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: BMW Boss Takes Swipe At Cadillac, Lincoln As Taxi-Makers
I love it when automakers take a swipe at each other. Like here at the Detroit Auto Show, where, as The Detroit News points out, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch dismissed the new Cadillac ATS and Lincoln MKZ saying they're just not in the same league as the 3-Series. "We don't produce trucks, nor taxis or buses", said Willisch. "We don't produce sofas on wheels — and we don't take mass-market vehicles and rebadge them as premium." Willisch does know that the ATS is the only car currently being built on GM's new Alpha RWD platform, right?
2nd Gear: How Protectionist Is Japan? Very.
Bloomberg reports that Nissan's surpassed other carmakers in 2011 to become the second-largest importer of cars to Japan. Yes, that's correct — and just to make sure we're clear on just how protectionist the Japanese market really is, it's due to making a single compact car — the March — in Thailand. Yes, to become the second-largest importer of cars to Japan an automaker needs to bring in just over 50,269 cars. And Volkswagen, the top importer of cars, sells only a few hundred more. So, basically, this means, that out of 4.9 million cars sold in Japan, the top importers only bring in 1% of the cars sold. Compare that to the 384,947 cars Toyota imported here to the United States. In total, we imported over 6 million of the 13-ish million cars and trucks sold last year in the United States — over 40%. Hell, Toyota alone imported 384,947 cars! You know how many imported cars make up the 4.9 million cars sold in Japan? Around 231,000 — or 4.7%. Protectionism, FTW!
3rd Gear: Pininfarina Cambiano Four-Door Headed To Geneva
Pininfarina's unveiled the first official image of its new concept car making its world debut on March 6th at the Geneva Motor Show. It's a sport sedan they're calling Cambiano which, according to Babelfish, in Italian means either "they change" or "a thin sweater worn by Sergio Marchionne." Actually, it's named after the city where the Pininfarina headquarters is located. What we do know is the concept was "conceived with great attention to the environment, both as to the engine and as to the materials' choice." What does that mean? No clue, but wethinks it likely means "hybrid" or "electric" or "powered by hopes and dreams."
4th Gear: Kia cee'd Gets Refresh For 2013. Yay.
The little Kia cee'd's getting a refresh for 2013. All we have now is this one image that shows the little shitbox we don't get here. No amazing powertrain info. No thrilling 0-to-60 numbers. No nothing other than this one image. We're told we'll have to wait until the Geneva Motor Show for details, but for now rest assured it won't overly quicken the pulse.
5th Gear: Please Don't Let Ford Replace The Humvee With A Taurus
According to Bloomberg, Ford's leading a push by commercial-truck makers to challenge defense contractors for a potential $54 billion contract to replace U.S. military Humvees with blast-proof all-terrain vehicles. The Army and Marine Corps plan to open competition Jan. 20 in the second development phase for their Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Truck manufacturers Ford, Navistar International Corp. and Oshkosh Corp. may take on teams led by defense companies General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and BAE Systems Plc that won the three first-stage contracts. While we know whatever they create will likely be F-Series-based, we're just praying to God that they don't try and make it out of a Ford Taurus. It's one thing to lie to consumers about capability, but please don't tell American troops about the off-road capabilities and durability of the Explorer, k?
⏎ GM has crisis ads ready if Volt fire controversy worsens. [USA Today]
⏎ In New York, vanity is taking a back seat. [Times Union]
⏎ Ford to reduce number of global platforms a year earlier than planned. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ A Seismic Shift for the Subway: Closing Lines for Night Repairs. [New York Times]
⏎ Daimler and Google deepen strategic partnership. [Green Car Congress]
⏎ Kia Chooses Las Vegas, Not Detroit, for E.V. Debuts. [New York Times]
⏎ Toyota's Camry Under Siege With Unprecedented Competition. [Bloomberg]
⏎ GM's Cadillac Considers Smaller SUV to Compete Against BMW X3. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Obama touts Ford's job 'insourcing'. [Detroit News]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1904, Henry Ford sets a land-speed record of 91.37 mph on the frozen surface of Michigan's Lake St. Clair. He was driving a four-wheel vehicle, dubbed the "999," with a wooden chassis but no body or hood. Ford's record was broken within a month at Ormond Beach, Florida, by a driver named William K. Vanderbilt; even so, the publicity surrounding Ford's achievement was valuable to the auto pioneer, who in June of the previous year had incorporated the Ford Motor Company, which would eventually go on to become one of America's Big Three automakers. [History]