This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. 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: But Not NHTSA, No, Not Us At All

The Senate has a pretty big hard on for giving NHTSA the power to beat the shit out of automakers with something a little tougher than the bag of cotton balls they had before. Seriously, the biggest fine they could levy was equivalent to what a major automaker spends on muffins in a month.

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As such, NHTSA's deputy administrator is going before the a Senate panel to talk about how much GM sucked and how they need more power.

Per Reuters:

In his most pointed comments to date about GM's lapses, David Friedman, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the automaker put its own reputation ahead of the safety of its customers.

"GM very clearly made some incredibly poor decisions when it came to their culture," Friedman said in an interview Monday. "They were more worried about us (NHTSA) getting information about problems than they were about actually fixing problems."

Good stuff, although it sort of feels like a deflections from this report about how terrible NHTSA was. More on that soon.

2nd Gear: Opel Next Automaker To Cut And Run In Russia

As the west continues to strangle Russia's economy in response to Vladimir Putin's ongoing quest to free people who didn't even know they weren't free, the car market there continues it's freefall.

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Joining Volkswagen in making cuts there is GM's Opel division, who is now down to one shift and offering buyouts to approximately 500 employees.

The overall Russian car market fell about 12% year-over-year.

3rd Gear: Industrial Output In The U.S. Is Essentially Car Output

If you want to know why everyone was so desperate to save the automotive industry in America, just look at how overall "industrial production" in the U.S. fell 0.1% in August as a result of carmakers balancing their output.

That being said, everything is relatively healthy.

From Businessweek:

“The story is mostly one of a big jump in auto production in July which was reversed in August, so we should look at the two months together,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York and the only economist surveyed to correctly forecast the drop in factory output.

[...]

Looking past the ups and downs, “you have modest growth in manufacturing,” said Feroli. “Demand is fairly well balanced between consumer spending and business investment.”

So the world isn't going to end, sorry ZeroHedge.

4th Gear: ZF To Buy TWR For $12.4 Billion

ZF has built some of the best transmissions we've driven in the last few years and has, predictably, turned all that progress and money into making a megaconglomerate by purchasing TRW Automotive for $12.4 billion — or one for every gear in their next transmission.

ZF is primarily a transmission maker whereas TRW is involved in all sorts of other car parts such as airbags, brakes, and electronics. Therefore, it's unlikely there will be a ton of job cuts.

5th Gear: The Internet Of Asphalt

I don't have a lot on this gear from The Wall Street Journal other than a discussion of this term:

Their vision of the

Internet of asphalt

is one that executives from telecommunications, big data, automated toll taking, digital chip-making and of course, automobiles are eager to bring to life. The bug on the windshield is figuring out who will make money and how from these.

For auto makers, the push for "connected cars" and "intelligent highways"—the umbrella terms for the idea of linking increasingly intelligent cars to the mobile web and each other using a robust form of Wi-Fi and wireless telecommunications networks—is part of a broader strategy to evolve from grease to gigabytes.

Hmm...

Reverse: $2,000 reasonably well spent

On September 16, 1908, Buick Motor Company head William Crapo Durant spends $2,000 to incorporate General Motors in New Jersey. Durant, a high-school dropout, had made his fortune building horse-drawn carriages, and in fact he hated cars—he thought they were noisy, smelly, and dangerous. Nevertheless, the giant company he built would dominate the American auto industry for decades.[HISTORY]

Neutral: Do We Like "Internet of Asphalt" Or are we all sick of this "Internet of Things" thinking?

Photo Credit: Getty Images