Former Volkswagen CEO Won't Keep Audi Chairmanship, Obviously

Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Winterkorn Out As Audi Chairman Too

Being CEO of Volkswagen wasn’t Martin Winterkorn’s only role at the conglomerate. The executive, who resigned in the wake of Dieselgate, was also chairman of Audi.


He didn’t get to keep that job either, for obvious reasons. Reuters reports Winterkorn stepped down from the position yesterday, a few weeks after also stepping down as chief executive of Porsche SE, not the automaker but the German holding company that is VW’s majority shareholder.

2nd Gear: Germany Reports ‘Elevated Emissions’ On Other Diesels


In other SHOCKING NEWS, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, or KBA, reported today that their tests discovered “partly elevated levels of nitrogen oxides” on some 50 other cars. Here’s Bloomberg:

The authority didn’t release the make or model names of the cars that had elevated pollution levels. The testing included the VW nameplate as well as the carmaker’s Porsche and Audi units. BMW, Mercedes and General Motors Co.’s Opel were also among the two dozen brands tested.

German authorities are about two-thirds finished with the review they started in late September, when the Volkswagen scandal prompted a deeper look at real-world diesel emissions.

BMW, Daimler and other automakers have denied cheating on emissions tests.

3rd Gear: Karma To Tap BMW Tech

Karma Automotive, the Chinese-owned electric car company that used to be Fisker, will get some of BMW’s electric drive and charging technology. Here’s Bloomberg again:

The parts deal, set to be announced later Thursday, is the start of a relationship with BMW that could lead to other cooperation, said Karma Chief Marketing Officer Jim Taylor.

Automotive startups like Karma and Tesla Motors Inc. have had to rely on relationships with larger, established automakers to get on their feet.

Working with BMW will save Karma development time for some electric-drive technology in the same way that Tesla cut costs on its first model, the Roadster, by buying the chassis from Lotus.

4th Gear: Paying For Old Problems

In the aftermath of the General Motors ignition switch crisis, the way automakers and the government handle recalls and repairs has changed dramatically. But this AP story dives into how some automakers, like GM, are having to pay now for not fully fixing problems in older, more half-assed recalls. Here’s the story on the recent spate of GM engine fires on cars from the 1990s and 2000s:

But cases such as the GM fires, and the government’s recent punishment of Fiat Chrysler for numerous delayed recalls show that an old culture of resistance and procrastination can still haunt the industry and car owners. It also shows that despite reforms that have made the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more aggressive, problems can still go undetected.

“Over 1,000 fires is a huge number that should have generated a safety recall by GM before now,” says Clarence Ditlow, head of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a watchdog group. “To make matters worse, NHTSA missed the defect in its complaint database.”

[…] In 2008 and 2009, GM issued separate recalls for two versions of the V6, covering 1.7 million cars. In some cars the gasket was replaced, but in the majority, only flammable plastic parts near the manifold were replaced.

5th Gear: Win The Super Bowl And Drive Off In A Hyundai

(Nailed it this time.) Hyundai didn’t join in the last Super Bowl ad blitz, but they’re back in a big way for the upcoming game. Here’s Automotive News:

The automaker will run two in-game advertising spots and another ad in the so-called pre-kick pod, right before the Feb. 7 game starts.

The Super Bowl advertising plans come as the automaker finishes the first year of its new NFL sponsorship.

“It’s fitting that our most strategic Super Bowl marketing program ever at Hyundai is happening during Super Bowl 50 and what is anticipated to be the most-watched TV event of all time,” Hyundai Motor America Chief Marketing Officer Dean Evans said in a statement.

Willing to bet this will involve the new Genesis luxury brand? I think it might.

Reverse: Goldenrod!…

Neutral: Can Karma Get It Right This Time?

Fisker and Tesla came out around the same time and both got green loans from the government. One took off, and the other failed spectacularly. Does the company have a chance again?

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