Renault writes off its Russian assets, Audi and Porsche join Formula 1, BMW throws its customer service reps a video function. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Renault Is Bleeding From Russian Investments
It didn’t take a Lada dough for Russian automotive research institute NAMI to snap up a majority of Renault’s share of Russian carmaker AvtoVaz. According to Automotive News Europe, NAMI’s scooping up 68 percent of Renault’s stake in AvtoVaz for just one symbolic ruble. At current conversion rates, that works out to roughly 1.4 US cents. When you deal with sharks, you’ll end up in their jaws sooner or later.
Indeed, Renault took a gamble on Russian production and lost. Since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine, the French manufacturer has written off all 2.2 billion euros of its Russian assets. Production in Moscow? Halted. The supply chain allegedly no longer exists. The Moscow factory itself? Seized by the Russian state. Should Renault want their stake in AvtoVaz or their factory back, they’ll have to pay much more than a mere ruble. Perhaps more importantly, Renault’s market capitalization is now below the value of its stake in Nissan. What does this mean for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance? It looks like we’ll have to wait to find out. The moral of the story? Shake hands with tyrants and you’re gonna get screwed. Just look at how Volvo’s shipment of 144s to North Korea went. The Democratic People’s Republic took the cars and skipped the bill. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Russian government’s strong-arming Renault, and the French manufacturer has nobody to blame but itself for entering the arrangement with AvtoVaz.
Welcome To The Thunderdome
The drawn-out will-they won’t-they dance of Audi and Porsche courting Formula 1 is finally drawing to a close. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed in a YouTube video that both brands will officially be joining F1. Reuters is reporting that Audi is preparing an offer of 500 million euros for McLaren, a potential acquisition that would send shock waves through the sport. As for Porsche, it’s reportedly planning a collaboration with Red Bull come 2026. After all, Red Bull is using home-built Honda powerplants and doesn’t have an engine supplier lined up for 2026.
Honestly, this could go either well or terribly. Audi has no experience with Formula 1, although its Auto Union predecessor did compete in European Drivers’ Championship prior to World War II. As for Porsche, its F1 history is a bit of a mixed bag. The Porsche-TAG TTE P01 1.5-liter twin-turbo V6 was a Hans Mezger-designed masterpiece that propelled Niki Lauda and Alain Prost to victory in the 1984, 1985 and 1986 driver’s championships. On the flip side, the Porsche 3512 V12 of 1991 was a complete dog. Massively heavy, notably underpowered and seriously unreliable, the 3512 was so bad that Footwork Arrows dumped it mid-season. Will Porsche’s next F1 engine be any good? I guess we’ll find out.
You Won’t SEMA There
As the automotive industry continues to reevaluate the value of auto shows, Ford and Honda are pulling out of this year’s SEMA show. Honestly? It feels about time. SEMA isn’t a traditional car show, it’s more of an industry trade show for aftermarket parts. From an OEM perspective, it’s likely a massive waste of resources. Imagine shoveling money and time into building custom one-offs and a special display just to show off to parts companies, tuners and fellow industry members. A bit wasteful when you’re not in the business of modification, yeah?
In a press release issued last week, SEMA confirmed that Ford and Honda will not be returning to the show, although Volkswagen will be attending the show in an official capacity for the first time. While the exits of Ford and Honda feel appropriate, Volkswagen throwing their name in the hat also seems quite fitting. The German brand has been a fixture of the tuning scene for so long that it’s honestly surprising that they haven’t had a SEMA booth before. Who knows, maybe Jamie Orr will cook up something neat. His Harlequin Atlas and retro-inspired Mark 8 GTI have garnered significant buzz.
Beam Me To The Bimmer, Scotty
BMW has entered a partnership with software company Blitzz to take its customer service program to the next level. How do they plan to do this? By granting roadside assistance reps a video link to car trouble, a bit of a game changer when it comes to diagnosing breakdowns. According to Automotive News, BMW’s been trying out Blitzz’s remote inspection software since 2020 and has noticed a decrease in the length of roadside assistance calls.
Picture this, a 2021 BMW 540i owner is driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas when the oil light comes on to request a one-quart top-up. The owner could pull off the highway, walk into an auto parts store, ring up roadside assistance, and be visually guided to a correct bottle of LL-17 FE+-approved oil so they can continue on their journey. So how does it all work? When a customer rings up BMW’s 1-800 roadside assistance number, a representative emails the customer a link. That link grants the representative access to the customer’s rear-facing phone camera to help diagnose minor issues, no app required. Once everything’s sorted, the video link and call end, and everyone continues on their way. While Blitzz integration likely isn’t necessary for the enthusiast who can accurately explain how their Bavarian chariot has shat its dacks, it’s a great tool for less technically-minded owners. Hopefully more manufacturers take notice of this program as few things are more painful than overly drawn-out customer service calls.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Welcome to May, everyone! While April showers are said to bring May flowers, it seems like more May showers are in store for my neck of the woods. Still, I’d love to know what automotive stuff you got up to last weekend. I burned off the old gas in my 325i with a nice IKEA run. Hey, rooftop parking photos always have a nice vibe, and everybody could use a few more succulents as houseplants. I also tweaked the equalizer to play nicer with my recently-added Bluetooth Audio adapter. Sound quality is on-par with AAC through a 3.5 mm cable, although I definitely wouldn’t mind upgrading to BavSound woofers for a little extra low-end kick.
Lead photo credit: Renault