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: Hot-Selling Subaru May Expand In Indiana
Bloomberg reports that Subaru is thinking about expanding its plant in Lafayette, Ind. That may mean it will build the Forester and the Impreza here. The combination of a high yen and expensive shipping costs means "it becomes more difficult with production in Japan to import those vehicles into the United States," said Tom Doll, Subaru's U.S. chief operating officer. "At some point a decision could be made to bring further production to the United States," he said, without elaborating. Subaru's plant builds the Outback, Tribeca and Legacy, as well as Camrys for Toyota, which has a stake in Subaru's parent company. Subaru sales are up 29 percent this year, and the company's sales in November rose 60 percent from 2011, according to Bloomberg. Subaru owns enough land at the Indiana site "we could probably add a second full factory," Doll said.
2nd Gear: A Streetcar Named L.A.
LA Weekly reports it looks like downtown Los Angeles will be getting a street car line, as long as it can find the funding to pay for it. A special measure seeking approval from downtown residents passed by 73 percent to 27 percent. That means the project will get $62.5 million in local funding, half what it needs. The rest will most likely come from Washington. Construction could start in 2014, and the project could create 9,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic development. L.A. hasn't had a street car system since 1963, but it once had more than 1,000 miles of track and 900 electric trolley cars.
3rd Gear: Mercedes Goes To New Orleans For Its Super Bowl Spot
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Mercedes has been spotted in the French Quarter, filming the commercial it will show during the Super Bowl. The 60-second spot will air in the fourth quarter, and will introduce the new CLA sedan. It features pop star Usher, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton and another famous face to be revealed during the commercial, which may or may not be released online before the game. Mercedes, which has the naming rights for the Superdome, has hung a billboard near the stadium that reads, "One temptation no Saint can resist. Introducing the CLA. Coming in 2013." Even though Mercedes' factory is in Vance, Alabama, the German company has made itself at home in New Orleans. It made a post-Katrina donation of $250,000, a 2010 tree-planting program for City Park and a $1.3 million donation to Laureus USA, which supports after-school sports programs in several cities, including New Orleans.
4th Gear: Mark Fields Changes Ford's Jewish History
JTA News reports on an aspect of Mark Fields' promotion at Ford that we hadn't considered. It says his appointment as chief operating officer changes the company's history. Ford has gone from a company that had a notoriously anti-semetic founder to one that may someday have a Jewish chief executive.
According to JTA, "Fields, the descendant of Russian and Romanian Jews, became a bar mitzvah at a Conservative synagogue in Paramus, N.J., and received matzoh and Chanukah candles from his parents no matter where in the world he was working for Ford." It goes on, "A graduate of Rutgers University and the Harvard Business School, where he earned a master's degree in business, Fields maintains that he has never encountered any discrimination or anti-Semitism at Ford." It might be hard to believe in our diverse world, but there was a day when Fields' promotion might have been impossible. Now, if only a woman can get to the top, too...
Set to be revealed to the public in March at the Geneva Motor Show, Audi's new überwagen is something on the top of every dad's wishlist. The Audi RS6 is, of course, officially forbidden for us Americans, but maybe not for long.
Business as usual as far as the aggressive styling goes, but what's... More »
Reverse: Montgomery Begins Its Bus Boycott
On this day in 1955, the first major civil rights movement protest began in Montgomery, Alabama, when black residents launched a bus boycott. It started five days after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, and was arrested and fined. The boycott lasted 381 days — more than a year — and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system. [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, what do you think of street cars returning to Los Angeles? What's public transportation like where you live? Do you use it or would you, if it were better? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.