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Volkswagen Sees Billions Wiped Off Market As Stock Tumbles 20 Percent Amid Dieselgate

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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 Shitstorm Begins

Things are getting bad really quickly at Volkswagen, mere days after the Environmental Protection Agency announced the automaker installed “cheat devices” on their diesel cars that allowed them to pass emissions tests they should not have passed. VW’s stock took a huge hit in the European market today, the AP reports:

Around 15 billion euros ($16.9 billion) was wiped off the market value of Volkswagen AG on Monday following revelations that the German carmaker rigged U.S. emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars.

By early afternoon trading in Frankfurt, Volkswagen’s share price was down a stunning 19.4 percent at near three-year low of 130.20 euros. Its dramatic fall weighed heavily on Germany’s main stock index, the DAX, which underperformed its peers in Europe with a 0.6 percent decline.


We’ll have more on this story today, but expect it — and the question of emissions — to be a big deal in the auto world for some time.

2nd Gear: A Test For VW’s New CEO

And now, the position of VW CEO Martin Winterkorn is also in jeopardy. It’s the classic accountability question: what did he know and when did he know it? Via Automotive News:

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said Winterkorn should resign.

Winterkorn should have known about the manipulation in his role of head of VW’s r&d or, if he didn’t, it shows that he does not have the automaker under control, Dudenhoeffer told a German newspaper. Either way, Winterkorn’s role as CEO is no longer tenable, the academic said.


3rd Gear: Pay Raises In UAW-Fiat Chrysler Deal

As the United Auto Workers enters their first round of contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler, a few details emerged from the proposal. From Automotive News:

Among the highlights shared with local leadership: Veteran, or Tier 1, workers can expect their first wage increase in 10 years; the idea of a health care purchasing co-op will be explored to control costs; and production of numerous vehicles will be shuffled among the automaker’s plants. Output of strong-selling pickups, SUVs and crossovers will be consolidated at U.S. factories, improving the job-security outlook for workers at those plants, while output of price-sensitive cars will move to lower-wage Mexico.

And wages for Tier 2 workers were improved dramatically. The pay range, depending on seniority, advances from $16 to $19 an hour currently to $17 to $25 an hour by the end of the four-year contract.

4th Gear: The Next Phase For Opel

Opel has long been the most troubled brand in General Motors’ portfolio (and in light of events in recent years, that’s really saying something.) The brand lost $18 billion over 16 years for GM.


But the European market is a critical one, so GM is planning a big product resurgence there with cars like the all-new Astra — but industry watchers remain skeptical. One more from Automotive News:

Future profitability will come from introducing new vehicles for which Opel can command higher transaction prices, Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann says. That product-centric strategy has shown early traction.

The Mokka introduced in 2013 is one of the top-selling small crossovers in Europe, with sales of 100,137 through July, according to JATO Dynamics. A redesigned Corsa subcompact — Opel’s highest-volume nameplate — was launched early this year and is registering “much higher” transaction prices than its predecessor, Neumann said. The Adam, a premium subcompact launched in 2013, is reaping incremental sales and attracting younger buyers, with an average age of 37.

“Our intention is to get more revenue per car by selling higher trim lines and more features,” Neumann told reporters on the sidelines of the auto show.


5th Gear: The pods are coming! The pods are coming!

In the Netherlands, they’re testing out a vehicle that many see as the future of cars: an autonomous public transit pod you book with a dedicated app. Via The Telegraph:

The first self-driving electric shuttle for use on public roads has been delivered to the Netherlands. The “WEpod” will take passengers between the two towns of Wageningen and Ede in the province of Gelderland from November.

Autonomous public transportation does exist in other parts of the world, such as the ParkShuttle bus in Rotterdam, the Heathrow Pod in London and the LUTZ Pathfinder in Milton Keynes, which run on special single trajectory lanes, or in pedestrianised areas. The WEpods in Gelderland will drive on regular roads amongst public traffic.


Reverse: Thanks, Nils


Neutral: How Does This End For VW?

They’re facing hefty fines, possible prosecutions, lawsuits and much more. How bad does this get?


Photo credit AP

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