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: Dammit Volkswagen
Volkswagen’s whole story throughout Dieselgate was that it was just a couple of rogue engineers, but it hasn’t been so forthcoming with which engineers it was. That’s because, like the world’s crappiest group of James Bonds, it turns out those “few” engineers were inserting secret code words throughout their vehicles’ computer programming to reference the errant emissions program, according to Bloomberg:
The probe, which was expected to wrap up by the end of April, has been slowed by the use of dozens of code words, including “acoustic software,” for the illicit technology Volkswagen used to turn off pollution controls when cars were on the road, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is confidential. The obfuscation along with partly insufficient and outdated computer systems made it difficult to find evidence concrete enough to hold individual employees accountable, they said.
First the code has to be untangled, and only then will Volkswagen find its scapegoat.
This is all so dumb.
2nd Gear: Oh, And VW Managers Are Being Called To Give Up Their Bonuses, Too
This one should have been a given, really. A “bonus” is traditionally awarded for a job well done, and the VW top brass has, by almost any measure, not done their jobs very well. Not only is the company responsible for one of the biggest legal scandals in all of automotive industry history, but also, sales are in the crapper. So it makes no surprise that people from Germany are calling for bonuses to be cut, as Reuters notes:
VW has already said that top executives will have their 2015 bonus payments cut “significantly” as the automaker attempts to resolve an internal dispute over executive pay following the diesel-emissions scandal. Reuters has reported that the management board has accepted cuts of at least 30 percent in bonus payments.
But current proposals for partial cuts do not go far enough,Handelsblatt said.
Lower Saxony, VW’s second-largest shareholder, has already called for executive bonuses to be scrapped or cut as Europe’s largest automaker counts the multi-billion-euro costs of the emissions scandal.
Maybe next year, VW executives.
3rd Gear: Another Chinese Electric Startup Is Brewing, And It Sounds Good
No, not Faraday Future. This one, creatively enough, is called “Future Mobility,” and it actually sounds like it could be, I dunno, good? Or, at least, Bloomberg notes that it’s hiring the right people:
A Chinese electric-vehicle company backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Foxconn Technology Group has hired ateam of managers from BMW AG’s i sub brand, according to people familiar with the matter. Dirk Abendroth, Benoit Jacob and Henrik Wenders will joinFuture Mobility Corp. as vice presidents of software and connectivity, design, and marketing, respectively, according to the people, who declined to be identified before the information is made public. The executives will join Carsten Breitfeld, the former project manager for BMW’s i8 plug-in sports car hired to be Future Mobility’s chief executive officer.
Have you seen the BMW i8? The BMW i8 is a very good car. More like that please.
4th Gear: Ford Isn’t Even Going To Think About Trying For An Electric Car
Tesla Model 3 pre-orders are up over 400,000 units. GM will likely sell at least some Chevy Bolts. Has that inspired Ford at all? Hell nah, according to Automotive News:
Ford Motor Co. has no immediate plans to chase General Motors, Nissan and Tesla in the electric car range race.
Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, said the 100-mile range coming this fall in the 2017 Focus Electric — up from the 2016 model’s 76 miles — is enough distance to cover the daily commute of most drivers.
Kevin Layden is wrong. Really wrong. Hilariously wrong. If you want to buy a vehicle that covers your commute and nothing more, buy a bicycle. If you want freedom, buy a car.
People want freedom, Kevin. Don’t hate freedom.
5th Gear: A Reminder That Globalization Isn’t Always The End Of The World
We’re constantly told by politicians and Donald Trump that a strong China means a weak America, and that is Very Bad. But a Chinese company just bought an American company, and in this case, the Detroit Free Press reports that it means more jobs in America:
An infusion of cash from China-based Zhejiang Wanfeng Technology Development Co. into a Warren automotive supplier is expected to help the company grow in Michigan with the addition of 150 jobs in Macomb County this year.
The Paslin Co. has been family-owned for 79 years, and while that’s a good thing, all good things must eventually come to an end, either from stronger competitors or the inevitable heat death of the universe. But hey, more jobs!
On this day in 1964, Mario Andretti competes in his inaugural Indy car race, in Trenton, New Jersey, finishing in 11th place. The following year, Andretti won the first of his four Indy car championships (also referred to as the U.S. National Championship) and was named Rookie of the Year at the prestigious Indianapolis 500, where he came in third. Andretti went on to become an icon in the world of motorsports. He is the only man to win the Formula One World Championship, the U.S. National Championship (1965, 1966, 1969, 1984), the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring (1967, 1970, 1972) and the Pikes Peak International Hill Club.
Neutral: If Ford Doesn’t Want To Make Electric Cars, What Should It Make?
If you don’t innovate in the car business, you die. Sure, the Mustang is a great car, and it should be made forever and ever. But innovation doesn’t necessarily mean the death of fun, or good cars. What should Ford do instead?