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: How Long Before We Stop Giving Ford Shit Over Lincoln? Anyone who is working to save Lincoln who hasn't thrown a chair through a window gets a prize. We shit-talk Lincoln like it's our job, mostly because we love the idea of a Lincoln that doesn't suck.
I'll give you a story to roughly outline our feelings.
I'm an Astros fan. Yes, feel sorry for me. The year after we went to the World Series and were unceremoniously destroyed by the White Sox we traded away Carlos Beltran who, honestly, is the reason why we had our best season ever (that wasn't interrupted by a strike).
Our then lame ass owner refused to cough up the money for Beltran and he went to the hated Mets (Muck the Fets!).
So, it's like June or something of the next season and I'm watching the 'Stros with a church group. And sure enough there's Carlos Beltran, clearly steeling himself for abuse.
And oh did he get it. A rather large dude took every opportunity to assail him with insults. At one point the guy makes the point that deciding to go to NYC to play baseball and ending up with the Mets was like deciding you want to go to LA to play basketball and ending up with the Clippers. He kept chanting "Clippers, Clippers, Clippers."
Probably drunk, somewhere around the 7th inning, his voice hoarse and trembling after a string of epithets he yells out the coldest, saddest, most hilarious thing I've ever heard at a baseball game.
"We loved you, you punk."
So, friends at Lincoln. Note that our abuse comes from the same place. And now onto the abuse:
Ford today unveiled a less terrible version of their Lincoln Black Label, but for Ford of Europe.
It's called "Vignale" and right now it's just a concept preview of what's to come. You'll be overpaying for a Fusion (called a Mondeo), but at least Ford is being honest about it. There's lots of explanation in this Detroit Free Press article but you get the basic idea.
Better service. Nicer chrome and shit. And you can get it in a wagon. BROWN.
2nd Gear: About Those Government Green Loans Let the debates over whether or not the ATVM "green car" loan program was great or terrible. We waded into this with an analysis of what they can do right this time.
Two senators have introduced a bill that would let companies further down the supply chain get some of the money, which seems like a great idea. Instead of taxpayer money hinging on the success of a car, it can go into technology to be used for many cars.
Of course, Republicans are against it.
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the head of the House oversight committee, who has led investigations into failures in the government's loan portfolio, said the auto loan program was a "perfect example of government waste."
"At worst, the program threw good taxpayer money after bad," the congressman said in a statement. "At best, it has risked Americans' hard earned money on projects that didn't need it or didn't truly advance vehicle technology."
In Issa's defense, it's sort of his (self-appointed) job to hate everything.
3rd Gear: Everyone Gives Up On Europe
Europe is probably the first continent to honestly reach peak car. It may be a few years before we know for sure, and a sudden technological wave (hydrogen breakthrough, autonomous cars) could easily change this, but for now Europeans aren't going to be convinced to buy more cars.
The Wall Street Journal nails it with their headline: 'Flat is the New Up' for Europe's Car Market.
That quote comes from Elmar Kades, a managing director at consultancy AlixPartners, who seems to know what he's talking about so let us all listen to him:
"Flat is the new up," said Elmar Kades, a managing director at consultancy AlixPartners. "Our forecasts show that western European car sales will be around 12 million vehicles this year and next, and will hover around that level—far from the historical high of 2007, when 16.8 million vehicles were sold," Mr. Kades said.
The decline of the car as a status symbol in Europe, the impact of the region's slack growth, lower vehicle-density in cities, and stagnant or declining populations in some countries are all weighing on demand, the industry consultants said.
"No single element is a big problem, it's the sheer sum of them that will keep market growth…flat," AlixPartners' Mr. Kades said.
4th Gear: About Those Self-Driving Cars
Don't hold your breath says the AP this morning as nothing you can dream of can overpower the stunning force that is our mixed form of federalism.
But there are still a host of issues to work through before there’s a driverless car in every driveway. State laws requiring a licensed driver at the wheel will have to change. Insurers will have to determine who’s at fault if a self-driving car crashes. And highways will need to accommodate cars with and without drivers.
We should create a tag just for autonomous car lawsuits.
5th Gear: Fleet Sales You Can Be Proud Of?
The "F-word" in Detroit over the last decade has not been "fuck" but rather "fleet." Although, some people in Detroit still use that word a lot.
Before, fleets are where automakers dumped overproduced cars for little or no profit. Now, it's where they dump somewhat popular cars for a reasonable price as Bloomberg reports. It's also a weird side effect of Cash For Clunkers and the recession:
Since so few cars were built during the recession, with demand plunging to a 27-year low in 2009, there’s a shortage of recent model-year used cars, which has sent their prices to historic highs. That’s good for resale values, also referred to by the industry as residual values, and gives automakers greater flexibility to sell some cars to fleets.
Reverse: E-Day, LOL
On September 4, 1957—"E-Day," according to its advertising campaign—the Ford Motor Company unveils the Edsel, the first new automobile brand produced by one of the Big Three car companies since 1938. (Although many people call it the "Ford Edsel," in fact Edsel was a division all its own, like Lincoln or Mercury.) Thirteen hundred independent Edsel dealers offered four models for sale: the smaller Pacer and Ranger and the larger Citation and Corsair.
Neutral: Anyone Else We're Too Hard On? We're hard on Lincoln and, often, Toyota. Anyone else we're abusing? Too much? Too little?
Photo Credit: Getty Images