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: Auf Wiedersehen, Opel Bochem Plant
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports GM has finally announced what everyone was predicting: it wants to stop producing cars at its sprawling Opel plant in Bochem, Germany, in 2016. Its labor contracts prevent it from closing any German factories before 2014. The plant may stay open beyond that to keep building the Opel Zafira. Also, the Opel Supervisory Board will finally decide on a turnaround plan June 28 — the one that was originally supposed to be ready in March.
2nd Gear: The Education of Akio Toyoda
Toyota is holding its annual shareholders meeting tomorrow in a lot better shape than it's been the past couple of years. I take a look at the tough lessons Toyoda has had to learn since he became CEO in 2009. One: you can't be a global company and run everything from Japan. Two: you might think you have friends, but when you get in trouble, you find out who they are. Three: you have to earn it, every single day. At least Toyoda is an executive who likes racing and cars. Some Toyota CEOs gave UC San Diego professor Ulrike Schaede the impression that they didn't like to drive "or that they could drive at all."
3rd Gear: Next Acura MDX Spied In Germany
MotorAuthority has some video of the 2014 Acura MDX, shot on the Nurburgring and on side streets around the track. The MDX is set to be in American showrooms late next year, giving Acura a fresher vehicle to compete against the BMW X5, Lexus RX and Buick Enclave. The prototype looks like it has a more streamlined shape and Acura plans to load it with technology including a hybrid version that comes with all-wheel drive.
4th Gear: Ford Wonders If Europe Will Soil Everybody
WWJ Radio reports that the situation in Europe is rattling folks in Dearborn. Ford CFO Bob Shanks says it's 50-50 whether European political leaders will be able to contain the financial mess so it doesn't bleed into other places, namely the car business. On the plus side, Ford's recent credit upgrade was a "huge lift" for the carmaker. Shanks said Ford just did its first unsecured debt issue last week since it returned to investment grade, and saw investors come in that couldn't touch Ford before.
5th Gear: Dumping? Who Says Honda Is Dumping?
Automotive News (sub. required) raises a question we hadn't really thought about. If Honda is losing money on every car it exports from Japan to the U.S., is that dumping? The official definition has two parts: a company is selling vehicles below what they cost to product, and doing damage to a competitor. You can argue that Honda is underachieving because of the strength of the yen. But, do Hondas exported from Japan really hurt any one? It's not 1982, after all.
6th Gear: Hang Out Those Flags
It's Flag Day in the States. June 14 commemorates the adoption of the American flag by the Second Continental Congress. It's also the birthday of the U.S. Army. Most people mark it simply by saying, "oh, it's Flag Day" and realizing they forgot to hang out the flag. But some places still hold Flag Day parades — and that's where the Jalopnik connection comes in. For lots of us, our local parades are often the first time we get to see classic cars and start our love of automobiles. So, three cheers for the red, white and blue, and set yourself a reminder for 2013.
Honda Recalls 50,000 2012 Civics [Reuters]
U.S. Retail Sales Fall For the Second Month In A Row [Bloomberg]
Father's Day Gifts For Motor Mad Dads [Telegraph]
A Glimpse Of The Future In Kokomo [KokomoPerspective.com]
Keselowski Sees Fast Times at MIS [Detroit Free Press]
Michigan Lawmakers Move To Block State Bridge Funding [Detroit News]
Today in Automotive History
On this day in 1940, German tanks rolled into Paris. About 2 million people had already fled by the time the Germans arrived (including Ilsa Lund in her blue dress). Although the French asked for a declaration of war, President Franklin Roosevelt responded by offering material aid, the makings of the Arsenal of Democracy that Detroit would become when the United States ultimately entered World War II.