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: GM Is Unplugging Volt Production Again
Bloomberg reports General Motors is planning to halt Chevrolet Volt production for a month because sales are just not meeting the company's expectations. Through July, GM has sold 10,666 Volts in the U.S., way short of the 45,000 that CEO Dan Akerson originally hoped to sell this year, out of 60,000 globally. GM has since cut back its sales projections to 30,000 to 40,000. Automotive News reported the plant is expected to be shut between Sept. 17 and Oct. 15, although a GM spokesman wouldn't confirm them for Bloomberg although now we're hearing they also want to retool for the 2014 Impala. Sure... GM halted Volt production back in March for five weeks. Since then, it has been a lot more aggressive with Volt deals, and it's also provided Volts to Hertz. But at the rate it is selling, Volt may never get to the 60,000 a year that GM has long said it could sell.
2nd Gear: No Free GM Rides For Republicans And Dems
Meanwhile, the Detroit News reports that GM has yanked the free convention rides it has offered at both political party conventions since 1980. That news comes after GM banned political candidates from its plants until after the fall election. (Chrysler also has done so.) Last time out, in 2008, GM provided about 400 cars at each party's convention. The Republican convention doesn't have an official vehicle supplier; instead, a spokesman said it is working with rental car companies and providing fleets of buses to transport the delegates. (And honestly, if you have to deal with the aftermath of a tropical storm, wouldn't you rather be in a party bus?)
A Democratic party spokesperson didn't return the News' call, but the party is banning corporate donations this year, so it might not have taken the cars anyway. A GM spokeswoman says the company ended the practice because GM is a "new company focused on designing and selling the world's best cars." Some candidates are simply driving themselves, though, as Robin Young of public radio's Here and Now found (she tweeted the photo, above).
3rd Gear: Real VW Golf R Cabrio Is Spotted In Australia
CarAdvice snapped some pictures of the Volkswagen Golf R cabriolet during testing in Australia. Earlier this summer, CarAdvice spotted a Golf cabrio pretending to be the R version, but it says this is the real thing, with "with model-correct badging on the front grille and rear-end, a new front bumper with LED daytime running lights, chunkier side skirts and a small rear lip spoiler." It says other touches include bigger brakes with ‘R'-marked brake calipers, bigger wheels and the two oval exhaust tips finished in chrome rather than the standard round pipes seen on the recently released Golf GTI Cabriolet. CarAdvice says this car will be shown alongside the new Golf at the Paris Motor Show
4th Gear: Oh, What A Feeling To Be Hacked
Automotive News says Toyota is suing an IT contractor who allegedly hacked into its proprietary plans for parts prices and designs, downloaded the information and sabotaged Toyota's computer system. Toyota, which filed suit in federal court in Lexington, KY, obtained a restraining order that prevents Ibrahimshah Shahulhameed from disseminating trade secrets or from leaving the country. If the information gets out, Toyota says it would be "highly damaging to Toyota and its suppliers, causing immediate and irreparable damage." The man had a Georgetown, KY, address, and was a consultant for GlobalSourceIT.
Automotive News says that according to the complaint, Shahulhameed was fired on Aug. 23 and logged into the Toyota computer system around midnight that night. The complaint alleges that he stayed on the system until 6:30 a.m. the next morning, copying, saving and printing trade secrets. The company says it's too soon to tell the full extent of the damages, but asked for the restraining order because it believed he was about to leave the U.S.
Fifth Gear: Guess Which Automaker Has Gangnam Style
It turns out the popular Gangnam Style Korean rap video from PSY is actually subversive social parody in addition to being hilarious. PSY has been hanging around the U.S. this month, including a trip to Korean automaker Hyundai's U.S. office where he posed in front of an Equus. Given the message of his song we're thinking there's something unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) subversive about him picking the giant faux-luxury cruiser to pose next to.
Reverse: Pip, Pip, Cheerio, It's Charles Rolls' Birthday
On this day in 1877, Charles Stewart Rolls was born in the Mayfair district of London. Somehow, I would have expected him to be older, because Rolls-Royce seems like it has been around since the dawn of time. Rolls was bit by the car bug early, when he was a student at Cambridge's Trinity College. He had the first car owned by a student at Cambridge, a Peugeot, and began racing in 1900 when he was just 23. He met Frederick Henry Royce in 1905, and they formed Rolls-Royce in 1906. Rolls was also an early aviation geek. He bought a Wright Brothers plane and in 1910, became the first pilot to fly across the English Channel and back. Tragically, he died the same year in a plane crash. [History]
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 want to know: why isn't the Volt selling? Is it price, technology, the car's image as a political football? Would you buy one if you had the money or place to charge it? Or doesn't Volt meet your needs? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.