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: The De-Buickization Of Mercedes
We saw the interior of this car yesterday, and Mercedes followed today with more news about the car's construction and promised specs (the pic up top is of an older concept and not the car).
The outgoing C Class is an underwhelming car, but like the Honda Civic it trades on a good name and could afford to slack a bit when few automakers offered a reasonable alternative. Now the 2015 Mercedes C Class has to compete with the new ATS and a reworked Q50 and an improved Lexus IS (whatever CR might say) and a still good BMW 3-series and, shit, what's that thing with the massive grille? A Hyundai! Are you shitting me?
Heres' a detailed breakdown of what's coming, and I'll focus on the most important data points:
- It's lighter: With a new structure that uses 48% aluminum, it'll drop 220 pounds and become the lightest car in the class.
- More dynamic: It'll get a new four-link front and five-link rear for "unsurpassed wheel location qualities." Always the first thing I look for.
- Air Suspension: Soft when you want it, sporty when you want it, adjustable dampers are now a must on this class of luxury cars.
- That Interior: Who needs to select gears when you can have a mouse or whatever that is.
2nd Gear: America Still Likes Boring Car Colors
PPG is out with their annual release about popular car colors and black/white/gray/silver still make up 3/4 of the total purchases, reports Karl Henkel.
If there's an upside, red and blue are up 1% each.
White: 21 percent
Black: 19 percent
Gray: 17 percent
Silver: 15 percent
Red: 11 percent
Blue: 9 percent
Natural: 6 percent
Green: 2 percent
3rd Gear: Pug + GM Doesn't Always = Success
Remember when GM and Peugeot Citroen CSA got in bed and it was going to save the French automaker from itself with platform sharing and cost savings?
Yeah, working out about as well as my plan to chaturanga dandasana my way into looking like Thor.
Peugeot Citroen said it was putting a planned joint development of vehicle platforms with GM under review, and that as a result, the $1 billion in savings that Peugeot Citroen had counted on from the alliance "may be readjusted downwards."
How much downwards is unclear, but not enough to make up for downward trending sales and revenues.
4th Gear: Ford Idles C-Max And Focus Production
After 27 months of increasing sales, a drop in September (Thanks Obama) is leading Ford to idle their C-Max/Focus plant in Wayne, Michigan says Bloomberg.
That's not so much a sign of defeat as it is Ford sticking to its plan of maintaing crazy (for an automaker) profit margins. Inventories stand at 122 days for the C-Max and 71 days for the Focus, which isn't terrible but idling plants for two weeks will help with that.
5th Gear: Why Toyota Is Still Winning
Toyota's product is still a little old and, as much as they seem to be earnestly working to improve it, they're not there yet. So how do they manage to beat everyone else? We go to this insightful Bloomberg piece for the answer.
Toyota's $37 billion cash pile and credit ratings that outrank General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) enable its Toyota Financial Services unit to offer more loans and take on riskier borrowers. The operation, with $95 billion of assets, handles more of affiliated dealers' direct loans and leases in the U.S. than any other automaker's captive lender, or wholly owned finance arm. Toyota also uses intense data systems to keep buyers from straying to GM or Ford.
There's a lot more in this article that outlines what they're doing, but the bottom line in every story you'll read today is: Press your advantage.
Ford has its profit margins, Toyota has its financing arm, and Mercedes has a lot of smart engineers.
Reverse: A Tragic Day In 1983
On this day, a suicide bomber drives a truck filled with 2,000 pounds of explosives into a U.S. Marine Corps barracks at the Beirut International Airport. The explosion killed 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. A few minutes after that bomb went off, a second bomber drove into the basement of the nearby French paratroopers' barracks, killing 58 more people. Four months after the bombing, American forces left Lebanon without retaliating.
Neutral: How Will Mercedes Compete?
The C Class is entering a suddenly competitive market, what do you think their strategy is? Do you think it'll work?
Photo Credit: Getty Images