Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are some stories that we’ve received literally millions of emails about in the past nine seconds.
1st Gear: Wait, What?
For the past five years or so, Volvo has been quietly turning Polestar into its performance division, much like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M. It didn’t make cars in as quite a high volume as the Germans, but they were weird and bright blue and had strange manually adjustable extra-stiff suspension that made them very fast and rare and all sorts of delightful.
And as far as we were aware, the plan for Polestar was more of that good stuff, with quick versions of cars like the big new S90 planned as well, possibly as hybrids.
But now it sounds like the plan for Polestar is changing. Polestar cars won’t be branded as Volvos anymore, they’ll just be pure Polestars, and the rumors are true – they’ll be going all-electric, Volvo said in a press release:
Volvo Cars acquired 100 per cent of Polestar Performance in July 2015, having worked together in motorsport since 1996. In the future, Polestar will offer Polestar branded cars that will no longer carry a Volvo logo, as well as optimisation packages for Volvo’s range of cars under the Polestar Engineered brand.
Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo. These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world beating electrified high performance cars.
And that “high-performance electric car brand” idea all sort of makes sense, what with Tesla being a thing that exists, and Porsche pushing for all-electric models as well.
But I’m kinda weirded out by Volvo’s petroleum-powered cars only receiving Polestar “optimization packages.” I’m cautiously hopeful about this one, as maybe Volvo’s speedy blue oddballs won’t go away, reduced to mere appearance packages.
We’ve reached out to Volvo for clarification, and will update when we hear back.
2nd Gear: Computer Virus Forces A Shutdown At Honda
The cyber! It’s what the kids are doing these days. Also, a piece of ransomware that did damage across the world a month ago just managed to shutdown production at a Honda factory earlier this week, according to Reuters:
Honda Motor Co (7267.T) said on Wednesday it halted production at a domestic vehicle plant for a day this week after finding the WannaCry ransomware that struck globally last month in its computer network.
The automaker shut production on Monday at its Sayama plant, northwest of Tokyo, which produces models including the Accord sedan, Odyssey Minivan and Step Wagon compact multipurpose vehicle and has a daily output of around 1,000 vehicles.
Production’s back up and running, but it’s probably for the best if we just air-gapped everything from now on. Down with the internet, bring back pigeons.
3rd Gear: Jaguar Land Rover Will Not Be Going It Alone, Maybe?
Bloomberg reported a rumor yesterday that Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company, Tata Motors, planned to list the division on an international stock exchange. But a spokesperson flat-out denied it:
A spokesman for Tata Group, which has 29 listed companies, said “there are no plans to list JLR.” A representative for Tata Motors said “there is no truth in the information,” without elaborating.
I don’t know here, to be honest. In my experience covering M&A for a few years, people are just “talking about stuff” until the very last minute, and only then are there “plans.”
We’ll see. Unless you’re an investment banker this will almost certainly not affect you in any way whatsoever.
4th Gear: ZF And Hella Team Up For Self-Driving Car Tech
German supplier ZF, which you mostly know for making transmissions, and German supplier Hella, which you mostly know for making sweet sweet rally lights, are teaming up to work on self-driving vehicle sensor technology, according to Automotive News:
ZF Friedrichshafen AG said it is collaborating with component supplier Hella to develop radar and camera technology in a bid to bolster its autonomous system portfolio.
One can only hope this means that self-driving cars will now come festooned with big circles, like old rally cars on a nighttime special stage.
5th Gear: GM Testing “Connected” Construction Zones
General Motors is testing out “connected” construction zone technology in Michigan, the Detroit News reports:
General Motors Co. is testing a safety feature in Macomb County to warn drivers that traffic signals are about to turn red.
And in what is believed to be a first “connected” construction zone in the nation, test cars on a section of Interstate 75 in Oakland County can read high-tech roadside bar codes which communicate what lanes are closed up ahead. Even the reflective strips on workers’ safety vests contain information that identifies them as people instead of traffic barrels.
Maybe I’m just lame, but a lot of this sounds unnecessary. A warning that a light is about to turn red? That’s a yellow signal, my friend. A notification that tells you a person is a person and not a traffic barrel?
Most of the time barrels do not have arms and legs. Also, you should try to avoid hitting either one. Just a good safety tip!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But that thing that tells you which lane is terrible is kinda neat, I guess.
Reverse: Italians Start Driving Fast, Again
After an interim of seven years, during which World War II wreaked havoc across the European continent, the first post-war Mille Miglia auto race is held on this day in 1947 in Brescia, Italy.
Neutral: What Would Be Actually Good Connected-Car Tech?
Instead of superfluous stuff, I mean.