This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: And They Were Getting A Little Tired Of Springsteen
Mercedes is exiting New Jersey for a new HQ in the Atlanta area, joining Porsche in the now suddenly more German automotive hub in the state.
Much as it would be amusing to think that some mixture of avoiding Snooki and Chris Christie had something to do with the move, Georgia threw a lot of cash at the automaker. How much?
Analysis by the Atlanta Journal Constitution breaks down the math:
In a letter dated Dec. 12, the state's top economic development official offered a package to "Project Eagle" of grants, tax credits and "cost avoidances" of more than $23.3 million.
The state incentive package would be valued at about $24,540 per job for 950 total employees, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Local incentives could cause the total and per job figure to rise substantially, but the local offer was not disclosed in the letter and the value was listed as to-be-determined.
The state offer was made by Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr to an executive with real estate services firm JLL, which represents Mercedes.
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Is it a good deal? Probably. These kinds of jobs end up creating more jobs and more tax revenue.
2nd Gear: Altima Will Get A Big Mid-Cycle Refresh
All the action might be in pickup trucks and small CUVs, but the reality is Americans still buy mid-size sedans like Hellcat owners buy tires. It's the last bastion of sedan ownership in the United States.
Camry surprised many when they gave the new Camry a strong rework, perhaps a sign that they noticed the likes of Accord and Fusion and Altima were catching up to the king of beige mountain. Altima outsold everyone else in December (Nissan has used a cheap yen to offer heavy discounts) and Toyota has risked losing that all-important market share.
Automotive News reports that Nissan is planning something similar.
"Camry did something very huge. I believe they did that probably because they thought the car was not where they wanted it to be," he said.
"I'm not sure we're going to go to that extent. But we're going to do something significant for the Altima for the midcycle."
The plan includes styling changes and technology improvements, Loing said.
With the Eau Rouge possibly cancelled, I hope that means it's getting a GT-R V6.
3rd Gear: Silicon Valley Needs Auto Engineers
Silicon Valley isn't just magically endowed with genius programmer residents. Rather, like New York, Silicon Valley is a place where certain like-minded people end up in pursuit of a common dream.
Now that the Bay Area is in the car business, they're looking towards the region of the country they've been "fighting" to get the engineers they need and they'll be fighting with the established leaders for talent.
"To say Silicon Valley is the only place where innovation happens is wrong," said Urmson, Google's director of self-driving cars.
Not long ago, auto executives whined that all the best young engineering minds would rather write a new iPhone app than find a way to make an electric car more efficient and less costly. There was a trend to shift more engineering work to India or other low-cost venues.
General Motors is reversing that trend because it has rediscovered the value of its experienced technical people.
"We were chasing (low-cost) labor markets with engineers. That's a big mistake," said Mark Reuss, GM global product development chief. "Engineers, frankly, were treated as commodities.
It's a lot warmer in the Silicon Valley, but more expensive.
4th Gear: Will Peugeot Turn A Profit?
Peugeot Citroen is the large automaker that seemed most likely to absolutely collapse or be forced to merge over the last five years, but a timely deal with China's Dongfeng and expansion outside of Europe has helped slowly reverse the French company's fate.
Sales increased 4.3 percent to 2.94 million cars and light commercial vehicles from 2.82 million a year earlier, boosted by demand for the 2008 and 3008 crossovers as well as the 308 hatchback, the Paris-based manufacturer said. That’s still about 18 percent lower than in 2010, when Peugeot, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, reported its last full-year growth with record sales of 3.6 million autos. Chinese sales surged 32 percent.
“The figures look OK,” Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG who recommends buying the shares, said by phone. “It’s not so much the volume growth that’s important for Peugeot right now” as the company pushes to charge more for its cars. “The pricing improvement may play a much more important role.”
It's a good look for ex-Nissan Renault exec Carlos Tavares, who took over PSA Pug/Citroen a couple of years ago.
5th Gear: European Car Sales Up
It's better to be a European automaker that sells cars outside of Europe, but the continent is doing measurably better year-over-year.
European car sales were up in 2014 to 13 million cars, a 5.4% increase year-over-year and the first time sales were up in that region since 2007.
The biggest markets, according to Bloomberg, were a mix of strong and weak European economies.
Spain saw a rise of 18% while the UK saw a 9.3% increase. Italy was up 4.2%, while Germany and France rose 2.9% and 0.3%, respectively.
Some of this is due to incentive increases, but in Italy and Spain it's also a sign that there's significant pent up demand.
Reverse: You-Better-Be-Happy Meal
On this day in 2007, Beijing, China, the capital city of the planet's most populous nation, gets its first drive-through McDonald's restaurant. The opening ceremony for the new two-story fast-food eatery, located next to a gas station, included traditional Chinese lion dancers and a Chinese Ronald McDonald. According to a report from The Associated Press at the time of the Beijing drive-through's debut: "China's double-digit economic growth has created a burgeoning market for cars, fast food and other consumer goods. The country overtook Japan last year to become the world's second-biggest vehicle market after the U.S., with 7.2 million cars sold, a 37 percent growth."
Neutral: Did Georgia Make The Right Call? How much incentive is too much incentive?
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