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: Seriously, The First Datsun Is The Datsun Go
The much-anticipated first car from the reboot Datsun is the Datsun Go, launched today in New Delhi.
After success with Dacia in Europe, Nissan-Renault seems to have realized that a new brand for emerging markets isn't a bad way to make a little extra change. Thus the reborn Datsun.
The first product, the Go, is a small five-door hatch with a 1.2-liter engine and a five-speed manual. Really, who needs anything more?
Each car will be individually developed for, and largely produced in, its own market. India is first with the sub-$7,000 car, but the brand will soon spread to Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and other places where people suddenly have the money to buy a car.
More local coverage from Motorbeam, who is there and provided the topshot.
Granted, VW still makes a ton of money, and sales in 2012 jumped by 35% to 438,133 vehicles, but you have to keep growing if you want to basically double your sales. As much as I'd like to believe we were right, and you can't de-content your way to growth by making bigger and less interesting products, it's actually a decent strategy.
What VW is missing is just a larger lineup of slightly duller-than-past vehicles, like a mid-size SUV, to compete with the competition. And as long as they're building diesels I guess we shouldn't complain too much.
3rd Gear: Winter Is Coming For Europe
Per The Wall Street Journal, as if it wasn't already shitty enough in Europe, both Dieter Zetsche from Daimler and a bunch of folks from Renault and VW, are all saying that Europe's slump is probably going to stick around for a while.
Sales in the U.S. are "great" of course, but China is more challenging, France is contract, and a good year for Europe will be a sales fall of "only 5%."
And if things weren't bad enough, the White Walkers are coming but they all ride horses and refuse to buy new cars.
4th Gear: NHTSA Will Totally Make People Recall Things
Alas, Automotive News says NHTSA chief David Strickland says he'll keep pushing car companies over recalls and not just over non-compliance, over not being up-to-date.
"It really is based on the notion of unreasonable risk. And that is an evolving notion," Strickland said. The agency, he added, is obligated to reassess a potential risk "if state of the art moves all the peers in one direction, and it appears that there is another part of the fleet that has not made those same moves or improvements."
NHTSA is now studying the trailer hitch remedy to see if it actually remedies anything, if not they could force Jeep to make other fixes, though I'd be surprised if they did.
5th Gear: Oh Elio
We're still not sure what to think about Elio Motors. The Shreverport-based company says it's going to make a tiny car and has agreed to purchase a 1.8-million-sf former GM plant. But… we're still not sure.
While the idea of a $6,800 tandem-seating car that gets 84 MPG seems like a plausible idea. The buy-more-expensive-gas-get-the-car-for-free plan is also interesting. But parts of it just sound odd. You should read the full interview over on The Detroit Free Press, but here's the nut (or rather, the nutty part):
Q: Do you have any volume predictions?
A: Our target volume is 250,000 annually. We’ll be at that rate during the first year.
Q: How will you distribute and sell the car ?
A: We’re going to reveal that in 90 days.
Hey, if it works, mazel tov. I know I'm anxious to drive one.
Reverse: It Starts With One Order
On this day in 1903, the newly formed Ford Motor Company takes its first order from Chicago dentist Ernst Pfenning: an $850 two-cylinder Model A automobile with a tonneau (or backseat). The car, produced at Ford's plant on Mack Street (now Mack Avenue) in Detroit, was delivered to Dr. Pfenning just over a week later.
Neutral: VW What do you think? Can they beige their way into more sales? Are we being too harsh?
Photo Credit: Getty Images