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, and also one about the Murano CrossCabriolet.
Before I continue, here’s our video roundup of how a German auto manufacturer-funded research group tested the toxic gases of diesel fumes first on monkeys and then on humans. This remains a developing story.
1st Gear: FCA’s Relationship With Waymo Grows Stronger
The “Her?” of car companies, Fiat-Chrysler, always seems to surprise me in attracting more buyers than I would ever expect. Nearly 90,000 Americans bought Dodge Journeys last year, and now Waymo, Google’s self-driving car arm, is ordering “thousands” more hybrid Pacifica minivans. This figure is up from the last order of 500 Pacificas in 2017, up from the original order of 100 Pacificas in 2016. It looks like these cars are going to Waymo’s budding ride-hailing service, per a Waymo press release:
Waymo is set to open its autonomous ride-hailing service to the public beginning in Phoenix this year. The additional Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used to support Waymo as it expands its service to more cities across the United States. Waymo has officially tested its technology in 25 cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, San Francisco, Metro Detroit, Phoenix and Kirkland, Washington.
I feel like an Uber versus Google showdown with Chrysler in the mix presages the apocalypse, but I don’t know exactly how.
2nd Gear: FCA’s Relationship With Its Workers, On The Other Hand, Is Less Rosy
A proposed class action suit filed by three Fiat Chrysler workers alleges that FCA paid off UAW workers during union negotiations, The Detroit News reports. The suit claims that workers collectively funneled “hundreds of millions” into the UAW in good faith, money that has been “spent on tainted and/or illegal collective bargaining negotiations,” which jibes with a criminal investigation into the same. The exact figure and nature of the suit is to be determined by a judge, per The Detroit News:
Raymond Sterling, a Bloomfield Hills attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the damages sought total “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The final number will depend on what prosecutors are able to determine was the extent of the conspiracy
There were “bribes and collusion going on,” Sterling said. “It’s usually for a reason, and our clients are the victims of that reason.
“Everyone paid dues, but no one knew what was going on. We know (now) it went on for years. ”
Get the basics right before you start going after the future stuff, FCA.
3rd Gear: VW Ditches Top Lobbyist After Everyone Finds Out About The Whole Gassing Monkeys Thing
Hey, FCA, things could be worse. At least you didn’t fund a now-defunct research group that pumped diesel exhaust at monkeys placated by watching cartoons, or tested nitrous dioxide on humans as well.
In any case, after the public has found out about all of this very sketchy diesel testing, VW has felt the right course of action is to suspend its chief lobbyist, as Automotive News reports:
The German carmaker said it has accepted the proposal by [chief lobbyist Thomas Steg] to assume full responsibility for the experiments that were revealed by the New York Times last week and have since been condemned by politicians and animal rights activists.
I don’t know exactly why the chief lobbyist is responsible for this, but there’s always a guy that takes the fall.
4th Gear: Bosch, By Contrast, States The Obvious
While VW at least suspended a dude, giganto-supplier Bosch (which also funded the same monkey-testing research group) merely claimed it had “nothing to do with the animal experiments,” as Automotive News Europe reports, and went on to say that, whoa you guys, this makes diesel look bad:
Robert Bosch warned that revelations about animal experiments in the auto industry may hamper efforts to restore trust in diesel, a key technology that helped the auto supplier post higher profits last year.
The report is damaging for the entire industry, Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said, warning that a decline in demand for diesel could pose a threat to jobs.
5th Gear: You All Doubted The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Well guess what? The Murano CrossCab is your god now. Automotive News reports that the convertible version of Nissan’s last-generation midsize crossover remains in high demand, even long after Nissan stopped making the car in 2014:
So, the strange events that followed the final emergence of a CrossCabriolet from an assembly line in Kyusha, Japan, shouldn’t have come as a surprise. In the four years since, the vehicle has become a sought-after prize. A 2014 iteration is now trading hands for about two-thirds of the sticker price, according to CarGurus.com, far higher than the average 43 percent garnered by other vehicles from the same era.
At press-time, 74 CrossCabriolets were listed on Cars.com, with a median price of $25,000. A cherry version such as this one now commands more money than a new Nissan Murano.
You’re sick. I’m sick. We’re sick together, driving off into the twisted sunset in our CrossCabriolet.
Reverse: And On The Next Day, God Rested
Neutral: If Not FCA, Then What?
If it wasn’t Fiat Chrysler that was supplying Google’s self-driving car arm with vehicles, which manufacturer would you wish would? I’m currently imagining fed up Google engineers smashing iDrive displays in fits of rage, wishing they’d never signed on with BMW.