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.
Please forgive the unusual lateness of Morning Shift today. It’s Elon Musk’s fault.
1st Gear: Bad News For VW Owners
If you’re one of the nearly 500,000 TDI owners in the U.S., or 11 million worldwide, you’re probably wondering what the hell Volkswagen is going to do to bring your car into compliance — and what that means exactly for said car.
According to experts who spoke to Reuters, the possible changes depend on which version of the TDI engine owners have and “could leave owners with cars that deliver diminished fuel economy and performance or require more maintenance.” Oh good, a VW that needs more maintenance! Just what everyone wanted.
Older VW diesels could be made to function properly with a software fix, said Marc Trahan, who retired in late 2014 as executive vice president of group quality after a 35-year career with VW and its Audi subsidiary. They should not need to have newer hardware installed, which would take much longer, require extensive “re-engineering” and be cost-prohibitive, he said.
That’s not so bad. But:
Beginning in 2012, Volkswagen offered the same 2.0 TDI engines with a more sophisticated and expensive emissions control system called Selective Catalytic Reduction. These systems, which debuted on VW’s largest car, the Passat, injected a liquid urea solution into the exhaust to break down the nitrogen oxides.
A fix could mean urea fill-ups at 5,000 miles instead of 10,000 miles. Also:
A software update on the newer diesel models equipped with SCR devices could lead to “reduced vehicle performance and fuel economy and increased urea use,” said analyst Kevin Riddell of LMC Automotive. The new software “also will have an impact on resale value and potential marketability,” he said.
Man, it sucks to be a TDI owner right now.
2nd Gear: Tax Breaks Could Form Basis Of Criminal Case
Expect the tax breaks given to VW TDI owners, based on what are now known to be a false pretenses, to be a big deal when this case goes to court. One more from Reuters:
VW was among several automakers that lobbied the administration of George W. Bush to secure around $50 million in tax breaks under an incentive program that included the first wave of VW Jetta TDI drivers in the United States.
[...] U.S. prosecutors would need to show that VW executives intentionally made fraudulent claims about their cars’ emissions as part of the effort to win the tax break, the lawyers said.
VW could have to “pay back as much as three times the money received by its customers in tax incentives, plus $5,000 for each buyer.” The costs on this one keep adding up.
3rd Gear: Volt Comes Out Swinging
The all-new Chevrolet Volt won’t be on sale until next spring, but soon you’ll be seeing it in attack ads online aimed at the Leaf and Prius. The Leaf ad, according to Automotive News, addresses range anxiety by likening the car to being stuck in a dead elevator. Classy, GM.
But starting later this fall, two long-form ads will debut on the Internet. The first one, a shot at the battery electric Nissan Leaf, aims to show how the Volt eliminates range anxiety — the fear of running out of battery power. The second ad compares the nickel metal hydride battery technology in the top-selling Toyota Prius to that of late 1990s consumer electronics. The Volt uses more advanced lithium ion batteries.
The ads will have a familiar look and feel. They continue the focus group setting featuring consumers — not actors — that Chevrolet showcased earlier this year when it touted high strength steel against aluminum in a bid to put a few dings in Ford’s new lightweight F-150.
Will there be bears this time?
4th Gear: FCA-UAW Deal Looks Dead
It looks like back to square one for United Auto Workers negotiating a new contract with Fiat Chrysler, reports The Detroit News:
UAW Local 1700 early Wednesday morning reported 72 percent of production workers and 65 percent of skilled trades employees at the Sterling Heights facility opposed the pact. Charles Bell, UAW Local 1700 president, told The News in an email that approximately 90 percent of the facility’s more than 3,000 workers voted on the tentative deal.
UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower late Tuesday confirmed that a majority of Toledo Assembly’s more than 5,000 production and skilled trades workers cast “no” ballots. The actual percentage of the facility’s workers against the deal was not immediately available.
5th Gear: Shake-Ups At Porsche
One unintended victim of Dieselgate has been Porsche, which was subjected to a shuffling of managers to fill new roles across the VW family in light of the scandal. Production chief Oliver Blume takes over as CEO but there’s more going on elsewhere, reports Automotive News:
As a result of the management shake-up at VW Group, Porsche also lost is global sales boss as Bernhard Maier, 55, was tapped to become CEO at VW Czech subsidiary Skoda.
Maier will be replaced by Detlev von Platen, 51, who relocates to Porsche’s headquarters in Zuffenhausen from the U.S., where he was head of Porsche Cars North America for a little more than seven years. Porsche, in its statement, said von Platen’s successor in North America “will be announced in the near future.”
Reverse: Live Fast, Die Young
Neutral: TDI Owners, How Pissed Are You?
And if you don’t own one, how would you feel if you did?
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