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: Will Dan Wheldon's Death Lead To IndyCar Changes?
Ten years ago, the death of seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt led to sweeping safety improvements in NASCAR, which has not suffered a fatality since. Now, after the death of 33-year-old Dan Wheldon when his car became part of a fiery 15-car pileup at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I'm wondering what action, if any, IndyCar will take to curtail the size of the pack the next time they hit the track in Vegas.
2nd Gear: The UAW's Fake Ford Voting Margin
The message in the media was that Ford dodged its first nationwide strike in 35 years when its UAW employees went from a razor-thin 53% voting against the proposed contract this week — to 62% in favor by yesterday at 8:30 p.m., EST. But we're told by one highly-placed union source that the closeness of the vote was likely nothing more than UAW posturing. We're told that the UAW may have stacked the deck in initial locals voting on the contract in order to scare Ford and the other two U.S. automakers into being more generous in five years when they again hit the negotiating tables. Did it work? Guess we'll find out in five years.
3rd Gear: NHTSA Investigates Mini Cooper S Over Potential For Fiery Death
Bloomberg reports this morning that BMW's Mini Cooper S cars are under U.S. investigation after 12 reports of engine fires, including five that resulted in a total loss of the vehicle. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the probe today on its website, saying in eight of the complaints, fires occurred when the cars were parked and turned off. The investigation includes about 36,000 Mini Coopers from model years 2007 and 2008. The regulator said the "complaints show an apparent increasing trend with most complaints received within the past year." And as you all know, fiery engines can lead to, you know, fiery death!
4th Gear: Mercedes-Benz Recalls Thousands Of Diesels
And speaking of recalls, Mercedes-Benz will issue a second recall to address leaking fuel filters in diesel vehicles. The Detroit News reports that the company said in documents posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it is recalling 6,872 vehicles — diesel versions of the 2011 E-Class, 2012 S-Class, 2011 R-Class, 2011 ML-Class and 2011 GL-Class. The recall, similar to one issued two years ago, is to fix the diesel fuel filter seal that can leak around the heating component. And that, of course, like all problems requiring a recall, can lead to fiery death! Here's more on the recall.
5th Gear: Car Czar To Take On New Dying Industry
The Detroit News reports that former auto czar Ron Bloom was just hired by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the union representing 280,000 postal carriers. The union said Sunday it had hired investment bank Lazard Group, LLC and Bloom - who left the White House in August - as a financial adviser to help address the U.S. Postal Service's current financial crisis and the long-term strategic, structural and business challenges facing a dying industry. You know, like what he did with the U.S. automakers.
6th Gear: Kia Wants To Be The New Volkswagen
Kia is benchmarking Volkswagen as it aims to become the world's best-loved car brand, said the company's vice president Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee. Kia wants to be a "people's brand" like Volkswagen, Lee said. Well, considering Volkswagen's CEO was recently caught complaining how good Hyundai interiors are, we're guessing they're not so far off. Just remember who was the first to welcome our new Korean overlords.
⏎ So... wait... some of those Ford commercials have actors, and some don't? And this isn't confusing how? [Automotive News]
⏎ The $37,000 crossover shootout. [Cars.com]
⏎ Bernie Ecclestone, a motor-racing Machiavelli. [Economist]
⏎ Mother Nature bashes Japanese automakers again, in Thailand. [Automotive News]
⏎ Toyota To Race Hybrid Car at Le Mans Next Year. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Volkswagen will keep Suzuki stake. [Detroit News]
⏎ Saab gets cash from Chinese suitor. [GoAuto]
⏎ Super-rich buyers invest in Rolls-Royce cars to beat possible global recession. [Automotive News]
⏎ Charging Stations Multiply But Electric Cars Are Few. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ LoJack names former Ford exec Randy Ortiz as CEO. [AP]
Today in Automotive History:
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) implements what it calls "oil diplomacy" on this day in 1973: It prohibits any nation that had supported Israel in its "Yom Kippur War" with Egypt, Syria and Jordan from buying any of the oil it sells. The ensuing energy crisis marked the end of the era of cheap gasoline and caused the share value of the New York Stock Exchange to drop by $97 billion. This, in turn, ushered in one of the worst recessions the United States had ever seen. [History]
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