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: We Can Crush You Like The Ants You Are
Yesterday it went public that ex-boss Ferdinand Piëch spoke out against Volkswagen, claiming he had warned the company’s supervisory board long before the company said it first learned about its cheating ways, as Automotive News reports:
“The allegations are untrue. Had Dr Piech informed us, we may have been able to spare the company and its workforce from substantial harm. We now expect the management board to thoroughly evaluate whether steps need to be taken against Piech,” Osterloh and Huber said in a joint statement issued late on Wednesday.
Volkswagen currently “mulls action”against former chairman Piëch, as AN puts it. I might go with VW “considers the complete destruction of he who speaks against it.”
2nd Gear: Volkswagen’s ‘Chop All Costs’ Plan Isn’t Going Great
Back in Europe, VW’s response to Dieselgate has been to massively cut costs and ditch 30,000 jobs, a deal that has been described as “key to VW’s recovery,” as Reuters put it back in September.
Now VW has put that all at risk, German labor leaders argue, saying that VW is chopping jobs too fast, as Automotive News reports.
In a letter to VW brand chief Herbert Diess, seen by Reuters, the labor leaders said he and personnel boss Karlheinz Blessing had breached the terms of November’s “future pact” by ruling out possible hirings in the first half of 2017 and cutting temporary jobs more quickly and deeply than agreed.
“The management board with its actions is undermining the terms of the future pact,” the labor leaders said in the letter delivered to Diess on Tuesday.
“The ink on the contracts was hardly dry, and brand management blatantly infringed on the agreements and the spirit of the future pact,” a works council spokesman said.
VW sounds like a chill place to work at the moment.
3rd Gear: Is The EU Salty That America Beat Them To Dieselgate?
It was us Americans who first pinned the tail on the Dieselgate donkey, and I’ve always imagined that EU regulators must be pissed they didn’t get to punish VW first. I think a big part of that is American laws are harsher on emissions cheats than those in European countries. That makes this new report from Reuters kind of weird:
The European Union plans more legal action soon against governments that have failed to police emissions test cheating by carmakers in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel scandal, a top official said on Thursday.
“Member states really failed to enforce the law,” [EU industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska] told the EU lawmakers. “I feel they are still playing for time.”
Amid mounting frustration over what Brussels sees as governments colluding with carmakers, it began legal cases against Germany, Britain and five other EU members in December.
I wonder why there’s a new push for this stuff...
4th Gear: Wait, Did The EU Just Not Test A Bunch Of Fiats For Cheating?
Hm. A recent Italian transportation ministry report investigating diesel emissions cheating appears to have left out a number of checks on Fiat Chrysler cars, as Automotive News reports:
But for three of the seven FCA models also investigated — a 2.0-liter Jeep Cherokee, a 1.6-liter Alfa Romeo Giulietta and a 1.3-liter Lancia Ypsilon — results are missing from an on-road measurement phase and a reversed version of the EU’s standard “NEDC” lab test.
All seven FCA models also lack data for an “Artemis” test that adjusts the EU lab regime to reflect urban driving styles. The three skipped protocols are typically used to help unmask defeat devices by preventing them from detecting the test.
No explanation for the missing FCA results was offered in the document.
As we noted yesterday, Italy says this is all totally fine. A ministry spokesperson said that the results were carried out, it’s just that they haven’t gotten around to publishing the results yet.
5th Gear: Don’t Worry, Midnight Edition Will Save Us
The strong yen is screwing all of Japan’s carmakers over these days, Nissan included. Quarterly profits are down 15%, as Automotive News reports. But don’t worry, they’ve got this handled. Nissan’s “edgy” Midnight Edition trim will expand from just the Maxima to six total models including the company’s beloved crossovers, as AN notes. Phew.
6th Gear: American VW Dealers Not Sure They Can Survive Trump
VW is having a hard enough time in America as it is, but a border tax from President Trump on Mexico could really screw the company over. Down south is where VW gets its best-selling Jetta and it’s very-much-not-best-selling Beetle. Dealers are understandably worried, as Bloomberg reports:
“It would be catastrophic,” said Fred Emich, general manager of a Volkswagen dealership in Denver, Colorado. VWs already cost $2,000 to $3,000 more than rival models from Honda, Nissan and Toyota, making it difficult to imagine consumers would accept further price increases, he said.
Buy your local Volkswagen representatives a drink, folks. They probably need it.
Reverse: Man Responsible For A Car Named After A Rigid Airship Born
Neutral: What Would You Do In VW’s Position?
If you were a power-crazed Volkswagen executive, how would you choose to crush your enemies?