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: Why Ernst Lieb Was Fired
Many of our readers speculated that the reason behind Daimler AG's dismissal of Ernst Lieb as head of its U.S. Mercedes-Benz operations earlier this week was over his recent call to name a stadium after the luxury brand. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning, however, that the reality is it was over company's allegations he paid for personal expenditures with company money — at least according to people familiar with the matter. One alleged incident involved work performed at Lieb's home near Mercedes's U.S. headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, which records show Mercedes had bought for him to live in 2009. Another, according to one person familiar with the matter, was a personal flight he had taken to Australia, where Lieb had been stationed before his U.S. stint and is thought to have family. In both alleged instances, Lieb appears to have expensed the costs to the company, they said.
2nd Gear: The Land Rover Defender Will Survive Until 2017
Thanks to changes in legislation in the EU, it looks like the bulk of the current Land Rover Defender range is likely to continue in production until 2017 or later. The long-wheelbase 110 and commercial 130 versions of the Land Rover Defender are likely to be beneficiaries, staying in production well after the arrival of the new short-wheelbase Defender in 2015, previewed at the Frankfurt show as the DC100 concept. The first legislation change is the ability of the new 2.2-liter diesel engine to meet EU6 standards — the tough next step in emissions regulations that will align diesel engine pollutants with those of gas engines in 2015/16. Autocar claims "there is also a suggestion that the Defender might not have to comply with EU6 until a later date." One can only hope.
3rd Gear: Nissan Altima Kicks Some Sales Ass
In 2010, the Honda Accord was America's second best-selling mid-size sedan, finishing the year at 282,530 sales, while the Toyota Camry took the number one spot with 327,804 sales. But, through the first nine months of 2011, there's a surprising shakeup to the sales board. The Nissan Altima posted U.S. sales of 200,554 during the period, making it the second best-selling middling mid-size, outselling even a car that's been a perennial top seller — the Honda Accord. The Altima also was the fifth most popular car or truck in the United States in sales last month, and its September sales were just 495 shy of the month's total Toyota Camry sales. But why? For starters, Nissan was able to ramp up production after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan earlier this year. It's also because august testing publications like Consumer Reports are saying it, giving the Altima a "Recommended Buy." But the biggest reason is probably just that the car's cheap. A base model auto-tranny Altima starts at just $21,170. You know, a mid-size for the 99%.
4th Gear: UK Won't Get A Chrysler/Lancia 300C Wagon
Autocar this morning reports that there will be no estate version of the all-new Chrysler 300C according to new Chrysler-Lancia CEO Saad Chehab. Although the 300C wagon was popular in UK and Europe, Chehab stated "sales in the US for estates are too slow to justify the development costs." However, Chehab did confirm that "there will be an all-wheel drive Chrysler 300C joining the line-up in the UK, complete with an eight-speed automatic gearbox." Accordinging to Chehab, the four-wheel drive system is "an improved version" of a system already in use in Chrysler/Jeep. You mean, like the all-wheel-drive system that's already available in the 300C in the U.S.?
5th Gear: Volvo Loses $116 Million In Third Quarter
Bloomberg reports this morning that Volvo, the Swedish automaker owned by Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, said it swung to a loss in the third quarter because of spending on new technology and negative currency effects. Volvo had an operating loss of 763 million kronor ($116 million) in the period, compared with 748 million kronor in earnings before interest and taxes a year ago, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based company said today in a statement. Volvo was profitable in the first nine months and expects to report a positive result for the full year, it said.
6th Gear: Canadian Tire Should Change Its Name To Best Buy
Canadian Tire's auto store of the future, which launches in three Canadian cities within the next two weeks, is the retailer's latest attempt to return to its roots by pumping up its auto business with modern twists. And by "modern twists" I mean "stocking everything from mobile phones to computer tablets." At that point does it even make sense to keep calling it Canadian Tire? Wouldn't it just be called, I dunno, Best Buy?
⏎ Lenny Dykstra reaches deal over alleged car thefts. [LA Times]
⏎ Will the Maserati Kubang SUV arrive as the Maserati Cinqueporte? [Cars UK]
⏎ Buick Verano Hybrid Coming—But Not Until 2015. [Green Car Reports]
⏎ AutoNation's Net Jumps 24%. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Chevy Turns to Pictures to Celebrate a Centennial. [New York Times]
⏎ "My" $283,000 Roaring Ferrari Slams New York City Streets. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Toyota FT-86 and Subaru BRZ coupes will finally be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show. [Top Gear]
⏎ Ford Contract in Hand, UAW Looks to Chrysler. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Back Home, Known for a Tragedy, Not Successes. [New York Times]
⏎ New-generation Combo van revealed in UK as Holden and Opel consider its future in Australia. [GoAuto]
Today in Automotive History:
At 3 p.m. on October 20, 1965, the very last PV-series Volvo drives off the assembly line in Lundby, Sweden. The car, a zippy black Sport PV544 with red interior trim, went straight to the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg. [History]
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