comes on, lurching it to a stop,” said Mr Rogers.
But, and there’s a very big BUT here:
The hackers had to physically access the Tesla first, which made it more difficult than many other hacks. Once they were connected through an Ethernet cable, they were later able to access the systems from afar.
To date the Uconnect remains the only known remote one, and even that was admittedly very hard to pull off. Does it indicate that cybersecurity in cars will be a greater concern for automakers and regulators? Of course, but let’s not freak out too much in cases where actual, physical tampering is involved.
3rd Gear: Incentives!
New vehicle sales, especially crossover and pickup truck sales, are so hot right now. But if you’re not getting steep discounts, you may be getting screwed. From The Detroit News:
The amount of cash customers were getting off a vehicle’s original sticker price was down 1.2 percent in July to an average of $2,849, according to California-based vehicle pricing firm TrueCar, and discounts averaged 9 percent of a vehicle’s sticker price.
[...] The highest discounts last month were on subcompact cars (up 28.7 percent) and midsize cars (up 21.7 percent), according to TrueCar. Incentives fell on popular segments such as midsize SUVs (down 5.1 percent) and sports cars (down 10 percent).
More insane discounts on sports cars, please? No? Okay.
4th Gear: Lexus Needs Another Flagship
For years the top of the Lexus range has been their LS flagship sedan. It’s really nice, high tech and powerful, like a boring 7-Series. But the luxury sedan segment isn’t doing as well as it used to in the age of SUVs, crossovers and cheap gas, so maybe Lexus needs a new flagship. Reuters:
Rival luxury car makers have been winning customers with vehicles such as Tata Motors’ (TAMO.NS) Land Rover brand, the Cadillac Escalade from General Motors Co (GM.N) and large SUVs coming from the German luxury automakers. The SUV surge has prompted even luxury brands with no history of selling SUVs, such as BMW’s (BMWG.DE) Rolls-Royce, to develop models to compete in the super luxury SUV segment.
U.S. sales have been supported by a prolonged drop in gasoline prices. Average prices at the pump on Tuesday were $2.63, down 25 percent from a year ago, according to the AAA travel group.
“In addition to the LS (a large sedan), there could be another flagship in our lineup,” Bracken said. “We’ll define what it is in January.”
They’re finally getting a three-row RX crossover, which should help a lot.
5th Gear: Join The Auto Industry!
One of the biggest questions we get from young folks (“the youths,” or “teens,” as they call themselves) is how they can get jobs in the car industry. Now Michigan’s governor is trying to encourage more of that. There’s a new initiative there called We Run on Brainpower, a video campaign meant to inspire young people to consider working for automakers. Via The Detroit Free press:
“Young people don’t see the auto industry as sexy, and their parents who lived through the cycles don’t want it for their kids,” Dziczek said. But the sector offers a chance to work with the latest technology, work in teams, and address global issues and societal challenges, which should appeal to job seekers.
The goal is to get young people excited about an industry that is now delving into autonomous cars, as well.
“We should be the center of intelligent vehicles,” Snyder said. He said Michigan rivals and perhaps exceeds Silicon Valley as a global innovation center, with the highest concentration of engineers, designers and IT specialists, but the state has not done a good job of marketing that fact, which is something the Brainpower campaign will try to address.
It’s the most fascinating industry on earth! You should do it, teens!
Reverse: We Miss Citroën More Though
On this day in 1991, in a letter to around 150 of its United States franchisees, the French automaker Peugeot (manufacturer of both Peugeot and Citroen cars) announces that it will stop producing cars for the U.S. market as of the following September after five years of steadily decreasing sales.
Neutral: Are You Taking Advantage Of New Car Discounts?
I sure hope so!
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