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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Mercedes demo driver Mauro Calo smashed the previous Guinness world record for the longest drift at Mercedes-Benz World by just under 1/4 of a mile with a total drift distance of 1.43 miles. The Mercedes C63 AMG, which was used for the record, was driven 8.5 times around Mercedes-Benz World's outer perimeter "until the rear tyre burst," Calo said. We don't know what a "tyre" is — but if it's anything like a "tire," we'll assume that there was a lot of scraping and sparks.
2nd Gear: Ford continues to see negative consumer reactions to some of its new technologies. Now it looks as though it might begin to impact them in J.D. Power and Associates' latest initial quality study, to be released Thursday. Last year, Ford ranked highest among all non-luxury brands. Although it may repeat that performance, Ford's MyTouch in-car technology system has been criticized for being distracting and complicated. Also, the new PowerShift transmission, available on the Fiesta and Focus, has generated grumbling among consumers and test drivers who say it is jerky and unpredictable, especially at low speeds.
3rd Gear: Mercedes-Benz is boosting the size of its design team, chief stylist Gordon Wagener told Automotive News. He is hiring 24 new designers for Daimler's Chinese studio and is creating new specialist roles at other design centres around the world. Now even the Germans can say "they took 'r jobs!"
4th Gear: e-Wolf, the company that unveiled its Lotus Seven-esque e1 electric at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2009, released images this weekend of its next model. Dubbed the Alpha-2, it looks like what would happen if a Lamborghini had a three-way with a Ferrari Enzo and a laptop battery. Makes sense as it's supposedly powered by one 187-horsepower electric motor per drive wheel for a total of 374 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The Alpha-2 supposedly hits 60 miles per hour in a touch under four seconds and a top speed of 143 miles per hour. Now, if only wishes and dreams could become reality.
5th Gear: In an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, Opel's counsel chief Klaus Franz proposed the idea of selling a small car in America to ride the wave of demand for compact, fuel-sipping cars, especially among city dwellers. The report states that production could start as early as 2013 and would be sold under the Junior or Allegra name. GM has yet to respond to Franz's proposal, and somehow I bet that they won't. This feels like nothing more than Franz trying, desperately, to grasp at any straw of relevancy for Opel so its U.S. overlords don't jettison the brand overboard. But, good luck with that.
6th Gear: This is the 2011 Lexus LS 460 Touring Edition. It's got 19-inch wheels and a sportier-but-not-quite-sporty body kit. It goes on sale later this month with a sticker price of $73,000 before destination charges. And that's all we have to say about that.
⏎ Imported from Detroit to Hollywood: Coney dogs! [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Ford wages a war for talent. [Automotive News]
⏎ Top Gear USA host whips WRC champ. [Top Gear]
⏎ Buffett-backed BYD to raise $219 million in China share sale. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
⏎ Used cars finally driving profits for New York dealerships. [Automotive News]
⏎ "Cars 2" shifts gears from the original. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Saab says no date set for production to restart. [Automotive News]
Today in Automotive History:
After a long and bitter struggle on the part of Henry Ford against cooperation with organized labor unions, Ford Motor Company signs its first contract with the United Automobile Workers of America and Congress of Industrial Organizations (UAW-CIO) on this day in 1941. Two days later, an auto pundit coined the phrase "two signatures on every contract." [History]