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: So This Is A Thing That’s Happening
Geely, the Chinese automotive giant that owns Volvo and has a controlling stake in Lotus, is pretty well-regarded by folks on the Jalopnik staff because it pretty much lets the companies it acquires be. Volvo is thriving under Geely and there’s no reason to think that Lotus won’t do the same. But we’ve learned that Geely also went and bought a flying car company and, uh, yeah.
Geely successfully completed the purchase of Terrafugia, a United States-based flying car developer, reports Automotive News Europe. The company very boldly and ambitiously claims that it will “deliver a flying car to the market in 2019.”
Now, this is fun because as we and our pals at Gizmodo have noted for years, Terrafugia isn’t just a flying car company—it’s the company that has spent a decade claiming its flying cars are just “two years away.” And wouldn’t you know it, they now want to bring a car to market in 2019.
From the story:
It also plans to launch a vehicle capable of vertical takeoff and landing by 2025.
Terrafugia, founded in 2006 by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates, wants to develop a flying electric vehicle for the mass market. It flew its first proof-of-concept vehicle in 2009, according to its website.
Geely said Chris Jaran, a former executive at aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter China, would become Terrafugia’s chief executive officer effective immediately.
Airbus and Uber have also announced that they are building flying cars, at which we raised a heavily skeptical eyebrow. Among other reasons, flying a car would involve getting a flying license, which isn’t convenient or cheap for most people to do.
Geely! Are you sure about this?
2nd Gear: Bye Bitch
Volvo has pulled its advertisements from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News due to blowback from the way he handled the allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor against Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate.
Volvo joins Keurig, Realtor.com, DNA-testing service 23andMe, Hebrew National and vitamin company Nature’s Bounty in announcing its decision to withdraw its advertising, reports Buzzfeed. The Volvo USA Twitter account posted its decision in a now-deleted tweet:
On his show, Hannity said that people shouldn’t rush to judge Moore because of the allegations, according to The Hill. He said,
“Every single person in this country deserves the presumption of innocence. With the allegations against Judge Moore, none of us know the truth of what happened 38 years ago. The only people that would know are the people involved in this incident.”
3rd Gear: North Carolina And Alabama Are Finalists For Mazda-Toyota Plant
In August, we learned that two industry giants, Toyota and Mazda, would build a joint manufacturing plant somewhere in the United States. This, as the Detroit Free Press reported at the time, kicked off a full-blown race between the states for which would win the $1.6 billion-dollar, 4,000-job project. Illinois lost out in October and now it seems like the decision has come down to two states.
North Carolina and Alabama are the finalists on the Toyota-Mazda list, with the final decision likely to be announced next year, reports Bloomberg in an emailed post.
From the story:
The shared factory, scheduled to open in 2021, is the first new auto assembly plant to be announced during the tenure of President Donald Trump, who has pressured Toyota and other carmakers to make more of their vehicles in the U.S.
The factory is such a hotly contested prize that Toyota and Mazda are pressing for an incentive package valued at $1 billion or more. Mazda, which currently imports all of the models it sells in the U.S., plans to produce crossovers alongside Toyota Corolla compact cars at the new plant.
Whoever wins this deal will likely see a wave of new jobs and opportunities. After they build the factory, of course.
4th Gear: Pickups Equal SUVs, Right?
Pickup trucks as a statement piece. An accessory. How do you feel about that? Because if Daimler is right in its prediction, that pickups are moving upmarket, then the German automaker wants to hitch a ride on that trend with the X-Class luxo-truck.
Mercedes thinks that the days where you took your pickup truck to do actual truck stuff are behind us, according to Automotive News. From the story:
Mercedes-Benz Vans boss Volker Mornhinweg said pickups are moving upmarket, just like SUVs have done. “SUVs are elegant lifestyle products with a high-quality finish to them. Not every customer takes them into the wilderness anymore. We believe pickups could go in a similar direction,” he told Automotive News Europe.
For now, the X-Class won’t be sold in the U.S., which is a shame because it’s still pretty cool-looking even though Mercedes wants it to be the next SUV. Honestly, at this point, I’m desperate for anything that isn’t ovoid with big wheels.
5th Gear: Book By Cadillac Expands
Nearly a year ago, in January, Cadillac announced a new car-sharing program called Book By Cadillac where subscribers pay a monthly fee of $1,800 and get to book a Cadillac to drive around for up to six months. No mileage restrictions, no car payments, insurance included. It actually sounded pretty sweet.
Book was only available in New York metro area for many months. Yesterday, Cadillac announced via a press release that Book is now open in Dallas and Los Angeles. From the release:
BOOK by Cadillac members in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York have access to a curated selection of vehicles — now including the CT6 PLUG-IN. With BOOK by Cadillac, members can experience the thrill of performance driving in an ATS-V or CTS-V, or explore their local countryside from the driver’s seat of an XT5 or Escalade. The addition of CT6 to all fleets also means members will now have the opportunity to experience Super Cruise, the first true hands-free driving system for the freeway.
We went to try out Super Cruise in October. It wasn’t bad! If you have about two grand a month lying around and you’re interesting in testing out Super Cruise and unwilling to buy a CT6 to do it, maybe this program is for you.
Reverse: RIP Drive-In Restaurants
Neutral: Remember It’s Just Two Years Away
Do you think a flying car has a place in our transportation system? Or do you think there’s too much red tape to navigate around and nobody wants to bother with that?