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This is the Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important β€” all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: Is Saab's Sob Story Finally Over?
Reuters and Automotive News are reporting Saab's owner Swedish Automobile now has a deal with China's Pang Da Automobile and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus for a possible takeover of the struggling-for-seemingly-seven-seasons Swedish automaker. The news marks the latest twist in a long campaign to keep Saab afloat and comes on the same day a court could decide to remove the automaker's bankruptcy protection. So our only question is β€” is this actually happening, or just a bargaining tactic with the court? Who knows. All I know is Saab employees aren't getting paid right now β€” and that's no good thing.


2nd Gear: Welcome To The 2012 Ferrari California... Such A Lovely Place
Ferrari is updating the California coupe-convertible for 2012, CAR is reporting this morning. According to dealer updates provided to prospective owners, the new 2012 California will be more powerful, lighter and with a smattering of new tech to give it a second wind. The new-for-2012 Ferrari California will start production in January 2012. What they're being told is that the direct-injection 4.3-liter V8 has been upgraded with an extra 30 horsepower, taking the total to a pretty serious sounding 483 hp. Torque swells, too, up to 373 lb ft. They're even told it'll be a touch lighter. Not too shabby there, Ferrari.


3rd Gear: Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dismissed Over "Significant Wrongdoing"
On yesterday's conference call with investors and analysts, Daimler's Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber said the automaker dismissed Ernst Lieb, the head of Mercedes-Benz's U.S. operation, for what was termed "significant wrongdoing" unrelated to operations of the unit. Uebber didn't provide any other answers to questions for more specifics. But we all know the real reason, don't we?


4th Gear: Audi Celebrates 10,000,000 Midsize Sedans Built
Audi celebrated a middling anniversary earlier this month when the ten millionth midsize Audi rolled off the assembly line: a Misano Red Audi S4 with a black and alabaster-white interior and a V6 engine generating 245 kW (333 hp) of output. It's been a long time coming since the very first Audi 80 was launched in 1972. Four generations of the Audi 80 had been produced by 1994-95, when it was replaced by the Audi A4 β€” which itself is in its fourth generation. The five millionth Audi A4 left the factory in March 2011.


5th Gear: Hertz Kills Dollar Thrifty Offer
According to Bloomberg, Hertz has withdrawn its $1.94 billion offer to buy Dollar Thrifty after almost 18 months of intermittently trying to acquire the smaller car-rental company and being rejected. Hertz cited market conditions and a share-buyback program at Dollar Thrifty for pulling the bid today and said it will continue to pursue U.S. Federal Trade Commission approval to buy the company. Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Dollar Thrifty slid 0.4% to $61.39 at the close in New York. Park Ridge, New Jersey-based Hertz gained 7.8% to $11.87. Obviously the market thought the idea sucked pretty badly too.


6th Gear: Chrysler Saves Fiat Again
Reuters reports that Fiat-Chrysler's third-quarter profit was well above forecasts at 851 million euros β€” up 67%. And again, U.S. automaker Chrysler contributed as much as two-thirds of it. However, while the profits were good, the combined group's net debt rose to 5.8 billion euros ($8.2 billion), compared with an analyst consensus forecast distributed by Fiat of 4.1 billion euros. Fiat said in a statement that it was firming up its trading profit target for the full year to more than 2.1 billion euros from around 2.1 billion euros previously. All other targets for the year were confirmed, including revenues in excess of 58 billion euros and net debt of between 5 and 5.5 billion euros.


⏎ Ahead of SEMA, Ford Stamps a New '65 Mustang Convertible. [New York Times]

⏎ Ford makes $200 million pension contribution. [Automotive News]

⏎ Daimler, VW Uphold Forecasts. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ Auto parts maker Dana Holding reports record 3Q profit on strong sales. [AP via Washington Post]


⏎ Auto Industry Market Leaders Validate Car Sharing. [Huffington Post]

⏎ Ally Financial accuses ex-employee, Jeffrey Dowd, of taking proprietary information. [Automotive News]

Today in Automotive History:

On this day, Duluth, Minnesota mayor Gary Doty cuts the ribbon at the mouth of the brand-new, 1,480-foot–long Leif Erickson Tunnel on Interstate 35. With the opening of the tunnel, that highway-which stretches 1,593 miles, from Mexico all the way to Canada-was finished at last. As a result, the federal government announced, the Interstate Highway System itself was 99.7 percent complete. [History]


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