Goodyear recalled a terrible tire, Lynk & Co has a new concept called The Next Day, Elon Musk is perturbed, and the U.S. is asking questions about workers’ rights at a Stellantis plant in Mexico . All that and more in The Morning Shift for June 7, 2022.
1st Gear: Goodyear G159
Years ago now, we ran some blogs about what one lawyer contended was “the worst tire made in history,” the Goodyear G159, which has been linked to multiple deaths and has been at the center of dozens of lawsuits. The G159 was originally intended for delivery vehicles but ended up on lots of motorhomes, on which they sometimes failed and led to crashes.
Goodyear has known that the tire could be bad for decades, according to court documents, and yet it was never recalled by Goodyear. Until this month, that is, when Goodyear said it would be recalling 173,273 G159s, almost two decades after the last one was made. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been investigating the tires since 2017.
From the relevant NHTSA document:
– NHTSA opened a preliminary evaluation (PE17-009) on December 28, 2017 to review and analyze allegations brought forward by a private litigant that the 275/70R22.5 G159 tire contained safety related defects that had caused motorhome crashes resulting in deaths and injuries to occupants of these vehicles.
– As part of PE17-009, NHTSA sent an information request to Goodyear on April 3, 2018. Goodyear submitted a response to that information request in May 2018.
– After a series of conversations and meetings between Goodyear and NHTSA, by letter of February 22, 2022, NHTSA requested that Goodyear conduct a safety recall of the 275/70R22.5 G159 tire (the “Subject Tires”). Goodyear filed its response to that letter on March 8, 2022, declining the request.
– To address concerns that some of these tires may still be in the marketplace or in use, Goodyear has agreed to undertake this recall.
– Any person that presents a recreational vehicle containing a Subject Tire will receive a 275/70R22.5 Goodyear G670 tire free of charge. Goodyear will cover the cost of dismounting and disposing of the Subject Tire and mounting and balancing the new G670 tire. Additionally, any person presenting a Subject Tire on a recreational vehicle will be provided a voucher in the amount of $60 to cover the cost of having the vehicle professionally weighed.
– Any person who owns a Subject Tire not installed on a recreational vehicle can exchange it for $500.
– Instructions to dealers will specify that any tire removed under this recall is to be rendered unsuitable for resale for installation on motor vehicles prior to returning to Goodyear for credit. All removed tires returned to Goodyear will be used by our recycler for various recycling purposes.
– Since the motorhome manufacturers that specified the Subject Tires no longer are in business, and Goodyear does not have, or have access to, any registration data for the Subject Tires, Goodyear will issue an information bulletin describing this campaign. The bulletin will be published on certain Goodyear websites and issued to Tire Service Centers and Tire Dealers. Goodyear also will make contact with leading trade associations and interest groups representing recreational vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and owners, and will request that the bulletin be made available to their membership, including through publication on those organizations’ websites and/or in their monthly publications.
If you own a motorhome, I’d recommend checking out what kind of shoes your baby is wearing. I’d also be remiss not to shout out Jalopnik alum Ryan Felton, whose work on this story has been indefatigable. In the end, it is always a cost-benefit analysis for big companies like Goodyear when it comes to things like this, no matter what actually happens. It only took all this time and many lives.
2nd Gear: Stellantis
This one is a bit convoluted, so bear with me, but the gist of it is that the U.S. wants Mexico to look into possible workers’ rights abuses at a Stellantis plant there, arising from a dispute between unions over who represents who.
Teksid, which employs nearly 1,500 people and makes iron castings for heavy vehicles, has been embroiled in a union dispute since 2014. Workers say the company has blocked them from being represented by the group of their choice, the Miners Union, and that it dismissed workers who backed the group.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said in the request it was concerned workers had been denied collective bargaining rights in connection with an “invalid” contract with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), one of Mexico’s most powerful unions, that had been registered with state authorities.
The office asked Mexico to investigate if efforts had been made, including threats and incentives, to encourage backing for CTM or to dissuade support for the Miners Union.
Stellantis (STLA.MI), the world’s fourth-largest auto group which formed from the merger of Peugeot maker PSA and Fiat Chrysler, said it “respects and supports the collective bargaining rights of its employees around the world and will comply with all local laws in that regard.”
The United Auto Workers union, which represents U.S. Stellantis workers, along with the AFL-CIO labor federation and the Miners Union, flagged the potential violations, the USTR’s office said.
I won’t pretend to know the dynamics at play here, but as a veteran of many a union fight, both internal and external, I can say that things get complicated, though the bias should always be on: What are the workers saying they want? In this case, it seems, they are saying they want one thing and getting another.
