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: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL: This Is It
The folks at Autoblog.nl have snagged four shots of what appears to be a marketing manual for the new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL, set to be unveiled at next month's Detroit Auto Show. We don't know much about the new drop-top other than it's supposed to drop a hundred-plus pounds and get the same V8 and V12 engine options as the outgoing model. Want to see more? Head over to the Dutch blog about autos to see the full marketing brochure.
The new 2013 Dodge Dart compact sedan teaser campaign continues ahead of its official unveiling at next month's Detroit Auto Show. Today, we get a sneak peak at the interior. The first shots of the new Mopar small car with an old name were of the exterior, and now, today, we get a glimpse of the... More »
3rd Gear: Ford's A Failure If It's Not Looking For A Successor To Mulally
Ford may not be actively searching outside the company for a successor to CEO Alan Mulally, but Mark Fields, Ford's mullet-haired president of The Americas, says that succession planning is "very important." So, succession planning across the company is "very important" — but looking for a successor for 66-year-old CEO Alan Mulally isn't happening? Even Jack Welch, who, by the way, retired as GE CEO at the age of 66, had a two-year succession anointment process for Jeff Immelt. But, despite his age, Fields told the Detroit News that "Alan is not going anywhere anytime too soon." Maybe — but that doesn't mean the mostly-family-owned automaker isn't trying to think ahead for the first time in, you know, forever. So that's the Catch-22. They're either looking at a successor, which for some reason, is being discounted as ridiculous by more than one clueless industry know-it-all talking head, or they're smartly planning ahead but concerned news of succession planning would undermine the current CEO by making him into a lame duck. Or maybe they really aren't doing a very good job of succession planning after all.
4th Gear: Acura To Axe One Sedan
Car & Driver reports this morning that Acura's replacement for the long-in-the-big-buck-tooth RL will greet the public in April at the New York Auto Show. The new flagship RL — or whatever the hell they'll call it — will sit atop a three-sedan product line. Since the company currently offers the TSX, the TL, and the RL and they're adding the ILX this newly-revised RL, it's likely either the TSX or TL will get the axe. Or — maybe they'll just call the new RL the "TL" — and the TSX and ILX as the other two.
5th Gear: Saab Gets Hot Chinese Cash Injection
Saab's snagged the first batch of cash — around $4.45 million — from Chinese automaker Youngman. "I can confirm a first payment from Youngman. Funding has come into Saab accounts," said Saab spokesman Eric Geers in a statement today. And with this influx of cash, the Saab story can continue.
6th Gear: Audi Connect Gets Google Street View
Audi is using its new ultra-fast LTE mobile connectivity to further expand the automaker's 'Audi Connect' infotainment system with Internet radio and Google Street View functionality. That's right, drivers will now be able to get high-resolution aerial and satellite images and street-level photos while... well, we don't know yet if it works while they're driving. But what will definitely work is the new Audi Music Stream application, allowing drivers to tune in to Internet radio stations.
⏎ Meet the GM Retiree That Gave Us Hamtramck Disneyland. [Curbed Detroit]
⏎ Motor Trend picks 2012 Ford F-150 as its Truck of the Year. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Aptera Collapse: How & Why It Happened, A Complete Chronology. [Green Car Reports]
⏎ Daimler Upset with Over-Eager American Oversight. [Der Spiegel]
⏎ Chevrolet bringing production-form Sonic RS to Detroit show. [LeftLaneNews]
⏎ GM suspends output at Cruze plant in Ohio. [Automotive News]
⏎ Qatar orders Renault MRAPs. [UPI]
⏎ Japan's Daihatsu Shows Advantages of Being Small. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Combatting the Associative Guilt of Car Love. [New York Times]
⏎ Ford Employees to test MyFordTouch system upgrade. [Detroit News]
⏎ Luxury Sports Car Maker Porsche Comes To Bangalore. [NDTV]
⏎ Is the Age of the Nuclear Car Upon Us? [Motor Trend]
⏎ TRW opens brake plant in Mexico. [Automotive News]
⏎ Ex-GM Boss Rick Wagoner Ends Long Silence. [Wall Street Journal]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 2003, Seattle preservationists load the city's iconic Hat 'n' Boots Tex Gas Station onto a tractor-trailer and drive it away from the spot where it had stood for almost 50 years. The hat, a 44-foot–wide Stetson, went first; the 22-foot–tall cowboy boots followed it one at a time. (The giant hat had always been mostly for show—it had perched atop the filling station's office, luring drivers off the highway. The boots, on the other had, were eminently functional: The left one housed the men's restroom and the right one housed the women's.) The buildings were famous examples of mid-century roadside Pop Art—eagle-eyed viewers can even see them in the opening credits of the film "National Lampoon's Vacation"—and the move, to a nearby park, saved them from demolition. [History]