Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place at 9:00 AM every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Piechpatine
Before his resignation over the weekend, Ferdinand Piech had agreed with the VW supervisory board to put his support behind CEO Martin Winterkorn and continue to move forward.
That’s all well and good, except that wasn’t true.
Sources tell Reuters that while Piech had publicly said that he’d support Winterkorn, his actions behind the scenes were a different story. In fact, he was trying to rally his family to help him oust Winterkorn and install Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller as the new CEO of VW. Mueller had been rumored as Piech’s choice for a replacement, so this isn’t really all that surprising.
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Once the company’s work council and its home state of Lower Saxony (which Reuters notes is a top shareholder) heard about the plan, they forced an emergency meeting of the supervisory board. That’s when Piech received a choice: resign or be removed by vote.
Piech chose to resign.
And now you know the rest of the story.
2nd Gear: Porsche’s $5 Billion Question
The trial regarding Porsche’s aborted plan to takeover VW in 2008 and possible lies to investors is coming up, but it appears that nobody from Porsche will testify.
The first testimonies are supposed to be on May 5th and 6th from Wolfgang Porsche and Ferdinand Piech, though we really really doubt Piech shows up for some reason. Call it a hunch.
In Germany, you are not required to testify if it may incriminate you, so people like Piech and Porsche, along with former CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, aren’t really expected to appear on the days of the first hearings. The litigation against Porsche and its failed takeover of VW has gone on since the attempt in 2008, and is all about if Porsche was really intending to buy VW or if it was an attempt to bolster prices of the German automakers.
3rd Gear: Hyundai Needs An Advisory Board
Remember when Hyundai spent $10 billion for the land it needed to build a new HQ in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district?
Remember how the shareholders, workers, and basically everyone was pissed that this was happening?
Yeah. Well, now Hyundai is working to establish a shareholder’s committee to give them some representation that might help Hyundai not pay three time the appraised value for a piece of land. It’ll be called the “transparency management committee” and will be responsible for communicating with shareholders in order to make sure everyone is on the same page.
4th Gear: Ford Recalls Cars For Doors
Ford is recalling 390,000 Fiestas, Fusions, and Lincoln MKZs for door latches that may wear over time and stop working, leading the door to not remain closed. That’s not ideal since doors are meant to stay closed until you want them to open.
This is part of a massive recall for Ford, which has had to bring back 1.4 million cars for doors that wouldn’t remain closed in the last year. They have two reports of doors that swung back when closed and caused “soreness,” as well as one that opened while parking and hit another car.
Dealers will replace all the door latches in the recalled cars.
5th Gear: More To Mexico?
We’ve recently heard about a huge amount of investment in manufacturing heading to Mexico thanks to inexpensive labor and great trade agreements that make it an ideal place to do business. Well, now add Land Rover to the list of automakers that are considering heading down Mexico way.
A Land Rover spokesman has said that Mexico could be a fantastic investment for the brand to build a factory in the next few years and that they could invest something like $500 million to get it done.
We’ll probably hear more on this soon.
On this day in 2009, the struggling American auto giant General Motors (GM) says it plans to discontinue production of its more than 80-year-old Pontiac brand.
Without Piech, will VW be able to operate better in markets where it’s faltering like the US and Asia?