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: New BMWs Only Cost One Buck More Than Used
Record-high prices for used luxury automobiles are driving more buyers to new-car lots, according to Bloomberg this morning. BMW's 2011 3-Series compacts and M3 sedans now cost $34 more a month than one-year-old used models. General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Corvette is about $12 a month cheaper to buy new than used, according to searches on a variety of auto-pricing websites. There is an industrywide shortage of used cars in the U.S., the product of manufacturing cuts amid slumping sales the last three years. That means some people have effectively been priced out of the used-car market and into brand-new models. As many as 500,000 new vehicles by mid-2012 may have been sold to people who would have bought used, said economist Paul Ballew. "There's a substitution effect going on between new and used," Ballew, chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., said in a phone interview. "When you get those price gaps closing, you get people that are willing to shop new that wouldn't have before."
2nd Gear: Chrysler Offers "No Payments For 90 Days" Incentive Program
The Detroit News reports this morning that Chrysler announced a new "No Payments for 90 Days" incentive program for qualified buyers of 2011 and 2012 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck models, as part of the company's summer clearance event. The automaker announced additional incentives on 2012 model year vehicles, including $500 cash back on a Chrysler 200 sedan, $1,000 on a Jeep Liberty, $500 on a Dodge Avenger or Journey, and up to $1,500 on a Ram pickup. New deals on 2011 models are being offered, too, including 3-year financing as low as zero percent or $2,000 cash back on a Chrysler 300, 300C or Dodge Charger.
3rd Gear: BMW Shows Off New Frankfurt Digs
Visitors to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month look set to be stunned by the stands. BMW has released this picture on its Facebook page of the shopping mall-sized Amerigasmic-colored trade booth where the firm will debut its electric i3 and i8 concepts. The mammoth construction is arranged over two levels, with a track around the perimeter that suggests visitors will be offered passenger rides in the cars during the event.
4th Gear: BMW's i3 Concept Spotted In Chi-Town
Speaking of BMW, our Bayerische Motoren Werke-gasmic "Morning Shift" continues today with Jalopnik reader "OOPSMYEYE" spotting the BMW i3 concept — part of a duo of electrified concepts BMW's showing on that stage above in Frankfurt — outside his office in Chicago. He told us that a Yaris stopped at the light next to him at the corner and the concept and the Toyota looked to be almost the exact same dimensions. See his photos and video here.
5th Gear: Bentley Still Banging Out An SUV
Autocar reports this morning that Bentley is ‘deeply involved' in a design and engineering project to launch a super-luxury SUV by 2014, according to new boss Wolfgang Durheimer. Work on the new model is centered at Crewe where design chief Dirk van Braeckel and engineering boss Uli Eichhorn are masterminding the project with Durheimer. "I have great faith in the SUV market and it's here to stay" says Durheimer, who counts the launch of the Porsche Cayenne during his tenure at Weissach as "one of my proudest achievements". The SUV will have hallmark Bentley styling and a luxury wood and leather interior that will place it above the Range Rover in terms of perceived quality. Coincidentally, the market launch is likely to overlap with that of Aston Martin's promised Lagonda 4x4.
6th Gear: CEO Buys 10,000 GM Shares, Immediately Loses Money
General Motors Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson purchased $250,500 in shares of the automaker, a day before the company fell to a new low. Akerson bought 10,000 shares yesterday at $25.05, Detroit- based GM said in a regulatory filing. Akerson, 62, owns 103,600 shares after the purchase, today's filing said. The stock-market rout that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its lowest since September 2010 helped send GM shares a new closing low in New York Stock Exchange composite trading since the automaker's November initial public offering. GM fell $1.62, or 6.3 percent, to $23.92 as of 4:15 p.m. Akerson, GM's CEO since September, said yesterday he was unsure whether "turmoil" in the securities markets may discourage consumers from buying new vehicles. The largest U.S. automaker has forecast at least 13 million new-vehicle sales in 2011, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
⏎ Obama to visit Michigan battery plant today after $175M in energy grants announced. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Senna Brings an Obscure Legend to Light. [Observer]
⏎ In Auto Test in Europe, Meter Ticks Off Miles, and Fee to Driver. [New York Times]
⏎ Fiat-to-Volkswagen Discounts Signals Diminished Sales Across Europe. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Ford and SunPower announce deal to bundle electric cars with rooftop solar power. [Mercury News]
⏎ ‘Metropolis II': a Sculpture Moving at 200 M.P.H., Scaled [New York Times]
⏎ IndyCar hit with big-league version of road rage. [Washington Post]
⏎ Chrysler revives Kettering co-op for engineering. [Detroit News]
⏎ Project Kahn Unveils Vesuvius Package For The Range Rover Sport. [Motor Authority]
⏎ Lightning Benz To Be Shown At Pebble Beach [BenzInsider]
⏎ Long live the fun: The Woodward Dream Cruise is around the corner. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Speaking of the Woodward Dream Cruise, we'll be in Detroit all week — so expect at least one meet-up event as we unveil this year's Jalopnik Dream Cruiser.
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1973, "American Graffiti," a nostalgic coming-of-age tale set on the streets and steeped in the car-centric culture of suburban California, is released in theaters across the United States. The movie went on to become a sleeper hit. [History]
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