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: Honda Gives A Glimpse Of An Urban Crossover
USA Today reports that Honda has shown off a sketch of what it's calling an "urban SUV crossover" which it plans to unveil in Detroit next month. It says this will be a global vehicle, with a "sporty and dynamic" SUV profile as well as a spacious interior. USA Today says it would slot in size below the CR-V in Honda's lineup in the U.S.. It's one of the new vehicles being planned off Honda's small Fit platform. As we told you Monday, the Fit and its offshoots will be built at a new factory Honda is building in Mexico. Honda is bent on hitting the sweet spot after the miss it experienced with the Civic. So, you can bet it will be watching reactions closely to this new model.
2nd Gear: What Happens Next After Right To Work
I took a look for Forbes at what happens next in Michigan, and beyond, now that Gov. Rick Snyder has signed Right to Work legislation. It was a crazy day in Lansing yesterday, where about 12,000 union members and other protestors descended on the Capitol while lawmakers considered two bills. Although they were loud, they didn't stop what was a foregone conclusion.
In Michigan, the law affecting public employee unions takes effect on March 31. After that, employees can't be required to pay union dues, even if they don't join the union. The private employee law kicks in as contracts are renewed or re-negotiated. So, for Detroit, that means the UAW will still represent workers until their agreement expires, but after that, there's no requirement that employees join and pay dues, at least that's what legal experts say. (To borrow a movie title, There Will Be Lawsuits.) The laws were written in such a way that they can't be repealed by voters, only by the Legislature. You can expect a real push by unions to elect Democrats in 2014, since that's the primary way they can expect to overturn the law.
3rd Gear: Wave Goodbye To The VW Routan
Allpar reports that Chrysler has stopped building the Volkswagen Routan, a minivan that was produced under a contract between the two auto companies. VW hasn't officially announced the end of the Routan, but it doesn't have any plans to replace it. It was once marketed as "the only minivan in America with German engineering" even though it didn't really have any. The Routan was a rebadged version of the Town and Country, with a Chrysler 3.6-liter V-8 engine, built alongside Chrysler products in Windsor, Ontario.
Consumers weren't fooled by the badge on the front, since its sales are almost a rounding error. Through November, VW has sold only 9,923 Routan this year, according to Autoevolution. It most likely will be replaced by a seven-passenger crossover that VW has in the works.
4th Gear: Will Chrysler Reopen An Indiana Plant?
The Kokomo Tribune reports on hopes in Indiana that Chrysler will reopen a factory in Tipton, perhaps in association with the production of new transmissions in nearby Kokomo. Chrysler has asked for a tax abatement at an 800,000 square foot building at the corner of U.S. 31 and Indiana 28. The building was supposed to be used for a joint venture between Chrysler and Germany's Getrag Transmission, but it never happened, and the venture shut down in 2008. Chrysler confirms it has requested the abatement, but isn't saying what it will use the building for. These days, companies often scope out the deals they can get from local officials before they commit to purchases. The Tipton County Council may examine the request at a meeting on Dec. 18.
The four-door M6 is something BMW would have kept a secret until next year, but as usual, the pictures were leaked. So here it is: your 560 hp four-door gran turismo filled with all the power and luxury you will ever need.
Naturally, it pretty much looks like a normal M6, but it's much more... More »
Reverse: Ring A Ding Ding
On this day in 1915, Francis Albert Sinatra was born. In addition to becoming the best singer of his generation, Sinatra was a car buff. He owned one of the first Ford Thunderbirds, as well as a Continental Mark II. As his career soared in the 1950s, he took home a Dual Ghia, and in the 1960s, he owned a customized Mustang. Later, of course, he owned some of the Chryslers built by the company run by his pal, Lee Iacocca, and he made commercials, too. Happy birthday, Old Blue Eyes. [Curbside Classic]
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, there have been a bunch of cars built by one company for another — Toyota for Chevrolet, Magna Steyr for a lot of players, and Chrysler for VW. Do you have a favorite contract car? Or do you think they're a bad idea? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.