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: Toyota First Knew Of Smoking Switches In 2008
Bloomberg reports that Toyota, which recalled 7.4 million cars this week for a problem that could lead to fires, first learned of smoking window switches four years ago. The company received its initial report of an "abnormal smell" and thermal damage from the United States, Toyota said in a report posted on the Transportation Department's web site. Bloomberg says Toyota sent the part to its supplier to investigate and no "root cause" was found. No other problems with the switch were reported until May 2010, when the company said it began sporadically receiving information about an abnormal smell or smoke coming from driver's side doors, according to the report.
"There was really no trend early on and it took considerable time to diagnose what seemed to be an isolated problem and how it was occurring," John Hanson, a U.S.-based spokesman for Toyota, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. Also, when the second series of reports came in, Toyota was still reeling from a huge wave of more than 10 million recalls worldwide of sticking accelerator pedals. We know Toyota didn't give Americans the authority to deal with the earlier set of defects. However, this recall took place after Toyota had pledged to move faster to address problems on its vehicles. Toyota and the government clearly disagreed over whether action was needed in the smoking switches.
2nd Gear: Secret Service Bust The Guy Who Took Joe Biden's Truck
The Detroit News reports the Secret Service has tracked down and arrested the guy who stole a truck full of equipment for Vice President Joe Biden's speech on Labor Day in Detroit. The arrest of Charles Rumbley came to light before last night's debate between Biden and GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Rumbley, 45, was charged in federal court with stealing federal property, a felony potentially carrying a 10-year sentence. Rumbley allegedly stole the U-Haul truck with $150,000 of metal detectors outside the Westin Book Cadillac hotel. Police recovered the truck the next day in an apartment parking lot near Henry Ford Hospital.
3rd Gear: Want David Cameron's Vintage Fiat?
The Telegraph says British prime minister David Cameron is selling his vintage Fiat 500L:. The fully restored, 1971 car is going up for auction at the Footman James Classic Motor Show on Nov. 17. It's estimated to have an auction price between $13,000 and $19,000. Cameron bought it in 1998 as a surprise birthday present for his wife Samantha. The Camerons put only about 1,000 miles on the little Fiat in the 10 years that they owned it. The car comes with supporting paperwork confirming it was the prime minister's car, including a signed letter from him on House of Commons stationery.
4th Gear: Why Is Ford Dragging Its Heels On Succession?
Bloomberg says Ford's board discussed a succession plan for CEO Alan Mulally yesterday, but ended its meeting without taking any action. Last month, it looked like Mark Fields was about to be promoted to chief operating officer, which would make him the clear successor to Mulally. And it still could happen. But Mulally has made it clear he doesn't want to leave yet, and his public plea to stay may have put the brakes on what seemed to be a sure thing for Fields. Analyst Adam Jonas at Morgan Stanley says the uncertainty isn't helping the company. He says investors are worried about whether Mulally's cultural and operational changes at Ford will be carried on by his successor.
Mulally is 67, and looks like he's in good health, plus he only got to Detroit in 2006. So, unless he's struck by lightning or gets sick unexpectedly, there probably isn't any need to rush. Ford has its hands full with a turnaround for Europe, and it may be on the verge of getting passed for second place in the U.S. by Toyota (assuming the fresh recalls don't hurt Toyota sales). So, there's plenty for Mulally to do. One thing is certain: if the Ford family is happy with Mulally, he'll be around as long as he wants to be.
5th Gear: Tigers Move To The Next Round
If you're bleary eyed this morning after watching baseball last night, at least it was for a good cause. Justin Verlander threw a complete game and the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 6-0 to move in to the American League Championship Series. They'll play either Baltimore or New York.
Reverse: Rocky Mountain High No More
On this day in 1997, John Denver died when his experimental amateur aircraft plunged into Monterey Bay on the California coast. Of course, he's known best for songs like "Rocky Mountain High" and "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" but he also had flying in his blood. He had more than 2,700 hours on single-and multi-engine aircraft, and was rated to fly a Lear jet. However, he wasn't familiar with the Long-EZ that he was flying over the Pacific, and the accident cost him his life. [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're going to give the floor to you baseball fans, since it's all anybody in Detroit is talking about today. How do you feel about the Tigers' World Series chances? What would it mean for Detroit? Was Prince Fielder worth it? Should Miggy be the MVP? How about Jim Leyland coming back? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.