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: 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63: More Power, More Reasons For Me To Love The Geländewagen
Mercedes-Benz has once again updated the Geländewagen, adding a new high-performance G63 version to the lineup, powered by the steady-as-she-goes bi-turbo 544 HP V8. But, to cut down on the thirst a bit, the new G-Class gets a start-stop system. Oooh! There's also the venerable 5.5-liter V8 engine powering the G55, only for 2013 that powerplant's good for a touch more power, now rated at 388 HP and 391 lb-ft o' torque. While the G63's a welcome improvement, no word yet on a G65. You know, for more power!
2nd Gear: Aston Martin V8 Vantage Pricing Starts At $118,370
Aston Martin showed off its updated entry-level V8 Vantage range for 2012 at last month's Geneva Motor Show, now here are the details on pricing. The 2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Coupe is priced from $118,370 and the 2012 V8 Vantage Roadster will set you back a cool $132,870. To me, that seems totally worth it for a rear-wheel-drive V8-powered two-door Ford Fusion.
3rd Gear: Fiat Plans 500T Sport For 2013
Fiat plans to introduce a 500T Sport for the 2013 model year, according to documents the company has filed with NHTSA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) leafed through by Car & Driver. This seems to corroborate rumors of a new model that would be positioned between a standard Fiat 500 and the Abarth — featuring a less powerful version of the U.S.-spec Abarth's 160 HP turbo four. (The T in 500T is for "turbo," duh!)
4th Gear: Why Gas Prices Haven't Hit $4 Nationwide
BusinessWeek has a great explainer for why we haven't yet hit $4 per gallon nationwide as many had predicted we'd see by this point. The welcome stalling of prices looks to be thanks to a growing supply of crude oil and a retreat by speculators in the futures market. "I think we're seeing the gas and diesel markets start to run out of steam," says Ben Brockwell, director of data and pricing at Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), a New Jersey-based energy research firm. Two weeks ago, Brockwell was all but certain the price of gas would hit a national average of $4 a gallon by the end of April. Now he's not so sure: "There's a chance this market has peaked and that we won't see $4 average prices at the pump." We can only hope.
5th Gear: Is 'On Leave' Code For Lotus Firing Dany Bahar?
Group Lotus has failed to deny increasingly strong rumours that its seemingly overly-ambitious five-year product revival plan could be under serious threat. Now comes news that with the latest Lotus financial problems — that Dany Bahar might be out at the automaker. Autocar reports that "Lotus is believed still to be in financial limbo and this week Bahar is 'on leave.'" If that's really code for 'fired' — then it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
6th Gear: Scion FR-S Hits The Dyno, Performs As Expected Except For Weird Torque Blip
Edmunds Straight Line has dyno-tested the Scion FR-S. Their results? Horsepower's what you'd expect, 173 at the wheels. But something weird happens to the torque on the way up the curve — at 4000 rpm the Scion appears to lose about 14% of its torque. It doesn't appear to be a fluke, either, showing up on every run. But then everything hits where it should, from 4500 and 6500 rpm, the FR-S delivering a flat 140 lb-ft — only a few lb-ft shy of its peak of 143 lb-ft o' torque. Better news is the consistency of which the FR-S hits those dyno runs. To the drag strip!
The Five Greenest, and Least Green, TV Cars Ever. [Vanity Fair]
Fun Facts And Graphs About 2011 Subway Ridership. [Gothamist]
No hybrid at launch for new Nissan Altima. [USA Today]
New vehicles sold in U.S. reaching record high gas mileage. [Detroit Free Press]
With Help From Hertz, BYD E6 Makes Inroads in New York and Shenzhen. [New York Times]
Leasing buoys Hyundai's chart-topping loyalty. [Automotive News]
U.S. expects drivers to pay 24 cents more for gallon of gas this summer.
Army vehicle lab complex will focus on fuel efficiency. [Detroit News]
Copper Rises as Chinese Car Sales, Japanese Orders Top Estimates. [Bloomberg]
German Auto Sales Buoyant. [Wall Street Journal]
Renault Twizy Electric Minicar: First Drive Report. [Green Car Reports]
Today in Automotive History
On this day in 1888, 24-year-old Henry Ford marries Clara Jane Bryant on her 22nd birthday at her parent's home in Greenfield Township, Michigan. Clara Ford would prove to be a big supporter of her husband's business ideas: Fifty years later, Henry Ford—who by then had founded the Ford Motor Company, invented the top-selling Model T car and revolutionized the auto industry with his mass-production technology—was quoted in a 1938 New York Times Magazine article as saying, "The greatest day of my life is when I married Mrs. Ford." [History]