This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 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 Case Against Ethanol
The pro-Ethanol lobby seems to be stronger than the anti-Ethanol lobby, which seems to be made up largely of car companies — who don't love the idea of people shoving E10 (i.e. fuel made with 10% ethanol) down their fuel holes, and loathe the idea of what havoc E15 might bring.
We know this, because the EPA approved E15 for use in vehicles newer than 2001 and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers couldn't stop it. Here's what they told David Shepardson:
The government rushed to approve the fuel, she said: "EPA approved an E15 waiver before sufficient testing was completed to gauge the cumulative effects of this more corrosive fuel. Ethanol can permeate and degrade rubber, plastic, metal and other materials in vehicles not designed to handle it."
So far, he reports, only Ford, GM, and VW have approved E15 for use across their newer cars. Chrysler and other car companies warn E15 use could lead to voided warranties.
The AP goes even further to point out the potential environmental impact:
Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can't survive.
The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. But the Obama administration stands by it, highlighting its benefits to the farming industry rather than any negative impact.
Bottom line: Know what you're putting in your tank.
2nd Gear: Diesels Are Pretty Cool Though
In the battle of plug-in versus pour-in, there's been a nice move towards pour-in with California and others considering a move towards leveling the playing field for all sorts of alternative fuels.
For the last decade, it's been all about the plug-in, whether electric or hybrid, with a negative view of fuel cells and a longstanding anti-diesel bias. This kind of technology-neutral view is good for more automakers and for consumer.
As Bloomberg reports, the one group tho might hurt is Tesla, who gets Zero-Emission Vehicle credits for ever Model S it gets.
If those credits can be used for the technologies, that would reduce the amount of money automakers would have to pay to Tesla.
3rd Gear: Mazda's Auto-Brake Test Brakes We've seen auto-braking tests fail before, so it's not entirely surprising that a Mazda CX-5 being test-driven at a Mazda dealership in Japan plowed into the barrier designed to show off the system for prospective buyers.
According to the Freep, the dealership employee fractured an arm and the customer suffered a neck injury.
As pointed out in the article, none of these systems are 100%, which is why tests like this maybe aren't a great idea.
4th Gear: How Does Volvo Survive?
From Automotive News comes this report about how Volvo plans to keep the company afloat with an aggressive leasing package and more marketing until they get new product.
It makes some sense given that so many luxury buyers are turning to leases and, well, because what else are they going to do?
"New cars are coming! New cars are coming!" Volvo may exclaim, but they ain't here yet.
5th Gear: The Supply Problem
There's a fairly sober look, via Bloomberg, from the suburban Detroit consulting firm Harbour Results out this week that says automakers may be grossly overestimating how easy it will be to produce new vehicles.
Every unique car program needs as many as 3,000 new tools the reports says, and with North American automakers putting out 42 new models next year and 112 more over the next four years there may be supply chain issues.
We're already seeing cars like the Fusion held up by production delays, now imagine every car company having to contend with massive delays. If you're an auto exec, I hope you'll read the whole story.
Reverse: My Third Favorite Bond Film
On this day in 1965, brothers Bill and Bob Summers set a world land-speed record—409.277 miles per hour—on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. They did it in an amazing, hemi-powered hot rod they called the Goldenrod. (The car got its name from the '57 Chevy gold paint the brothers used.) Today, the Goldenrod is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Neutral: Fuel cells, workable in an auto application? Will we see hydrogen fuel cells in mainstream cars, or is this just a pipe dream?
Photo Credit: Getty Images