Volkswagen's Third Quarter Ended In A $3.84 Billion Loss

Illustration for article titled Volkswagen's Third Quarter Ended In A $3.84 Billion Loss

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.


Forgive the unusual lateness of the Morning Shift today. I blame that motorcycle-riding robot.

1st Gear: Volkswagen’s First Quarterly Loss In 15 Years

The costs of Dieselgate are already adding up for Volkswagen. The automaker just posted its first quarterly deficit in more than 15 years to the tune of $3.84 billion. They had nearly the same in profit a year ago. Via Automotive News:

The cheating scandal accounted 6.7 billion euros in special costs in the third quarter, more than the 6.5 billion euros it originally set aside, VW said today.

The company said sales revenue rose 5.3 percent to 51.49 billion euros, partly due to positive influences from exchange rates and mix effects.

“The figures show the core strength of the Volkswagen Group on the one hand, while on the other the initial impact of the current situation is becoming clear,” CEO Matthias Mueller said in a statement.

VW is bracing for costs that analysts have estimated could total from 20 billion euros to as much as 78 billion euros.

That’s a lotta euros.

2nd Gear: As Toyota Pulls Ahead

And earlier this week, Toyota re-took the world’s largest automaker title from Volkswagen, which has no doubt suffered in global numbers with the diesel cheating scandal preventing sales of TDI cars in the U.S. and now Europe. Via USA Today:

Toyota still dethroned Volkswagen, selling 7.498 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year, a 1.5% decline from the same period in 2014.

Volkswagen sold 7.431 million vehicles during the first nine months of the year, also representing a 1.5% decline.

Now, the fourth quarter reflects a crucial test for Volkswagen, which is facing numerous investigations and a hail of criticism over its installation of manipulative software on 11 million vehicles to cheat emissions tests.

3rd Gear: Hydrogen Or Batteries?

Increasingly electric cars seem to be the future, but where will that juice come from? Japan is betting big on hydrogen fuel cells, but the Chinese government is pushing harder on batteries. From Reuters:

Asia’s two autos powerhouses, Japan and China, are jostling for supremacy in how future electric cars should generate their power – from batteries or hydrogen-powered fuel-cells.

In a potentially high-stakes clash reminiscent of Sony versus Panasonic in the Beta-VHS video war in the 1980s, the winner could enjoy years of domination if their technology is adopted as a global standard by other manufacturers.

This time, though, there should be a place in the autos market for both electric battery and hydrogen fuel-cell cars. The key question is which will power more mainstream cars – the market dominated today by the likes of Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE).


4th Gear: Ouch

VW wasn’t the only automaker down in Q3. Fiat Chrysler lost $334 million, which isn’t nearly as severe but also isn’t great. From The Detroit News:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Wednesday reported a $334 million loss for the third quarter due to recall costs and other special charges.

The world’s seventh largest automaker incurred a $850.2 million pre-tax charge for estimated future recall campaign costs for vehicles sold in prior periods in North America. It also took a $158.6 hit due to inventory and incremental incentives for vehicles damaged in the Tianjin port explosion on Aug. 12. The company said it expects to recover the losses in China through insurance.


Recalls are expensive.

5th Gear: Should You Have To Register Your Tires?

The National Transportation Safety Board thinks so, saying tire recalls are hilariously outdated and inefficient, leading to big safety problems. One more from The Detroit News:

Unlike car recalls, tire recalls face many problems. Independent tire dealers are not required to register tires on buyers’ behalf — and tire makers can’t contact those drivers if their tires need to be recalled. “Our investigation revealed that very few tires are actually registered for recall purposes,” said NTSB chairman Christopher Hart.

Between 2009-13, 3.2 million tires were recalled – but just 44 percent were replaced. And in a typical tire recall, just 20 percent are fixed. Dealers controlled by the tire manufacturer must register replacement tires, but not independent tires.

The NTSB called for a “computerized system for capturing, storing, and uploading tire registration information would expedite the tire registration process, reduce transcription errors, and encourage more dealers to register tires at the point of sale.”


Stop driving around on garbage tires!


Reverse: And It Sucks In Austin


Neutral: Hydrogen Or Batteries?

How will our futuremobiles get their electricity?

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Neutral: Hydrogen Or Batteries?

I’m not sure hydrogen will ever work out. As battery technology evolves, I think battery-powered electrics will slowly become the norm. And in the meantime, PHEV’s are a great way to fill the gap. I expect to see more and more of them, with ever-so-larger batteries and smaller engines, up to the point where the gas-motor is not required anymore.

And if things go this way, we won’t have to create a whole new fuel distribution network. We can keep relying on conventional gas stations.

The big question will be: how well can we recycle batteries?