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: Gifts For Honda, Tesla In New CAFE Rules
Bloomberg reports that the new fuel economy rules issued yesterday by the Obama administration have some special provisions favoring Honda and Tesla. Because of that, bigger companies might benefit, too. Here's how Bloomberg explains it. The original rule, first proposed in November 2011, gives automakers extra credit toward meeting the standards if they sell alternative-fuel vehicles. The final version treats natural gas-powered cars the same as electric vehicles.
That means Tesla will be able to opt in to the rules for which they'd otherwise be exempt. In turn, that would allow Tesla to sell credits for exceeding the standards to bigger companies that can't meet their fuel-economy improvement goals. The rule also benefits Honda, because it sells a natural gas-powered vehicle. In an interesting note, Bloomberg says Daimler and Volkswagen didn't sign agreements with the administration in support of the new rule. It says that's because they feel it favors companies that produce more light trucks than they do.
2nd Gear: Cadillac Says We Will Rock You
Reuters reports that Cadillac is determined to become the country's best-selling luxury brand within two years. It hasn't held that position in 15 years, but Dan Butler, Cadillac's vice president for marketing, believes it can climb back to the top. "It's my goal that we are slugging it out in the right way for No. 1 in the U.S. within a few years," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Why not? We've been there before." Cadillac, he says, has a 10-year plan for what it needs to do in the U.S., the Middle East, China and Europe and Russia. The company feels the new ATS will kick off the drive.
But Cadillac will have to climb pretty far. As Reuters points out, its 2011 sales were two-thirds those of BMW, and its sales through July are down 12.6 percent from a year ago. As Cadillac makes its charge, Mercedes-Benz is rolling out a lineup of new small cars, while BMW is expanding Mini, and Audi wants to aim for the top global luxury spot. Cadillac may be at a disadvantage to those companies because its parent, GM, is struggling in Europe and may have to devote significant resources there that it otherwise could spend on shoring up Cadillac.
3rd Gear: See Toyota's GT86 In Action On A Runway
It's called the Scion FR-S here. But it's the Toyota GT86 in Europe and the Philippines, where this short film, called Area 86, popped up this weekend showing the car squealing around on a slicked-down runway at Subic Bay International Airport. We're big fans of the Toyobaru and this video shows why.
4th Gear: Drivers Are In Denial About Bad Behavior
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) says drivers just want to have fun and not own up to the consequences. In a new survey by Penn Schoen Berland, conducted for Ford, 99 percent of drivers said they consider themselves to be safe motorists. But in the same survey, 78 percent admitted to eating behind the wheel, 55 percent said they drove too fast, and 54 percent (!) talk on a hand-held cell phone. But wait, there's more. More than a third said they drive while they're tired, and 25 percent admitted to searching through their contact lists on their phones while they were driving.
Most of the people in the survey said while they consider themselves to be safe, they worry about the people around them. The survey found nine out of 10 drivers would be interested in collision alert warnings and 59 percent would be comfortable riding in a self-driving car. Ford didn't ask any of the people in the survey whether they admitted to drinking before they get behind the wheel. The point of the survey was to see if people were interested in the technology Ford is going to offer on its new vehicles this fall, and of course, those in the survey said they were.
Reverse: Truman Declares This Oil Is Mine
August 29 was Michael Jackson's birthday and it's also the anniversary of a bold move in 1945 by President Harry Truman. Only weeks after World War II ended, oil workers threatened to go on strike. So, Truman signed an executive order that gave the Secretary of the Navy the power to seize control of and operate a list of petroleum refineries and transportation companies. The strike threat soon eased, and oil workers reached an agreement with the administration, but the move caused Truman to lose some valuable labor union support. Truman didn't stop interceding: later on, he got involved in railway and steel industry disputes. [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, tell us what you think about Cadillac's effort to become the best-selling luxury brand in the U.S. Can they push past BMW, Mercedes and Audi? Or would Cadillac be better to prove ATS is a hit first and creep up on its rivals? Who do you think is the best mass-market luxury brand (we realize that's an oxymoron, but you know what we mean). Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.