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: Ford Needs Mulally To Decide, Like Now
Ford is freaking out. They thought the rumors of CEO Alan Mulally heading to Microsoft were over, but apparently he's still in contention for the job and hasn't fully committed to Ford. Insiders aren't happy, and Ford's board is expected to apply pressure to Mulally as soon as today to decide on his next step.
And when I say freaking out, I'm not exaggerating. Take this quote from an unnamed source as an example:
It's drowning out the rest of the story. People don't write about Mustang, they don't write about earnings, they write about Mulally.
Really? People aren't writing about the Mustang? This is a person that must not have gone on the internet at any point in the last few weeks, since that's the only thing people were writing about. Hell, I'm pretty sure the 2015 Mustang was on the cover of Vogue, Popular Science, and Fly Fishing Quarterly.
As of right now, Mulally is supposed to be with the Dearborn-based automaker until the end of 2014, but there is a solid chance that, Microsoft or not, he'll leave before that tenure is over. Look for COO Mark Fields to step up and take over the company.
2nd Gear: Peugeot Drops $1.5 Billion
Peugeot is having a bit of a rough go at the moment, and today they announced that they will be writing down the value of their car business by a staggering $1.5 billion. They also announced that they won't be seeing the expected savings from their partnership with GM.
Peugeot expected to see around $2 billion by 2018 from their GM partnership, but that estimate has been lowered to $1.2 billion now. Hopefully exchange rates and other factors start turning in Peugeot's favor soon.
3rd Gear: GM Doesn't Owe Retiree Benefits
In a big defeat for the UAW, a judge has ruled that GM doesn't owe $450 million in retiree benefits.
The reasoning? The current GM isn't obligated to make the payment, as it came from before GM's bankruptcy declaration. The UAW thought that it was owed, but obviously that isn't the case of the wording of the contract.
So, no legal obligation, but as the judge said, the moral obligation is a different story.
4th Gear: Bentley Is Back On Track
Bentley's big Continental GT GT3 racer is making it's debut on track at the Gulf 12 Hours this week, but it's also expected to be on track here in the USA in our new United Sports Cars Championship or Pirelli World Challenge as soon as 2014.
Right now, a number of teams are speaking to Bentley about running the car, but there is no plan for a de facto works team. At least not right now.
5th Gear: That Mary Barra Buzz
Mary Barra went from someone that a few people have heard of to someone everyone has heard of in a matter of hours when she was promoted to the CEO of General Motors. She's now one of the top Google searches, and GM even believes the news of her promotion reached twice as many people as the debut of the new Corvette in January.
She gained oodles of Twitter followers, but this is indeed my favorite thing that happened:
The National Italian American Foundation even called GM to ask if Barra has any Italian ancestry. They were disappointed to hear she does not.
On this day in 2000, General Motors declares that it will begin to phase out the 103-year-old Oldsmobile, the oldest automotive brand in the United States. Oldsmobile had once been one of the most venerable and innovative American brands—Olds cars were the first to have decorative chrome trim, for example, and the first to have fully automatic transmissions—but a GM reorganization in the mid-1980s had drained the brand of most of its unique identity.
What do you think? Does Mulally head to Microsoft? Stay at Ford? Retire?