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: The Dodge Caliber Is Dead
Chrysler ended production of the much-maligned Dodge Caliber this week, the last of the Big Three's failed small car strategy. Or as we like to call it, the "shitbox strategy." The Caliber was introduced in 2006 as a replacement for the Dodge Neon, and regarded by most industry opinion-leaders as the worst of what was already an increasingly shitty segment. "It's the last of the American bottom-feeder compacts," said analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP to the Detroit News, "that's what they were. It came from thinking, 'small cars, small profits.'" Farewell you little shitbox. May ilk such as yours never again touch the roadways of this great nation — and may you rust in pain, great pain. God, I can't wait for the Dodge Dart or, really, anything else.
2nd Gear: 2013 Ram 1500 To Get Jeep Grand Cherokee's Air Suspension
Sources tell us the next-generation 2013 Ram 1500 will be getting an adjustable air suspension — straight from the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Expect to see it, and a bunch of other gadget-y like details (something about a magic key fob that'll unlock everything at once) officially revealed in just a few months at the New York Auto Show.
3rd Gear: Lotus R-GT Gets A Shakedown Before It Steps Across That Line
This past week, the Lotus Exige R-GT, the rally version of the 2012 Lotus Exige S, got its first track shakedown in full race spec glory. The car's powered by the same supercharged V-6 as the regular-for-the-road Exige S — except the R-GT gets some gearbox and engine modifications in provide better control of the power. Testing will continue ahead of the start of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship season. The Exige R-GT will race in the FIA GT category in Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse and San Remo.
4th Gear: BRZ To Highlight Subaru Plans For Tokyo Motor Salon
Subaru's dropped the sheet on plans for next month's Tokyo Motor Salon. For starters, they'll be bringing two concept versions of the BRZ. The first is the BRZ STI Concept we first saw at the L.A. Auto Show. The second is a new BRZ Black Edition by the Japanese tuner shop PROVA. Next up is a concept Subaru's calling the Impreza G4 STI. It's based on the JDM-spec Impreza G4 2.0i-S with a bunch of STI performance parts like a sports exhaust system, suspension strut bar, 18-inch alloy wheels, and new aerodynamic aids. Subaru also plans to announce it'll be entering the BRZ GT300 in Super GT races, Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) and Nurburgring 24 Hours endurance race for next year's season.
5th Gear: Volkswagen To Shut Off Blackberrys After Work
Under an agreement reached this week with organized labor representatives, staff members at Volkswagen will receive e-mails via BlackBerry from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they finish. Beyond that, they will be in a "blackout mode" where they can't be reached. Board-level executives, however, will still be attached to their BlackBerrys after-hours as the agreement only was made with unionized employees. Volkswagen is one of the very first companies to take such a drastic step to force workers toward a better work-life balance.
6th Gear: Nissan Recalls Over 14,000 Trucks
PickupTrucks.com tells us this morning that Nissan is recalling over 14,000 2011 and 2012 Frontiers (along with Infiniti FX, Nissan XTerra, NV and Pathfinder models) because of some faulty connecting bolts surrounding the oil cooler and oil filter, and how they attach to the engine block. The NHTSA report (PDF) states some of the oil filter bolts may break at the oil filter and cause an oil leak, which would in turn cause the oil pressure to drop and potentially, if ignored, allow the engine to seize — and of course, lead to potential for fiery death!
⏎ Jan 14/15th Saab Support Meetings. [SaabsUnited]
⏎ Official: Mahindra will not build pickups in Alabama in 2012. [LeftLaneNews]
⏎ Electric-car charger tax breaks ending as more EVs arrive. [USA Today]
⏎ Toyota launches Aqua hybrid in Japan, takes aimi at Honda Fit. [Automotive News]
⏎ Next Laguna to be a crossover. [AutoExpress]
⏎ City's Taxi Fleet Violates Disabilities Act, Judge Rules. [New York Times]
⏎ Routemaster bus scooped. [CAR]
⏎ Saab dealers: What next? [Automotive News]
⏎ GM to idle 3 truck plants for retooling in 2012. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Detroit Mower Gang: Gearheads Unite To Clean Up Parks For Kids. [Huffington Post Detroit]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1941, the federal Office of Price Administration initiates its first rationing program in support of the American effort in World War II: It mandates that from that day on, no driver will be permitted to own more than five automobile tires. [History]