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: Greg Tracy Gets The Jalopnik Bump
Yesterday, mustachioed driving hero Greg Tracy answered your questions and then… he was the fastest man up Pikes Peak in the qualifying round for the competitive Electric Division. You're welcome!
Some credit also goes to the team for making their i-MiEV Evolution II so fast as co-driver Horishi Masuoka came in second. Their times were 3:56.287 and 3:57.777, respectively. Granted, this is just a section of the track and not the entire track, but it's still impressive as they bested "Monster" Tajima and Rod Millen, both former record holders familiar with the track.
Also, just general props to Mitsubishi. They've got a long climb back here in the U.S. and our constant jokes about them probably, at some level, can be discouraging. This, we support, and this we'll give them good vibes for.
As for their cars… keep working at it. Or bring over some of your weird Japanese econoboxes.
2nd Gear: Peugeot And GM's Le Gangbang Is A Bad Idea
As we briefly mentioned yesterday, the ongoing GM/Peugeot/Opel saga is evolving as the family who owns Peugeot is willing to step aside to let GM and others take more of a role in the company. It's not a merger yet but… they're definitely trying to do more with it.
How did it come to this? The French market isn't big enough to support three automakers and the European economy sucks. Sucks so much the Chinese wouldn't even buy PSA Peugeot Citroen and the Chinese are like a teenage girl with a black card, they buy everything.
Yet, as Daniel Howes argues, there are some questionable elements to this plan.
For one, GM isn't interesting in putting a lot more cash in Europe because, also like a teenage girl with a black card, cash goes in but only debt comes out.
European governments also exercise crazy control over their automakers and you're not going to see them allowing GM to cut even more jobs than they were already planning to cut.
Either way, an air of desperation is wafting from PSA. It doesn’t have the financial muscle, doesn’t have the global footprint, doesn’t have the brand range that could enable it to weather the troughs in its bellwether European market. Worse, its options are limited by socio-political pressures that regard national automakers as jobs providers first and profit-seeking businesses second.
Here's how GM can make it work: I'll give you a $1 for it. $1. That's it.
On a side note, we're calling this "Le Gangbang" because it invokes GM/Opel/Vauxhall/Buick/Whatever all on top of poor Peugeot Citroen. Credit to Josh Petri for that suggestion.
3rd Gear: Toyota's Going To Michigan
Most of Toyota's staff will remain in their California HQ but, it seems, Toyota's CEO of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America is opening up his office in Michigan reports The Detroit News.
Why is Osamu "Simon" Nagata so gung ho about moving to Michigan? The Chinese still kind of hate the Japanese, the Japanese market is going soft, and people in America still love their Toyotas.
“It doesn’t surprise me. Michigan is still the center of gravity for the entire world when it comes to the automobile industry,” said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, who met with Nagata last week.
4th Gear: Ford Recalling 13,000 Taurus/MKS/Explorers Over Locks
In what is a minor, but troubling problem, roughly 13,000 of the Explorer/Taurus/MKS models built between November and December 2012 might have an issue with their child locks not working says the AP.
I'm not even going to make a fiery death joke because these are kids and this is just scary if you're a parent.
5th Gear: Ford Exec Says Bernanke Might Be To Blame For Slowing Sales
Per Bloomberg, Ford's Americas Prez Joe Hinrichs told reporters that the industry is slowing a bit in the last week and it could be the Fed's move to maybe sort-of slow down on its aggressive and friendly monetary policy.
I don't think many buyers are going "Boy, thanks to the Fed's signaling that they'll move away from qualitative easing I'm totally not going to buy a car right now."
Let's ignore the fact that this probably isn't in the minds of 90% of the consumer who are looking at a purchase, the two main impacts of the Fed's monetary policy on car-buying (consumer confidence and interest rates) aren't even in play yet.
Auto lending is way, way up and interest rates are still ridiculously low. On the other side of it, consumer confidence is Miley Cyrus-on-cocaine high right now.
This isn't to say that there isn't a relationship between the Fed and car buying, of course there is, but if the someone is looking at the Fed and trying to make an intelligent decision about buying a car then wouldn't they think "Boy howdy, interest rates may go up, I should probably buy a car now.
This is weird. Can someone explain what he's talking about? Did Bloomberg just hear him wrong?
Reverse: How'd That Work Out?
On June 28, 2006, Zetsche announced Smart's planned U.S. launch, declaring: "The time has never been better for this—and I am convinced that the Smart ForTwo as an innovative, ecological and agile city car will soon become just as familiar a sight on the streets of New York, Miami or Seattle, as it is today in Rome, Berlin or Paris." Between 2003 and 2006, as reported by the German newspaper Handelsblatt, DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG) had taken a loss of some 3.9 billion euros (around $5.2 billion) on the Smart brand, and the company looked to the U.S. market as a way to bring the brand into profitability. It had initially planned a 2006 release in the United States, but pushed it back; the skyrocketing price of fuel gave the company the impetus it needed to introduce the Smart, which was designed to achieve 40 plus miles per gallon under normal driving conditions.
Neutral: Does Fed Policy Guide Your Car-Buying Decisions? Prove me wrong, kids, prove me wrong.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP/Dave Phillips at My Life At Speed