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: General Motors is almost finished with a suite of proposed fixes for the Chevy Volt battery pack that engineers believe would eliminate the risk of a fire being triggered days after a crash, two people with knowledge of the changes told Reuters and the Associated Press. We're told GM engineers are working on structural changes to strengthen the car's T-shaped battery pack. They are also looking at ways to bolster the Volt's body to make it more resistant to side-impact crashes. The coolant did not catch fire, but crystallized and created an electrical short that apparently sparked the fires, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the findings are not final.
2nd Gear: Mercedes-Benz Loses Market Edge Over BMW
Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler celebrated its 125-year anniversary in January, enjoying a market valuation of $23 billion more than their German arch-rival BMW. That gap has now all but disappeared, Bloomberg reports.
3rd Gear: Buick Encore, Two Concepts To See Reveal At Detroit Auto Show
General Motors plans to unveil a global production Buick crossover at a news conference at next month's Detroit Auto Show, spokeswoman Stephanie Rice said Tuesday. GM had been expected to launch a tiny Buick crossover, likely called "Encore," as a 2013 model. GM also plans to reveal two new Chevrolet concepts from its design center in North Hollywood, Calif, as well as the Cadillac ATS. It will also show the production version of the Chevrolet Sonic RS, a hot-rod "inspired" version of the subcompact car that used to be called "Aveo."
4th Gear: Ford Denies American Idol CEO Search Underway
Ford is denying reports from yesterday that a search for the automaker's next
Idol CEO is underway. Although the Wall Street Journal initially reported that a search is underway for a successor to CEO Alan Mulally, Karen Hampton, Ford's Director of Corporate Communications issued this statement: "The story is false. As Bill Ford has consistently said, we will always consider both internal and external candidates for any succession plan, but we do not have a search underway for an external CEO successor."
5th Gear: smart Unveils Not-So-Smart Pickup Truck Concept For Detroit Auto Show
This morning, smart has revealed, ahead of the Detroit Auto Show, the first sketches of its upcoming built-for-U.S. concept car billed as a pickup truck without all that pesky functionality. You know, because it's a two seater with a "truck bed" in a form factor of only 139 inches long, 59 inches wide and 66 inches high. I'm sorry, but the ability to hold a bicycle in a 35-inch cargo bed does not make you utilitarian. It makes you a glorified go-kart. Just saying.
6th Gear: Dartz Jo-Mojo Eschews Whale Penis Leather For Electric Bulletproof Boogaloo
Dartz, the makers of all things whale-penis leather, will unveil a bulletproof electric roadster concept at next year's Top Marques Monaco show. The Jo-Mojo — built on the Mojo electric roadster — has an 80 HP electric engine that'll take it from 0 to 60 in about ten seconds and give it a top speed of 125MPH. As far as range? Who knows what the hell that'll be after they add all that extra weight. 100 miles? 75? Your guess is as good as mine. And how about that usability? Because the bullet-resistant glass, bulletproof steel radials and armored paneling will all be very useful as soon as the attacker figures out they can just sort of aim above the glass and kill you dead from above. But, hey, you know, it'll give you at least a couple more seconds of life, right?
⏎ Detroit mother of 6 trades house for minivan. [Detroit News]
⏎ Detroit Department of Transportation bus facility fire destroys part of fleet, delays expected. [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ Electric car rental scheme hits Paris. [Guardian]
⏎ Ford investing $128M to shift production to Ohio. [AP via Bloomberg]
⏎ Michigan woman sues auto dealer claiming odorous SUV she bought once contained a corpse. [Washington Post]
⏎ Honda to Stay the Course on Design Says U.S. Boss. [AutoGuide]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1964, the New York City Board of Estimate votes to revive a controversial plan to build a 10-lane, $100 million elevated expressway across Lower Manhattan from the Holland Tunnel on the west to the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges on the east. Also, you know, Pearl Harbor, 70 years ago. [History]
Got tips for our editors? Want to anonymously dish some dirt on a competitor? Know something about a secret car? Email us at email@example.com.