3rd Gear: Layoffs At Cazoo
Cazoo is something like the Carvana of Europe, known to me mainly as the sponsor of British soccer teams. Also like Carvana, Cazoo said recently it would be laying off lots of people. Cazoo said Tuesday it would be laying off 15 percent of its people, specifically, as the turbulent car market remains turbulent.
The job cuts will impact about 750 roles in the company, which employs more than 3,500 people across the UK, Germany, France and Portugal. Cazoo shares rose about 2.3% to $1.3 in a low-volume trade.
The plan is expected to extend its cash runway beyond 2023 and reduce risks to its profitability, the company said, as decades-high inflation and rising interest rates trigger fears of economic slowdown globally.
While aiming to save cash, Cazoo said it expects sales to double to 70,000-80,000 units in 2022 from a year earlier and forecast annual revenue of between 1.4 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) to 1.5 billion pounds, two times higher than a year ago.
As part of its realignment plan, Cazoo said it will no longer offer its subscription service to new subscribers from the end of June, given the highly cash consumptive nature of the business model.
4th Gear: Lynk & Co Has A New Concept
And it is a looker, to my eyes at least. To wit:
Lynk & Co is owned by Geely, which also owns Volvo and Polestar. It is calling this car The Next Day, which is fine. Lynk & Co, notably, is a hybrid brand, not a full-electric one, and this is a hybrid, too.
Motor Authority has more:
The Next Day concept is designed to run either a conventional hybrid powertrain or plug-in hybrid setup. In both cases there’s a small internal-combustion engine with thermal efficiency of more than 43%. An engine’s thermal efficiency is a measure of how much of the heat energy generated by combustion is actually converted into useful work. A good rating for a road car is about 40% whereas 50% is a rating normally associated with the best Formula 1 engines.
In The Next Day concept the internal-combustion engine powers the front axle while a pair of electric motors power the rear. In the proposed plug-in hybrid setup, there would be an opportunity to choose from a handful of battery sizes, with the largest capable of delivering a pure electric range approaching 100 miles on a charge.
Other technologies previewed in the concept include active aerodynamics, an advanced head-up display with augmented reality, and an autonomous driving system rated at Level 4 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability and featuring six lidar sensors. While Lynk & Co. is yet to announce plans for a self-driving car, its Zeekr sister brand in January announced plans to launch a Level 4 self-driving car around 2024.
5th Gear: Elon Musk
Elon has a binding agreement to buy Twitter, which he is now seemingly doing anything he can to get out of.
According to Bloomberg:
In a securities filing on Monday, Musk said he believes Twitter is breaching their agreement by not meeting his demands for more information about spam and fake accounts. Last month, Musk said he wouldn’t proceed with his offer unless the social media giant can prove bots make up fewer than 5 percent of its users, as the company has stated in public filings. Musk has estimated that fake accounts make up at least 20 percent.
In a statement, Twitter said it “has and will continue to cooperatively share information” with Musk. The company said it believes the deal is in the best interest of all shareholders and intends to “close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.”
If I didn’t want to buy something, I would simply not sign a binding agreement to buy it, but that is just me, a simpleton. Elon is also the CEO of Tesla, you may remember, which is a company that makes cars whose stock price is currently down 33 percent over the last six months. It’s almost like Elon has a short attention span, which would make him your average Twitter user.
Reverse: Drive-Through Banking
I’m not entirely sure that this deserves a whole article on History.com, but I don’t judge.
The SKA branch that opened in Zurich in June 1962 featured eight glass pavilions, seven outfitted for left-hand drive cars and one for vehicles with right-hand drive (such as those used in the United Kingdom and Ireland). Upon the opening of the large and modern facility, Zurich daily newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung advised motorists on how to enter the drive-through portion: “At the entrance to the bank, approaching cars trigger a sensor on the ground, activating a light trail that directs the driver to the next available counter.”
The Paradeplatz drive-through was well received by the press, and in its first year of operation, the bank handled around 20,000 customers. By the 1970s, however, the automobile’s popularity had led to a major traffic problem in downtown Zurich, and fewer and fewer drivers opted to stop to do their banking from their cars. After years without a profit, SKA closed the drive-through in 1983.
In the United States, by contrast, drive-through banking never lost its popularity. Nearly all major banks nationwide offer some type of drive-through option, from regular teller service to 24-hour automated teller machines (ATMs). In recent years, drive-through banking reached the previously untapped Asian market: Citibank opened China’s first drive-through ATM at the Upper East Side Central Plaza in Beijing in August 2007.
Neutral: How Are You?
I’m back from a vacation, and catching up on things. I spent a week in Mexico City, where the cars are small and excellent. They also have lots of interesting public transportation options, like dedicated bus lanes and a subway system that seems to work and also a bike share system that seems to work. If only we could have such things here.