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: Consumer Reports Lavishes Praise On Tesla
Praise does not come easy from Consumer Reports, just ask Fisker… or I guess you can't because they had to fire all of their PR staff. So it can be taken with very little salt when they say it's a 99/100.
I spoke with CR's Jake Fisher who explained to me that the car actually scored 110 out of a 100-point scale, but that because of the limitations still inherent in owning an electric car (range, access to charging) they regularly subtract about 10% from a car's score. It's still the best score they've ever given, tied only with the 2007 Lexus LS but that car, according to Fisher, isn't even in the same league as the Model S.
Having driven the car myself for about an hour I can attest to it being quick, stylish, attractive, and exciting. Should we get one to review for a long enough period to do a full review on I have no doubt it would score extremely high.
This news comes not-so-coincidentally a day after Tesla announced its first quarterly profit ever. It's a bad time to bet against them and I would not want to be holding shorts against them.
There are probably some who might believe, because of my past writings on Tesla, that I'd be disappointed in this news. Quite the opposite. We need more American carmakers and what Tesla has done is remarkable. Yes, they've taken a ton of government money and benefited from credits that basically had other automakers bankrolling the profitability of their cars, but if anything that's proof the government can, on occasion, get it right.
But what about the future? This news is a blessing for Tesla, but it's also a challenge. The expectation now is that they'll remain profitable, that they'll continue to expand, and that they can build an affordable product in mass quantities.
If they can do that without selling themselves to a larger car company (or "merging" with one) then they'll prove a lot of people wrong.
2nd Gear: More Americans Dying In Cars, The Economy Must Be Doing Better
From AOL Autos we get some disappointing news. The number of traffic deaths increased to 34,080 last year, an increase of 5.3% and the first jump in seven years.
While their are many things to look at (including an increase in distracted driving deaths), it's hard not to see the impact of an improving economy. More people are driving again, with total miles driving up 0.3% after a long period of decline or stagnation.
That may not be the only cause, of course, and the number of motorcyclists killed hit 5,000, which means they're almost 15% of all traffic deaths.
3rd Gear: Audi's Advance In America
Per The Detroit News, Audi is aggressively rolling out production in the Americas with a new plant in Mexico and the possibility for facilities elsewhere.
The plant in Mexico is producing the Audi Q5, which means the time between production and delivery will shrink to just a couple of weeks for that model.
Audi is also eyeing the Brazilian market as another area of growth. Anywhere but Europe, basically.
4th Gear: Do Pickup Drivers Want Six-Cylinder Engines?
I love a headline with no real answer, and today's Wall Street Journal article has just that.
After pointing out the relative power and torque of the new V6 engines from Ford, GM, and Chrysler, we actually get no answer from Jonathan Walsh so I'll answer for him: Yes.
Nearly everyone cares about fuel economy.
5th Gear: Ford's Fireworks Extravaganza
Which Detroit automaker would you rather work at? I'm going to say the one with freaking fireworks!.
Ford's going to spend millions of dollars co-sponsoring the massive fireworks display in Detroit formerly sponsored by Target. This year it'll be the Ford Fireworks presented by Target but, in the future, it'll just be the Ford Fireworks.
This is what all your Fiestas have wrought.
Reverse: How'd That Work Out For You?
On this day in 2008, "Speed Racer," the big-budget live-action film version of the 1960s Japanese comic book and television series "MachGoGoGo," makes its debut in U.S. movie theaters.
Neutral: A Tesla For You? Has all of this news changed (or reinforced) your beliefs on Tesla?
Photo Credit: Getty Images