NHTSA doesn’t seem impressed with two Hyundai and Kia recalls, VinFast’s CEO is done after only five months, and Elon Musk. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 28, 2021.
There was a recall in April for 147,000 Kias related to piston oil rings and possible fire, and also one in May involving over 390,000 Hyundais because of possible fire. Previous to that, Hyundai and Kia recalled 200,000 cars in 2019 because of fire risk, and over 600,000 cars last year because of the same thing.
It sounds like now NHTSA is looking at what the deal is with Hyundai, Kia, and fire in general, according to the Associated Press:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says a new engineering analysis investigation covers more than 3 million vehicles from the 2011 through 2016 model years. The agency has received 161 complaints of engine fires, some of which occurred in vehicles that had already been recalled.
Engine failures and fires have dogged the Korean automakers’ vehicles since September 2015 when the company issued an engine failure recall. Since then it has issued at least eight more recalls for a host of engine problems, according to NHTSA documents posted on its website Monday.
The agency says it’s opening the engineering analysis to evaluate whether previous recalls covered enough vehicles. It also will monitor the effectiveness of previous recalls “as well as the long-term viability of related programs and non-safety field actions being conducted by Hyundai and Kia.
The engineering analysis could lead to further recalls.
Hyundai said it Monday that it is cooperating fully with U.S. regulators.
“Hyundai has taken numerous proactive actions to address engine issues, including conducting several recalls, launching a new engine monitoring technology, providing extended warranties and enhancing our customer service response,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Hyundai fosters a culture of transparency and accountability as the safety of our customers is the top priority in everything we do.”
Kia did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
It’s always very difficult to parse how much of a relationship there is between recalls and sales, as recalls only ever seem to make a dent on automakers’ bottom lines in the form of actually paying for the repairs. I mean, if build quality were a thing that consumers really cared about, then Tesla and Land Rover would have more serious issues than they do. Generally, build quality seems to be a thing we all decided to stop giving a shit about once every new car became Good Enough, sometime around 2005.
Anyway, get your recalls done.
It is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and pretty much the slowest news week of the year, so I will not fault the Financial Times for running a paper-thin story about social media users criticizing Elon for SpaceX satellites possibly moving dangerously. Instead, I will delight in it.
The country’s mission to the UN complained this month that the Chinese space station had to take “preventive collision avoidance control” measures in October and July to “ensure the safety and lives of in-orbit astronauts”.
China said the two satellites from SpaceX’s Starlink internet network were moving dangerously and alleged that one had an unpredictable “manoeuvre strategy”. Beijing did not say how close the spacecraft had come to a collision.
“Tesla and SpaceX have the same problem, they can’t brake,” quipped one user on social media platform Weibo.
Another Chinese user called Starlink “the world’s biggest pile of space junk”. European industry experts have warned that the expanding Starlink project exacerbates the growing problem of space debris, with more than 100,000 commercial spacecraft projected to be in orbit by 2029.
Hu Xijin, a commentator for the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese tabloid, wrote on Twitter: “Could Mr Musk please explain why satellites launched by his Starlink program had two close encounters with China’s space station. They were not there to sell Tesla to Chinese taikonauts, were they?”
Other Chinese citizens called for Musk to be kicked out of China.
Sadly, none of these burns are particularly witty, though I appreciate all of them.
Michael Lohscheller was appointed CEO in July and made some noise about the Vietnamese automaker coming to the U.S. as soon as last month. Except now Lohscheller, who came to VinFast from Opel, is out, according to Automotive News.
Lohscheller will leave the position and return to Europe due to personal reasons, Vingroup said in a statement on Monday.
Vingroup said Le Thi Thu Thuy will take over Lohscheller’s position of VinFast Global CEO. Thuy will remain Vingroup vice chairwoman.
Thuy will directly be in charge of overseeing VinFast’s business activities in its current markets, including Vietnam, the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands, Vingroup said.
In the coming time, she will also lead market survey activities and expansions into other potential markets globally, Vingroup said.
Lohscheller had gone to Vietnam for the role, so it’s very possible that there is some situation he needed to go back to Europe for, and this isn’t a bad omen for VinFast’s future. At least I am hoping so. Anyway, it’s cool that there’s a new female automaker CEO.
That surge has been largely attributed to boosts in car production, as various shortages ease and the global supply chain rebalances itself, though Bloomberg says that trouble still looms in the form of omicron.
Japan’s industrial production jumped by a record in November, adding to evidence that a manufacturing recovery from supply chain snags was solidly underway before the omicron variant started to spread around the globe.
A bounce back in the auto industry helped production climb 7.2% from October’s level, the biggest gain in data going back to 1978, data from the economy ministry showed Tuesday. Analysts had expected a 4.8% increase.
Despite last month’s surge, production remained below July’s level, an indication of how damaging global supply chain blockages have been to Japan’s key manufacturing sector. November production was 5.4% above year-earlier levels, but still sharply down from a high in April.
A ministry official also warned that the omicron variant has added another element of uncertainty to the outlook. The government sees manufacturers trimming output by 1.2% this month, in contradiction to data in Tuesday’s report that showed increases, the official said, adding that companies tend to be overly optimistic in their reported plans.
Bloomberg’s daily mission is to find any morsel of good news for investors, before undercutting it with a premonition.
China has done away with rules requiring foreign automakers to only operate as joint ventures in the country, with a limited 50 percent stake. That’s according to Nikkei:
The Chinese government has abolished limits on foreign automakers’ investments in the passenger vehicle sector, effective next year, sweeping away the last major restriction on global players.
Passenger vehicles will on Jan. 1 come off the so-called negative list restricting investment by foreign corporations, according to Monday’s announcement by the Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission. Local media characterize the step as China further opening up to the world.
The move makes good on an April 2018 announcement that China would open up its automotive sector in phases. New-energy vehicles, such as electric vehicles, received the treatment that year, followed by commercial vehicles in 2020. The remaining segment, passenger vehicles, accounts for 80% or so of the auto market.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called Chinese automakers “the most competitive in the world,” and this is one thing I’m inclined to believe Elon about, as the U.S. is woefully behind China and Europe when it comes to EVs. I would expect this to make that even more so.
Early in the 20th Century, American transit systems were privately-owned, often part of electric utilities. As a reaction to graft and corruption on the part of the city’s privately-owned streetcar company, United Railroads of San Francisco (URR), and as a reflection of the Progressive Era then sweeping California, San Franciscans passed a bond to build their own public streetcar system, the Municipal Railway, first of its kind in a major American city.
Mayor James Rolph, Jr. personally piloted this streetcar out Geary Street on December 28, 1912 to formally open Muni. He paid his own fare with one of the first 40 nickels minted at the San Francisco Mint. Fifty thousand San Franciscans turned out to celebrate.
Muni’s first streetcars were built without windows in their end sections (which served as the smoking sections). But foggy San Francisco weather proved too much for this arrangement, and the end-section windows of No. 1 and Muni streetcars were glazed by around 1918. Otherwise, No. 1 looks almost identical to the day it first operated in 1912, down to its rattan seats and wooden interior paneling.
After much deliberation, a slight loss in power, and a continuing loss in fuel efficiency, I’m beginning to seriously consider replacing the spark plugs in my Fit. Please pray for me in this trying time.