This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: WTFVW
Just to provide yet another twist to the bizarre Volkswagen/Tennessee/Corker/Union drama, David Shepardson has it that VW will indeed build their boring new mid-size SUV at their Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
This is big news for Tennessee and VW, and it's hilarious because Senator Bob Corker said explicitly that the Chattanooga plant would get the SUV only if it rejected the union. But then the UAW said they were going to open up a local chapter, despite being defeated.
So what do we have here? The workers did reject the union and Tennessee did get the SUV. Eventually. Also, VW waited until after the UAW announcement saying they were coming back to announce the return of the SUV.
1. VW is clever and is playing all sides.
2. VW is ignoring everyone and just doing what they were going to do anyways.
3. The UAW knew this was happening and timed it out to fit this narrative and surprised VW
4. I don't know, VW did it for the LOLs?
Here's Corker talking to, uh, it looks like no one
Still, it's 2,000 new jobs, Corker should take a victory lap.
2nd Gear: What Did You Know And When Did You Know It?
Reuters has the scoop this morning that federal prosecutors are looking into GM's statements to see if they committed fraud.
Sources said federal criminal prosecutors are working on a set of mail and wire fraud charges, similar to the criminal case Toyota Motor Corp settled earlier this year over misleading statements it made to American consumers and regulators about two different problems that caused cars to accelerate even as drivers tried to slow down.
Delphi Automotive, the maker of the GM switch, is not a target of criminal charges, the people said, because it did not make substantial public statements about the safety of the vehicles or the part. That would make it difficult to build a case under the main federal fraud laws, the wire and mail fraud statutes.
This ends with more cash going to the feds.
3rd Gear: Another Day, Another Congressional Hearing
Now that the house has had their turn grilling Mary Barra, she gets to come back this week for her probably last congressional panel for a while. But it's the Senate and it's not going to be fun, just ask anyone who sat before the Truman Committee.
On Thursday, Ms. Barra will face Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), one of her harshest critics, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), who remains skeptical of GM's response to the issue and its internal probe that cleared the auto maker's executive team and pinned the lack of response on lower-level engineers, lawyers and a dysfunctional company culture. It took the auto maker nearly 11 years to issue a recall for the 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and other older model vehicles equipped with the faulty switch.
4th Gear: China Is Going EV For Its Government Fleet
If you can't make people buy electric cars, you can at least help create a market by buying the cars yourself.
Case-in-point: China is going to make their central government ministries and agencies convert about a third of its fleet to alternative energy. That includes EVs, fuel cells, and plug-in hybrids.
"This is a laudable aspiration," said Yang Song, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Barclays Plc, who estimates that government purchases made up less than 10 percent of total new vehicle sales in China. "Government purchases are not growing as fast as private consumption. So just to rely on the government purchase would be a challenge."
5th Gear: Venezuela Can No Longer Build Cars
Well, they can build cars, they just can't move the money they need to buy parts and do the basic things you do when you're trying to run a company. Blame currency controls by the Venezuelan government (CREAM!).
Assemblers sold just 6,200 vehicles in the first quarter of 2014, a steep drop of 83 percent compared to the same period last year, while auto-parts importers have reported a similar decline in sales, Canidra President Jose Cinirella said in an interview with private TV network Televen.
Cinirella said "it's no longer just the auto-parts sector that's in crisis, but the entire automotive sector," a scenario "unheard of in the past 50 years."
"The entire Venezuelan automotive industry is in crisis, an unprecedented crisis," he added.
Well that sucks.
Reverse: What A Guy
Raymond Loewy, the hugely influential industrial designer who put his mark on the American automobile industry with groundbreaking vehicles such as the Studebaker Champion, Starliner and Avanti, dies on this day in 1986 at his home in Monte Carlo at the age of 92.
Neutral: What happened in Tennessee?
With all the intrigue and about-faces, any guesses as to what actually happened there?
Photo Credit: Getty Images