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: Porsche is still supposedly preparing an ultra-hardcore 911 as the swansong for the 997-generation car, before an all-new series, dubbed '991' appears toward the end of this year. The new car is likely to be called the 911 GT3 RS Limited Edition. Supposedly, as we've reported before, it'll be based on the current 911 GT3 RS, except with a 4.0-liter version of Porsche's famous flat six rather than a 3.8-liter. Power output will likely hit 500 hp, and a run of 500 cars is expected. We'd also heard the new engine will likely be mated to the new PDK-S double clutch gearbox and that we'll see the car drop on April 7th. But now there's a brilliant new "Mexico Blue" speculative rendering up top via CarraraDesign and TeamSpeed.
2nd Gear: Bloomberg reports this morning that Toyota will keep 21 plants in Japan shut until March 22nd. That's down from the 28 plants initially closed and will cause the automaker to potentially lose 95,000 units of production due to closures and a shortage of parts in the wake of the disaster, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman for the Toyota City-based company. Seven of the factories will resume output tomorrow.
3rd Gear: Automakers are facing quake-related shortages of everything from microchips to — as we reported first yesterday — batteries for hybrids. But five days after the earthquake, Germany's BMW AG, truckmaker Volvo AB of Sweden and ON Semiconductor Corp. all say it's too early to know how they'll be affected by their Japanese vendors or customers. For example, Honda has disclosed that at least 113 of its suppliers are located in the affected areas and that it has yet to get in touch with more than 40 of them.
4th Gear: Saab has hired friend of Jalopnik, Steven Wade, the man behind SaabsUnited, the site that helped to save the automaker from certain death at the hands of General Motors, as a member of the automaker's global interactive marketing team. Wade's good people. He even helped us come up with this headline in Geneva.
5th Gear: Porsche announced their upcoming 'Cajun' small SUV will be built at the automaker's Leipzig plant, currently home to Cayenne and Panamera production. The expansion will lead to 1000 extra jobs. So that's a good thing, right? I mean, the idea of a small Porsche SUV isn't — but jobs are good, right? And the name Cajun is a portmanteau of Cayenne and Junior — like Jalopnik is a portmanteau of Jalopy and Beatnik. So that's good, right? Right? Right?!
6th Gear: The Chinese will get a plug-in hybrid BMW at next month's Shanghai Motor Show — a 5 Series New Energy Vehicle. According to BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, the car — based on the long-wheelbase 5 Series — is aimed specifically at the Chinese market. Don't expect the U.S. to get the same vehicle — although supposedly we might get a variation on the technology — say, something like the ActiveHybrid 5 Concept first shown last year in Geneva.
⏎ Buy a Troy Queef Sniff Petrol t-shirt today. [Sniff Petrol]
⏎ Build your dreams — and your own Ferrari FF. Because you won't be able to buy one. [Ferrari]
⏎ California court rejects service contract suit against Toyota insurance. [Automotive News]
⏎ Aston Martin Virage: First Drive. [Top Gear]
⏎ Porsche sued by U.S. hedge funds over losses. [Automotive News]
⏎ Buick will put on its dancing shoes, advertise in NCAA tourney. [Detroit News]
⏎ The lopsided playing field to hit CAFE. [New York Times]
⏎ It's all about auto journalists, didn't you know that? [Motor Trend]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 2003, race car driver Ricky Craven wins the Darlington 500, crossing the finish line .002 seconds ahead of Kurt Busch for the closest recorded finish in National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) history. [History]