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: Relax. Alan Mulally Isn't Going Anywhere
Bloomberg reports Ford CEO Alan Mulally says he has no plans to retire any time soon. You'll recall that Bloomberg and a number of news organizations reported last week that Mark Fields was about to get a promotion that could put him in position to become Mulally's successor. That hasn't happened yet, and now Mulally is trying to dampen speculation about his departure. "Please don't write me off yet," Mulally, 67, told reporters after a press conference in New York's Times Square to discuss Fusion's fuel economy. "I mean, I love it here."
i was a guest on CNBC's Power Lunch yesterday, where Mulally said much the same thing to Phil LeBeau. And Mulally certainly has a lot that he needs to address. Yesterday, Ford had the steepest decline among major car makers in European sales for August. Its Euro sales fell 29 percent, and its European share dropped to 6 percent from 7.7 percent last year. Guess who was the only company to post an increase in sales? Yup, Volkswagen. Sales by Audi, Skoda and Porsche (which VW reported for the first time in its corporate total) combined to give VW an increase for the month.
2nd Gear: Marchionne Also Wants Italy To Calm Down
Meanwhile, the Associated Press says Fiat also wants the Italian government to calm down about the carmaker's future plans. Sergio Marchionne is set to meet on Saturday with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to discuss the automaker's "strategic prospects." In an interview with the Rome newspaper La Repubblica, Marchionne said he had no plans to move Fiat from Italy - but he said he has had to review investments and slow down new car introductions, because the market is in such bad shape.
"In this dramatic situation, I have not spoken about firing, I have not proposed closing plants, and I have never said I wanted to go away," the newspaper quoted Marchionne as saying from Detroit. No, but he's freaked out a lot of people in Italy because Fiat wants to make some changes to the plan it announced two years ago. And we know Fiat is looking to see which Chrysler vehicles it can build in its Italian plants. At least that would fill up Fiat factories, where production is so slow you can drink an espresso while you wait for another car to come down the line. Of course, as with the CAW's saber rattling up in Canada, some of this is just theater, and we all know how marvelous Italy is when it comes to grand opera.
3rd Gear: Get In Line For The VW Beetle R Line
Volkswagen showed off the Beetle R concept car at Frankfurt last year, and now it's officially putting it on the market. According to Speedlux, the R Line trim package comes in 12 colors, and has a whole bunch of extras including new front bumpers with with independent black grained air inlets and chrome surrounds for the directional indicators, a diffuser at the rear, a special body side panels and door mirror housings in body color,R-Line logos on the front body beneath the A pillars and 18-inch ‘Twister' alloy wheels or machine-polished 19-inch ‘Tornado' alloy wheels.
For now, the R Line will only be available in Europe, but given VW's Beigekrieg, nobody would be surprised to see it in the U.S., especially since the Beetle is built in Puebla, Mexico. VW will show the R Line at the Paris Motor Show next week.
4th Gear: Don't You Dare Call It A Dealership
Brandchannel says luxury carmakers are trying all kinds of new concepts to sell their vehicles. Just don't call them dealerships. Although we heard a lot about BMW at the Olympics, Audi made its presence known with a digital showroom in a trailer — no cars, just digital pictures of the company's entire lineup. In Paris, BMW has set up a "BMW Brand Store" complete with a "product genius" (now, where did they get that idea?) And soon, in Thailand, Rolls-Royce is opening a boutique in the Rama 3 shopping mall. It will feature other products as well as Rolls. We didn't realize this, but Brandchannel says Rolls has 27 showrooms throughout Asia, including China.
A Bentley Continental GT will always be a fun drive, but it no longer immediately transfers class and elegance onto the driver. An Aston Martin DB9 always makes us think someone in a finely-tailored Savile Row suit is about to emerge from of the driver's seat. More »
Reverse: Marty Scorsese Loves To Film Cars
On this day in 1990, Goodfellas opened, featuring some of the best scenes involving cars of any gangster movie since the original Godfather. In Goodfellas, cars get smashed and doused with gasoline, cars get into crashes, and Ray Liotta almost goes crazy when he's trailed by a helicopter. Goodfellas also features a gorgeous one-take tracking shot that runs from the backdoor of the Copacabana nightclub, through the kitchen right to the dance floor. Marty, we think you're great.
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, what do you think of all the fancy ways that luxury carmakers are trying to sell their vehicles? If we have any Rolls owners out there, how do you feel about the shopping center approach? Does this affect the way you feel about these brands? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.