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: The Chevy Trailbazer Is Back
Here it is — the Chevrolet Trailblazer — as a Colorado global pickup-based SUV named after the SUV killed by GM in 2009. Although the seven-seater Trailblazer may be similarly sized to the GMC Terrain that's now offered in the U.S., the Trailblazer rides on a body-on-frame platform — you know, like a "real" SUV. As a result, this SUV will likely be more rugged and be better suited for off-road duty. Right now it looks like it'll be available in Australia and other select global markets. GM hasn't yet revealed whether it's coming to the U.S. Jeez. What kind of world is it when we can't even get the soccer mom-mobiles that are actually utilitarian? Bring us a real SUV, GM!
2nd Gear: Bring Out Your Dead With The Most Expensive Hearse In The World
Left Lane News tells us this morning that Italy's Biemme Special Cars, a custom shop specializes in converting luxury sedans into hearses, has a new, expensive way to bring out your dead. The coachbuilder's new hearse of all hearses is called the Phantom B12 — and is based on the Rolls Royce Phantom. The car's already-long wheelbase has been stretched to a ginormous length of about 23 feet and we've got to believe that custom framework's gonna be pricey. This might take the already expensive Phantom — $447,000 starting price — to the level of the most expensive hearse in the world. Expect to see the new extended-length hauler of the dead to drop at the Bologna Motor Show.
3rd Gear: New Hyundai Sonata Coming In 2014
South Korea's Hyundai Motor plans to launch a revamped version of its mid-sized Sonata sedan in 2014, chief executive Kim Choon-ho told Reuters earlier today. The latest version of the sedan was launched in September 2009 in South Korea and early 2010 in the United States. Sonata, which competes with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, is Hyundai's top-selling model in the United States and helped the South Korean automaker achieve record sales and market share there last year.
4th Gear: New Honda Crosstour Headed To New York
According to Car & Driver, the Honda Crosstour, once a vehicle we hoped would be more in line with its original name — Honda Accord Crosstour — is set to get a refresh at next month's New York Auto Show. Expect it to be the first vehicle to show off the automaker's new design and styling direction. Let's see if it meets with the critical acclaim the last styling change didn't receive.
5th Gear: Jaguar To Build Evoque-Style Crossover By 2016
An Autocar report this morning adds more fuel to the fiery rumors of an Evoque-style Jaguar crossover. The magazine claims that if it's signed off for production, it could go on sale around 2016 to crown a radical overhaul of its complete model range. Luckily, they also claim that this new crossover will be preceded by production versions of the C-X16 and C-X75 sports cars and Jaguar's new BMW 3 series-killer compact saloon, tentatively due in 2015.
6th Gear: Volkswagen Sells More Beetles To Men Than Last One
Bloomberg reports this morning that Volkswagen may have succeeded in making the 2012 Beetle a bit more manly and a little less of a "chick car" — an apparent death knell to sales success. Since the new version went on sale in September, 43% of U.S. buyers have been men, up from 29% a year earlier, VW said. Just 8% more and they'll actually make it a "dude" car. Maybe they'll just have to make it look a little bit more 911-ish. Or they could just sell more diesels. Actually, that's the plan. VW said 70% of TDI vehicles sold from January 2011 to February of this year went to men. Also, maybe, don't make it so easy to build your own flower vase. Just sayin'...
⏎ Gas Station TV expands to ARCO. [Detroit News]
⏎ Chevy Camaro ZL1 production delay could mean very limited 2012 model year. [Auto Blog]
⏎ U.S. sets duties on steel wheels from China. [Reuters via Yahoo]
⏎ Mercedes-Benz R-Class sales ending in U.S., but production chugs along. [Motoramic]
⏎ Chrysler HQ could be tough sell for merged company. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Why did Chrysler switch gears of Fiat from pop star sensation to bad boy representation? [MLive]
⏎ Datsun will be global brand: Nissan CEO Ghosn. [Marketwatch]
Today in Automotive History:
Ayrton Senna da Silva, the three-time Formula One (F1) world champion, is born on this day in 1960, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Senna's celebrated career was cut short in 1994 when he died at the age of 34 following a crash at a Grand Prix race in Italy. At the time of his death, he was considered by many to be the world's best F1 driver. [History]