This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: How The 'Taxi of Tomorrow' Because The 'Taxi Of.... Maybe Eventually' As much as I love Panthers and Transit Connects and Siennas and whatever, the Nissan NV200 'Taxi of Tomorrow' is the best NYC taxi to drive in as it's the only one that's purposefully designed inside to be a cab.
It's supposed to be the only cab in NYC as it one then-Mayor Bloomberg's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' contest, a deal expected to be worth about $1 billion. So what happened? Bureaucratic holdups and legal wrangling galore have allowed people ot buy basically whatever they want. New York has therefore become a true melting pot of cabs, with Camrys and Town Cars and even Kias.
Sure, you'll see the occasional NV, but it's rare.
Here are the keys from Automotive News:
The group also contends that awarding the contract to Nissan violated the city's own Taxi of Tomorrow guidelines: Bloom-berg's vision called for a taxi that would be available with a hybrid powertrain. The NV200 is not — at least, not yet.
"We questioned this whole plan from the beginning, and they didn't listen to us," says Ethan Gerber, a Brooklyn attorney who represents the taxi association. "Look, Nissan is a good company. And the NV200 is not a bad car. If it turns out that people like it, then great — they should be able to sell them here.
"But why can't we have competition?" he asks. "Why did the city think there had to be exclusivity? It stifles competition and stops innovation. Why couldn't we just have standards for the taxi, and if Toyota and Ford wanted to offer an identical vehicle that might be somehow better or more competitive, why can't they?"
It's a good question, although Nissan seems to think they'll win out in the end.
2nd Gear: The UAW Wants To Kill Two-Tier
We're going to be talking about the UAW often next year, so it doesn't hurt to go ahead and start reviewing everyone's positions. Let's start with the UAW.
According to The Detroit News, they don't love the two-tier wage system that has older workers making one wage while the new ones make a lower one.
UAW hourly members have and are submitting bargaining resolutions to local unions. And getting rid of the system that pays new hires less in wages and benefits than veteran employees they work alongside is a top concern, according to UAW locals surveyed by The Detroit News.
"Since we've implemented the two-tier, it has absolutely caused a divide among our membership on both sides of the aisle," said Brian Hartman, president of UAW Local 2209 in Roanoke, Indiana. The local represents hourly workers at General Motors Co.'s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, which builds versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. Hartman estimates about 20 percent of the workforce there is entry-level.
The UAW basically traded a chance to resolve all of this for profit-sharing checks (that have been decent) and keeping jobs, but with an expanding market the UAW wants to get raises (many workers have gone years without any kind of adjustment).
3rd Gear: Bentley Wants To Sell 20,000 Cars A Year By 2020
Pleasing symmetry of the numbers aside, Bentley's move to hit 20,000 cars within the next six years is pretty remarkable given they hit 11,000 last year.
This report comes from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung via Reuters, who says that CEO Wolfgang Deurheimer thinks that more models (ahem SUV) can help them get their.
Also, China, probably.
4th Gear: So Where Goes That European Rally?
I think it's overstating it to call what's happened in Europe in 2014 a "rally" as, you know, scoring a run on two doubles in the 9th inning of a game you're still losing 2-9.
Even then, whatever you call it, it's not going to last says Neil Winton:
. ..[W]ith too many manufacturers making too many cars fighting like ferrets in a sack for every last sale with discounts through the roof and profits accruing on a good day. On the positive side, there will be many high quality new cars appearing in 2015, including the new Audi Q7 SUV, the BMW 7 series flagship and the little Opel-Vauxhall Karl from GM Europe.
Europe’s economy generally refuses to spark back into healthy growth mode. Lingering fears the Euro currency zone might still yet break apart haven’t done consumer confidence any favors, while political aggravation to the East, as Russian aggression spooks investors and politicians, is an additional worry made concrete by the cost of economic sanctions. These sanctions are causing major damage to the Russian economy, but Germany, Europe’s biggest, is hurting too.
Oh, and then there's the yen.
5th Gear: A Lower Yen Ain't Nuthin' To Fuck Wit'... C.R.E.A.M.
The lower yen may be helping major auto exporters do well as they can turn those cheap Nissans and Mazdas into sweet, sweet dollars, but it's kind of hell for everyone else (and a challenge to those same Japanese automakers in their home market, although it gets more complicated).
The latest to complain is Hyundai's chairman Chung Mong Koo who said at a meeting:
The environment for the auto market is “not favorable” due to low global economic growth, accelerating of the weak yen and possible weakness in emerging markets due to oil price drop...
According to Bloomberg, Chung also said the company needs to work towards a goal bigger than the eight million cars they're going to sell this year.
Reverse: A Three-Cylinder Air-Cooled Rotary To Boot
On this day in 1896, the U.S. government awards Patent Number 573,174 to inventor Stephen M. Balzer for a gasoline-powered motor buggy that he built two years earlier. Balzer never mass-produced any of his cars, but his "experimental" vehicle was one of the first functioning automobiles to be built in the United States. Today, the Balzer car is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It was the first gas-powered car in the museum's collection.
Neutral: What Is The Dominant Cab Where You Live? Or is there none?
Photo Credit: AP Images