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: Now Taxpayers Are Losing $2 Billion Less From Auto Bailout
Last fall, the federal government dramatically boosted its forecast of losses on the rescues of General Motors, Chrysler and the automaker's finance units from $14 billion to $23.6 billion. Now the U.S. Treasury Department has reduced its forecast for bailout losses by more than $2 billion — to $21.7 billion. That cut is thanks to General Motors stock being up about 19% in 2012, closing at $24.03 Wednesday. But, that's still off 27% over its $33 November 2010 initial public offering price. Along with that news, the Detroit Free Press reports that the auto industry contributed about $134.5 billion to state and federal tax revenues in 2010 from taxes and fees — according to a study by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. The study found building vehicles, sales and service and use of automobiles contributed $91.5 billion to state government tax revenues and another $43 billion found its way to federal coffers. Not too shabby.
2nd Gear: Bob Lutz Wants To See Your Girlfriend's Boobs, Ass?
"Maximum" Bob Lutz, the ex-GM vice-chairman — and master of the push-up — is back with a new piece over at Forbes. This week, he's talking about how automakers slap personality into their cars' front ends. But my favorite part is how he starts out the convo: "Typically, when design clinic respondents are asked which view of their preferred-choice car they would send to friends and/or relatives, the front three-quarter angle polls at about 80%. You'd think many would select the straight side view, which, distortion-free in photographs, best displays the size, sweep, length and overall cohesiveness of the design. But, then, when asked by the parents to send a picture of the new girlfriend, a majority of guys will send a likeness of her face, even though that may not be her best attribute!" Well Bob, showing off pictures of your girlfriend's naked breasts is normally frowned upon. Also, we kind of always thought of Bob as an ass man. But whatevs!
3rd Gear: China Auto Sales Are Having A Weird March
The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers announced sales figures for March yesterday afternoon with numbers for the first quarter being about what was expected: The first quarter was down, but March is up. Frankly, it's not a typical Chinese March — a month that usually sets the pace for the rest of the year as Chinese New Year festivities are out of the way. In the first quarter, total vehicle sales in China fell 3.4% from a year earlier to 4.79 million vehicles, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said Wednesday. Sales of passenger cars fell 1.3% to 3.77 million vehicles. Month to month March sales were up 15.4% whilst they gained 4.54% year on year. China Car Times has a full breakdown here.
4th Gear: A Lamborghini Aventador And A Hot Dog Cart
For some strange reason, the New York Auto Show attached a hot dog cart to a Lamborghini Aventador — and they gave away free hot dogs in Midtown Manhattan. Since it's not something you see every day, we included a shot of the two sitting side-by-side here. And that's all we have to say about that.
5th Gear: Is Lexus Working On An "LFA II" For Twice The Price With Twice The Power?
According to AutoGuide, plans for a second-generation Lexus LFA are in the works. They describe it as "twice the car, with a significantly higher performance level. To match that new performance, pricing will climb steeply, into the range of $800,000 to one million dollars. Like the LFA it will be an exclusive product, but even more so than the original, with plans to produce just 100 units." They quote a source who isn't at Toyota but who claims to have been told this information by a senior Toyota executive.
6th Gear: Jaguar Design Chief Ian Callum Wants A Mini-Fighter
A Jaguar supermini could be on the way, according to the brand's head of design, Ian Callum. "There is hardly anything we haven't looked at as a potential Jaguar product," Callum told What Car? at the New York Auto Show. "I have mentioned supermini and that is my personal soapbox, internally and externally," said Callum. "I'd love to think that one day we could make something the size of a Mini." Read more of the interview here.
Porsche Engineering To Take Over Nardò Test Track. [Motor Authority]
One More Thing About Ethanol. [Changing Gears]
GM recalling SUVs in cold states over windshield wiper concerns. [The Detroit News]
Audi may announce Ducati purchase next week, sources say. [Automotive News]
Design Study F70 Ferrari Enzo Successor. [GTSpirit]
Judge rules Chrysler met obligations to California dealer. [Detroit Free Press]
Ford, Dow to explore carbon fiber use in vehicles. [Reuters]
Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 twins: not the drifter everyone says they are. [Car Magazine]
Are Sedans the Forgotten Family Car? [Kicking Tires]
2013 Ram 1500 Powertrain: Deep Dive. [PickupTrucks.com]
Feds expand probe into Jeep Wrangler fires. [USA Today]
Today in Automotive History
On this day in 1888, Cecil Kimber, founder of the British sports car company MG, is born in England. [History]