1st Gear:Sure, the U.S. economy may collapse in a matter of days and pull the global economy into a recession, but at least the auto industry's making it rain. After Ford and Chrysler's fairly upbeat earnings yesterday, Nissan said today it earned $1.09 billion in the quarter, beating estimates following Japan's earthquake. Meanwhile, Daimler AG, makers of Mercedes, Smart and Hyundai-like Maybachs said its profits jumped 23% to $3.7 billion — and it still got spanked by a few investors for not being as bullish on sales as BMW.
2nd Gear:The Obama administration and major automakers are close to agreeing on new fuel economy rules that would set a standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025 - lower than the 56.2 mpg that the administration had first pitched. These numbers are of course meaningless until the hundreds of pages of actual rules are written explaining how they apply in the real world and what loopholes will come with them, including a new one for "work trucks" and a "circuit breaker" that would let the government ease up in 2020 if automakers were having trouble meeting the goal.
3rd Gear: Even before the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet has had its moment to shine like the spray tan of a boat show model, Land Rover is reportedly considering a drop-top variation of the Evoque, pictured here by AutoExpress. Supposedly the company is not just open to the idea but actively considering the merits of selling a convertible. If Victoria Beckham designed the closed-roof Evoque, maybe Land Rover could get Jeremy Piven in on the roadster.
4th Gear: After years of delay, the very first Fisker Karma was delivered yesterday to one Ray Lane, a venture capitalist and chairman of Fisker Karma's board. The next few Fiskers are promised to a grab-bag of wealth celebrities, including Leo DiCaprio and Al Gore, before other people who've been waiting a couple of years for Fisker to prove it could actually build an extended-range electric vehicle get their wheels, which will likely be this fall.
5th Gear: GMC will build a subcompact crossover in the milieu of its Granite concept car, according to Automotive News. Part of the post-bankruptcy onslaught of new models at General Motors, the Granite is set to arrive in 2013, will keep the concept's three-door layout and sport some combination of turbocharged small four-cylinder engine, taking on competitors like the Kia Soul.
6th Gear: And today's the day we launch our freshened redesign, known inside the beehive as "Open Design," with changes that make the site even easier to read and navigate. One new tip: You can now set the sidebar of stories to scroll either independently, as it has for the past few months, or lock it to scroll with the rest of the page, by clicking the little page icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the sidebar. Blogview remains in effect for those who want that as well. Feel free to chime in below with praise, complaints or other comments — like any of you have ever waited for an invite before.
⏎ Maserati GranCabrio Sport goes on sale in the UK today for $169K, comes with fancy new red paint. [Newspress]
⏎ For Consumers, New Vehicles Hold Record Levels of Appeal [NY Times]
⏎ AutoNation sees a 52% boost in 2nd quarter earnings [Detroit Free Press]
⏎ The best cars for people who can't park. What? [Automobile]
The last Citroen 2CV, known as the "Tin Snail" for its distinctive shape, rolls off the production line at the company's plant in Mangualde, Portugal at four o'clock on the afternoon of July 27, 1990. Since its debut in 1948, a total of 5,114,959 2CVs had been produced worldwide. [History]
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