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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: Tokyo Motor Show, Day One
It's nighttime in Tokyo as the first day of the Tokyo Motor Show draws to a close. Follow all the super awesome number one best auto show action at our tag page throughout the day today and tomorrow as we analyze the show from across the puddle. Super best fun time!


2nd Gear: Remember When The Tokyo Motor Show Was Relevant? Me Neither
And speaking of the Tokyo Motor Show, the Associated Press talks this morning about how, despite a focus on green, the show's been scaling back in recent years because of the waning importance of Japan as an auto market. All automakers — including Japan's — are increasingly looking to China, India and other nations with greater growth potential. Ford again skipped the show. Chrysler wouldn't even think about attending. GM had, from what we understand, a token tiny booth in the corner of the Tokyo Big Sight. Audi and BMW showed up, but that was really about it. Hell, for the first time in three shows, we didn't even attend this year.

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3rd Gear: This Concept Will Be The 2013 Mazda 6

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The original Mazda6 was an especially fun, cheap and compact alternative to Japan's other beige mid-sizers. And then they ruined it with the second generation. More »


4th Gear: Volkswagen Cross Coupé: VW builds an Evoque

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Been wondering what a Range Rover Evoque would look like if VW built it? Behold the Volkswagen Cross Coupe, which combines all the disadvantages of a sports coupe - More »


5th Gear: 126 MPG Plug-In Prius Will Reportedly Be A "Winner"
Bloomberg reports this morning that CLSA Asia Pacific Markets is claiming that Toyota's upcoming plug-in version of its best-selling Prius hybrid will be a "winner" because of the vehicle's higher fuel efficiency and affordable price. "This new car gives battered Toyota the opportunity to renew its credentials as the world's greenest automotive maker and technology leader," Christopher Richter, a Tokyo-based analyst at CLSA, wrote in a report today. "We believe the initial scarcity of this vehicle in the first year will create a major marketing buzz for Toyota." Also, the expected 126 MPG fuel economy. Check out the unveiling video at the Tokyo Motor Show to the left.

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6th Gear: Toyota's Got 99 Problems, But The Olds Ain't One
But, speaking of Toyota, James Simms over at the Wall Street Journal asserts that by "targeting the cool factor" with cars like the newly-unveiled Toyota GT 86, Toyota may be "getting away from its core strength: reliability." Somehow, we think that truly successful automakers are ones that can do both — especially given the need to market to both the olds, for current profits (which Simms says has been and continues to be the Toyota way), and the youngs (which they haven't yet focused on), for future profits. Think like BMW is what I always say. Still, it's an interesting read even if I don't agree with the analysis. Especially that they haven't shifted some focus away from the olds to the youngs — because I think that's what they're doing with the Toyota GT 86 / Scion FR-S.

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Reverse:

⏎ How New Car Models End Up Unmasked (aka, "How Ray Wert Is The Dark Lord Of The Car World") [BusinessWeek]

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⏎ No, The Electric Cadillac ELR Will NOT Have Rear-Wheel Drive. [Green Car Reports]

⏎ Ford to retain three body styles on fourth-generation Mondeo. [Automotive News]

⏎ Honda says its cars are 'a bit boring'. [Drive.com.au]

⏎ The Brand Blunder of this young century. [Autoexremist]

⏎ Our Disappearing Rear Ends. [The Truth About Cars]

⏎ Lawmaker questions process of approving fuel rules. [Detroit Free Press]

⏎ Honda CEO Ito takes responsibility for Civic's U.S. troubles. [Automotive News]

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⏎ Research Group Sees Rise in Autos Jobs. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ Lack of new investment puts auto sector at risk: analyst. [Globe & Mail]

⏎ A Deep Divide Separates Old Allies Suzuki and VW. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ The BMW M table is too good for coffee. [Behance via Autoblog]

⏎ Cleveland, Ohio, 1973. [Hemmings]

⏎ Honda to focus on diesel engines, small compact cars for India. [India Times]


Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1965, 32-year-old lawyer Ralph Nader publishes the muckraking book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile. The book became a best-seller right away. It also prompted the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, seat-belt laws in 49 states (all but New Hampshire) and a number of other road-safety initiatives. Today, Nader is perhaps best known for his role in national politics-and in particular for the controversial role he played in the 2000 presidential election-but Unsafe at Any Speed was the book that made him famous and lent credibility to his work as a consumer advocate. [History]

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