0:32 DOJ Protects VW’s CEO
1:14 Mazda Turns It Around
1:58 Lyft Partners with Aptiv
3:04 Maserati In Trouble
4:00 Weekend Race Results
5:24 CAFE Vs. Gas Tax
On today’s show…the U.S. Department of Justice tells Volkswagen’s CEO that it will not arrest him…Maserati runs into trouble trying to sell SUVs…and one industry veteran calls for a higher gasoline tax in the U.S. All that and more coming right up on Autoline Daily.
This is Autoline Daily the show for enthusiasts of the automotive industry.
DOJ PROTECTS VW’S CEO
Last week, the Justice Department accused Volkswagen’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn of a cover-up in the company’s diesel cheating scandal. But the DOJ is going easier on VW’s new CEO. Bloomberg reports that Herbert Diess has a deal that allows him to travel freely across the world without fear of being arrested. He’ll also be notified ahead of time if he’s being charged in connection with the cheating scandal. Analysts say this is a very unusual move and it suggests he may be providing information to authorities. Diess joined VW just a few months before the scandal became public and isn’t accused of any wrongdoing.
MAZDA TURNS IT AROUND
In the last decade, Mazda has gone nowhere in the American market, but maybe that’s starting to turn around. Mazda North America made a lot of management changes and sales are up nearly 15%, making Mazda one ot the best performing automakers so far this year. As you’d expect with the way things are going in the market these days, sales of its passenger cars are down, including the Mazda3, the Mazda6 and the MX-5 Miata. But sales of its crossovers, the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 are all up by double digits. In fact, the CX5 was up an impressive 51% in the first three months of the year.
LYFT PARTNERS WITH APTIV
Every time you turn around these days there’s another major announcement on mobility services. Now Lyft and Aptiv have partnered up on autonomous vehicles. Aptiv, the technology company that was spun-off from Delphi last year, launched a fleet of 30 self-driving BMW’s on the Lyft network in Las Vegas. The vehicles are available to the general public and are in operation right now and can be hailed using the Lyft app. But even though they are autonomous there is a human behind the wheel, to take control in an emergency.
Maserati thought that coming out with an SUV would be a big boost to the brand. But it hasn’t worked out that way and that is coming up next.
MASERATI IN TROUBLE
Uh-oh, all of a sudden, things aren’t looking so bright for Maserati. At a time when luxury SUVs are all the rage, sales of the Maserati Levante fell more than 20% in the first quarter. When Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of FCA was asked why sales were down so much he was perfectly blunt. “To be perfectly honest, I think we sucked at the launch of the Levante,” he said. Supposedly this is why Marchionne replaced Reid Bigland with Tim Kuniskis as the head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati. The poor performance of the Levante dragged down Maserati’s financial performance. Sales fell 21%, revenue fell 20% and earnings fell almost 20%. Maserati hopes to turn the situation around with the launch of the Levante Trofeo that comes with a twin turbo V8 from Ferrari with 590 horsepower.
WEEKEND RACE RESULTS
In racing news over the weekend, Formula One driver Fernando Alonso just won his first endurance race. Along with co-drivers Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, Alonso took the top spot in their Toyota HYBRID race car at the 6 hours of Spa. Alonso is training to compete in the 24 Hours of LeMans. He wants to win what they call the Triple Crown in motorsports, winning the Monaco Grand Prix, which he’s already done. Now he wants to win LeMans and the Indianapolis 500.
In other weekend racing news, Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR race in Dover in his Ford Fusion, in fact he took the lead in the driver’s championship. And in sportscar racing Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves just beat out Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron to win the IMSA race Mid-Ohio. Penske Racing is fielding the two Acura’s and this is the team’s first win with that car.
Is a gas tax a more effective way of trying to reduce emissions than CAFE? That’s coming up next.
CAFE VS. GAS TAX
In last week’s Autoline After Hours, we were joined by Steve Miller, the CEO of the International Automotive Components Group. And during that conversion the topic fuel economy came up and whether or not a gas tax is a more effective way of reducing emissions than CAFE. Take a look.
(The AAH preview is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
You can watch that entire interview with Steve Miller right now on our website, Autoline.tv or you can find it on our YouTube channel.
But that’s it for today, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.