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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced pricing for the new new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, the third generation of the classic "people's car". The new Beetle will start at just $18,995 for the base model, and comes equipped with a 170-horsepower in-line five-cylinder 2.5-liter engine. The sportier model (VW actually calls it the "sportiest" model, but we're holding out hope that we'll see a quicker model than this — like an "R" model maybe?) - the 2.0-liter TSI - will have a starting MSRP of $23,395. This model uses Volkswagen's 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.

2nd Gear: Speaking of V-Dub, Volkswagen AG's Audi luxury-car division saw sales rise 19.5% in May to 113,400 vehicles, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. German sales rose 18.4% in the period, the carmaker said, and unit sales climbed 44.6% in China. "We have completed the capacity extensions to our production line in Changchun and are now able to build 300,000 cars locally there each year," Audi marketing and sales chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said.


3rd Gear: The rumor we picked up in Friday's "Morning Shift" that Mazda plans to stop
making sedans at the Michigan plant shared with Ford Motor Co. since 1992 appears to be true. Production of the next-generation Mazda6 sedan will be moved to Hofu, Japan, from the AutoAlliance International factory, or AAI, in Flat Rock, Michigan, Mazda said yesterday in a statement. It didn't say when the change will take effect. Such a shame. Especially considering how some of the product coming out of that plant is simply epic.

4th Gear: Further news coming out from Jaguar on a replacement for its discontinued X-Type compact sedan. Now we're being told it will be rear-wheel drive. Apparently spurred on by more development funds from its Indian owner Tata Motors, the British luxury car-maker's new model offensive will also include a wagon version of the XF, a new compact sportscar to challenge Porsche's Cayman and Boxster, and the scintillating C-X75 hybrid supercar. Jaguar is still also considering an SUV and says an all-wheel drive crossover remains an option, but is not an immediate priority.

5th Gear: This is the new Vauxhall Astra GTC, unveiled here on the Internet ahead of its official, real-people public debut at next month's Goodwood Festival of Speed. The GTC sits on the General's ‘Delta' platform — like the Astra hatch and estate — and gets the front suspension from the Insignia VXR including the ‘HiPerStrut' (high performance strut). The rear gets the Watt's link setup — used to great effect in the hatch. There will be a choice of four engines to choose from: two 1.4-liter gas engines producing 117 bhp and 137 bhp, a 2.0-liter diesel with 160 bhp and 280 lb-ft of torque, and the current range-topping 1.6-liter turbo. This produces 175 bhp and a claimed top speed of 132 mph. And yet again, it's a hot-hatch we won't be getting. To rub salt in our wounds, we're told that in 2012, Vauxhall will unveil the VXR version of the GTC, which is said will really ‘wow' hot-hatch enthusiasts. Yeah. Wow.

6th Gear: Euro buff book Motor-Talk got their hands on brochure photos of the newly-refreshed 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class ahead of the first drive next month in the Deutschland. Here are the rest of the shots via the German Car Forum.


⏎ Yet another AT&T exec is tapped to become a General Motors executive. [Detroit News]

⏎ In Venice, a totaled BMW plays an opera's tragic hero. [New York Times]

⏎ Toyota to raise Prius hybrid wagon output. From 3,000 units per month to 5,000. [Reuters]


⏎ New Mondeo EcoBoost provides tantalizing taste of upcoming turbo-four Falcon. [GoAuto]

⏎ Dan Akerson pushing for higher gas taxes. [Detroit News]

⏎ GM to Invest $130 Million, Add 25 Jobs in Warren, Michigan. [International Business Times]

Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1962, the banking institution Credit Suisse—then known as Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA)—opens the first drive-through bank in Switzerland at St. Peter-Strasse 17, near Paradeplatz (Parade Square) in downtown Zurich. [History]

Off-Topic But Awesome:

Grand Rapids, MI lip-syncs its way into fame on YouTube. [Gawker, Freep]

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