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: The "Rolls Royce" Mini inspired by Goodwood will be unveiled at the Shanghai motor show next week, and will go on sale in highly limited numbers of just 1000 available worldwide. The Goodwood Mini will be built using materials manufactured at the Rolls-Royce factory at Goodwood. It will feature an entirely overhauled interior with walnut wood used for surface finishes in a cabin coated with high-quality Rolls-Royce Cornsilk beige leather. The upper section of the instrument panel is also finished in black leather, while the dials and tachometer feature Rolls-Royce lettering. Outside, the Goodwood Mini gets unique 17-inch alloy wheels and the option of an exclusive Rolls-Royce black metallic paint finish, active Xenon headlights, parking sensors, climate control and upgraded Harman Kardon stereo. But don't expect it to get the V12 Rolls engine. Sadly, it'll just be the regular 179 bhp 1.6-liter gas engine under the hood. Still, I love the concept of it and can't wait to get behind the wheel.
2nd Gear: Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker operated by Fiat SpA, plans to start selling compressed natural gas-powered vehicles by 2017. "The technology is very actively being worked on," Bob Lee, Chrysler's vice president for engine and electrified propulsion systems, said yesterday in an interview in Detroit. Fiat, which owns 30% of Chrysler and plans to increase the holding to 51%, has engines using compressed natural gas in Europe. Chrysler executives have explored bringing that Fiat technology to the U.S.
3rd Gear: Lotus Cars, a unit of Malaysia's Proton Holdings, will sign a syndicated financing deal with six lenders on April 15, according to a media invitation. They are CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., Malayan Banking Bhd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., EON Capital Bhd., Exim Bank and Affin Holdings Bhd., according to the e-mailed invitation received by Bloomberg today. Great, so Dany Bahar's crazy scheme will at least be well-funded.
4th Gear: Councilwoman JoAnn Watson reiterated her shrieking call for a government bailout of Detroit, saying the city that built the middle class deserves as much help as Wall Street or General Motors. Addressing the City Council yesterday during Mayor Dave Bing's budget presentation, Watson gave a spirited pitch for federal funds to help the city whose population declined 25% since 2000 to 713,777. "We are worth it. We are worth at least as much as General Motors or Chrysler or the Wall Street bankers," Watson said. "It was this city that built military vehicles for World War II. It was this city that (invented) the middle class and the five-day work week. We should not be in a position to be victims. We are victors. And we should demand respect." Ugh. Really, "we are victors?" Come on. I'm from Detroit, we aren't victors — given the hits we've taken we're just lucky to be alive. It's one thing to ask for help — and I don't deny that we should get it — but it's another thing to demand it and tell the world you're a bunch of winners. Winners would have done a better job of helping stop this from happening. Everyone in Metro Detroit — from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to Councilwoman Watson — are all to blame. You didn't win, you just didn't die.
5th Gear: Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn never thought of resigning over the industrial espionage probe turned fraud case at the French carmaker, he told Les Echos in an interview. "Nothing in the audit implicates me," Ghosn said, referring to reviews carried out in recent weeks that led to Chief Operating Officer's resignation on Monday over the debacle. "I who have known many crises am convinced that during a crisis a captain does not abandon his ship. He makes sure that the ship weathers the storm," said Ghosn, who is also chief executive of Renault's Japanese partner Nissan.
6th Gear: Bloomberg reports this morning that European Union regulators proposed to raise EU taxes on fuels including diesel and to introduce an emissions levy on industries that are spared carbon-dioxide caps, setting up a potential clash with national governments. The draft law by the European Commission, the 27-nation EU's regulatory arm, aims to spur energy savings and the development of low-emission technologies as part of the fight against climate change by taxing all fuels in the same way. The legislation needs the backing of all EU national governments, any one of which has veto power. So, you know, it probably won't pass. Especially given countries like the U.K. have traditionally opposed EU powers over taxation, saying this is a matter for national authorities and defending low rates. Opposition will likely also come from cash-strapped european nations whose economic outlook has been clouded by the European Central Bank's decision last week to raise interest rates for the first time in almost three years.
⏎ An ex-Ford engineer who stole trade secrets from the automaker has been sentenced to almost six years in prison. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ New York mother drives minivan into Hudson River, killing three kids and self. [ABC News]
⏎ Big three expected to add 36,000 Tier 2 jobs by 2015. [Automotive News]
⏎ Visteon's ready to start buying shit. [Detroit News]
⏎ BMW confirms it has hired Opel's former product chief Weber. [Automotive News]
⏎ Evo drives the Ferrari FF. Finally. [Evo]
⏎ Gas hits $4.03 a gallon in Illinois. [Jalopnik]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 2009, former Detroit Tigers player and Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych is found dead at the age of 54 following an accident at his Massachusetts farm involving a Mack truck he was working on. Fidrych, the 1976 American League Rookie of the Year, suffocated when his clothes got tangled in the truck's power takeoff shaft. [History]
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