Happy Tuesday! It’s December 5, 2023, and this is The Morning Shift — your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, all in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: Cruise Facing Fines For ‘Misleading’ Regulators
Back in October, a woman was pushed under a Cruise robotaxi after being hit by another car. It later turned out that the taxi had in fact dragged the woman 20 feet. This alone is not a great look for the AV company, but now it seems Cruise is facing fines for another aspect of the story: Misleading regulators about what actually happened. From the Detroit Free Press:
The ruling states that Cruise Senior Manager Jose Alvarado called the California Public Utilities Commission to report the pedestrian accident on Oct. 3, the day after it occurred. But Alvarado’s description of the incident said the Cruise vehicle immediately stopped upon impact with the pedestrian. He omitted the critical information about the pullover maneuver, which resulted in the pedestrian being dragged.
That omission, “misled the Commission regarding the extent and severity of the October 2, 2023 incident, as well as the ability of Cruise’s AV’s to operate safely after experiencing a collision,” the ruling stated.
It’s wild that fines for misleading regulators can go as low as $500. Can you imagine doing your taxes wrong, to your benefit, and having it only cost you $500? Not a chance! They throw you in Gitmo for that! Corporations, though, always seem to have it better. I blame Citizens United.
2nd Gear: Don’t Hold Your Breath For The Next Chevy Bolt
The Chevy Bolt is the odd member out of GM’s electric portfolio, with its reasonable size and non-Ultium architecture. The platform for the Bolt is set to change, but it now looks like we won’t see the result until the year after next. From Automotive News:
The next generation of the Chevrolet Bolt EV will arrive in 2025, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Monday.
GM plans to discontinue its affordable electric vehicle at the end of this year as the automaker prepares to retool the Orion Assembly plant near Detroit to make electric pickups by late 2025. The Bolt EV and EUV currently are built on GM’s older battery platform and will be redesigned and reintroduced on its Ultium EV architecture.
“Company discontinues affordable compact vehicle so the factory can be used to build pickups” is about as American as an automotive story gets. We’ll get the Bolt back eventually, sure, but we’ll miss it for 2024.
3rd Gear: Swedish Strikes Against Tesla Spread To Denmark
Solidarity is contagious — once a few groups start standing up for each other, more folks always seem to join in. Take the Swedish strikes against Tesla, for example. Not only has much of the country sided with the striking mechanics, the movement is now spreading across Scandinavia. From Reuters:
Denmark’s 3F labour union said on Tuesday it will support Swedish mechanics in their strike action against Tesla (TSLA.O), and will refuse to unload or transport cars made by the U.S. auto company for customers in Sweden.
“Like the companies, the trade union movement is global in the fight to protect workers,” 3F Chair Jan Villadsen said in a statement, adding that Sweden’s IF Metall union had asked 3F to help.
The strike by Danish dockworkers and lorry drivers only affects cars that are meant for the Swedish market, the union said.
Tesla’s “no negotiation with unions” approach hasn’t hurt the company much in the U.S., but things seem to be going a bit differently in Sweden. Will this straw start to break Tesla’s resolve, aiding the union push over here that the UAW has promised?
4th Gear: Everyone Had A Good November Except Ford
Month-end sales numbers for November are out, and they’re up across the board — almost. Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Kia/Hyundai, Honda, even Volvo all saw year-over-year growth, but one company didn’t: Ford. From Automotive News:
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. sales dipped slightly as strong electric vehicle deliveries couldn’t overcome the sharp decline of popular models, like the Bronco SUV, that were impacted by the UAW strike earlier this fall. Ford said EV sales rose 43 percent compared to the same period a year ago, while hybrid sales jumped 75 percent and gas-powered vehicle sales fell 6.5 percent.
Sales rose 17 percent at Toyota Motor last month, with volume surging 70 percent at Lexus and 10 percent at Toyota. This was Toyota Motor’s biggest sales gain since deliveries rose 28 percent in October 2022.
Honda Motor Co.’s rebound from chronic chip and inventory shortages continued last month with volume rising 33 percent. Light trucks were up 39 percent and car volume advanced 21 percent. Sales rose 32 percent at the Honda division and 38 percent at Acura.
Sales rose 11 percent to 70,079 vehicles last month at Hyundai, with a lift from fleet shipments, while volume advanced 3 percent to 58,338 at Kia. It was the 16th consecutive monthly increase for each brand.
Subaru said November sales were up 6.4 percent, its 16th consecutive increase, behind big gains for two of its top sellers, the Crosstrek and Forester.
Mazda, after a dip in October volume, saw November sales bounce back and rise 3 percent to 27,715 behind strong demand for three core crossovers, the CX-90, CX-50 and CX-30.
Ah, the eternal goal of unending growth. Surely, on a planet of limited buyers and limited resources, this is a reasonable standard to hold all companies to forever. I can’t imagine a single problem there.
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