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Would a $2 Million Raise Entice You to Turn Around the Ford Motor Company?

Today on Speed Lines: Ford's new COO gets a big pay bump months after worker layoffs.

Welcome back to another edition of Speed Lines, where we at The Drive examine the most pressing news facing the automotive world each morning. Today we’re talking about Ford, again, Nissan, again, and the unfortunate continued effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Big Jim’s Big Payday

As we’ve discussed on Speed Lines before, Ford’s newly promoted COO Jim Farley has a big job ahead of him this year. Following a fairly disastrous 2019, the dismal launch of the new Explorer and a deeply skeptical Wall Street, he’s tasked with helping his CEO lead a restructuring effort and better uniting Ford’s established carmaking and nascent mobility units.

Oh, and he’s got to help make the company handsomely profitable again. That too. So as Bloomberg reports, Farley is getting a nice pay bump for his trouble:

Farley, previously Ford’s president of new business, technology and strategy, is to receive as much as $1.98 million in extra salary, bonus and stock in his new role, the company said Tuesday in a regulatory filing. Most of the increase in his compensation plan, which will total $8.29 million, is a boost to his annual stock grant.

The 57-year-old’s promotion takes effect March 1 along with the retirement of his primary rival at the company, Joe Hinrichs, 53. The moves were announced earlier this month.

As a reminder, Ford laid off 7,000 workers last year, and I’m sure all of them are very happy for Jim.

Nissan Tries Out Vehicle Subscriptions In Houston

As a native Texan, there’s a lot of things I enjoy about Houston. Driving there is not one of those things. Between a flat landscape and endless highway gridlock, the city is, unfortunately, not a great place for driving. It’s also the poster child for many of problems with America’s car-centric transportation infrastructure. 

Nonetheless, it is where Nissan will launch a new vehicle subscription program in America. Dubbed Nissan Switch (feel free to write your own Nintendo jokes in the commenting section), it’s a way for the troubled automaker to dip its toes in the unproven mobility game while seeing if such a thing can work for a non-premium automaker. Here’s Automotive News

The Nissan Switch subscription program includes on-demand access to 11 models, including the Altima and Nissan Leaf Plus sedans, Rogue and Pathfinder crossovers; Titan and Frontier pickups; and 370Z and GT-R sports cars.

The monthly membership, from $699 to $899 per month, includes unlimited vehicle swaps, as often as a vehicle a day. Vehicle delivery, insurance, roadside assistance, and regular maintenance is included.

“Nissan Switch is another way that Nissan is testing alternatives to the notion of traditional mobility, without long-term financial commitments for our customers,” Andrew Tavi, Nissan’s vice president of business development, said in a statement.

“This program provides more choice, convenience, and flexibility.”

I suppose if I had to be stuck in Loop 610 traffic, I could stomach it in a GT-R. 

Coronavirus Delays VW Production, Postpones Beijing Motor Show

The coronavirus outbreak has reached more than two dozen countries and is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths worldwide, but it’s ground zero in China that’s been hit the hardest. The outbreak has impacted countless industries there since the world’s entire manufacturing machine and global supply chain hinges on China to one degree or another.

For Volkswagen, it means some Chinese plants won’t start production back up until later than expected, reports the Wall Street Journal

Volkswagen’s delay, by an additional week until Feb. 24, highlights the difficulties that companies are facing amid the virus epidemic. The German auto giant, which has extended Lunar New Year holidays at its plants, blamed “national supply chain and logistics challenges as well as limited travel options for production employees.”

Volkswagen, which operates 33 plants in various locations in China away from the outbreak’s epicenter, ceased production on Jan. 23. Some of its plants have already resumed production.

Additionally, it means that the Beijing Motor Show, aka Auto China—perhaps the only auto show with real importance we have left—has been put on hold for now. It was supposed to happen in late April. A new date will be announced soon. Again from the WSJ:

Meanwhile, Auto China, which is one of the global industry’s marquee events and draws more than 800,000 visitors, is being postponed amid efforts to curb the virus, the organizers said Monday. The Beijing vehicle expo was the latest among the many business and political events to have been delayed indefinitely.

[…] Auto makers in China expect their first-quarter performance to be decimated by the viral outbreak, with sales set to fall 40% and production to slump by up to 60%, according to research firm Jefferies. Only around one-fifth of car dealerships are currently open nationally.

This may well stretch on a lot longer than anyone expected. 

The Jaguar Land Rover Vector , JLR

Jaguar Land Rover Does The Mobility Pod Thing

It’s not as sexy as an F-Type or a Range Rover Velar, but the pod you see above is pretty important to Jaguar Land Rover’s future. Dubbed the Vector, it’s an “electric urban mobility concept” that will eventually begin autonomy trials in Coventry late next year. Here’s TechCrunch:

Externally, JLR’s Vector concept looks very similar, with a front and back end that could easily pass for one another, as well as sliding doors that open from the middle to allow the maximum amount of space for entry and exit. The floor is low to the ground to similarly accommodate easy onboarding and disembarkation, and that same floor houses the battery and drivetrain that make the vehicle go.

Unlike Cruise’s strictly driverless design, however, the Jaguar vehicle features front-facing seats and a steering wheel for human control, though the interior is also “configurable” to eventually allow autonomous use, and to also offer flexibility for accommodating goods delivery as well as passenger transportation.

I eagerly await the day when one of these pods looks like it was designed by someone who actually likes cars.

On Our Radar

Hyundai Motor chairman to give up board seat as succession looms (Automotive News

Virgin Galactic’s stock soars, fueled by retail investors (Reuters)

GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly poised to begin electric transformation (Detroit News)

Read These To Seem Smart And Interesting

The Life, Death, and Rebirth of New York City’s Most Resilient Dive Bar (Vice)

Here’s a look inside a 15-story underground doomsday shelter for the 1% that has luxury homes, guns, and armored trucks (Business Insider)

Fridges are not cool (Curbed)

Your Turn

Executive pay was a huge issue during the United Auto Workers’ GM strike and contract renegotiation last year. Is Farley’s pay bump worth it, especially given Ford’s current state?