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: GM Wants UAW Retirees To Trade In Their Monthly Checks
The New York Times reports that General Motors wants to offer union members the same lump sum deal to cash out their pensions that it's floating to its salaried retirees. GM chief executive Dan Ackerson says the automaker may bring up the idea before the current UAW contract expires in 2015. Under the salaried employee plan, which originated at Ford, retirees would give up their monthly checks in return for a one-time payment that they'd then be responsible for managing.
2nd Gear: Spy Shot Of The New Renault Clio RS 4
Car Magazine got this spy shot of the new Renault Clio RS 4. There's so little camouflage, actually, that you can see the Renault badge plain as day on its grille. Car says Renault will be waving goodbye to the Clio's 2.0 liter gasoline engine and replacing it with a 1.6 liter version. Although it might not be clear from the photos, it says Renault is going to a five-door model. The Clio RS 4 is set to be unveiled in Paris this fall.
3rd Gear: Marchionne Sings The Blues With No Backup Singers
Forbes raises the question a lot of us have been wondering: why does Sergio Marchionne seem to be a lone wolf howling about Europe? For one thing, it's his nature to be outspoken. For another, Fiat may have the most to lose from a Euro meltdown. And Marchionne has certainly benefited from government aid, so he's sure to be for assistance to the troubled companies that need it.
4th Gear: Don't Look Now, But Fuel Economy is Dropping TrueCar.com says the average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States dropped in May for the second straight month. The May average, which TrueCar compiles in a statistic called TrueMPG, was 23.2 mpg, compared with 23.3 mpg in April. The TrueMPG index hit an all-time high in March at 23.4 mpg. There's a pretty easy explanation, though. The True MPG level tracks closely with gasoline prices. When they go up, it goes up, and when they drop, as they have over the past few weeks, the average fuel economy goes down as well.
5th Gear: Canada Paves The Way For A New Bridge
The Globe and Mail says Canada and the state of Michigan have reached a deal to build a new bridge across the Detroit River. The situation has huge implications for the auto industry. The border crossing is crucial to the U.S. and Canadian auto industries, but the Ambassador Bridge can be a parking lot. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet is set to approve the deal today, the paper says, and it is likely to be announced on Friday. Don't expect this to be the end of the fight, though. Billionaire Matty Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge, is likely to try to tie this up in court for years.
6th Gear: Rahm Emanuel Lumps Ford In With GM, Chrysler
In the latest chapter of Politicians Tell You About The Auto Industry, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel inadvertently (we think) put Ford in the same category as its once-ailing Detroit brethren. Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Emanuel said Ford, "which was down to two shifts" at its Chicago assembly plant, has added a third shift since he was elected mayor and 700 jobs at a nearby stamping plant. That's true in part because Chicago's city council repealed a head tax on businesses with 50 or more employees. Emanuel went on, "It's a far cry from two weeks away from bankruptcy that some were advocating." Ford, of course, never took federal money, nor was it ever close to a bankruptcy filing.
GM Gives Up For Now On Making Money In Europe [Reuters]
London Motorists Told To Stay Out of VIP Olympics Lanes [Daily Mail]
VW/Porsche Deal Won't Be Tax Free [Reuters]
Can the UK Catch Up On Hydrogen Cars? [Telegraph]
Toyota Puts Its Brand On A Worker Training Program [WWOK-TV]
Michigan Governor A Fan Of Driverless Cars [Detroit Free Press]
Today in Automotive History
On this day in 1895, Emile Levassor drove a Panhard et Levassor car with a two-cylinder, 750-rpm, four-hp Daimler Phoenix engine over the finish line in what is believed to be the world's first real automobile race. Levassor completed the 732-mile course, from Paris to Bordeaux and back, in just under 49 hours, at a then-impressive speed of about 15 mph. (We're open to nominations if you don't believe this was the first auto race.)