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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: No More GM-Peeking For Treasury
The Detroit Free Press reports that the deal between General Motors and the Treasury Department means Treasury no longer has the right to look at GM's financial information. According to the company's previous agreement with Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), government inspectors had the power to "visit and inspect any of its properties and examine and make abstracts from any of its books and records … as often as may reasonably be desired." It might seem logical, since GM got approximately $50 billion in taxpayer money. But financials are one of those treasured possessions at any corporation that very few people from the outside get to see, except for quarterly and annual statements.
Although GM execs can now ride corporate jets again, they aren't going to see big raises any time soon. Since Treasury still holds 300 million shares, GM is still subject to restrictions on corporate pay. They'll stay in place until Treasury unloads all its stock, which will happen by 2015. GM has complained that the pay restrictions keep it from offering competitive compensation for executive talent. On the other hand, you have to love the auto industry to work in it, and money can't buy that kind of love. Right?
2nd Gear: GM Pickup Owners Could Get a Surprise
In other GM news,Reuters reports that GM is recalling 145,628 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups because the hoods could fly up unexpectedly. Most of the trucks are in the U.S., although some made their way to Canada and Mexico. The trucks, from the 2010 to 2012 model year, are missing a secondary latch. If the primary latch comes unlatched, the hood could fly up and basically keep the driver from seeing the road, which might cause the truck to crash into something. GM says it doesn't know of any accidents or injuries, and has found four instances of the missing latches. The company is going to ask owners to check the hood or take the truck to a dealer. If the latch is missing, GM will install a new hood. Dealers were notified this week and the installations will start in mid-January.
3rd Gear: Toyota Plans To Show Off A Safety Car
Toyota says it's going to show this Robo-cop looking thing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. It's officially an "advanced active safety vehicle" and it's meant to "explore the use of autonomous technologies and high-level driver assistance systems related to TMC's Integrated Safety Management Concept." It sounds almost like a driverless car, huh? Lexus general manager Mark Templin is also going to talk about the current state of TMC's Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) research and development, which includes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technology." Translated, those are cars that talk to each other, and vehicles that talk to devices on city streets that can control street lights and traffic flow.
4th Gear: Raptors, Raptors Everywhere
Still haven't decided on a Christmas gift for the special gearhead in your life? Ford says sales of Traxxas Ford Raptor R/C trucks have been strong, as well as for the Ford Raptor Power Wheels Ride-On, and other Raptor-licensed good. It already looks like a giant toy, so it's sort of fitting. Halo vehicles don't always make huge profits for the automakers who produce them in a direct manor, but instead create the "halo" effect that brings people into showrooms so they walk out with a regular F-150. In this case, Raptor sales are up 40% year-over-year (Nov. '12), giving them a halo model that also sells.
5th Gear: Headed Off To Class
This is my last TMS. I'm headed to Central Michigan University in January as a Reynolds Visiting Business Journalism Professor. I'm teaching two classes, one on the fundamentals of business journalism (the stuff I've been explaining here) and another on journalism entrepreneurship, where one of my students will hopefully invent the next Jalopnik. I won't disappear completely, since I'm planning to write occasionally for Jalopnik in the new year. Thanks to Ray Wert for recruiting me, Matt Hardigree for helping me figure out how this place works, and you Jalops for the lively chats we've had this year. It's been fun finding ways to work "fiery death" and "beigekrieg" into gears, and to indulge my love of World War I history in Reverse. Promise me you'll keep Matt and the gang on their toes. Fire up, Chips!
(Micki has been an amazing asset, both as editor of TMS and with assistance behind-the-scenes on a number of big stories. What we're going to do with TMS in 2013 is up for discussion, so please let us know your thoughts in Kinja — Matt H.)
Reverse: Terror In The Skies Over Scotland
On this day in 1989, an aviation disaster took place that still sends chills through your veins: Lockerbie. Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York exploded, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground. The bomb was hidden in an audio cassette player in a suitcase in the cargo hold. The attack was believed to be in retaliation for the 1986 air strikes against Libya, which later admitted responsibility for the attack. Pan Am stayed in business three years after the attack, but Lockerbie essentially put it out of existence. [History]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, since I'm headed off to class, tell us your travel plans for the holidays. Are you driving? Flying? Anybody stuck in the big snow storm? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.
Got tips for our editors? Want to anonymously dish some dirt on a competitor? Know something about a secret car? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.