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: General Motors confirmed it will spend $328 million to upgrade its Flint, Mich., factory to build the next generation of its full-size pickups expected to launch no sooner than 2013. The move will "add or save" 150 jobs at the 2,100-worker plant, says The Detroit News. The plant is already running two shifts, and GM plans a third shift next month that could add an additional 750 jobs.
2nd Gear: While the basic outlines of the battle over future U.S. fuel economy rules never really changes — automakers want less stringent rules than either federal regulators or California officials — some key details are starting to emerge. One new wrinkle according to the Wall Street Journal: Instead of setting automatic increases through 2025, the next set of rules might include a circuit breaker in the year 2020 that would require regulators to consider whether technology is moving as fast as expected and adjust future years accordingly. The big hangup: Batteries for hybrid and electric cars, which automakers doubt will come down in price or advance in power nearly as fast as some officials believe.
3rd Gear: After studying crashes involving the Volvo XC60 built with an automatic collision avoidance system, the insurance industry says there's a real benefit to the technology. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the City Safety system — which applies the brakes at speeds up to 19 mph if it senses an imminent crash — kept the XC60 from 27% fewer low-speed crashes than typical vehicles. According to USA Today, its the first time the influential insurance institute has been able to prove a real-world benefit to crash-avoidance tech.
4th Gear: Sure, a $500 Groupon didn't pull in car buyers — but what about $20,000 off a 2011 Audi R8? There's one tiny hitch: You have to be in Canada for the deal on the 4.2 liter V8 R8s or the Spyder version. And that means paying at least $120,000 Canadian after the discount, then trying to figure out how to ship your new car back across the border. It's a deal straight from Mr. Barry's desk.