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: 2012 Should Be A Very Good Year For Auto Sales
According to the AP, just three years after hitting a 30-year low in 2009, U.S. auto sales are poised for a second straight year of growth — the result of easier credit, low interest rates and pent-up demand for cars and trucks created by the Great Recession. The sales forecast bodes well for the industry's continued recovery and for the broader American economy. And global sales? They're expected to be up like 6.7%! So, you know, yay!
2nd Gear: Fisker Says Everything's Fixed With Those Pesky Batteries
Fisker Automotive announced today that a majority of all customer cars and dealer-held vehicles affected by the recall involving A123-supplied battery packs have already had brand new battery packs fitted or the confirmed repair to the hose clamp assembly undertaken and are back in service – just 2 weeks after Fisker was first made aware of the issue. Which isn't that hard considering they only had to fix countless handfuls of cars. Because that's all they've delivered so far.
3rd Gear: New Lincoln MKZ Concept Headed To Detroit Auto Show
Ford's Lincoln brand will showcase a concept — it's a lightly-veiled version of the new MKZ sedan — at next week's 2012 Detroit Auto Show. They see it as a major step to compete more effectively in the growing luxury market. We, on the other hand, worry that the brand still doesn't have the resources it'll need to do that. You'll see for yourself in just a couple of days.
4th Gear: Volvo Expects U.S. Sales To Jump Because Saab's Gonna Die
Speaking of sales and brands living off the decay of others, Volvo's new CEO John Maloney told Automotive News he expects to increase its U.S. sales volume to more than 65,000 vehicles for the year. That's about a 25% increase over 2011′s 53,948 sales. Thanks Saab, for dying!
5th Gear: Fiat To Drop Panda-Like Compact MPV At Geneva
According to Autocar, Fiat's next major new model will be a compact MPV targeted at the Vauxhall Meriva, Citroen C3 Picasso and Ford B-Max. It's called the Fiat Ellezero, and will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show this spring ahead of an expected 2013 launch, its six-window styling bears a clear resemblance to the new Panda, while the nose treatment will share similarities to the Fiat 500. It'll also be reskinned as a Chrysler for the UK. For the U.S.? Unknown.
6th Gear: December Was Actually One To Remember For Auto Sales
And speaking of auto sales, December was certainly one to remember as Bloomberg tells us light-vehicle sales in December, set for release tomorrow, may have run at a 13.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to the average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, up from the 12.4 million pace a year earlier. While the rate may trail the 13.6 million seasonally adjusted pace in November, typically a slow sales month, the number of units sold increased in December, according to the average of five estimates. Must have been all those damn red bows.
⏎ Should BMW Return To Formula 1? [BMW Blog]
⏎ Quotables from notables. [Automotive News]
⏎ Riding Shotgun in Ford's Next Shogun. [Car & Driver]
⏎ India's flashy new rich drive luxury car boom. [Reuters]
⏎ Chrysler, Ford, Toyota Score 100% On LGBT Workplace Equality. [The Car Connection]
⏎ Japan's killer quake top story of 2011. [Automotive News]
⏎ Britain gets New Special Edition of 2012 Mitsubishi Shogun SUV. [CarScoop]
Today in Automotive History:
Michael Schumacher, who won a record seven Formula One (F1) world championships, is born on January 3, 1969, near Cologne, Germany. In a 16-year Formula One career that began in the early 1990s, Schumacher's numerous F1 accomplishments also included records for most Grand Prix victories (91), most pole positions (68; the most favorable place to start a race, the pole position is awarded to the driver with the fastest qualifying time for the race) and most career points (1,369; an F1 driver earns points based on where he places in a race). [History]