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: According to documents obtained by GMInsideNews, the Holden-derived Zeta-platform "SS Sedan" is now operating as an approved program and — as we exclusively reported a couple months ago — the "El Camino" is ever-closer to a return. The "SS Sedan" program is running under the code Z2SC and is expected to launch in North America in early 2013 as a 2014 model year vehicle. Better news? GM is also considering the Holden Ute and Holden Commodore SportWagon for the North American market. Unlike the ‘SS Sedan,' the Ute and SportWagon based models are not currently approved for production and their approval hinges on fuel prices. If approved, the documents suggest the Ute would launch at the same time as the sedan, with the SportWagon launching later in the 2013 calendar year. The documents list the Ute-based vehicle as ‘El Camino.' The El Camino's program code is Z2RC, while the SportWagon code is Z2WC.
2nd Gear: Duke's Garage, a company specializing in restoring classic cars, and converting cars and trucks from gasoline engines to 100% electric vehicles, today announced the new eSpeedster and 550 Spyder Porsche replica vehicles. Basically, the eSpeedster takes this one-off kit for the 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster and does the work for you to rip out the engine and replace it with a 39.2 kW 3-phase AC electric motor powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. It's 100% electric and at $49,995, it's half the price of a Tesla Roadster. So what do you get for half the price? How about a 0-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds, a top speed of 130 mph (with a suggested top speed of 70 mph to preserve range), a 70 mile range, and a seven hour charge time.
3rd Gear: Volkswagen of America is recalling about 71,000 of the German automaker's new 2011 Jetta sedans for a wiring problem that could cause the car to turn off when the horn is used. Under certain rare circumstances using the horn could cause a short circuit that would, in turn, cause an electronic part called a converter box to disconnect from the car's power supply, a VW spokeswoman said. So, basically, honk if you want your car to stop. Got it.
4th Gear: Bloomberg's got some more news on the auto manufacturing shutdown front. Nissan announced it will halt production on weekends and holidays at all factories in China due to parts supply issues and An engine factory in Iwaki may not resume output until mid-April. Mazda's got two plants in Hofu and Hiroshima operating partially and the company hasn't decided on its output plan from March 30th. Mitsubishi has all three auto factories operating today, and the plant in Gifu will halt production tomorrow. The automaker hasn't decided on its production plan after March 31st. Toyota will halt production of hybrid vehicles in Japan for one day on March 30 to confirm it has an adequate supply of parts. Production at a plan in Toyota, Aichi prefecture, and another in Miyawaka, Fukuoka prefecture, will resume March 31. Honda says some of its R&D efforts have been delayed.
5th Gear: Tesla is touting that electric Roadsters in more than 30 countries have now covered over 10 million real-world miles in total. With 1,500 Roadsters on the road since the car hit the market in 2008, that means that they're averaging 6,666.67 miles per Roadster. To get the marked beastliness of that number out of our heads, let's break it down some more — to an average of 25.6 miles per weekday (260 per year) per car — far lower than the average of the rest of the country — 40 miles per day. Basically, Tesla drivers are driving half as much as regular drivers — likely for a variety of reasons. When that number gets closer to the 40 miles per day the rest of the country drives is the point in which we'll believe electric cars have, you know, achieved relevancy beyond dot-com millionaires and car collectors.
6th Gear: A Detroit-based strategic investment firm co-founded by Bill Ford Jr. is bringing pay-by-phone parking to Michigan and the country. Out of quarters or in a rush to beat the meter maid? Parkmobile's service allows drivers to "feed a meter" by phone, through a smartphone application and the Internet. "It gives another option for people not carrying change," said Mary Laundroche, a spokeswoman for the city of Dearborn, which debuted Parkmobile's service in its 272-space Lot H in mid-December and is considering expanding to all of west Dearborn. "You can sign up to get alerts. If you're having a good time with friends in a restaurant or bar … (you can) get a message on your cell phone, an alert saying you have 15 minutes left."
⏎ Edmunds' 2011 Ford Mustang four-way shoot-out. Guess which one comes out on top. Go ahead, just guess. [Edmunds Inside Line]
⏎ Can an Italian Elvis make Fiat-Chrysler dance? No, seriously, that's the headline. [Reuters]
⏎ Lincoln MKZ hybrid sales surprise even Ford. [Automotive News]
⏎ Chrysler seeks to block Detroit retailer's use of ‘Imported from Detroit'... even faster than before. [Crain's Detroit Business]
⏎ World's largest Rolls Royce dealership opens in Abu Dhabi. [Auto Express]
⏎ More than 45,000 Accord Euros recalled to avoid potential under-hood fire in Australia. [GoAuto]
⏎ Bananas could make cars leaner, greener... and infinitely more funny. [Gizmodo]
⏎ Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volkswagen have joined Alpine, LG Electronics, Nokia, Panasonic and Samsung to form the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCM) to standardize in-car connections and communications. [Car Enthusiast]
⏎ This year's redesigned Mazda BT-50 ute will bring two new diesels, no petrol option. And this is why we love Australia. [GoAuto]
Photo Credit: Scott Jacobs for Edmunds
Today in Automotive History:
On March 29, 2009, Rick Wagoner, the chairman and chief executive of troubled auto giant General Motors (GM), resigns at the request of the Obama administration. During Wagoner's more than 8 years in the top job at GM, the company lost billions of dollars and in 2008 was surpassed by Japan-based Toyota as the world's top-selling maker of cars and trucks, a title the American automaker had held since the early 1930s. [History]