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: Ford reported a profit that beat Wall Street expectations. Excluding one-time items, Ford's quarterly profit fell to 65 cents per share from 68 cents a year ago. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 60 cents per share excluding one-time items, according to Thomson Reuters. Revenue rose 13% to $35.5 billion. Net income of $2.4 billion in the quarter, or 59 cents per share, was down $201 million from a year ago when per-share net income was 61 cents per share. Ford has now posted eight straight quarterly net profits after recording net losses totaling $30 billion from 2006 through 2008.
2nd Gear: But it's not all peaches and cream in Dearborn, Mich., today. Bloomberg reports this morning that Ford, ordered by a Florida judge to face a new trial in a lawsuit it previously won, can't dispute that a defect caused an Aerostar van to accelerate out of control. A state court jury in Bushnell, Fla., cleared Ford of liability in February 2010 in a lawsuit brought by a woman who was left paralyzed from the waist down when the van she was riding in crashed. The woman, Peggy Stimpson, and her husband sued Ford in 2004, claiming a defect in the 1991 Aerostar's cruise control system could trigger unintended acceleration. They also claimed the company destroyed or concealed documents related to the risk. Circuit Court Judge William T. Swigert reversed the jury's verdict and ordered a new trial on damages only. Swigert entered judgment on liability for Stimpson, barring Ford from claiming in the new trial that the vehicle wasn't defective.
3rd Gear: Chrysler, after recording its first post-bankruptcy profit three months ago, posted a net loss of $370 million in the second quarter due to costs tied to the repayment of government bailout loans. Chrysler incurred a charge of $551 million in paying back the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Canadian loans that kept the automaker afloat in 2009. "Modified" operating profit nearly tripled from a year earlier to $507 million, while revenue climbed 30% to $13.7 billion, the company said today. Helped by new models and a big advertising push, Chrysler's second-quarter worldwide sales increased 19% to 486,000 units. Cash reserves rose $300 million during the past three months to $10.2 billion.
4th Gear: The fools over at Motley Fool asked yesterday whether Tesla needs to sell cars. The answer? If it wants to be an automaker, yes. If it wants to be a profitable, stand-alone auto supplier that changes the world all on its lonesome without a regular insulin-like cash injection from Toyota, no.
5th Gear: A trip by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, more than a dozen members of Congress and their aides to the January 2010 North American International Auto Show cost taxpayers about $35,000, according to documents released Monday. According to records obtained by FOIA, members of Congress spent $24,336 on commercial plane fare — which is cheaper than flying on military aircraft — plus $10,046 on expenses, including hotel rooms, taxis and meals. The congressional delegation rented 14 hotel rooms at $275 a night in Detroit; among other charges, it spent more than $700 in meals at Fishbone's restaurant in Greektown. Reps. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; Tim Ryan, D-Ohio; and John Larson, R-Conn., as well as two aides, charged the government $135.87 for a meal at the Old Shillelagh in Detroit, according to a receipt. Mmm, bipartisan beer.
6th Gear: Toyota sought a court order in the United States approving its use of technology in hybrid electric vehicles, including the Prius and Lexus RX 400h, after an auto-parts company claimed its patents were infringed. Efficient Drivetrains Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., has an exclusive license from the University of California for use of the technology, including the way electricity is drawn from a battery to power an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, according to a July 20 federal court complaint filed by Toyota in San Jose, Calif. "EDI has contended that the Toyota Hybrids infringe each of the asserted patents and has indicated it intends to enforce" them, according to the complaint filed by the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker. "Toyota denies that."
⏎ Bentley Explores SUV With Demand Beyond Sultan of Brunei: Cars [Bloomberg via SFGate]
⏎ General Motors touts resurgence with new ads. [Detroit News]
⏎ McLaren MP4-12C enters its first 24-hour race. [McLaren]
⏎ Americanized Fiat 500 Abarth coming to the L.A. Auto Show this fall. [Fiat via Twitter]
⏎ BMW's New Four-Door Coupe Detailed. [Motor Trend]
⏎ Honda wins five awards for low-cost cars. [Detroit News]
⏎ Electric Cars: The Documentary. [International Business Times]
⏎ Melding of Fiat, Chrysler advances. [Detroit News]
Today in Automotive History:
The U.S. 500, the most prestigious race in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series, dissolves into tragedy on this day in 1998, when three fans are killed and six others wounded by flying debris from a car at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. [History]
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