This is the Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: In 2008, drivers panicked and changed their spending habits when prices hit $3.50. On Friday, March 4, the national average price was $3.46. Why no panic now? Easy, because U.S. consumers are stupid. Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, says gasoline will now have to reach $4.50 a gallon before consumers change auto buying habits significantly. We're like that frog in a pot, and the water temperature's being turned up ever-so-slowly, aren't we?
2nd Gear: Delivery of Hyundai's initial offering to dealerships of Sonata Hybrids has been delayed until at least late March because the Korean automaker is altering the car's device that emits an artificial engine noise at low speeds. Countless dozens of potential buyers will just have to wait a few more weeks.
3rd Gear: BMW has posted this official teaser video for the new M5 on its YouTube channel. The video features a lightly disguised prototype of the new super saloon, interspersed with comments from BMW's M Division boss, Kay Segler. Or, you know, you could just hang out at your local mall.
4th Gear: Six new "global" engine families — three gasoline and three diesel — will be introduced by General Motors in the next two years to meet more stringent fuel economy demands and tougher emissions regulations, starting in Europe. The simplified range of engines will be engineered with wider torque and power bands for broader applications. Oh, and by "global" GM apparently means "not all markets will take those engines, and they may continue to do their own thing." Gag.
5th Gear: Despite telling us this week at the Geneva Motor Show they were too focused on European sales to worry about the U.S. market, Ssangyong Motor Co., a Korean SUV specialist now controlled by Indian automaker and aborted pickup truck-importer Mahindra, plans to sell vehicles in the United States in two to five years, Chairman Yoo Lee told Automotive News. Yeah, right, I'll believe it when I see it. And no, the SUT1 doesn't count.
6th Gear: Toyota Motor Corp., which traditionally gets most of its profit in the U.S., will outline a strategy for growth in emerging markets in a 10-year plan the Japanese automaker is set to release this week, two people familiar with the plan said. You know, the same plan that every automaker's pursuing. Jeez, it's like Toyota's so good at learning from other automakers' choices, they're even using that skill with their own business plan.
⏎ It looks as though it may be the end of the line for the 'ring taxi. Does this mean Sabine needs a job? We'll hire you! [Bridge To Gantry]
⏎ NHTSA drops rule for power window safety auto-reverse function. [Consumer Reports]
⏎ Wow, Ford's even doing a "Drive One" style schlocky video campaign with the Ford Police Interceptor. I can't believe any media outlet's going to fluff Ford with a story on this. Oh, wait... I know of one. [Ford]
⏎ There's no evidence of spying at Renault. [Drive.com.au]
⏎ Some E-Types are more valuable than others. [New York Times]
⏎ Chrysler's targeting commercial vans... again. You know what might have worked better? Not letting Mercedes steal Sprinter. [Detroit News]
⏎ Malaysian automaker Proton's signed a tech-sharing deal with Nissan. [Drive.com.au]
⏎ Alberto Granado, the man who accompanied Argentine-born revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara on a motorcycle romp across South America in the 1950s, died this week in Cuba at the age of 88. [BBC]
⏎ Michael Bay says 'Transformers 2' was "crap." No shit. Really? [Yahoo! Movies]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1938, Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 races, is born in Iowa City, Iowa. [History]