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: August Auto Sales Up In The Air
Automotive stocks could get a needed boost when August sales figures for the U.S. are released on Thursday. Citi Investment Research analyst Itay Michaeli said sales won't be as bad as expected despite some notable headwinds: car buyers anxious about stock market volatility; continued shortage of models because of the Japan earthquake; and automakers' reluctance to offer discounts. And after nearly three years of the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy designed to boost spending, consumers may finally be getting the message. And that's turned to music in Detroit's ears. That said, Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. East Coast at the most inopportune time for many businesses, keeping millions of shoppers away from stores and auto dealerships during what should have been a busy weekend. And by the way, the past three sentences were each direct quotes from three different stories that came out today with three different conclusions on August auto sales. So, you know, your guess is, apparently just as good as NBC, Reuters and Business Week.

2nd Gear: Cadillac's Expanding Style
Automotive News reminds us that with the recent phasing out of its aging DTS and STS sedans, Caddy is stripped down to just the CTS sedan/coupe/wagon, SRX crossover and Escalade SUV. Brisk sellers, all, but the ebb in product cadence has prevented Cadillac from seizing the momentum it generated last year, when a 35% jump in sales made it the fastest-growing luxury brand. It's also kept Cadillac from capitalizing on the troubles of Ford's Lincoln brand, which has seen sales edge up just 1% in the first seven months of this year, even as the overall market rose 11%. In July, Cadillac sales fell 26%. It was the third consecutive monthly decline, following a 15-month streak of increases. Sales are still up 10% for the year. Cadillac's parched product landscape will begin to see signs of life by "late spring" when the new ATS compact will begin arriving in showrooms, Butler said. The XTS large sedan is set to arrive later in 2012. But, to expand the lineup even further, The Detroit Bureau is reporting this morning that GM's expected to give the go-ahead to Cadillac's flagship Omega project before year-end. Zeta, Alpha, Gamma, Kappa, Lambda... Omega? GM's gonna start to run out of Greek letters pretty soon.

3rd Gear: Porsche's 7-Speed Shift Pattern
By now you know Porsche's offering a 7-speed manual transmission on the new 2012 Porsche 911. It turns out that the shift pattern we first showed you last month is absolutely the correct layout. No, this doesn't mean we're changing the number of gears in The Morning Shift.

4th Gear: Jeep's Expansive Horsepower Hegemony
Jeep will give its Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 a European debut at next week's Frankfurt Motor Show. The hardcore 4x4 is powered by a new 6.4-litre Hemi V8 unit, which serves up a heady 464bhp and 465lb ft of torque, up by 49bhp and 45lb ft compared with the previous car's 6.1-litre lump.

5th Gear: Porsche Planning A Ferrari-Fighting Flat-Eight
Porsche is considering engineering a flat-eight boxster engine for its Ferrari-rivaling supercar, company bosses have admitted. At the first unveiling of the new 991-series 911, Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche head of Research and Development said such an engine was ‘possible'. He told Autocar: "We have to go into that market properly equipped."

6th Gear: New Fiat Panda Is New
This is Fiat's new 2012 Panda — incredibly, only the third generation of Panda in the range's 31-year history. Not that buyers seem to mind the glacial rate of progress: Fiat has sold 6.5 million Pandas over the past three decades. The new 2012 Panda squeezes more space into the compact footprint; it's 143.7 inches long, 64.5 inches wide and 61 inches high — enough, says Fiat, for five passengers and the biggest trunk in the segment. Outside, you won't mistake this for anything other than a Panda: that distinctive third side window cuts a dash and those swollen wheelarches are a Panda trademark.


⏎ What is the Best Car for Disaster Porn Touring? [Brett Berk]

⏎ There's new photos of the drop-dead gorgeous Alfa Romeo 4C concept ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Frankly, however, it looks better in red. [Evo]

⏎ UAW's King: No lasting damage in a Ford strike. [Automotive News]

⏎ UAW Chief Confronts Member Dissent. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ Ahead of Baltimore Grand Prix, Pit Row Is Filling With Lawsuits. [New York Times]


⏎ Lexus marketing boss Nordstrom to run Toyota social media post. [Automotive News]

⏎ Fiat Sales Chief Formica Leaves Carmaker as European Deliveries Stall. [Bloomberg]

⏎ Are airline pilots forgetting how to fly? [AP via MSNBC]

⏎ NYC commuter rails able to move most riders. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ Popular Mechanics: JJC expands auto lab to accomodate more students. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 2006, the California State Senate passes Assembly Bill (AB) 32, otherwise known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The law made California the first state in America to place caps on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, including those found in automobile emissions. [History]

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