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: Bond, James Bond, On A Honda Bike, Honda
Marketing Week reports that James Bond will be riding Honda motorcycles in the British spy's latest film, Skyfall. Now, you don't exactly think motorcycles when you think of Bond, but it's the second time in the past two Bond films that Daniel Craig has jumped on bikes. The Honda cycles in the movie are the center of a big marketing campaign that will run for four months. Bond will be riding Honda CRF250R bikes that actually have been modified so that they look like locally made Turkish bikes. And of course, there will be tons of stunts.
2nd Gear: NHTSA Investigating Ford Escape For Sudden Unintended Acceleration
Bloomberg reports that NHTSA is probing reports of possible sudden unintended acceleration on about 730,000 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute models built from 2001 to 2004. One of those Escapes was involved in a high-profile crash that killed Arizona teenager Sage Bloom in 2002. The Center for Auto Safety has asked that all 2002 through 2004 vehicles be recalled for what it calls a "lethal cruise control cable defect."
Thus far, NHTSA received 99 complaints about unintended acceleration in the SUVs, including 13 crashes, eight injuries and Bloom's death, according to Bloomberg. Ford says it's aware of the investigation and will cooperate fully. NHTSA's data base shows that Escapes from the 2002 model year have been the subject of eight separate investigations, and some have been recalled for engine stalling, an electrical short in the anti-lock brake system and leaking brake fluid. Ford is in the midst of launching the 2013 Escape, and any headlines about allegedly defective older Escapes could steal some thunder from that.
3rd Gear: Nissan Is Working On A Mini-Z
Motor Trend reports that Nissan has green lighted a compact sports car known in house as the "Mini-Z." It's a compact, front-drive-based sports car that will be aimed squarely at the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. Plans for such a car were first revealed at last year's Shanghai auto show, when Nissan displayed the Compact Sports Concept. At the time, Nissan called it a "unique sports car" for drivers in emerging markets but Motor Trend says it will show up in established markets as well. According to a rendering from Holiday Auto Magazine, it has morphed from a sporty hatch (pictured above) into an aggressive coupe. There is also word that there will be an all-wheel drive version, based on the Juke's all-mode 4x4 i-system with torque vectoring. Should anything not RWD be called a Z?
4th Gear: Mercedes Plant Gets One From Column A, B And G
Daimler kicked off production of the new Mercedes A-Class yesterday at its factory in Rastatt, Germany, where it's being built alongside the B-class. And, Daimler said it's going to add a third model at the factory: a compact SUV that's called the GLA. (You remember the guys in this picture, right?) All three of the vehicles are based on Mercedes' new small car platform, which is the linchpin of its efforts to become a powerhouse in the premium compact market. Two more vehicles, including a coupe, will round out the quintet. The Rastatt plant opened in 1992 and it initially made the E-class, but it switched over to producing the A-class in 1997. It was a little bit shaky for the factory when the A-class was going through its Moose Test controversy, but the plant is one of the most efficient in the Mercedes system. It gets a third shift in October, and Daimler is investing $1.47 billion there.
5th Gear: Ford Wants Canadians to Cough Up Some Loonies
Bloomberg reports that Ford wants some pretty significant concessions from the Canadian Auto Workers when talks begin next week. (To which the CAW replied, "You do, eh?") It quotes a pretty astonishing number. Total labor costs for Canadian workers are now $79 an hour, including wages and the value of all benefits. That's $15 an hour higher than Ford pays its veteran American workers, and way more than entry level workers in the U.S. are receiving. Ford says that's the highest it pays around the world. If you only look at wages, Ford is paying $34 an hour, versus $28 in the U.S. The CAW says the Ford numbers are wrong, and that the situation is much closer to the pay that American workers receive.
It's been pretty tough snowmobiling for the traditional Canadian industry over the past decade. The Canadian dollar has gained 52 percent against the American dollar in the past decade, wiping out the cost advantage that Canada once enjoyed. Ford only has one assembly plant left in Canada, and GM said in in June that it will close an assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario, eliminating 2,000 jobs next year. Canadian officials and the union are pretty miffed given that Canada provided about $13 billion in bailouts to GM and Chrysler. Canada still holds a nine percent share of GM, although it no longer has a piece of Chrysler.
6th Gear: The Lucky Guy Who Gets To Help Turn Around Opel
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports the Opel Supervisory Board named turnaround expert Thomas Sedran as the company's deputy chief executive. Sedran has been at Opel since April, and joined the automaker from AlixPartners, which has advised GM on a number of projects. He was also involved in crafting the alliance between GM and Peugeot. "We continue to work on implementing and further improve our corporate plan," Steve Girsky, the Opel Supervisory Board chairman, said in a statement. "We will reduce bureaucracy and change the culture of our company." Presumably, Sedran will get to work filling in the details of the fuzzy restructuring plan that Opel has outlined.
This morning, Opel also said Michael Lohscheller, who has been chief financial officerat VW's U.S. division, will take the same role Sept. 1 at Opel and Vauxhall. Michael Ableson, who has helped develop GM'sEuropean models, will succeed Rita Forst as head of engineering,Opel said, according to Bloomberg. Forst will leave the Opel management board
Lansing GM Workers Told Not To Come In This Week [WLNS-TV]
Porsche, Nissan Recalls For Seats And Smoke [Detroit News]
GM Will Let Drivers Rent Out Their Cars Via OnStar [Reuters]
Seven Comedy Writers Involved In Random Acts Of Fusion [Reuters]
Australia Doesn't Regret Car Industry Incentives [Sydney Morning Herald]
Found: Four Super-Expensive Stolen Cars [South Florida Sun Sentinel]
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.