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: New Camaro With 76 Percent More Bitchin’
Tomorrow at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Chevrolet will pull the cover off the all-new, lighter, Alpha platform 2016 Camaro.
Unlike most sporting models, which mostly exist so they can appeal to niche audiences and look good in TV commercials, the Camaro is a big deal for General Motors because it actually sells well to a wide audience and makes money. One could easily argue it’s just as effective a halo car as the Corvette.
The Camaro is a solid money maker and also lures buyers — even younger adults — into Chevy showrooms, where GM is still trying to prove that it can make desirable passenger cars to sell alongside its popular pickups and sport utility vehicles.
[...] Fast forward to this weekend, and GM can brag that the nearly killed fifth-generation Camaro has sold 500,000 copies since 2009. The company has already put out teasers saying the new car will be much improved, especially when it comes to the driving performance. It’s 200 pounds lighter, thanks to some aluminum parts, and more aerodynamic, too, GM said on its website.
Jalopnik (specifically, me) will be there at the Belle Isle reveal to bring you all the exciting Camaro news and hopefully some awesome video too.
2nd Gear: And Here Are Toyota’s U.S. Takata Airbag Recalls
I can’t write a Morning Shift without mentioning the Takata recalls, can I? It’s like a tradition at this point. Anyway, earlier in the week Nissan and Toyota announced they would recall 6.5 million cars globally between them for potentially lethal exploding airbags. According to Reuters, here are the 637,000 U.S. Toyota models affected:
As part of that effort, Toyota is recalling 300,000 vehicles sold in high-humidity U.S. states and territories, including the 2005-2007 Corolla, Corolla Matrix and Sequoia, 2005-2006 Tundra and 2005-2007 Lexus SC, as well as the 2005-2007 Pontiac Vibe made for General Motors Co.
Toyota is also recalling 177,000 2003-2004 Tundra and 2004 Sequoia, as well as 160,000 2004-2005 RAV4.
I’ll try and track down the affected Nissans as well.
3rd Gear: Ford CEO Addresses Lagging Stock Prices And Profits
Mark Fields has been CEO of Ford for almost a year now, but his first annual meeting with shareholders was a bit of a tense one as he addressed the problem of their declining stock prices and falling profits.
Why did this happen? Bloomberg said it’s because Ford spent money introducing a record 24 new models last year, and the new aluminum F-150 won’t be up to full production until this year, plus political turmoil in Russia and South America that disrupted the markets in those places. Ford shares closed at $15.27 yesterday, an 11 percent decline since Fields took over.
It’s all about trucks, really:
“We’re not thrilled that the stock hasn’t moved in a year or two, but we think they’re doing the right things,” said Michael Levine, a fund manager at Oppenheimer Funds Inc. in New York, who said Ford is the fourth-largest holding in the $6.4 billion equity income fund he manages. “When Fields came in, the Street probably underestimated some of the costs in transitioning from the old F-150 to the new one.”
Also this tidbit:
The F-series, including larger versions such as the F-250, accounts for 90 percent of the company’s global automotive profit, according to Morgan Stanley.
Ninety percent. I knew it was high, but not that high. Ford is basically a truck company that makes Fiestas, Mustangs and crossovers on the side.
4th Gear: GM Turnaround Could Take Another Decade
Besides the massive CF that is the ignition switch recall nightmare, post-bailout GM is doing pretty well in terms of products and growing profits. But one retiring GM board member, ex-Coca-Cola CEO and chairman 71-year-old Neville Isdell, told Bloomberg that the full turnaround will take at least another 10 years:
In an exclusive interview, Isdell, 71, said some of the institutional arrogance that got the company in trouble is still there despite Barra’s efforts to foster a humbler culture. He also criticized marketing at the bread-and-butter Chevrolet brand and said Cadillac may need to spend even more than a planned $12 billion to be a force in global luxury.
More on that culture problem:
When Isdell became a GM director, he encountered an organization that tended to believe in its own superiority. The prevailing wisdom inside the company was that the “critics were all wrong,” he said. “You heard ‘GM is the best; GM is world- class,’ when clearly they weren’t world-class everywhere.”
But Isdell said it’s still not unusual to hear GM vets claim to be the best at something or denigrate the competition. That doesn’t sit well with a guy who once made a Coca-Cola team in the Philippines wear Pepsi shirts and drink the rival’s cola to get them thinking like the competition. Isdell said Barra is well aware of problem and trying to address it.
Remember, culture starts with people.
5th Gear: Euro Car Sales Are Better, But What Does That Mean For Profits?
Because you demanded it, 5th Gear returns to TMS!
As the European economy continues to improve, car sales in the Old World are finally picking up. But analysts are cautious, saying the sales increase may have more to do with carmakers pumping unsold vehicles from the aforementioned troubled South America and Russia into Europe. From The Detroit News:
“Clearly, Q1 2015 European car sales were stronger than we had forecast, but we believe this is largely the result of (manufacturers) pushing volume into the market, rather than demand strengthening. With sales slowing in LatAm, Russia and Eastern Europe, where else can (manufacturers) generate growth,” Hendrikse said.
Reverse: Gas Rationing For The War Effort Begins
On this day in 1942, gasoline rationing began in 17 Eastern states as an attempt to help the American war effort during World War II. By the end of the year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ensured that mandatory gasoline rationing was in effect in all 50 states.
Clearly, there weren’t 50 states back then, but even History.com has off-days.
Neutral: How Long Will A GM Turnaround Really Take?
And how do you measure that, exactly?
This post has been updated to correctly attribute several stories to Bloomberg, not Automotive News.
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