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 parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Mark Reuss Says Chevy Needs A Cheap RWD Car
See, I told you this Mark Reuss was good people. The current head of GM North America told the folks at Automotive News that "a really nice, light, rear-drive car that's inexpensive — we know that rings a bell. That'd be a huge win for us if we had that."
The Chevy Code 130R was apparently a hint at that but that's not what it'll look like (Yipee!).
Sadly, he said they wouldn't do it on the fantastic Alpha platform, but on something "really scaleable and efficient." Like something that could underpin an El Camino?
He didn't explicitly say "we'd build something to compete with the BRZ/FR-S" but, c'mon, that's what we're all thinking.
2nd Gear: The Japanese Are Losing Their Midsize Edge
Yes, the Japanese are losing their Mid-size edge They're losing their edge. The Fusions are coming up from behind. They're losing their edge. They're losing their edge to the cars from Michigan and from Korea But they were there
They were there in 1998 They were there at the Detroit Auto Show They're losing their edge They're losing their edge, to the cars whose infotainment systems they hear when they park at the mall
I hear you fired your designers and hired Germans because you want to make a real car… a Kia.
But they were there.
3rd Gear: Volkswagen Just Built Their Millionth Scirocco
Volkswagen doesn't sell the new Scirocco here, which is a shame because it's quite an attractive vehicle. You can essentially buy one because it's basically a Volkswagen GTI, but still.
In honor of the one millionth Scirocco built (the 204,350th new one) they're offering the Scirocco Million with R-Line bumpers, side sills, smoked taillights, stickers on the wing, and other little details.
What's most notable is where they're selling it: Germany and… China.
Yep, that happened.
4th Gear: LG Chem To Actually Do Something
The other day I was hearing from another auto journo about the LG Chem plant in Michigan which was built, at great expense and with $150 million in stimulus money, and barely used. LG Chem sent some of the money back since it was found not to be shipping production from South Korea to the U.S. as promised.
That's bad, especially since the President went to the groundbreaking. Don't make the President look bad, that's his job...
Now the plant is finally going into use according to the AP, who report it'll start building batteries for the Chevy Volt.
5th Gear: Damn Europe
You know that scene in Austin Powers when the security guard stands in front of Mike Meyers' slow-moving steam roller and doesn't move away? Sometimes, Europe may seem that way for American automakers.
They keep losing money there but they can't get out of the way.
Karl Henkel takes a broad look at the issue today and it's definitely worth a read. Here's a key part:
The sharp downshift in the European auto industry is a combination of a sovereign debt crisis, plunging consumer confidence and production overcapacity. The industry is running at about 60 percent capacity, according to some estimates, when at least 75 percent is needed for profitability. European auto factories can produce 17 million vehicles annually, but this year's sales pace is about 12 million.
Reverse: Ye Olde NASCAR Winner
On this day in 1991, 51-year-old race car driver Harry Gant racks up his 12th National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup career victory in the Winston 500 in Talladega, Alabama. In doing so, Gant bettered his own record as the oldest man ever to win a NASCAR event.
Neutral: What Should GM Do To Make Their RWD Car A Hit? Copy the BRZ? Give it more power? El Camino?
Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP