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: Gas Prices Price Hit New February High Of $3.58 Per Gallon
The current per gallon price of gas — $3.58 average — is apparently the highest price at the pump ever for this time of year. It's so high that, according to Fox News, President Obama will speak at the University of Miami today. White House advisors believe Obama needs to address the recent spike in gasoline prices, even though they see it as a cyclical occurrence. And by "address" — they really mean "sympathize," because there ain't nothing he can do about it. You know, because of that whole cyclical thing. Here, we'll sympathize with you too — let us know in the comments what you paid at your last fill-up and we'll reply back "aww, that totally sucks."
2nd Gear: Bailout-Dogged Romney Not Getting Much Help From Michigan Governor
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder told Bloomberg he wasn't out campaigning in Michigan stumping for his endorsed Republican presidential primary hopeful Mitt Romney ahead of the February 28th primary because: "I've got a pretty full schedule already... It's more of a logistics question." Yes, and by "logistics," Snyder means "Romney opposed the federal auto bailout and everyone hates him here in Michigan and if he loses this primary I don't want to get egg in my face like Engler did when he endorsed Bush and McCain won Michigan." There, I fixed it for him.
3rd Gear: Honda Recalls 45,000 Odyssey Minivans
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Honda is recalling 45,747 Odyssey minivans from the 2008 and 2009 model years to fix a potential problem with their power-operated rear hatches that could result in the hatches suddenly and unexpectedly closing. The automaker says the two gas-filled struts that help raise and support the liftgate — on vehicles equipped with powered liftgates — may be prone to premature failure because of a manufacturing flaw. And when a liftgate fails, the result, as we all know, can often times be... fiery death!
4th Gear: Bentley Mulsanne Mulliner Goes "Sporty"
A "sporty" version of the Bentley Mulsanne called the Mulliner will be unveiled at next month's Geneva Motor Show. And by "sporty" I mean that Bentley will add "sports-tuned suspension and steering" and new 21-inch, light aluminium alloys. There's no performance enhancements to the engine per se, but hey, it'll be a Bentley that will actually have a setting to allow you to feel every pothole on the road. You know, "sporty."
5th Gear: Chrysler Selling New "Imported From Detroit" Tchotchkes
Chrysler said today it is introducing a new line of "Imported from Detroit," merchandise featuring "fresh new graphics" and over 60 all-new items that can be purchased at their special online store. Well, glad to see they're trying to make some profits for Fiat using any way possible.
6th Gear: Ford's Itty-Bitty One-Liter EcoBoost Three-Cylinder Could Hit 177 HP
Autocar reports (by way of Motor Authority this morning) that Ford's Gunnar Herrmann, the vehicle line director for the Focus, has revealed that the automaker's latest three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which displaces just 1.0 liter, could be tuned to deliver an astonishing 177 horsepower. The itty-bitty three-cylinder engine will debut in the Fiesta and Focus models in Europe later this year, before finally reaching the U.S. sometime next year, though only with 123 horsepower. They're also supposedly testing the engine with a small electric supercharger working in conjunction with a turbocharger. Autocar also reports that this 177-horsepower variant could be used in a sporty version of the Focus to bridge the gap between the base model and the 250-horsepower Focus ST.
⏎ GM-Peugeot Seen as Europe Money-Losers Still Losing Money. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Mazda shares decline on plans for record share sale. [Automotive News]
⏎ Mazda CX-5 Joins the Cast of Dr.Seuss. [Nitrobahn]
⏎ Auto Credit Improving. [CNBC]
⏎ GM appoints Jon Lauckner as Chief Technology Officer. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ From Unlikely Source, Car-Sharing Start-Up Gets $13.7 Million Vote of Confidence. [New York Times]
⏎ Kahne wrecks primary car in Wednesday practice. [Sports Illustrated]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1958, five-time Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina is kidnapped in Cuba by a group of Fidel Castro's rebels. [History]