Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

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: For Serious, Watch Your Ass

Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

Toyota was let off the hook with a $1.2 billion criminal penalty, which means the company gets to avoid a criminal court case. Still, that's a pretty steep fine and it's at least better than facing a single count of wire fraud… times EVERY SINGLE CAR involved.

David Shepardson has a nice break down of what this means for other automakers who might dare delay being upfront with the public about problems.

"GM now has a good idea of what it is going to face," said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former SEC attorney. He believes GM is certain to face a criminal probe and many tough questions in the months or years to come, and says the government could ultimately seek to impose a fine of more than $1 billion on GM.

Henning said the Justice Department is sending a message to automakers that it will use the "wire fraud" section of the law to seek big penalties against automakers that mislead the public or regulators. "They are going to have make sure that there is nothing more" and ensure that GM has handled all of its recalls appropriately.

With criminal and civil fines and settlements, the final cost to Toyota of the unintended acceleration problem is more than $3 billion.

So far, it seems like GM is following this playbook.

2nd Gear: Here Come The Lawsuits!

Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

On the civil side of the law, the GM recall now has a federal lawsuit over the ignition issue that asks for the company to be held liable for things that happened on the old GM's watch.

Why is this important? As Reuters points out, the current version of GM isn't responsible for civil legal claims for accidents that happened before 2009.

The lawsuit argues that they should be "because of the active concealment by Old GM and GM."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

3rd Gear: And Now For Something Completely Different

Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

Every Goodwood is a grand experience, but we'll be returning this year with our European correspondent to see what all the fuss is about.

One fussy highlight will be the first appearance of every Toyota Le Mans car, including the original TS010, the TS020, and the TS030.

Also on hand will be the Toyota TA64 Group B Celica, which will probably be our favorite.

4th Gear: Some Happy GM News

Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

Flint, Michigan is less a city and more a warning of how not to exist somewhat on par with Chernobyl. So I can't help but note that GM will invest $200 million in Flint to start producing new engines.

Specifically, a range of new Ecotec engines that include a 1.0-liter three-cylinder and 1.4- and 1.5-liter turbo engines.

As the Freep reports, there's no word on whether or not they'll add any jobs. Still, any non-bad news in Flint is good news.

5th Gear: BMW Is Going To Have To Sell A Lot Of iCars

Feds Tell Automaker To Watch Their Ass With $1.2 Billion Fine

In order to get a CO2 break on all of the awesome RWD cars you desperately want to own, BMW thinks it's going to be building a lot of its fuel efficient i3 and i8 models, AutoNews reports.

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said the automaker will ramp up production of 'i' models by 2018, then by 2020 "we will be forced to build them in a six digits figure to comply with stricter emission rules."

He was speaking during a presentation of the company financial results here on Wednesday.

BMW aims to cut average CO2 emissions of the vehicles it sells in Europe to 105 grams per km by 2020 from 133g/km last year. That would be half of the 1995 level of 210g/km.

Ok, lower the price of the i8 to $20K and I'm sure you can move that many.

Reverse: At least he went out on top

James Packard, co-founder of the Packard Motor Company, a pioneering American automaker, dies at the age of 64 on this day in 1928. During Packard's heyday in the 1930s, its vehicles were driven by movie stars and business titans.

[HISTORY]

Neutral: Will automakers ever learn?

Pinto, Corvair, Explorer… will automakers every be ahead of regulators and lawyers or safety issues or will they forever be reacting to massive fuckups?

Photo Credit: Getty Images