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: Struggling Opel Lets German Buyers Return Their Cars
Reuters reports that Opel is taking a page out of Hyundai's book a few years ago. It's giving buyers the opportunity to return their new cars and walk away, without any penalty. The program is called "Thrilled, Or Just Return It." Buyers have 30 days or 3,000 kilometers to change their minds, and the program is only open to cars purchased in Germany. "We want to win new fans of the brand with this deal. Whoever drives our cars for the first time will quickly be convinced of the quality and innovation of our cars," Opel interim chief Thomas Sedran said in a statement. There's no expiration date on the program, and Opel isn't saying whether it plans to expand it beyond its home market.

The program is something like Hyundai Assurance, which the Korean car company rolled out in 2009, when the economic sky was falling. It let buyers return their cars if they lost their jobs. Analysts say the Opel program can be seen two ways: a sign of confidence that few buyers will take Opel up on the offer. But "it also can appear in the minds of a buyer as if the company is on the verge of desperation," Stefan Bratzel, head of the CAM auto industry think-tank, told Reuters.

2nd Gear: If You Want This Jaguar, Get Online At Noon
And at the completely opposite end of the scale, Jaguar is teaming up with luxury goods site to sell cars. Or specifically, one car model: the 2013 Jaguar XJL Ultimate, in Polaris White exterior with Jet Black interior trim. The sale starts today at noon ET and there are just 30 available for the U.S. (You have to register in advance here.) You'll pay $155,875, but that also comes with a vacation package to London and a stay in the Jaguar Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate, a hotel that's part of the Taj Group, and a ton of extras. This is the most expensive thing that has ever sold and it fits right in with the new ways luxury carmakers are trying to appeal to customers that we told you about the other day. Even if you can't afford anything on the site, it's worth keeping an eye on This kind of promotion is something that other carmakers are going to want to try if the Jaguar Ultimate sells.

3rd Gear: The Baby Buick Is Due Early Next Year
Buick says it will introduce its mini-crossover, the Encore, during the first three months of 2013. Encore was one of the quietest product intros at this year's Detroit show. It shares a platform with the Opel Mokka, which is actually one of our favorite car names even though it sounds more like a coffee than a car. Encore will start at $24,950, and there are a couple of options packages that will push the top price to $28,940. You can get the Encore with a forward collision alert system, and a lane departure warning that sounds a signal if the car detects that you've crossed a lane above 35 mph without using the turn signal. It's available with all-wheel drive, and GM estimates fuel economy at 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

4th Gear: Keep Rates Low Until People Go Back To Work?
Reuters reports on an idea a lot of people in the auto industry might find intriguing. Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve, suggested in Ironwood, Mich., yesterday that the Fed should keep rates low until the jobless rate drops to 5.5 percent. That would likely take at least four years, given the nation's current 8.1 percent jobless rate. But he said the U.S. central bank should keep its vow as long as inflation expectations stay under control. That's an about face for Kocherlakota, who previously had argued that aggressive steps to put Americans back to work might trigger an increase in inflation. In fact, Reuters said the proposal reflects how worried the Fed is about the economy.


Interest rates are already very low, and it isn't clear whether this could have a significant impact. But it could do a couple of things for the auto industry. First, if people can count on low interest rates, they can borrow with confidence. Even if they go for an adjustable rate mortgage, it's not going to spike. Anything that helps housing helps autos. Second, car buyers love low interest rates and if it looks like a car will be a reasonable expense, they may open their wallets. Third, a stable interest rate environment makes people feel more secure, in general, and that can boost consumer confidence, which is another element of auto sales. All these ideas are being floated as the Fed is considering what steps, if any, it can take to boost the economy.

5th Gear: The 2013 Audi S3 Comes Straight From Hot Hatchback Heaven

A few days ago, Audi showed off the SQ5 TDI it's bringing to Paris. Then yesterday they revealed the new A3 Sportback that won't be coming to America.
Now, Audi is bringing out the brand new S3. More »

Reverse: Volvo Fan Gains Military Power
On this day in 1989, Gen. Colin Powell became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell is better known in the auto industry for his love of vintage Volvos. In fact, he cared more about his cars than he did for politics, because he refused many efforts to get him to run for president. It was a love that happened out of necessity: "My kids needed a car in college and they refused to drive their grandfather's Chevy Belair. They wanted something sporty; I wanted something safe. They wanted something distinctive; I wanted something safe," Powell told P.J. O'Rourke in 2004. {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, what do you think about proposals to keep interest rates low? Would they prompt you to buy a house or a car? Or are you struggling and it wouldn't matter? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.

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