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Mary Barra speaks with reporters on Dec. 5 in D.C.
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite (AP)
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Mary Barra goes to Congress, Tesla's China factory plans to start up, and a theory on Carlos Ghosn. All of this and more in The morning shift for Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.

1st Gear: GM Tries to Explain Itself

General Motors has been taking the heat for several days now. Factories next year-a move that might have violated its union contract, The grand plan, in sum, so calls for slashing 15,000 workers, at a time the automaker's doing pretty damn well.

Expectedly, of course, this pissed off a number of politicians, who demanded CEO Mary Barra come to Congress and explain why it's happening. Barra, on Wednesday, tried.

By Reuters, emphasis mine:

General Motors Co (GM.N) Chief executive Mary Barra on Wednesday at "open mind" about the future of Ohio plans that will loose vehicle production, but warned the detroit automaker has excess capacity and did not suggest the company what reconsidering the plan,

Barra considered the talks productive, according to The Detroit Free Press:

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Barra said, "I had very constructive meetings with members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland. I would like to share our thoughts with you on our employees, their families and communities. I had very constructive meetings with members of Congress from Ohio and Maryland. We share our concerns about the impact of our actions.

If that comes across as a child gesture to keep lawmakers at bay, it probably is.

But ohio's senators, in particular, are pissed because of the perceived betrayal of American workers that long after the GM bailouts:

After meeting with U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, both of Ohio, Barra, in her first public appearance since last week's announcement, said GM is working with the UAW to determine how best to use the so-called "unallocated" plants and how to train workers to put them into positions open elsewhere.

Brown, a Democrat, and Portman, a Republican, said they both pressed Barra to get a new product in Lordstown. Knowing that GM is set to enter negotiations with the UAW for how and where its workforce wants to be placed, Brown said he's looking for a solution sooner rather than later.

"The government saved this company," he said, referring to the rescue of General Motors in 2009 and 2010.

Portman said he spoke to President Donald Trump again on Wednesday about the GM cuts and that he is very committed to keeping this assembly plant in Ohio. " Trump has threatened GM with tariffs and a loss of subsidies for electric vehicle sales if it follows through on the cuts.

GM's already gearing up for talks with the United Auto Workers next year, which could determine the fate of these plants. It's expected that Barra would try to tamper the mood now, because 2019 is surely going to be even more heated.

2nd Gear: Tesla May Make Cars in China by Late 2019

Tesla's plan for a new factory in China is accelerating at a rapid pace, and if you can get word of local officials in Shanghai, reports Bloomberg,

The Mayor of the city, Ying Yong, visited the project site in the Lingang development zone in southeastern Shanghai and encouraged Tesla to accelerate construction, according to a statement on the city's WeChat social media account Thursday. The plant, dubbed Gigafactory 3, wants to be the largest foreign-invested manufacturing project in Shanghai. A Tesla representative did not have an immediate comment.

The Palo Alto, California-based company has secured more than 200 acresof land for the China factory, which is expected to cost several billion dollars to build. Tesla's first overseas plans to help the electric car maker avoid some of the risks involved with importing vehicles, such as higher tariffs caused by the trade tensions between China and the United States.

Having a factory up next year is quite an aggressive goal for a company with a history of setting aggressive goals. We'll see.

3rd Gear: Ghosn and His Retirement

Nissan-Renault boss Carlos Ghosn's detainment in Japan remains ongoing, over alleged misreporting of his income from Nissan to regulators. The saga itself is strange, as a curious observer has to wonder how Nissan could've missed this for so long.

Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources close came up with a theory, and it's very, uh, weird?

Two weeks after Tokyo prosecutors arrested Carlos Ghosn for allegedly under-reporting his compensation, that question is still unanswered. What is certain is that Nissan Motor Co.Who owns the bankruptcy of a bankruptcy bankruptcy. Those powers included near-total say how much – and how – he was paid, according to Nissan's own internal rules.

several people familiar with the prosecutors' investigation now. Whether or not Ghosn broke Japan's security laws by feeding the wrong numbers to Nissan's board and its accountants (corporate governance expert) Jamie Allen says the deeper question is how could anyone have gotten away with something like that ,

Compared to anyone known as a "corporate governance expert," I'm a dumbass, and even I had the same thought as Bloomberg's source. Retirement payments being improperly booked? Is that even illegal?

We still do not know, and Ghosn's still under arrest. What a wild situation.

4th Gear: Toyota Scared by Trump's Tariffs

President Trump is still toying with the possibility of imposing tariffs on automobiles, a possibility that unsurprisingly scares the shit out of the auto industry. Toyota reemphasized its thoughts on Wednesday to a crowd in Detroit, reports Bloomberg,

Toyota Motor Corp. executives still fret that President Donald Trump's proposed auto tariffs could come to pass and cut car sales by about 2 million cars a year.

Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, told the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday that Trump's proposed use of section 233 of the Trade Expansion Act would put 25 percent of tariffs on foreign cars. The move would hurt foreign carmakers like Toyota, he said.

Lentz reportedly added that he's trying to stay "hopeful." What an optimistic guy.

5th Gear: VW Plans to Cut Costs

Volkswagen, in the beginning stages of a massive, ambitious push into the electric vehicle market, is about $ 3.4 billion, according to Reuters, a move it's justifying as a way to increase profit margins.

Chatting, the German automaker has been cutting costs to fund an ambitious shift to electric cars and automated driving.

VW brand, its largest division by sales, but which has lagged the profitability of rivals as Japan's Toyota due in part to high labor costs at its German plants.

"By 2020 we want to achieve three billion euros in cost savings, and now aim for a further three billion euros by 2023," Arno Antlitz, the board member responsible for finance at the VW brand, told a press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany.

You have to fund a $ 40 billion investment in electric cars and search somehow, I suppose.

Reverse: Damn

Neutral: GM's 'Open Mind'

How do you expect this to go down? Do you think GM might want to make an extra plan for an appease congress?

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