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: The Roger Federer Is Selling Mercedes
Marketing Daily says tennis champion Roger Federer has signed on to sell the 2013 Mercedes GL. The new campaign, which hits the Web and Facebook today, coincides with the start of the U.S. Open. The ad will be shown during CBS' U.S. Open coverage on Aug. 27. The new TV ad shows Federer leaving a stadium, signing autographs, getting admiring glances from fans, jumping into his GL and joking with his kids. The spot, and another one that is focused entirely on the vehicle, will air for the duration of the Open on CBS, ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel. Federer's and MBUSA's Facebook pages will host other product videos including one in which he does a walk-around of the GL-Class, explaining its virtues, says Markting Daily. Federer first appeared in a Mercedes-Benz ad — for the CLS sedan — at this time last year. We would really love to see a Jimmy Fallon parody, since we can't watch him as The Roger Federer without crying.
2nd Gear: Ford, Way Behind, Brings Hybrid, EV Development In House
Reuters reports that Ford is ramping up its investments in hybrid and electric vehicle development in an effort to get in the game. It's going to spend $135 million to design parts for next-generation electric vehicles, and double its battery capability. Ford began building its first hybrid transmission this summer, and it has 1,000 engineers working on advanced vehicle development. But it's years behind Toyota, and Ford will really have to step things up to make its goal of selling 25 percent hybrids, plug-ins and EVs by 2020. Toyota has two-thirds of the American alternative fuel vehicle market, while Ford's market share is 3 percent, according to Edmunds.
3rd Gear: Toyota Hints It Will Build Lexus LF-LC Concept
USA Today is convinced that Toyota is going to put the LF-LC into production. It says Bob Carter, Toyota senior VP of American automotive operations, was dropping bread crumbs in a recent speech. The LF-LC is "not only a hot-looking coupe, it's a hybrid," he said. "So you can look great while helping to meet the needs of our environment and society." Carter says the concept has received a "fantastic reception," which USA Today says is "often code for we're going to build it." Well, Akio Toyoda has been promising more-exciting Toyotas. Is this among them?
4th Gear: GM Workers In Colombia Zip It — Literally — In Protest
The Toronto Star reports on a story that you might want to stop reading now if you're at all squeamish. It says a group of former GM workers have sewn their mouths shut on the ninth day of a hunger strike to protest being fired. The seven workers say they were let go after they were injured on the job. They have been protesting outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota for more than a year. GM has denied a number of claims by the workers, including that the company erased medical records at the Colmotores plant, and would not provide compensation. "GM Colmotores is respectful of the law and has never put the health or the well-being of its employees at risk," GM said in a statement earlier this month. "Furthermore, the company would like to reassure and reaffirm that no employee has been discharged for health reasons." Labor relations are a tough business in Colombia, where the AFL-CIO estimates 4,000 trade unionists have been murdered in the past 20 years.
Reverse: John Z. DeLorean Walks
On this day in history, a Los Angeles jury acquitted former GM executive-turned-car-mogul John Z. DeLorean of eight counts of drug trafficking. DeLorean had been captured on video tape arranging to buy $24 million of cocaine, famously declaring, "It's better than gold," before he was busted by federal agents. But his lawyers successfully argued that DeLorean had been trapped by the feds. DeLorean's legal troubles continued until the end of his life, although his car made movie history. [History]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, tell us whether you think Toyota should put the LF-LC concept into production. Is it a marketable car or more an auto show teaser? And if it does build it, would you want one? Even if it's a hybrid? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.
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