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: GM: Reborn With Jets
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports that the federal government is loosening some of its restrictions on General Motors, and one of them means GM executives can fly corporate jets once more. The move comes as part of GM's $5.5 billion deal to buy back 200 million of the government's 500 million stake in GM. "There is a handful of things that have been waived," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said yesterday, "including the corporate jet aspect." Asked when GM might lease or buy some jets, "we have no current plans at this time."
But as the Journal points out, GM CEO Akerson has made no secret of his frustration at having to fly commercial. At a recently company reception, Akerson complained of spending hours in airports en route to meetings in Russia. The corporate jet ban is left over from that famous Congressional hearing in 2008 when Detroit CEOs went to Washington looking for a bailout, and admitted that they hadn't earned Delta miles for their trip. The next time they went to D.C., some of them drove.
2nd Gear: Big Trouble For Former Porsche Execs
Bloomberg says Porsche's former CEO and CFO have both been indicted in Stuttgart over a failed bid to take over Volkswagen. The lawsuit charges that Wendelin Wiedeking and Holger Haerter decided in 2008 to increase Porsche's stake in VW to 75 percent, to lay the ground for a takeover. But Porsche denied five times that it planned to launch a takeover attempt, which affected VW's stock price. The denials caused investors to flee VW stock, and at the same time, Porsche was buying up options on VW stock. It might have been in serious cash trouble if it had ever had to exercise the options.
VW ended up buying Porsche earlier this year, and it now counts Porsche as part of its automotive business. Experts predict any trial involving the two former executives could take months, and it looks like lawyers for investors are lining up to get ahold of documents in the case. It's quite a downfall for Wiedeking, who's also in trouble over a pizza company that he wants to start.
3rd Gear: Numbers Runner Isn't Thrilled By BMW 4-Series
ArtInfo says BMW's plan to introduce a 4-series coupe is not sitting too well with people who deal with numbers for a living. Numerologist Tammi Rager says the choice of the number 4, in particular, sends the wrong message. "From a numerology standpoint, it's not a smart move," said Rager, who has decoded the meanings of everything from lottery numbers to hip-hop mogul Sean Combs's repeated name changes, but hasn't analyzed cars before. (Neither has Artinfo, apparently, since they say BMW is based in Hamburg.)
According to Rager, BMW's emphasis on odd digits - 1, 3, 5, 7 - fits in nicely with the company's overall branding. "Odd numbers are introverted," she said. "The energy of those tends to be a little more detached, aloof, a little more mysterious, if you will, which, I think, would be great for BMW. To me, they would kind of want to separate themselves with that air of aloofness." The number four stands for reliability and dependability. "The four is an accountant number. It's dry. It's military. It's organized," she said. Two, meanwhile, would be a better choice. "With two, you think partnerships, you think romance, you think fun, you think communication, give and take," she says. "If I were to splurge on a sports car, two would be a good vibration there."
4th Gear: CR Sends Honda A Valentine
USA Today says Consumer Reports, which has beaten up on Ford lately, feels just the opposite about Honda. It has sent the equivalent of a valentine to the restyled 2013 Honda Accord. "The new four-cylinder Accord now tops its class, edging out the Hyundai Sonata and (Toyota) Camry, while the V-6 model is challenging the Camry Hybrid and V-6," the magazine says. Only a short while ago, CR was pretty tepid about Honda products. It criticized the Honda Civic as noisy and blighted by a cheap interior, and bumped it from its recommended list. Alarmed, Honda restyled fhe Civic and CR declares it to be a big improvement.
5th Gear: Camaro Production Returns To Michigan
As briefly noted yesterday, the Camaro is coming back to the U.S. While GM denies that moving production of the next generation Camaro to Lansing, Michigan from its current home in Oshawa, Canada has nothing to do with the state's move to becoming a Right-to-Work state, the timing is curious. The company says it makes sense to move the production to the Grand River plant because it allows them to consolidate RWD production (the ATS and new CTS will be built there). Another tidbit form Automotive News is that we should see the new car in the fall of 2015, as either a 2015 or 2016 MY vehicle.
Reverse: Waiting For Roger
On this day in 1989, Michael Moore's film, Roger & Me, opened in theaters across the U.S. The movie made Moore a household name, even if he tinkered with chronology and his basic premise was flawed. Moore's film charted his efforts to confront GM CEO Roger Smith over GM's decision to close plants in Moore's hometown, Flint, Mich., giving the impression that Smith was isolated. In fact, Smith was one of the most accessible CEOs of his era, at least to the regular press pack. Still, it's an entertaining look at an ultimately tragic situation. [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, how do you feel about the return of corporate jets at GM? Are they a useful capitalist tool or should bosses fly commercial like the rest of us? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.
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