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: I Really Hate The Detroit Auto Show Prom
There's a reason they call the Detroit Auto Show charity preview the Auto Show Prom — it's annoying, filled with pretentious people you never want to see again, and it's really hard to find alcohol. Also you have to wear a tuxedo and It's like $250 a ticket. I am SO glad I never have to go to it ever again. But, if you do want to go it's tonight and I'm sure there's still tickets available. Plus hey, unlike prom, the money does go to charity.
2nd Gear: Joel Ewanick Runs Deep Into The Marketing Muck At GM
According to the Detroit Free Press, in a few weeks, General Motors' marketing department will likely be in for more change. GM is wrapping up a global review of agencies that handle media buying and Chevrolet advertising, with decisions expected in a couple of weeks. We're waiting for the new slogan — GM Runs Deeply Efficient.
3rd Gear: The Toyota Prius GT300 Race Car Is Anything But Beige
Racing a Prius? What is that, a joke? Actually, the Toyota Prius GT300 racer unveiled last night at the Tokyo Auto Salon in Japan is designed to compete in Japan's Super GT racing series starting this year. Since regulations in the series are loose, there's little left of the original Prius here, although the egg-like shape in the photo from AutoGuide is still obvious. Also of note is that the car appears to retain a hybrid drivetrain with the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive logo on the back and sponsorship comes by way of Panasonic, which supplies the batteries for the road car. Lastly, we'd like to point out that there's not an ounce of beige paint here. See more over at AutoGuide.
4th Gear: The Dodge Avenger Is Dead, Long Live The 200. Ugh.
You know the biggest reason why I'm happy Dodge is killing the Avenger? Because now Chrysler will be able to devote more marketing and development resources to the Chrysler 200. Because if there's one car that's "one very competitive entry" in the mid-size segment — the 200 is certainly it.
5th Gear: This Headline Is Not From The Onion
I, and others (Hat tip to Ed!), seriously thought the headline of "Area man works at North American International Auto Show" in the Port Huron Times Herald was straight out of The Onion. Apparently not. I now weep for the Metro Detroit area for getting this excited about having a videographer seen by Australians. I'm also now expecting to see the Detroit News write up a similar story about me: "Man annoys area at North American International Auto Show."
6th Gear: "Matty" Moroun Goes To Jail
Bloomberg reports that Manuel "Matty" Moroun, the billionaire owner of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge, will remain locked up at least overnight after a judge today ordered him and his top aide jailed for missing deadlines on a construction project. A more fitting punishment? Make him wait in line to take that damned bridge for an entire night.
⏎ The Queen Bee Of The Car Show Models. [Forbes]
⏎ Robert Kubica injures leg in fall. [Top Gear]
⏎ Chrysler Chief Confirms New Dakota, Possible Diesel and Unibody. [Edmunds Inside Line]
⏎ Honda wins appeal throwing out class-action case. [Automotive News]
⏎ Autonomous Driving Traffic Jam Assistant Coming To Audi A8. [Motor Authority]
⏎ China auto sales slow in 2011, up 2.5 pct to 18.5 mln, lagging US growth. [AP via Washington Post]
⏎ BMW will expand U.S. plant to build new X4. [Automotive News]
⏎ BMW, Daimler To Ramp Up Vehicle Production In US. [Wall Street Journal]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1962, Ernie Kovacs, a comedian who hosted his own television shows during the 1950s and is said to have influenced such TV hosts as Johnny Carson and David Letterman, dies at the age of 42 after crashing his Chevrolet Corvair into a telephone pole in Los Angeles, California, while driving in a rainstorm. Kovacs, who often appeared on camera with his trademark cigar, was found by police with an unlit cigar, leading to speculation that he had been reaching for the cigar and lost control of his vehicle. The Corvair was later made infamous by Ralph Nader's groundbreaking 1965 book "Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile," about unsafe practices in the auto industry. [History]