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: GM Reports Largest Profit Ever
General Motors said it earned a fourth quarter profit of $472 million — 28 cents per share; down from $510 million — 31 cents per share — from the same quarter a year ago. It's the eighth-consecutive quarterly profit for the carmaker, thanks to its colonoscopy-like debt cleansing due to bankruptcy. General Motors made a record $7.6 billion in 2011, driven by a $7.2-billion profit in North America that ensures its highest profit-sharing payments of $7,000 each to its UAW workers. Overall, GM's 2011 profit rose from last year's $4.7 billion and broke the previous record annual profit of $6.7 billion in 1997. And all this despite losing a metric ton of money at its Opel division.
2nd Gear: Tesla Claims They'll Deliver 5,000 Model S Sedans In 2012
Green Car Reports tells us that Tesla CEO Elon Musk told listeners on their 4th quarter earnings call yesterday that Tesla does not intend to provide Model S drives to journalists until after it delivers its first cars to customers. "We want the car to be as close to perfect as possible before we give it to any automotive journalists," he said. Customers, on the other hand, can get the not-as-close to perfect cars. Yeah, that makes sense. Also, they're going to deliver 5,000 Model S sedans in the second half of 2012.
3rd Gear: Renault To Develop Luxury Car On Mercedes Platform
Bloomberg reports this morning that Renault, France's second-biggest carmaker, is in the early stages of developing a luxury car based on a Mercedes-Benz platform as it seeks to expand its offerings in that segment. The French carmaker already helps Mercedes parent Daimler build its Smart compact car.
4th Gear: The Audi S1 Is Coming In Two Years
UK's What Car? tells us today that an Audi S1 — a hotted-up version of the company's A1 itty-bitty-super-mini car — will go on sale within two years using elements from the limited-edition A1 Quattro. ‘Of course we can imagine the technology [in the Quattro] on large scale production, so there might be a right hand drive S coming,' said an Audi spokesman. The most likely engine expected would be the 2.0-liter unit from the A1 Quattro, albeit in a slightly detuned format. Better news than all of this? They still haven't ruled out an RS1. Now that would be epic.
5th Gear: Is This The New Audi A3?
The wild and crazy guys at AutoForum.cz have posted this image they assert is the first official photo of the new three-door Audi A3, which is scheduled to make its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. Sigh. Can't anyone keep anything under wraps anymore?