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Feds Expand BMW 7 Series Investigation, Electric Car Costs, And Cadillac's Form Factor Future

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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, rather than read this, 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?

We think so.


1st Gear: Feds Expand Investigation Into BMW 7 Series
The Associated Press says federal safety regulators have upgraded their eight-month investigation into BMW 7 Series cars to an engineering analysis, one step closer to a recall — after receiving 50 complaints of unattended vehicle movement or rollaway, including 16 crashes and five injuries. The investigation covers nearly 122,000 BMWs from the 2002 through 2008 model years. The cars all have push-button start and electronic transmission controls and in some cases the owners may think the cars are in park when they actually are in neutral. NHTSA said in documents on its website Monday that the cars can roll away unexpectedly and crash — and this, of course, could lead to fiery death!


2nd Gear: Electric Cars Save Money On Gas... But What About Your Pocketbook?
Bloomberg tells us this morning that drivers of electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf may save between $750 and $1,200 a year on fuel costs compared with a new gasoline-powered compact, according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report assumes gasoline costs $3.50 a gallon (actually a rather fair assumption, they could have gone higher) and compares them to a new model that gets 27 MPG (a fair assumption) when driving 11,000 miles a year (also a rather fair assumption). But, the study didn't attempt to compare total costs of ownership of electric and gasoline-powered vehicles, and didn't determine how long an electric-vehicle owner would have to keep their car for the added cost to pay off. For example, the Ford Focus electric has a starting price of $39,995 before a $7,500 U.S. tax credit. If cost of operation is the only concern, then that's a seriously steep added cost considering the base price of the gas-powered version is just $16,500. Just using the $1,200 per year savings it would take just over 13 years to pay off that pricy electric version.

3rd Gear: How A Resin Shortage Might Halt The Auto Industry
Bloomberg reports this morning that executives from the world's largest automakers meet today at a summit near Detroit to find alternative sources of resin used to make brake- and fuel-system components. Options are needed after a March 31st explosion at chemical maker Evonik Industries AG factory in Marl, Germany, halving the global source of an ingredient used to make the resin, called PA-12. If the automakers can't find alternative sources, almost every carmaker will see a cut in production. Yes, all because of resin. Who knew?


4th Gear: Cadillac To Continue Building Coupes And Wagons, Just Maybe Not As A CTS
Car&Driver reports that although Cadillac will still offer at least one coupe and one wagon — they may not both be CTS models. That means that the other choice for either or both body styles would be to offer them for the new ATS. Read more on their reading of the tea leaves here. But, that said, don't expect to see any more body styles for the ATS coming any time this year as we've learned from our own conversations with Cadillac executives. Cadillac tells us their goal this year is to build and sell the ATS sedan — that's it. They'll wait on other body styles for next year.


5th Gear: Bob Lutz Pumps Up His "Real U.S. Oil Security Strategy"
Ex-General Motors Vice-Chairman "Maximum" Bob Lutz is taking a break from push ups to help put together what he's calling a "real U.S. oil security strategy" for Forbes. He, along with Fred Smith the president and CEO of FedEx and two U.S. Marines commandants General, have put together a treatise on boosting electrification of the transportation sector. To wit: "Of all the forms of alternative energy under development for the transportation sector in the U.S., using natural gas for heavy-duty trucks and the electrification of light-duty vehicles hold the most promise." So, basically, that Chevy Volt thing was — what? Oh, right, an exercise in mass marketing — not a "real U.S. oil security strategy." Eh, well, this one's the real deal, he swears!


6th Gear: New MKZ Grille Might Not Make It To Rest Of Lincoln Brand
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ's new split grille featuring chrome horizontal bars has been touted as a major signifier of the brand's future design direction. Except Lincoln won't necessarily use the look on every future car or crossover, says Ford Motor Co.'s top designer, J Mays. "We haven't made an announcement that every single car within the lineup is going to have the same grille bars," J Mays, Ford's group vice president of design, told Automotive News at last week's New York Auto Show. What will be similar across Lincoln nameplates, however, is the shape of the grille apertures and adjacent headlights, Mays said. "You have the outside perimeter of the headlamp and grille. That's what makes a Lincoln." Yes, an outside perimeter of a grille that screams "angel in flight." Fitting, especially if our sources are correct and if the MKZ fails, then it'll be the angel of death for the Lincoln brand.


Driving The Avengers Acura NSX Roadster. [Edmunds Inside Line]

Frito-Lay Pledges a Major Shift Toward Natural-Gas Trucking. [New York Times]

Texting while driving: Young adults think 'it's not cool to be safety conscious'. [Detroit Free Press]


2013 Opel Insignia facelift caught testing for first time. [World Car Fans]

Ageing Piech maintains iron grip on Volkswagen. [Automotive News]

Mercedes' goal to gain market share may be set too high. [Detroit News]

Yes Mustang Fans, Even Iconic Cars Need to Be Updated. [CNBC]

Racing Innovator Jim Hall Honored At Long Beach. [Motor Authority]

Ann Romney: Seamus 'loved' car roof. [Politico]

Daimler-Renault Cooperation Takes Shape in Delivery Van. [Bloomberg]

Today in Automotive History

The Ford Mustang, a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, is officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, on April 17, 1964. That same day, the new car also debuted in Ford showrooms across America and almost 22,000 Mustangs were immediately snapped up by buyers. Named for a World War II fighter plane, the Mustang was the first of a type of vehicle that came to be known as a "pony car." Ford sold more than 400,000 Mustangs within its first year of production, far exceeding sales expectations. [History]


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