With workers lighting tires on fire in protest, the government of Spain is now stepping in to try and patch things up with Nissan. That and more in The Morning Shift for Friday, May 29, 2020.

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1st Gear: Spanish Workers Protest Nissan Factory Closure With Tire Fire

Nissan has been having a time, and has been trying to scale down as coronavirus put new pressure on a company already feeling the hurt. Nissan’s workers are not with it, as Reuters reports:

Spain said on Thursday it would do everything possible to stop Nissan from closing its main car factory in the country as angry workers burned tires and shouted “War” outside the Barcelona plant.

The Spanish government could seek an alternative partner to keep the plant open, it said.

The decision by Japan’s Nissan Motor Co earlier on Thursday to shut the 3,000-worker plant from December as part of global cost cuts is a blow for the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy at a time when unemployment is rising and a recession is looming due to the coronavirus crisis.

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I don’t know if Nissan thought this would all go smoothly, but it’s not.

And as of this morning, the Financial Times also reports that Renault is planning to cut 15,000 jobs as part of an effort to cut €2bn in costs. Well timed.

2nd Gear: BMW Negotiating With Union To Offer Incentives To Cut 5,000 Jobs

Meanwhile at BMW, the company is working with organized labor to incentivize workers to help the company reach its job cut target, as Bloomberg reports:

BMW AG is negotiating with unions about giving more incentives to workers to persuade them to leave, helping the carmaker reach a target of eliminating about 5,000 positions.

The German firm has been unable to meet its headcount-reduction goal with existing measures, Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Peter said in an internal posting confirmed by the company. Those have included placing employees on unpaid leave and reducing working hours for those on shorter contracts.

The German company could add early retirement packages to the list, a spokeswoman said Friday. German newswire DPA was first to report the accelerated measures.

While BMW typically loses and replaces about 5,000 employees every year due to natural comings and goings, uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic has slowed the outflow as people put off plans to seek other jobs or to start their own businesses.

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If there’s anything to take from this, it’s to organize and light tire fires.

3rd Gear: Europe’s $824 Billion Pandemic Bailout Tied To Green Deal

While individual European countries have had their own individual bailout plans for coronavirus, the European Commission is getting ready for its own. What’s important is that Europe is taking the opportunity to forward supporting industry that combats climate change, as our old coworker Josh Petri writes at Bloomberg:

The European Commission’s $824 billion economic recovery package comes with big, green strings attached: To access the funds, European Union member-states will need to show that their investment is in line with the ambitious objective of the Green Deal to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions.

“With the new package we also commit to do no harm with regard to our climate ambitions,” EC Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said Thursday. “What we do should help us fulfill these ambitions and should not go in the other direction.”

The package, the world’s greenest pandemic bailout, still needs to be approved by the bloc’s 27 members, but it would promote a clean link that was missing in many national Covid-19 bailouts despite encouragement from the commission. It is, by way of example, almost the opposite of the American bailout, which Republicans insisted should help floundering fossil fuel companies and not do much of anything to fight global warming.

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I do still have some hope that this year will see some major change that’s positive as much as transformative. As they say, if not now, when?

4th Gear: GM Is Trying To Make These Pickups As Fast As It Can

This is not to say that there isn’t a ton of momentum for the status quo. We’ve written before how nothing, nothing, nothing will stand between Americans and buying new pickup trucks, global pandemic or not.

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GM is doing its part, as Bloomberg reports in Automotive News:

Three U.S. factories building mid- and full-size pickups will operate on three shifts starting June 1, the automaker said in a statement Thursday. GM has been running just one shift at the facilities and was unable to increase output this week because supply of parts from Mexico was constrained.

GM said three other factories that build crossovers in the U.S. and Canada will move to two shifts, from one. Five of its assembly plants will still operate on one shift.

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We’re going to go through all this work, all this risk of restarting assembly line production... for Silverados? Have you seen a Silverado these days? Do you think it’s worth it?

5th Gear: Ghana Bans Importing Old Cars

This is an interesting one. Ghana is banning importing any car more than 10 years old in an effort to draw in foreign car companies to set up plants in the country. Bloomberg reports:

Ghana banned the importation of cars older than 10 years to encourage international companies including Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. to set up local plants in the West African country.

The new law also provides import-duty rebates for companies that manufacture or assemble cars in Ghana, according to the act of parliament obtained Thursday by Bloomberg. The embargo will take effect six months after the manufacturing or assembling of new vehicles in Ghana begin under a special government program meant to draw investment.

Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Renault SA are among automakers weighing the local assembly of vehicles in a country where used cars make up about 70% of vehicle imports. Ghana is seeking to become a car-manufacturing hub for West Africa, a region with more than 380 million people.

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Ghana’s first carmaker has its own strange history with foreign investment, as we at Jalopnik investigated some years ago.

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Reverse: This Was All Anyone Talked About At The Time

Via History:

On May 29, 2005, 23-year-old Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to take the lead in the storied Indianapolis 500.

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Neutral: Is This Our Year?

Everyone keeps talking about returning to some kind of “new normal” but what would you want that to look like, and do you think we’ll get there? It looks to be a long hot summer here in the city.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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