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?
Matt's traveling today, so I'll be shifting your morning. I promise I'll be tender and loving, yet strong, as I satisfy your need for automotive news.
1st Gear: The Ford Everest Is An SUV Built For Off-Roading
As you know, the Australian Ford is on the way out. Not Ford Australia as a division, but their unique homegrown cars. They have one last big trick up their sleeve before they go, and it's the seven-seat Ford Everest Concept SUV that's based on the Aussie Ford Ranger small truck. You remember small trucks, yes? We used to have those.
Unlike the current crossover Explorer, the Everest is apparently designed to be a rugged, off-road capable sport utility faithful to its truck underpinnings. Wards Auto says it will be one of 11 vehicles for the Oz market from the full international Ford family. Those include the Fiesta, Focus, a Fusion-based Mondeo, and the Mustang.
Hey Ford, any chance we Americans could get the Everest or the Ranger? We'll give them good homes, we promise.
2nd Gear: The Olds Keep Buying The Cars For The Kids
This morning the Wall Street Journal has a report about a problem that has vexed Scion, Kia, Chevrolet, Honda and other automakers for years: the cars they design for the youth market keep getting scooped up by older people.
Appealing to the young has auto makers designing and marketing to the "millennial generation"—that group of consumers in their 20s and 30s whose numbers could rival the postwar baby boom that has dominated the auto market for decades.
But senior citizens are making Swiss cheese of those efforts. Several years ago, for instance, Kia targeted youthful buyers with its Soul using commercials starring break-dancing hamsters. The Soul, which offers a sound system with light-ringed speakers that pulse to the beat of the music, is now one of the top 10 cars bought by baby boomers, according to Strategic Vision, a San Diego, Calif., research firm.
"My grandchildren love the pulsing speakers," said Brian Thulson, a 53-year-old handyman who bought his Kia Soul for work and personal use.
They love the pulsing speakers! Cute. As the Journal notes as well, I think there are several reasons for this. One is there's a big difference in the financial situations of older buyers vs. younger ones. The other one is the cars themselves — can you blame buyers of any age for buying stylish, affordable, practical cars like the Fiat 500 or Kia Soul? Who wants to feel old by owning an old person's car?
3rd Gear: Chrysler May Have To Build New Plants
Some good news about Chrysler in the Detroit Free Press this morning as the company works to keep up with the strongest demand for their cars they've seen since before the recession. As such, they may have to build new plants in order to ramp up production of their cars:
Chrysler is not ruling out additional plants if North American car and truck sales continue rising, as the automaker squeezes every vehicle it can from existing capacity, its top manufacturing executive said Tuesday.
4th Gear: Toyota Exec Says Camry Will Be #1 #1 #1
A top Toyota executive told The Detroit News that they plan to make sure the Camry will remain "the nation's favorite car." Sure, it's the best selling car, but writing "nation's favorite" kills my soul just a little bit.
Senior Vice President Bob Carter tells industry analysts that it’s important to Toyota to have the nation’s favorite car.
The midsize Camry has been the top-seller for 11 straight years. Carter says Toyota intends to sell more than 400,000 this year. But the car is facing increased competition from Honda’s Accord, Ford’s Fusion and Nissan’s Altima.
And like most things that are superlatively popular in the U.S., it'll remain mediocre.
5th Gear: The King Is Dead, Long Live The GM/Ford King
Bloomberg reports we might see some turnover at the top of GM and Ford, as Ford CEO Alan Mulally, 68, and GM CEO Dan Akerson, 64, could retire soon. Who will take their places? At Ford, it could be Mark Fields, pictured above at right in this AP photo.
Ford in October promoted Mark Fields, 52, to chief operating officer, making him a leading candidate to succeed Mulally. At the same time, the company said Mulally will stay at least through 2014.
At GM, at least four executives, including North America President Mark Reuss, 49, and Mary Barra, 51, head of global product development, have been mentioned as CEO contenders. GM in April said it had restructured Akerson’s pay to reflect the possibility he’ll retire within three years.
At GM, we're obviously big fans of Mark Reuss because he's got a Lutz-ian streak, although a woman at the helm of a major car company is long overdue and Mary Barra has overseen a lot of big product for the company.
As part of a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary, a redesigned version of the Michelin Man—the corporate symbol of one of the world's largest tire manufacturers, makes an appearance at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in Monterey, California, beginning on this day in 1998.
Neutral: Would you buy the Everest?
It's like the original Explorer, only better. Just call the thing the Bronco and send it over here.
Photo Credit: Getty Images