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: Fed Safety Board Wants States To Impose Total Cell Phone Ban
Now that we have more information, let's recap — a unanimous recommendation yesterday by the five-member National Transportation Safety Board, a non-regulation-creating federal entity, urged states to impose total bans on texting, emailing or talking on a cellphone while driving. And yes, that includes using a hands-free device like a bluetooth headset, Sync, or OnStar. Basically, if you're in the driver's seat, and the car is moving, then the car is for driving and nothing else. ‘‘We know this recommendation is going to be very unpopular with some people,'' NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. ‘‘We're not here to win a popularity contest. We're here to do the right thing." We couldn't agree more.
2nd Gear: VW Concept Car Is Not An Electric Beetle
Volkswagen will unveil an electric car concept at next month's Detroit Auto Show. Like we said, it's a concept car — and we shouldn't expect it to go into production. We're told to expect something with VW Beetle-esque styling cues but Volkswagen tell us not to expect an electric Beetle. Aw, man, and that's what we were totally hoping for too.
3rd Gear: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL Gets Totally Naked, Spreads Its Legs And Everything
After an order book scan went live in the forums on Monday, the Internets revealed the full load of press photos of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL well ahead of its expected unveiling at next month's Detroit Auto Show. Check out the full gallery of shots here.
4th Gear: Dodge Dart Continues To Tease Us With Shots From The Inside
Dodge continues to tease us by dropping two more interior shots of the new 2013 Dodge Dart small car — on top of the two interior shots they dropped yesterday. These new images show the driver side door and the majority of the dash — including the very Charger-esque plastic moulding surrounding the instrument cluster and joining it to the center stack infotainment system. See all the interior teaser shots embiggened here.
5th Gear: Fisker Hires Richard Beattie In New "Chief Commercial Officer" Position
Fisker Automotive has hired Richard Beattie to the newly-created role of "Chief Commercial Officer." Which means he'll hold responsibility for Fisker Automotive's global marketing, sales, and customer service divisions. Beattie was formerly responsible for sales and marketing at Jaguar Land Rover North America from 2002 to 2007, before taking over the position of Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Jaguar North America in 2009. Prior to this, he was VP of Marketing, Sales, and Service at Lincoln Mercury, having risen through the ranks at Ford both in Europe and the USA, including a posting as President and CEO of Mazda's North American operations. Maybe he can take some of that experience and turn it into, you know, selling cars.
6th Gear: No, $100,000 Does Not Seem Like Too Much To Pay For The Greatest Ford Focus Ever
Ready for the greatest Ford Focus ever? Open up your check books because the 2012 Ford Focus ST-R race car is, as Car & Driver now reminds us, open for orders — and for the just-about-$100,000 price tag we already told you to expect. Sure, that price may seem a bit much for what is essentially a stripped-down 2013 Ford Focus ST, but when you consider it's basically a turn-key racer ready for Grand-Am's Street Tuner class, it's not so much. Just look at that interior. Awesome. Do want. Do want a lot.
⏎ Focus Electric may be first to get 100 MPGe. [MLive]
⏎ Chrysler Gains Momentum. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Investigation of Chevy Volt Prompts Opel to Delay Sales of Ampera. [New York Times]
⏎ Hyundai Emulates VW Super Bowl Ads. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Got What It Takes To Work At McLaren? [Motor Authority]
⏎ Cobo renovations show progress before auto show. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ UAW names new legislative director. [Automotive News]
⏎ The Last Ford Ranger From Twin Cities. [PickupTrucks.com]
⏎ It's Time to Shift Gears, After More Than Seven Years. [Motor Trend]
⏎ BMW and G.M. Discuss Collaboration on Advanced Technologies, Including Fuel Cells. [New York Times]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1909, workers place the last of the 3.2 million 10-pound bricks that pave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana (a town surrounded by the city of Indianapolis). Since then, most of that brick has been buried under asphalt, but one yard remains exposed at the start-finish line. Kissing those bricks after a successful race remains a tradition among Indy drivers. [History]