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: The Recall Timeline
Volkswagen faces a deadline today from German regulators to come up with a solution to their diesel emissions problem, a solution that isn’t “cheat more and hope no one figures it out this time.” CEO Matthias Mueller told a German newspaper that they’re working on a timeline for recalls, at least in Europe. Via Reuters:
“If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January. All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016,” Mueller told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The newspaper provided a copy of the interview prior to publication on Wednesday.
Now that’s in Europe. What about here in the U.S., where the scandal began?
For the U.S. market, a company spokeswoman said later, the remedy will first have to be agreed upon with Environmental Protection Agency, but she offered no timing for that.
Not quite yet.
2nd Gear: VW To Face Lawmakers In America
Speaking of the U.S., tomorrow the troubled automaker will be hauled before Congress—as these things go—to apologize profusely before a House panel of angry lawmakers. They’ll have a few things to explain, Bloomberg reports:
Volkswagen AG waited two months after acknowledging a software abnormality in its cars to tell regulators the algorithm was designed to cheat emissions tests, according to a staff memo prepared for lawmakers investigating the automaker.
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which will hold a hearing on Thursday in Washington, also wants further details on how and why the German-based automaker cheated on U.S. and California emissions tests, according to the memo. Committee staff met Monday with representatives of VW and regulators in preparation for the hearing.
That should be fun to watch.
3rd Gear: The UAW Could Strike Tonight
As United Auto Workers members struggle to reach a new labor contract with Fiat Chrysler, a 40,000 member strike on the car company could be in order as early as tonight, The Detroit News reports:
Thousands of United Auto Workers members could walk out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plants and head to picket lines early Thursday if bargainers fail to reach a new tentative labor contract.
The union turned up the heat on the automaker Tuesday by threatening to strike if a deal cannot be reached by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. A notice sent by UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell formally cancels a previous contract extension with the automaker and issued the deadline.
That’s the most extreme action they could take. Other options include targeted strikes at certain plants, continuing negotiations or shifting their bargaining to General Motors or Ford.
4th Gear: GM Has Korea Problems
A number of GM’s smaller cars are built in their South Korean plant, but interestingly enough that plant is only running at 60 percent capacity, The Detroit News reports. Now the carmaker is wondering whether to cut employees or re-tool things there. You may think part of the problem is the decline in small cars in the U.S. with cheap gas, but it’s more global than that:
GM has about 10 percent market share in South Korea. The automaker used to export vehicles from Korea to markets such as Europe. But in December 2013, GM announced it would stop selling most Chevrolets in Europe. Earlier this year, GM said it would largely pull out of Russia, stopping production and selling Opel vehicles and most Chevys.
That has left a hole. Jacoby said in the past six to seven years, Korea has gone from a low-cost manufacturing center to nearly “high cost,” comparable with North America. He said GM can no longer use Korea as a “low-cost hub for emerging markets. It’s too expensive.”
5th Gear: Toyota Wants To Go Autonomous By 2020
How far out are we really from autonomous cars? According to Automotive News, Toyota wants to have them out in five years. They’ll also be selling their first connected car in Japan this year.
Toyota Motor Corp. said it will deploy autonomous driving systems by 2020 and take a big step forward this year by launching technology that allows vehicles to talk to each other, scan blind spots, warn of changing traffic lights and keep a safe distance from other cars.
The company is also test driving more advanced autonomous drive technologies in a modified Lexus GS that can merge on highways and even change lanes by itself.
Click that link to see all the things they’re up to.
Reverse: Get Your Kicks
Neutral: When Does VW Need To Announce An American Recall Plan?
Soon, probably. They’d be smart to bring that before lawmakers tomorrow.
Photo credit Getty Images
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