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: Saab's Legacy: Yet Another Lawsuit
Fox Business reports that what's left of Saab has another lawsuit on its hands. BMW is suing Saab Automobile Parts, which is Saab's spare parts company, for $3.2 million, plus interest, over parts it said were never paid for. Spyker, the owner of Saab Automobile, recently sued Saab's former owner, General Motors, saying GM drove Saab into bankruptcy. In September 2010, BMW and Saab Automobile AB signed a purchase, supply and development agreement for four-cylinder gas engines, which were supposed to be installed in the Saab's 9-3. The agreement also covered components and spare parts. Saab Auto Parts said it is contesting BMW's lawsuit because it didn't sign the contract with BMW — the main company did. Saab Automobile left behind debts of $2 billion backed by assets of just $500 million.
2nd Gear: Ex-GM Workers Unsew Lips, Will Talk To Company
Dow Jones says the former GM workers in Colombia who sewed their lips shut have given up on their hunger strike. The former GM workers claimed they sustained serious injuries on the job, but GM refused to compensate them. GM has denied the charges, but the hunger strike and lip stitching attracted international attention. "The parties have agreed to resolve the concerns through a mediator, and the former GM Colmotores employees have suspended their hunger strike," GM representative Katie McBride said in an emailed statement to Dow Jones. A GM statement added that officials from the auto maker in Colombia "have been addressing the issues raised by the former workers of GM Colmotores since they became known to us," and said the company looks forward to "productive dialogue through mediation to enable resolution to all concerns." Originally, about six workers sewed their lips shut, but more joined the protest recently. (They even picked up support in Portland.) A few days after the strike began, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement it was monitoring the situation closely, "with particular concern for the health of those on a hunger strike."
3rd Gear: Volkswagen Plans A Small SUV
CarTrade says Volkswagen plans to introduce a small sport utility based on the Polo that could compete with models from Ford, Renault and others. For now, it says VW will sell it in India, but given the company's aggressive small-vehicle strategy, it's likely it could go to other markets as well. The small VW sport utility has been rumored for a while, since it's a part of the market where VW doesn't compete, although it has the bigger Tiguan. The new small SUV would come in two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. There's no sign when the model will go on sale, although CarTrade says it will be "soon" for India.
4th Gear: Detroit Landmark May Become A Parking Lot
The Detroit Free Press reports that the new owner of the Detroit State Savings Bank Building may tear it down and build a parking lot. Now, there are plenty of empty buildings in Detroit, some of which ought to be demoloshed but this one played an important role in automotive history. The building, which was designed by famed architects McKim, Mead & White, was built in 1900. Along with housing the savings bank, it also became the headquarters for Manufacturers' National Bank, which was founded by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, in 1933. It was used as a bank until the 1980s, when it became the home of Silver's, the office supply store. (Detroiters might remember the cafe that was on the first floor.)
According to the Free Press, Triple Properties, the Toronto-based real estate firm that owns the Silverdome in Pontiac and bought the Penobscot Building downtown earlier this year, bought the bank building in August. Andreas Apostolopoulos, the head of Triple Properties, told the Free Press on Thursday that he's studying how to create more parking for his Penobscot Building tenants. His first choice, he said, would be to demolish the bank building, but he is also studying whether he could keep the façade of the building intact and build a parking garage within it. "Detroit needs parking," he said, according to the Free Press. "If we don't have parking people won't come downtown… We tried to bring some tenants downtown and the people are not coming because there is no parking." Apostolopoulos estimated he would spend $20 million on a parking garage and create "lots of jobs."
We know you can't save every building. But this one means something to the city, to those of us who worked downtown, and to industry history. Does Detroit really need more parking?
5th Gear: Kinja 0.4
You may have noticed comments work a little differently today. We're calling this Kinja 0.4 and you can read about what it does here. Bottom line: we listened to your complaints and made comments easier to find. You'll now see a lot on the front page and you can click through to follow the threads. You can also tweet out a link to your comments and do all sorts of other fun things. Please leave us a note if you have any problems or questions.