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: Eero Saarinen Never Dreamed This Would Happen
Car Design News has details of designer Dave Lyon's departure from General Motors last week. Coupled with the stories that are going around town, it sounds like a cross between a mystery novel and a soap opera. Lyon was slated to become design chief at GM Europe tomorrow, and by all accounts was psyched about the move. But instead, Car Design News says Lyon was reportedly escorted out of GM by the design department's HR director, Joseph Ofori-Agboka, on Thursday. On Friday morning, the publication says, a one-liner was e-mailed by GM's chief designer Ed Welburn, reading, "Effective immediately, David Lyon is no longer an employee of General Motors Corporation."
The sudden action means that Mark Adams will stay in place until GM can find a replacement. But with all the turmoil at GM these days, it isn't clear who would want to sign on. This can't make the folks at Opel very happy, since they're watching bosses there get dumped on a weekly basis. Speaking of turmoil, GM's North America boss, Mark Reuss, made a little slam to Automobile about Lyon. Speaking with Jean Jennings, Reuss said Lyon was fired for reasons of "policy and integrity." It's rare that a senior GM executive would say anything about a former executive, let alone use such specific words. And, GM has made its displeasure with Joel Ewanick clear. But as they once were for Fergie at the palace, the knives seem to be out for anyone who crosses the line at GM.
2nd Gear: Chrysler Enjoys Life After Its Brush With Death
The Detroit News reports that Chrysler had good second quarter results, although they were a little shy of its first-quarter net income. Things seem to be going well for Chrysler in terms of its market share, earnings and revenue. The company has earned just a bit under $1 billion so far this year, and Sergio Marchionne graciously thanked Chrysler's staff (maybe he'd like to try out for Downton Abbey, since we know the Dowager Countess likes Italians.)
All kidding aside, the News reported Marchionne said, "Our accomplishments, made in the face of near-universal skepticism, imbue us with confidence going forward. Living through a near-death experience has revealed the depth of courage that exists within our house. We have learned that we can accomplish great things when we marshal all of our talent and commitment to work for a common goal," he said. "But staying humble is just as necessary to sustain our success. History teaches that it is easy to develop bad habits during good times. This is no time to cut corners, no time to become undisciplined in our execution, no time to forget how difficult it was to claw our way back to viability."
3rd Gear: Here's The BMW HP4
BMW gave details yesterday of the HP4, which it says is the lightest 4-cylinder super sports bike in the 1000cc class. It's based on the BMW S 1000 RR — or RR for short — and has an output equal to 193 hp. However, it weighs just 439 pounds, with race ABS and a 90 percent full tank. It's the latest version in BMW's HP (for high performance) series that was launched in 2005, and it's the first 4-cylinder cycle in the HP family. Each bike is issued with its own HP4 serial number. BMW says the HP4 is immediately ready for use on tracks with no elaborate modifications, but it also can be ridden on regular roads (we assume you'll observe speed limits). BMW didn't release the price.
4th Gear: Honda Dashboard Now Equals A Lego Piece
Honda had a bunch of reporters in to visit its operations in Ohio recently, and we were intrigued by one of the new processes it's using on the 2013 Accord. Rick Schostek, a Honda senior vice president, said the company just started making a new soft-touch dashboard that required some major improvements at the plant. The current Accord has an instrument panel with 16 seams and is assembled from four separates pieces. The new Accord has a seamless, one-piece panel with an "integrated airbag lid." It's the first time the Marysville Plant will assemble the dashboard in-house. One of the processes includes a very precise ultra sonic knife to score perforations into the substrate and underside of the panel's topcoat for airbag deployment. Honda also had to build a seismic floor — six feet deep beneath the plant floor — to eliminate vibrations that could cause variations in the perforation. We know Honda engineers love dreaming up projects like these.
5th Gear: Everything Goes To Hell In India
CBS News reports on a day India would like to forget. The power grid across northern India failed Monday, leaving 370 million people sweating in the heat in one of the worst blackouts in a decade. That's more people than live in the United States. Hundreds of trains were halted, snarling transportation across the country. New Delhi's Metro, which has 1.8 million daily riders, was among rail services that went down when the country's northern grid crashed about 2:30 a.m. Power was back on by evening. Now, some of us have had our power go out this summer, due to big storms, and we got kind of grumpy while Detroit Edison's crews were working on it. But imagine being stuck in a place like New York or Los Angeles when all the street lights went out, every place lost air conditioning, and you couldn't move on the freeways.
6th Gear: Battling To Bring A Plant Back To Life
The Virginian-Pilot reports on the difficulties of finding new life for old car plants, something we wrote about earlier this summer. Last year, the Belgian logistics company Katoen Natie, or KTN, spent $10.5 million to buy the main assembly plant at the former Ford plant in Norfolk, VA, which closed five years ago. The paper says the company planned to use the site as an international distribution hub for plastic pellets, which are melted down by manufacturers to make everything from water bottles to cellphone cases. But while the operation is taking shape, the 225 jobs that the company predicted it would create several years from now aren't a certainty. KTN has fewer than a dozen employees at the site. One of the problems the company says, is that it thought access to two rail companies went with the site. Turns out it only got access to one of them. It doesn't want to commit to investment and jobs without being sure it can ship its pellets.