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: The Tesla Problem
Right now, our biggest issue with Tesla is that we write about them so damn much these days we're running out of AP and Getty photos of the cars or of Elon so… we need to get on that. In the meantime, here's a 13-year-old photo of Musk with Peter Thiel. Sure, I could have used any one of the many photos of him with a beautiful woman around his neck, but now that he's a leading CEO he gets the same treatment Carlos Ghosn gets.
There are two key bits of news that are interesting this morning:
First, the stock edged above $100 in early hours trading as people keep betting on the company. Great for them. Elon Musk stuck to his vision, rode out the waves of doubt from nearly everyone (including us), and is enjoying the benefits.
Second, we've got better parameters for the affordable car Musk desires to build from the AP.
“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people,” he said. “And you have the Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car. I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”
That is exactly the right attitude and I'm excited to see how the hell he's going to pull it off.
Nicer than a Leaf, cheaper than a Model S, the company can't be sold (as many think is inevitable) until that gets done.
2nd Gear: F-150 EcoBoost Engines Like A Rock?
The Feds are looking into Ford F-150s with the V6 EcoBoost engines after reports of power loss.
NHTSA says there are around 400,000 trucks with that engine and it's had 95 reports of the EcoBoost V6s dropping power, often in rainy or humid weather, under hard acceleration.
Ford apparently told its dealers how to repair the problem but hasn't shared the knowledge with customers.
3rd Gear: OnStar In The Money
OnStar is working out for GM, making big profits (a margin of 30% to 35%) on revenues of around $1.5 billion a year. Understandably, as Automotive News reports, GM is looking at a way to expand those revenues.
We've already reported that GM wants to make money with AT&T 4G and now that they'll have that connection they want to see how else they can make money from it.
The big challenge is reportedly dealing with the "two bills problem," i.e. paying your AT&T bill and paying an OnStar bill. One way they may solve this is combining the data plan with existing cell phone bills.
4th Gear: Speaking of Infotainment...
Chrysler's Uconnect system is simpler in many ways than the SYNC and UVO systems offered by Ford and Kia and powered by Microsoft. I personally like Uconnect a lot because of its simplicity.
Now it's being reported that Microsoft is looking to use a Windows-based system for the Fiat 500L in Europe and some Ram products.
It'll be called UConnect 5.0 and, while it'll retain some of the simplicity, it'll allow for better connections to tablets and smartphones as well as run more applications. Just don't make it too complicated.
5th Gear: German Workers Get A Pay Raise
VW's profits may be done, but the AP has some good news for workers in the IG Metall union — i.e. German factory workers — who will get a 3.4% raise in September and a 2.2$ raise next July.
This impacts about 100,000 workers in six German automotive plants. Now they, too, can afford more of the cars they build.
Hopefully, they'll be happier when they build your Audi.
Reverse: Happy Creepy Birthday
On this day in 1937, the government of Germany—then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party—forms a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed simply Volkswagenwerk, or "The People's Car Company."
Neutral: At What Price Would You Buy A Tesla? Right now I'd probably get a Fiat 500E on a lease because it's so, so cheap (and attractive). If I could afford a Tesla, though, I'd totally jump on that. It's a great drive. What's that sweet spot, though, where a car is not quite as nice/fast as a Tesla but cheap enough?
Photo Credit: Getty Images