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: These are the first official images of Honda's "hardcore" hybrid, the Mugen CR-Z, revealed ahead of its scheduled public debut at this summer's Goodwood Festival of Speed. And yup, the new model tuned by Mugen's UK performance division looks pretty much the same as when it was leaked in 2009. Although it's currently a one-off, Honda sources suggest that a limited production run remains a possibility. The Mugen CR-Z uses the regular car's 1.5-litre petrol motor, but it's been supercharged and retuned to produce 50 per cent more power and torque. Mugen claims an overall figure of 197 bhp and 181 lb ft — and those figures will be improved further by a contribution from a re-calibrated version of the CR-Z's IMA electric motor. Honda has yet to announce any official performance figures.
2nd Gear: Hyundai's new U.S. marketing chief wants the Korean brand to make stronger pitches about its improved quality, design and engineering to strike a more emotional chord with buyers who traditionally shopped the brand on price and value. Because when I think "improved quality," I think "emotion." Actually, no, I think "lack of emotion" — as in being "not angry."
3rd Gear: Fiat and Gucci announce the debut of the 500 by Gucci advertising campaign, appearing in newspapers and lifestyle magazines worldwide from May. The launch follows the recent unveiling of the special edition of the iconic Fiat 500 customized by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini in partnership with Fiat's Centro Stile. Shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott in Rome, the campaign, conceived by Giannini, features model Natasha Poly as the protagonist of the 500 by Gucci. Sporting a Gucci one-of-a-kind black leather ensemble, Poly embodies the essence of travelling in style and living life at full speed. Bigger shots of the ridiculously hot model splayed across a cinquecento can be found here on our Facebook page. Rowr.
4th Gear: Soaring gas prices in 2008 may have helped cripple Detroit's automakers, but there's a different vibe in today's industry, even though gas prices are volatile and hovering around $4 a gallon. Motorists aren't pushing the panic button, and neither are automakers. Good for everyone. Maybe we're learning. Nah.
5th Gear: According to Bloomberg, Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating the Madoff firm in New York, asked a judge to approve the sale of a 1958 Aston Martin MK III Drop Head Coupe bought for $267,000 for Peter Madoff by Bernard Madoff's U.K. firm in 2008. Key problem is the firm wasn't reimbursed for the expense, according to Picard. RM Auctions, a car-auction company, will sell the Drop Head at the Monterey Auction in California in August.
6th Gear: Chrysler's road show for investors to back its $6 billion debt plan has met just so-so reviews, forcing the company to pare back its plan for a $3.5 billion loan by $1 billion, and add that $1 billion to its bond sale. Dodge brand chief Ralph Gilles also told The Detroit News that the company isn't speeding up the five-year plan it laid out in 2009. That means Chrysler's newest compact car — a replacement for the Dodge Caliber — is still about a year away.
⏎ Marlon Brando's estate sues Harley-Davidson Motor over "Brando Boots." [NDTV]
⏎ The Cadillac ATS needs to lose some weight, and fast. [GM Inside News]
⏎ GM to redevelop land at Warren Tech Center for IT facility. [Detroit News]
⏎ Daily Hoon says if you're being Raptured May 21, why not donate to their race team? [The Daily Hoon]
⏎ Japan's largest chipmaker for automakers says things will get back to normal in October. [Reuters]
Today in Automotive History:
In Monaco, France, on this day in 1958, Team Lotus makes its Formula One debut in the Monaco Grand Prix, the opening event of the year's European racing season. Over the next four decades, Team Lotus will go on to become one of the most successful teams in Formula One history. [History]