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: Your Car Is So Old…
The average age of cars and trucks in the United States hit 10.8 years, making it the oldest fleet ever recorded by analysts at Polk. This is way up from 8.4 years in 1996. Per The Detroit News, you can blame the economy and vehicles that no longer turn to useless hunks of metal and electronics after eight years. For some reason we're guessing the average age of Audi/VW products is a little lower.
2nd Gear: What's Korean For GTI?
I very much want to drive the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. Front-wheel-drive cars can be fun, especially when fitted with over 200 horsepower and nearly as much torque. For the moment, I'll have to limit the fun to Forza 4. To get an idea of how much fun that'll be I suggest you check out this video from Carscoop. An optimist sees one extra door, a pessimist sees one less door.
3rd Gear: Top Gear Isn't Sorry About India Special
Feelings were mixed here about the Top Gear India Special, which may have something to do with last year's special being quite excellent. The government of India had bigger issues than merely the pacing, pointing out it didn't like the jokes about diarrhea.The Beeb responded saying "We genuinely loved our time in India and if there were any jokes to be had they were, as ever, reflected back on the presenters rather than the Indian people."
4th Gear: M.I.T. Has A New Chrome Alternative
Chrome looks best on giant '50s land yachts, but a little touch of the shiny metal can enhance a car in moderation. Actual chrome is expensive and heavy, leading automakers to look for alternatives. One such option comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who developed a tiny layer of glass "500 times thinner than human hair" that combines with aluminum to create a stronger chrome alternative. The creator tells The New York Times it could be used to make aluminum wheels maintain their luster for longer periods of time.
5th Gear: Billionaire Syed Mokhtar Wants All The Proton
Malaysia's Proton makes cars in their domestic market we mostly ignore, but they do own Lotus. We care about Lotus. Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary's DRB-Hicomb plans to expand his holding in Proton by $410 million and essentially take over the company Bloomberg reports. As Southeast Asia's second youngest billionaire (just 60) we're hoping he can break Lotus of their love of fatties.
6th Gear: Detroit's Economy Rebounds, Sort Of
The improvement in the domestic car industry has positively impacted Metro Detroit says a new report laid out in The Detroit Free Press. The Global MetroMoniter report said the city was 9th in growth (out of 57 cities) nationally in 2011. Of course, Detroit had nowhere else to go but up. They were at the bottom of the measures just a few years ago.
⏎ The Dodge Caravan R/T Does 0-to-60 MPH in 8.0 Seconds. [Inside Line]
⏎ An Opossum On The Subway Is Apparently News. [The New York Times]
⏎ A Prius Camper Is No Replacement For A Saab Camper [AutoWeek]
⏎ Mazda Bringing Skyactiv Diesel To U.S. — Right Move? (Yes) [TruckTrend]
⏎ Tesla Model X Crossover Debuting At Chicago Auto Show [AutoGuide]
⏎ This is Matt. Ray is apparently too "busy" this morning to do TMS (something he told me via email at like 3:19 am) so I did it. And faced with the challenge of doing TMS in an hour on little sleep — thanks Die Hard 2 on Netflix — I needed a little energy. As always, I turn to Coach Talyor. If you need a boost of encouragement and enthusiasm I highly recommend the "Ultimate Coach Taylor Pep Talk" video. Clear eyes, full hearts…
Today in Automotive History: GM Sells Its Stuff
Three years ago, GM sold a bunch of its Heritage Center cars in an auction. These included a 1969 Camaro ZL-1 COPO Coupe that sold for $319,000 and the 1996 Buick Blackhawk concept for $522,500.