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: Behold, you lovers of highly-decorated, ridiculously expensive, German/French tea sets. We've got a slew of new, official images (click here for the gallery!) of the Bugatti Veyron L'Or Blanc, a version of the recently updated Veyron with porcelain fittings by Germany's Konigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin (KPM). The one-off is reportedly worth $2.3 million.
2nd Gear: This week it emerged that the British newspaper, the News of the World, had allegedly accessed voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Now, after a prolonged Twitter campaign of about four hours, Ford has pulled all advertising from the News of the World over the ongoing phone tapping scandal.
3rd Gear: BMW is recalling 50 2011 X3s because a control module in the electric power-steering unit could malfunction, resulting in a sudden loss of power-steering assistance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "A control module in the electric power steering unit may malfunction, resulting in a sudden loss of power steering assistance," said NHTSA in its recalls summary of the problem. "Sudden loss of power steering assistance could increase the risk of a crash." In other documentation filed with the federal government, BMW said it "received 20 cases (regarding the defect) for the X3 worldwide." The defect, if left unchecked, will of course lead to potential fiery death!
4th Gear: Ford is planning to spend $600 million to overhaul a plant in Kentucky to produce a new model of its Escape sports utility vehicle. This version of the Escape would be built on the Ford Focus platform and look almost exactly like the Ford Vertrek concept showed at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. Because, you know, at Ford, all your cars are belong to Focus.
5th Gear: General Motors issued recalls to fix a faulty part on police versions of 2007-08 Chevrolet Impalas but ignored more than 400,000 U.S. civilian buyers, according to a lawsuit filed last week. The suit, which was filed in federal court in Detroit and seeks class-action status, alleges the vehicles were manufactured with defective rear spindle rods. The faulty rear spindle rods misalign the rear wheels, causing tires to wear out prematurely, the suit says. And as we all know, tires that have been worn out prematurely can lead to fiery death!
6th Gear: Metropolitan Lincoln in suburban Detroit, a dealership located less than nine miles from Ford headquarters in nearby Dearborn, has closed down after more than 50 years in business. The dealership cites Ford's move to discontinue the Mercury brand last year. The dealership, in Garden City, Mich., originally was Stu Evans Lincoln Mercury. It became Metropolitan Lincoln Mercury in October 2006. A statement on the dealership's Web site that was attributed to managing partner John Obeid said the loss of Mercury sales sent the dealership into a tailspin. The Mercury brand "accounted for about 70 percent of Metropolitan's new-vehicle sales," the statement said. The closing of Lincoln dealerships has been expected after the move by Ford to discontinue Mercury in 2010. At the time, Ford executives said eliminating the Mercury brand was a necessary step for the company to focus its attention on fewer brands.
⏎ Behind-the-scenes: James compares Porsches. [Top Gear]
⏎ Tesla Motors coming of age as an automaker [San Francisco Chronicle]
⏎ For Jaguar Drivers, a Letter Brings Its Privileges. [New York Times]
⏎ Is Ford the best American automaker? [CNBC]
⏎ Suzuki's Kei Cars, Running Mild in New Jersey [New York Times]
⏎ UK new car sales down 6.2% in June, in year-long decline. [MSN Autos UK]
⏎ Metro Detroit gas prices inching back toward $4. [Detroit News]
Today in Automotive History:
The great Argentine race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio, winner of five Formula One driver's world championships, competes in his last Grand Prix race—the French Grand Prix held outside Reims, France—on this day in 1958. [History]