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: GM, UAW Ink Labor Deal
GM kept labor costs in check in a new pact signed with the United Auto Workers ahead of this weekend, but according to Bloomberg, the deal may fail to sway investors even as it protects profit. GM held the union to a $5,000 bonus per person for agreeing to the four-year contract, less than the $8,000 to $10,000 sought, according to two people familiar with the agreement, which is being kept private as the union presents details to members for a vote. GM will increase entry-level pay by $2 to $3 an hour, the people said. The contract ties more pay to GM's earnings and makes some wages variable, the union said. "It does look like they held the line" on labor costs, said Brian Johnson, an analyst for Barclays Capital, who has an "overweight" rating on GM stock. "For current investors, that's a victory because it's what they expected. To sway the naysayers, there would have to have been a more substantial closing of the labor-cost gap."
2nd Gear: No Jeep Pickup For You... Yet
Jeep CEO Michael Manley tells Automotive News a pickup remains a high priority but a Wrangler-based hauler is at least four years away. "It is too late in Wrangler's product cycle to add a pickup. The 2015 or 2016 time frame makes more sense," Manley said during an interview at the Frankfurt auto show. "That's when we will refresh the Wrangler." Manley said no decision has been made to build a Jeep pickup. The Jeep brand has not had a pickup since the Comanche, which was based on the Cherokee platform. The Comanche was introduced as a 1986 model and discontinued in 1992. A pickup has been on the wish list of Jeep enthusiasts and many dealers since September 2010. To many dealers' surprise, the automaker rolled out a Wrangler-based pickup concept last fall at a dealer meeting in Orlando. The concept appeared and disappeared quickly, fueling speculation that a production pickup was planned. Well, at least there's always the much-loved AEV Brute conversion kit.
3rd Gear: New LFA Special Edition, Supra Replacement Are Coming
Among surprising morsels this morning being reported by Car Magazine is news that Lexus will launch an LFA Tokyo Motor Show Edition. More interestingly is news of new Toyota/Lexus performance cars in the coming years, including a likely Supra replacement. Wait, we thought the FT-86 was that. The Lexus LFA Tokyo edition will bring an M3-esque exposed carbon roof and (still hydraulically adjustable) carbon rear spoiler. Presumably this just means the weave is exposed, as the LFA is already made from carbonfibre. Car understands the LFA Tokyo will cost about €40k more than a 'regular' Lexus LFA.
4th Gear: Toyota To Build Hybrid Parts In The U.S. In Four Years
Speaking of Toyota, the super number one best automaker from the land of the rising sun aims to make hybrid drivetrain components in the United States and elsewhere overseas within four years, after years of reserving production of those high-tech parts for its Japanese plants. So, does this mean Toyota gets to finally start calling themselves a 'merican automaker... in four years? Oh, wait, they already do that.
5th Gear: Bad Economy Is Good For Auto Repair Shops
The "new normal" — what Time calls our new quasi-recessional economic situation — among consumers is to make due with automobiles long after they've lost that new car smell. Plenty of drivers plan on sticking with their aging cars well past the six-figure mileage marker, until they can't be driven any more. That's bad news for automakers and car dealerships, but has spelled rising revenues for mechanics and auto repair shops in the business of keeping old clunkers on the road.
6th Gear: Ford Ad Forgets Ford Took Billions In Government Loans
Ford is airing a new commercial with a customer who says he would never buy a vehicle from an automaker that was "bailed out by our government." The latest "Drive One" commercial is drawing attention because of its jabs at General Motors and Chrysler, which received emergency federal loans in 2009. The commercial is part of a series of ads that feature real Ford customers walking into a news conference that they think is real, said Ford spokesman Karen Hampton. "The ad features unscripted comments from a real Ford owner — one of many in the series of similar ads," Hampton said in an email. In this version, a fake reporter asks, "Was buying American important to you?" "I wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government," the customer says. "I was going to buy from a manufacturer that was standing on their own, win lose or draw." Yes, but only if by "standing on their own" he means receiving $5.9 billion in government loans to fund R&D.
⏎ For a Governor Partial to Corvettes, a Chance to Indulge His Inner Gearhead. [New York Times]
⏎ 2011 ALMS: Aston Martin, Dyson, BMW Big Winners In Monterey. [PaddockTalk]
⏎ Toyota is again ready for foreign board members. [Automotive News]
Dundee Chrysler site workers authorize strike. [Detroit News]
⏎ Acura prices 2012 TSX range, including new Special Edition. [Autoblog]
⏎ Saab 9-4X: A Hail-Mary Pass as the Clock Runs Down. [New York Times]
⏎ Aston: Cygnet sales hit by supply issue. [Autocar]
⏎ Jaguar Land Rover 'to build major engine plant'. [BBC]
⏎ GM must distinguish Chevy, Opel in Europe. [Automotive News]
⏎ ‘Car of Tomorrow' Gets Fuel System of Today. [New York Times]
Today in Automotive History:
On September 19, 1973, 26-year-old musician Gram Parsons dies of "multiple drug use" (morphine and tequila) in a California motel room. His death inspired one of the more bizarre automobile-related crimes on record: Two of his friends stashed his body in a borrowed hearse and drove it into the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park, where they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire. [History]
Photo Credit: Brad Fox
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