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 Renault Twizy… Cargo?
There's so much important news today I thought I'd start up with, arguably, the least important. Unless it's June Fools' Day in the UK or there's a pressing need for small EVs with no range and limited cargo capacity this seems like a terrible idea.
Renault, maker of a very capable small van in the form of the Kangoo, has built an EV version of their Renault Twizy. It is cheap, at the U.S. equivalent of about $13K with their crazy tax. Here are the stats:
The rear seat is swapped for a 48 gallon boot, which isn't very big. It has 17 horsepower, which isn't very fast. And it only goes like 50 miles.
Bias check me here, would you use this? Who would use this? Bakers?
2nd Gear: Loan Alert, Loan Alert!
With loans now reaching a crazy 97 months in some cases and going to people with lower credit, we're now hearing from the AP that the rate of U.S. auto-loan payments late by 60 days or more has risen to 0.88%.
That's not great, and it's a slight uptick from the first quarter of 2012, when the economy was arguably worse.
At least the number of subprime borrowers only account for 15% of all U.S. loans, unchanged from last year. Look for DK over at TTAC to explode over this news later today.
3rd Gear: Supreme Court Dismisses Carmakers Over Ethanol
We've brought up the opposition from automakers to the U.S. ethanol lobby's push for E15 fuel (instead of E10) for cars produced after 2001.
Corn-based ethanol, and this isn't popular to say everywhere, is not a great longterm solution for our fuel problems. So it's a bummer that this current, fairly shitty Supreme Court decided that the automakers/oil industry didn't have the standing to oppose the EPA as they couldn't prove they were directly harmed by it.
Ok, fair enough. How about we get some other people to sue since we'll be harmed by it? Maybe classic car owners?
Also, it's hard to feel bad for the automakers in this because they got in bed with Big Oil to fight Big Corn and, almost no matter what happened, someone was going to get screwed.
4th Gear: Ford F-150 Now The Most 'Merican Car On The Road
After years of not being the "Most American" vehicle (losing to the Toyota Camry), the new Ford F-150 finally swaps spots with the mid-sizer Toyota in the Cars.com list.
The Michigan- or Missouri-built F-150 has a 75% domestic-sourced parts content rating and, coupled with strong sales, moved it ahead of the perennial leader Toyota Camry. This was followed by the Dodge Avenger, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Chevy Traverse.
If you looked at this list you'd be forgiven for thinking that Toyota was an American company.
5th Gear: Ford Teams With UAW To Lower Health Costs
Speaking of Ford, according to the Wall Street Journal they're working with the unions on a two-year program to cut health care costs through monitoring people with series diseases that need close treatment.
Anyone who works in healthcare knows that it's people with issues like diabetes or congestive heart failure who soak up a lot of the medical dollars (chronic illnesses account for 61% of health care costs for Ford) when they need an ER trip after not taking proper care to attend to their conditions.
According to this article, a similar move by Boeing cut costs by 17%.
Reverse: Goodbye Packard
With sales dwindling by the 1950s, Packard merged with the much larger Studebaker Corporation in the hope of cutting its production costs. The new Packard-Studebaker became the fourth largest manufacturer of cars in the nation. Studebaker was struggling as well, however, and eventually dropped all its own big cars as well as the Packard. In 1956, Packard-Studebaker's then-president, James Nance, made the decision to suspend Packard's manufacturing operations in Detroit. Though the company would continue to manufacture cars in South Bend, Indiana, until 1958, the final model produced on June 25, 1956, is considered the last true Packard.
Neutral: Do You Care How American A Car Is? Or just how cheap it is?
Photo Credit: Getty Images