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: Old Dudes With Old Dude Boners Keeping Alfa Alive
As far as brands go, Alfa Romeo has a lot of cachet and it's only that cachet that's kept it from death. Any other reasonable person would have Pontiac'd that shit into oblivion, but old men love Alfas and associate it at a time when they could still get erections without pharmaceutical assistance. That's it.
This Bloomberg says as much, or as much as you can get away with saying that for a major publication that doesn't get its name from a combination of "Jalopy" and "Beatnik."
Ever since Sergio Marchionne snuck in to see the "The Graduate" as an underage teen in the 1960s, he's had a soft spot for Alfa Romeo, the maker of the Spider Duetto convertible Dustin Hoffman's character drove in the film.
Four decades later, Marchionne is the CEO of Alfa Romeo's parent Fiat S.p.A. and wants to return the struggling brand to its former glory. To pull it off, he needs cash from Fiat-controlled Chrysler Group LLC. The problem is he hasn't found a way to get it, as a union trust that owns the remaining shares holds out for at least $1 billion more than the CEO wants to pay.
Unlocking Chrysler's $12 billion piggy bank is about more than just refreshing Alfa Romeo and fulfilling the dreams of a "young idiot," as Marchionne, 61, called himself as a teenager in Canada. Fiat's ability to recover from losses in Europe depends on combining with Chrysler and accessing the American company's resources to fund long-delayed new vehicles and stop a downward spiral in its home region.
Oh Marchionne. He's like a progressive president who has big aims that are almost completely limited by perpetual crisis.
That's ok, though, because another old man is happy to get it on with Alfa.
"Marchionne does things well at Chrysler and badly at Fiat," Volkswagen AG Chairman Ferdinand Piech told Bloomberg News during an event in Vienna this month. Based on its current performance, Fiat "isn't capable of surviving" on its own, said the executive, who has publicly sparred with Marchionne and has expressed interest in taking over Alfa Romeo in the past.
Ultimately, this is good for enthusiasts and, maybe, good for shareholders if it actually works.
2nd Gear: Automakers Would Love To Reach Out To Minorities
With a little extra change jangling around in their pockets, automakers anxious to make up market share are again spending money reaching out to 'minority' groups.
This is sensical because in many areas, the 'minority' is actually the 'majority," but it's a convenient shorthand for Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. Overall, according to this Detroit News article, that's about 24% of the market now and 28% of the market by 2018.
The biggest problem isn't advertising, which automakers have gotten better at, but dealerships. You see John Legend driving a Chevy Imapala around and think 'Hey, maybe I want an Impala,' but the white guy whose job it is to sell you the car seems nervous letting you go for a test drive and keeps asking you if you like Coolio.
3rd Gear: Dash Cams For Everyone!
Peter the Great would be so happy! GM is integrating its Russian operations into its European operations, reports Automotive News.
This is actually more a functional change than some huge sweeping belief that Russia is European, and a recognition that Russia is going to be the hottest market in Europe soon enough.
It'll also help GM Europe look better since they actually, you know, make money there.
4th Gear: I Don't Know If You Know What That Word Means
So, yeah, there's a lot going on here with this paint from MINI for the Countryman and Paceman varieties in Europe. It's called "Frozen Black metallic" and yet it's… matte?
"this innovative paint which has a textured, shimmering matt finish, gives the car a striking and expressive appearance." Shimmering… matte (in Europe they call it matt, which is confusing).
To their credit, I can sort of see it. It's something in between matte and metallic, although calling it both matte and metallic doesn't seem right.
5th Gear: Impala And Equinox Sales Save Canadian Plant
GM's Oshawa, Ontario assembly line is going to stick around for another years as all of a sudden the company needs that capacity based on strong demand for the Chevy Equinox (really?) and Chevy Impala (makes perfect sense).
Union executives suggested that the decision could result in GM keeping production going indefinitely at the plant near Toronto, which employs about 650 people.
"By maintaining production over the next few years, we have a chance to bring in another product and keep the plant open longer," said Ron Svajlenko, president of Unifor Local 222, in a statement.
Reverse: R. Buckminster Fuller tries to patent his Dymaxion Car
On October 18, 1933, the American philosopher-inventor R. Buckminster Fuller applies for a patent for his Dymaxion Car. The Dymaxion—the word itself was another Fuller invention, a combination of "dynamic," "maximum," and "ion"—looked and drove like no vehicle anyone had ever seen. It was a three-wheeled, 20-foot-long, pod-shaped automobile that could carry 11 passengers and travel as fast as 120 miles per hour. It got 30 miles to the gallon, could U-turn in a distance equal to its length and could parallel park just by pivoting its wheels toward the curb and zipping sideways into its parking space. It was stylish, efficient and eccentric and it attracted a great deal of attention: Celebrities wanted to ride in it and rich men wanted to invest in it. But in the same month that Fuller applied for his patent, one of his prototype Dymaxions crashed, killing the driver and alarming investors so much that they withdrew their money from the project.
Neutral: Is Alfa really that valuable?
The 4C looks great and the 8C was a great, if small, experiment, but how long can nostalgia maintain a brand?
Photo Credit: Getty Images