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: Three MILLION!
Yesterday we learned that Volkswagen might be thinking of selling Ducati, because that is The Past and the company is now all about The Future. And because in The Past the whole diesel thing didn’t work out for VW, it’s going to go electric, instead.
The company wants to sell two to three million electric vehicles by 2025, the company said in a press release. Yes, two to three m i l l i o n, less than nine years from now. Volkswagen is the largest car company in the world depending on what day it is, so producing that many cars isn’t as inconceivable as it would be for, say, Tesla. But it’s still a tall order. Here’s the relevant bit from the release (emphasis mine):
With regard to vehicles, and drivetrains, special emphasis will be place on e-mobility. The Group is planning a broad-based initiative in this area: it intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) over the next ten years. The Company estimates that such vehicles could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market. The Volkswagen Group forecasts that its own BEV sales will be between two and three million units in 2025, equivalent to some 20 to 25 percent of the total unit sales expected at that time.
So yeah, VW just announced that it’s going to fully transform a quarter of its business, all in about a decade. That’s ambitious, even for a company that decided it wanted to push an incredibly heavy sled over 250 MPH just to say it could, and then did it.
But this is a tall order, even for Volkswagen. The only electric Volkswagen I’ve ever driven was an e-Golf, and that was more of a regulatory oddball than a proper car. The company has a long way to go.
Sure, it’s trotted out electric concepts under various brands here and there, but it hasn’t made a lot of noise about the electric infrastructure problem.
It’s too early to see where this one will go.
2nd Gear: There’s Going To Be An Electric Audi Q5: Report
Speaking of three million Volkswagens, Reuters spoke to a few people and it turns out those people said that not only is there going to be an electric Audi Q5, but it’s going to be built in Mexico:
The plant in San Jose Chiapa in central Mexico will produce the gasoline-powered Q5 at first, but plans to introduce the electric version in the near term, said the sources, who requested anonymity.
“They are training personnel,” one of the sources said, adding that the project does not yet have a launch date.
Hopefully it won’t be as bad as the e-Golf and will get more than 100 miles of range.
3rd Gear: Three Japanese Auto Parts Execs Indicted Thanks To The FBI
The auto industry is much bigger than the brand names you can rattle off the top of your head. There are thousands of suppliers, each of which can get into their own bit of trouble, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation likes to occasionally show:
A federal grand jury in Covington, Kentucky, returned an indictment against one current and two former Japanese automotive executives for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for the sale of automotive body sealing products sold in the United States.
The indictment, filed today in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky, charges Keiji Kyomoto, Mikio Katsumaru and Yuji Kuroda—all Japanese nationals—with conspiring to rig bids for and fix the prices of body sealing products sold to Honda Motor Company Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp. and certain of their subsidiaries and affiliates for installation in vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere. Automotive body sealing products consist of body-side opening seals, door-side weather-stripping, glass-run channels, trunk lids and other smaller seals, which are installed in automobiles to keep the interior dry from rain and free from wind and exterior noises.
The execs each face the possibility of up to 10 years in jail and a $1 million fine.
Your car probably wasn’t any more expensive because of these three, but let’s hope they just weren’t allegedly dumb enough to get caught.
4th Gear: Dieselgate Deadline Extended
The deadline for a Volkswagen dieselgate settlement was extended by the judge presiding over everything, Reuters reports:
A U.S. judge late on Wednesday extended the deadline for Volkswagen AG, U.S. government regulators and owners of nearly 500,000 2.0 liter vehicles to reach a final diesel emissions settlement until June 28.
The tentative settlement announced in April includes an offer by VW to buy back nearly 500,000 polluting vehicles, as well as an environmental remediation fund to address excess emissions and a fund to promote green automotive technology.
The original deadline was June 21st, so all it does is it gives VW an extra week.
5th Gear: The Ford F-150 Isn’t Green Enough
The Ford F-150 might be made out of aluminum and it might come with a turbocharged V6 now, but it’s still not enough, according to Bloomberg:
The problem, though, is that some versions of the new F-150 still don’t meet the government’s 2016 emission and fuel-economy mandates. What’s more, the hurdles get higher from here: By 2025, the targets will be much more stringent. The stakes for Ford couldn’t be greater. Ford’s F-Series, America’s best-selling truck line, accounts for 31 percent of the company’s North American sales and half of its profit in the region, according to Barclays analyst Brian Johnson.
Apparently regulators will let you get away with paying a fine if you don’t meet fuel economy standards, but if you let the emissions thing go on for long enough, they will get very unhappy. And when they are unhappy about emissions, that is not good, as VW has learned with its diesels.
Ford’s already said it’s going to have a hybrid pickup. But hey! Ford! Guess what!! I got a better idea!!!!!!!!!!!!
Build an electric pickup. Line the underside of the bed with batteries. Give it a billion pound-feet of electric torque. Run a commercial that is nothing but a full minute of trucks silently pulling tree stumps out of the ground.
Reverse: Ford Motor Company Incorporated
At 9:30 in the morning on this day in 1903, Henry Ford and other prospective stockholders in the Ford Motor Company meet in Detroit to sign the official paperwork required to create a new corporation. Twelve stockholders were listed on the forms, which were signed, notarized and sent to the office of Michigan’s secretary of state. The company was officially incorporated the following day, when the secretary of state’s office received the articles of association.
Neutral: Can VW do it?
Volkswagen’s at a huge disadvantage here. It’s waited too long on the electric game, and now it needs to catch up. Can VW do it? Or will it just abandon the strategy, like it did with diesels, and move on to something else when it doesn’t work?