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0:07 Germany Indicts Top VW Executives
1:10 EV Startup NIO Fighting for Its Life
2:44 Honda to Stop Selling Diesels in Europe
3:06 Ford Upgrades Large European Vans
4:04 Nissan Reveals All-New Patrol Large SUV
4:55 Absenteeism at GM Needs to be Improved
This is Autoline Daily reporting on all aspects of the global automotive industry.
GERMANY INDICTS TOP VW EXECS
We start out today’s report in Germany where prosecutors charged three top Volkswagen executives with stock market manipulation. That includes the chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, the former CEO Martin Winterkorn, and the current CEO Herbert Diess. They’re accused of deliberately withholding information that Volkswagen was under investigation by the U.S. EPA for cheating on diesel emissions. Shareholders did not learn about it until the EPA publicly announced it in September, 2015. That was months after VW execs knew about the investigation, and VW stock dropped by half on the news. Volkswagen says Diess only joined VW in July of 2015 and could not have known about the breadth of the scandal, so he will continue on as CEO. But we here at Autoline wonder how long VW’s board of supervisors will tolerate having a CEO who is under investigation and could end up being convicted.
EV STARTUP NIO FIGHTING FOR ITS LIFE
OK, now over to China where the EV startup NIO is fighting for its life. The company lost over $460 million in the second quarter, which brings its total losses over the last five years to $5.7 billion. Cost overruns and major recalls ate into its earnings, as well as weak sales. The company will slash its workforce by 14% by the end of the month. Bloomberg reports there is now an uneasy sentiment in China that the auto industry is sitting on an electric car bubble that’s about to burst. As long as the Chinese government was willing to heap all kinds of subsidies on EVs the market looked great. But as soon as the government started cutting back on subsidies, sales of EVs took a nosedive.
Don’t forget to join us this Thursday for Autoline After Hours. We’ve got Ken Nelson joining us again and this time he’s bringing a very rare Citroen DS 21 Chapron convertible with him. Joe McCabe from Autoforecast Solutions will also be on the show. So join John and Gary for some great insights about what’s going on in the automotive industry.
HONDA TO STOP DIESEL SALES IN EUROPE
At the Frankfurt auto show earlier this month Honda announced it would electrify its entire European lineup by 2025 and now Reuters reports that it will stop selling diesel cars altogether in the market by 2021. Ever since the Volkswagen diesel scandal, sales of diesel cars in Europe have fallen significantly.
FORD UPGRADES ITS LARGE VANS
Speaking of Europe, the plug-in hybrid version of Ford’s Transit Custom, which we reported on back in September of last year, is now on sale. The front wheels are driven exclusively by a nearly 93 kW electric motor, which is combined with a 13.6 kWh battery pack and a 1.0L 3-cylinder range extender. Based on the older, less accurate NEDC test, it gets 35 miles of battery range and is rated a 60 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The new Ford Transit is also on sale now with over 4,600 upgraded components. Highlights include a refined 2.0L diesel engine with an available 48-volt mild hybrid system, the option for a 10-speed automatic transmission and increased payload. With the 6-speed manual the van is rated at 200 grams of CO2 per kilometer based on the WLTP test cycle.
NISSAN REVEALS ALL-NEW PATROL
Could this be the new Nissan Armada? This is the new Nissan Patrol, which was just unveiled in Abu Dhabi. The SUV features new styling and adopts a modified version of the company’s V-Motion grille. Two engines are available. It comes standard with a 4.0L V6, and a 5.6L V8 that produces 400 horsepower is optional. The interior was updated and it comes with new driver assistance technology. It goes on sale in the Middle East this month.
Coming up next, John has more analysis on the UAW’s strike with GM.
ABSENTEEISM AT GM NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED
The UAW strike at General Motors continues to grind on and now thousands of workers at supplier companies are getting laid off. We keep hearing how the union wants more money, but at some point it’s going to have to help GM lower its total labor costs, which are the highest in the U.S. industry.
One area that’s ripe for improvement is the absenteeism rate at GM’s plants, which is unacceptably high. Get this, GM averages 12% daily unscheduled absenteeism at its plants, what I call AWOL workers. A typical assembly plant has about 2,500 hourly workers, which means about 300 people don’t show up for work everyday, without any advance notice. That forces GM hire that many more people just to cover those who don’t show up.
Non-union plants, like at Honda in Ohio, don’t tolerate this kind of unscheduled absenteeism. You pull a move like that a couple of times, you lose your job.
I fully support the UAW workers desire to make more money. But in labor negotiations there’s got to be some give and take. And the UAW has got to address this chronic absenteeism for which there is zero justification.
And with that we wrap up today’s report. Thank you for watching.
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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.