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: Crazy Driving Can Kill You, Even If You Don't Have A Fiery Death
The New York Times reports on a new study that shows people who are involved in numerous moving violations are at a higher risk of death, even if the final moments don't come in a car accident. Such people are "probably engaging in other high-risk lifestyle activities that lead to death at a higher rate than the average person," said Elliott C. Wallace, vice president and general manger of life insurance at LexisNexis, which was one of the partners in the study. "If you live a very risky lifestyle, you are going to die sooner."
That might seem like a no-brainer, but the statistics are pretty bleak. Having just one major violation on a motor vehicle report elevated the chance of death for the average person by 51 percent, and people with with six or more violations experienced about 80 percent higher mortality rates. The trends were consistent across all age groups and genders, the Times said. If you break down the results by gender, women with major driving violations faced 100 percent greater mortality than women who did not, while men with major violations had 61 percent higher mortality than those who do not, researchers found. So, don't pass on the right, wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you turn, and please, don't speed. (Bracing for comments in three, two, one...)
2nd Gear: The French Are Fried Over Peugeot Cuts
Europe 1 reports the French government is appalled over Peugeot's announcement yesterday that it plans to close a factory and eliminate 8,000 jobs on top of 6,000 cuts already announced. Here's something we hadn't realized: over the past few years, France has given the PSA Group nearly $5 billion in aid to help the company restructure and preserve jobs. Well, no wonder they're upset. "We cannot accept something like this," said Social Affairs minister Marisol Touraine. "This is money which was dispersed without any return." The government is going to study the Peugeot cutback plan and issue its own analysis by the end of the month, when everybody goes on vacation for August.
But the new socialist government doesn't have that much standing. For one thing, the Peugeot family pretty much calls the shots at Peugeot. Unlike Renault, the French government isn't a stakeholder. And Peugeot's new partner, GM, probably doesn't want to see any delays in getting to the $2 billion in cost savings that the alliance is supposed to yield.
3rd Gear: This Is Not A Chick Magnet
EMercedesBenz brings us the Binz stretch E-class wagon, and to be honest, we kind of wish this one had stayed under wraps. We knew that Binz was working on this, but we wish they'd left the cladding on. The Binz X-Tend is nearly 19 feet long, making it two inches longer than a Chevy Suburban and two feet longer than the Mercedes GL 550. The standard version will sell for just under $98,000. But wait, there's more. Binz is also working on this version, called the X-Orange, with racing seats and four-point seat belts.
4th Gear: Hiking The Vapor Trail Of Airplane Orders
The Associated Press reports on a big order that United Airlines placed for Boeing 737 planes. United, whose offices are a short stroll from Boeing's headquarters in Chicago, says it wants 100 of the new 737 Max9 jet, and plans to accept the first planes in 2018. It also ordered 50 of the current Boeing 737 ER jet, and those will begin arriving next year. The value of the order was estimated at $14 billion, at the list price.
Now, I'm going to tell you why you should take this news with a grain of salt. First of all, when airlines order planes, they aren't paying full price. Almost every airline gets a discount, especially if it's the first one to order a new plane (they're called the launch customer). Second, airlines aren't ponying up the full amount up front, especially in the case of the 100 jets that won't be delivered for six more years. There's a down payment, and then payments are made as the planes get built and finally delivered, depending on the schedule that's worked out.
Airplane orders are always fluid because these are the first things that get put on hold when an airline gets into financial trouble. That happened in spades after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. And also, some airlines favor one plane maker over another. Continental, which bought United two years ago, was an all-Boeing airline, while Jet Blue is loyal to Airbus. Just last week, Airbus got a lot of attention when it announced its plans to build a new factory in Alabama, its first in North America. So, United's order is a nice comeback for Boeing this week.
5th Gear: Inside The Next-Generation VW Golf
Automobile Magazine rounds up what's known about the new Volkswagen Golf, which goes into production in Germany next month. Any new model is a milestone for VW, since it doesn't update the basic architecture that often. So in VW terms, this is the equivalent of a new Toyota Corolla. This is the seventh-generation Golf, and it's based on the MQB platform that Fortune Magazine wrote about the other day. It will be lighter, since the platform makes extensive use of aluminum. The design won't change dramatically, although it will be a few inches longer than the current model. Automobile expects the car to feature adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning systems and ratio-speed steering. The biggest question will be what's under the hood. This Golf is set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show and be on sale in Europe in December.
6th Gear: If You're Going To Get Lost, Why Not Do It In A Porsche?
Forbes reports that Hertz is is making Porsche Panameras available for rent in Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The rental fee, between $250 and $300 a day, is what some plane tickets cost. But that's cheaper than the $75,000 sticker price. Eventually, Hertz wants to add the Cayenne, Boxster and 911 to its Porsche lineup. Hertz isn't the first rental car company to offer Porsches: Enterprise offers rentals through cars it buys from dealers, according to MSNBC.
Sen. Grassley Questions Toyota Sudden Acceleration Probe [LA Times]
Are These The Best Small Cars In The World? [Telegraph]
Honda Signs Its Racing Dream Team [Cycle News]
Bomb Threat Shuts The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel [CBC News]
Ford Again Pays A Nickel Dividend [Ford]
Saturn Lives On In GM's Latest Incentives Deal [US News]
Last GM Plant Left Standing In West Michigan [WZZM]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, we'd love to get your thoughts on what you like to drive when you're on vacation. Would you shell out up to $300 a day for a Porsche? Or, are you out for a bargain? I had a Range Rover once for a drive from New York City to Michigan (hello, outlet malls!) and it was a fun experience that also rid me of the need to ever own one. Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.