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: Everyone Agrees 'Truck Of The Year' Is A Joke
Mark Williams from PickupTrucks.com is not only on the same wavelength as us on the ludicrous finalists chosen for "Truck of the Year" by the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, he's also more biting on the jury makeup: "Given the jurors' obvious bias and knowledge scope in favor of cars, maybe they should call the two awards the Car and Not-Car of the Year awards. For our sake and all those who are interested in these types of awards, please get enough knowledgable jurors on both sides of the aisle to make an intelligent decision." Couldn't agree more, Mark. I'd love to see them add Williams and Sean Holman from Four-Wheeler to the jury. Because right now it really is a complete joke.
2nd Gear: Why Does GM Need To Hire An External Hatchet Man?
Bloomberg reports this morning that General Motors has hired management consultant Hackett Group to help the automaker identify areas where they can cut an undetermined number of white-collar jobs, said two people familiar with the matter. So, let me get this straight — GM's leadership team's been in place now for over a year and in that year they haven't been able to figure out the right dead wood to prune? So they want to bring in a Miami-based consultancy to figure it out for them?! Oh yeah, GM's totally on the right track.
3rd Gear: Saab North America Won't File For Bankruptcy, Will Stay Open As Long As Possible
Saab North America said on Wednesday that it will not file for bankruptcy, despite its Swedish parent company seeking court protection. Jim McTevia, the managing partner of McTevia & Associates, who have been brought in as an outside administrator, said "I am going to keep the company operating as long as it has the capital." Somehow we don't think that'll be very long.
4th Gear: Tesla Motors Model S For 'The Poors' Coming After $92,400 Version
Tesla Motors says it is on schedule to begin delivering the battery-powered Model S starting in mid-2012. Oh, except, you know how everyone's talking about the $49,900 model? Turns out that initial production at Tesla's Fremont, California, plant will be of 1,000 units of the high-end "Signature" Model S sedans, said Ricardo Reyes, a company spokesman. That version will cost as much as $92,400, without the $7,500 federal tax credit, and have enough lithium-ion battery capacity to travel 300 miles per charge. Who do you think Tesla is? Nissan?
5th Gear: GM Recalls 15,000 Cadillac SRX Over Tranny Issues
The Detroit News reports that General Motors is recalling about 15,000 Cadillac SRX vehicles worldwide to address transmission issues that could allow a parked vehicle to roll away. Although there have been no injuries or crashes related to the issue, there was one report of a roll-away vehicle. And a roll-away vehicle can, of course, lead to potential fiery death!
6th Gear: Toyota To Lose Sales Crown To GM, Volkswagen
Thanks to the double-punch of natural disasters in Japan and Thailand this year, Toyota will be knocked off its perch as the world's largest auto company by sales — saying this morning that global sales will fall 6% in 2011 to 7.90 million vehicles. General Motors, predicted to sell over nine million vehicles this year, is expected to retake the crown from the super number one best automaker from the land of the rising sun. Heck, even Volkswagen will pass 'em, as they're expected to sell eight million vehicles this year.
⏎ Going On Empty – Why Big Fuel Ran Out of Gas In Detroit. [Thought Industry]
⏎ The Downside Of Ford's Product Makeover. [Forbes]
⏎ GM Confirms 3.6 Liter V6 for 2013 Cadillac ATS. [GMInsideNews]
⏎ How Germany Builds Twice as Many Cars as the U.S. While Paying Its Workers Twice as Much. [Forbes]
⏎ Tsunami Reveals Durability of Nissan's Leaf. [New York Times]
⏎ Nissan Juke R to pace Dubai 24-hour race. [AutoBlog]
⏎ Toyota sees 2012 global sales up 20% to record 8.48M. [Automotive News]
⏎ 2013 Lexus GS 350 Priced at $46,900. [Kicking Tires]
⏎ Suspension Walkaround: 2011 Lexus IS-F. [Edmunds Straight Line]
⏎ Talk Of Ferrari Chief Montezemolo Running For Italian Presidency Heats Up. [Motor Authority]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1900, the first car to be produced under the "Mercedes" name is delivered to its buyer: Emil Jellinek, the Austrian car racer, auto dealer to the rich and famous, and bon vivant. Jellinek had commissioned the Mercedes car from the German company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. It was faster, lighter, and sleeker than any car the company had ever made before, and Jellinek was confident that it would win races so handily that besotted buyers would snap it up. (He was so confident that he bought 36 of them, paying D-M-G 550,000 marks in all.) In exchange for his extraordinary patronage, the company agreed to name its new machine after Jellinek's 11-year-old daughter, Mercedes. [History]