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: Car Czar Slams "Car Guy" Romney
Steve Rattner, President Obama's "Car Czar" has a New York Times Op-Ed today headlined "Delusions About the Detroit Bailout." In it, Rattner slams Mitt Romney for his stance on the auto bailout, saying "the gist [of Romney's argument] is that the government should have stayed on the sidelines and allowed the companies to go through what he calls "managed bankruptcies," financed by private capital. That sounds like a wonderfully sensible approach - except that it's utter fantasy. In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines. I know this because the administration's auto task force, for which I was the lead adviser, spoke diligently to all conceivable providers of funds, and not one had the slightest interest in financing those companies on any terms. If Mr. Romney disagrees, he should come forward with specific names of willing investors in place of empty rhetoric. I predict that he won't be able to, because there aren't any." Damn, dude, damn. You tell 'im, Steve-Dave.
2nd Gear: Ram Slaps F-150, Ford Ignores Buzzing Of Third Place Fly
Have you seen the new ad for the Ram pickup? The one that slams the Ford F-150 by saying "What would happen if you were to take away 30 horsepower from the Ram 1500, remove 27 foot pounds of torque and subtract 40,000 miles off its powertrain limited warranty? Well, you'd end up with a Ford F-150." Yeah, we haven't seen it on TV either — maybe it's just playing on YouTube. But regardless of the seemingly not-so-deep penetration of the ad, it's certainly a significantly more damning commercial claim than, say, Twinkies and Barry Manilow (Yes, we're looking at you, Chevy Silverado). But this time Ford doesn't seem to be taking the bait with a legal response — even given the not-quite-apples-to-lower-displacement-oranges engine displacement comparison. I guess when you're the number one seller of pickup trucks for 35 years, you don't really need to slap back at the guys in third place. God do I love the return of smash-mouth auto advertising!
3rd Gear: This Is, Basically, The New Honda CR-V For Europe
Here's the first shots of the European Honda CR-V Prototype ahead of its public debut at next month's Geneva Motor Show. The preview model is designed to highlight the exterior styling direction of the fourth-gen Euro-spec Honda CR-V, set to go on sale in Autumn 2012. Compared to the previous generation, the concept adopts a more aggressive stance with deeper sculpting of the body lines and a bolder front fascia. The lower front bumper wraps upward to hint at the possibility of SUV capability, while the lower front bumper design now integrates more directly into the fascia for better aerodynamics. And yeah, that's what we've got.
4th Gear: Bertone Names "Extreme" Sports Car Concept After Bertone
The concept car that Bertone will unveil at the Geneva Motor Show to celebrate its Centenary is called the Nuccio, after Nuccio Bertone, the long-time chief of the company. The Nuccio is an "extreme" sportscar and — umm, well — that's really about all we know about it. But hey, more imagery was released this morning. Like the shot above and to the left.
6th Gear: Want To Write The Morning Shift?
So, I've been writing The Morning Shift for over a year now and although I love doing it, I'd really like to find someone else to put digital pen to paper each morning. I'm looking for a veteran auto journalist (at least five years of experience, preferably Detroit-based) who's interested in a freelance gig that consists of basically just writing this. If you're interested, send an e-mail with the subject line "Go Shift Yourself" here along with proof your writing is concise, funny, and, you know, at least a little bit informative. And by "funny" we mean actually funny. Not punny.
⏎ IMSA Signs With DRIVE YouTube Network To Air GT3 Cup Challenge Shows. [Press Release]
⏎ Enterprise Rent-A-Car Blinks in Battle with California Mom. [ABC News]
⏎ Now This Is a Rivalry: Ford vs. Chevy. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ General Motors working on a second, larger twin-turbo V6? [LeftLaneNews]
⏎ Japan Auto Makers Boost Output As Subsidies Drive Demand. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Ford plays catch-up in China with new plan, dealerships. [Reuters]
⏎ Chrysler, Carhartt in talks over branded clothing. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Unholy car alliance. [Financial Times]
⏎ Opposing view: Auto bailout leaves a dangerous legacy. [USA Today]
⏎ GM Tells Carscoop No LED Tail Lamps for North American Camaro. [Carscoop]
⏎ Fiat may shut two Italian plants if U.S. plans fail. [Reuters via 4 Traders]
Today in Automotive History:
Alain Prost, the four-time Formula One (F1) champ, is born on February 24, 1955, near Saint-Chamond, France. Prost's four championships in the mid-1980s and early 1990s were bested by only two other drivers: Germany's Michael Schumacher, who collected seven championships between 1994 and 2004, and Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five championships between 1951 and 1957. [History]