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: Lawsuit Says Apple Is Poaching A123 Systems Engineers
We're of the opinion that everyone needs to stop freaking out about the so-called Apple Car, because we don't really even know what Project Titan is quite yet or what form it will ultimately take. (I, for one, will be shocked if the end result is an actual car from Apple, and not some kind of hardware or software system for navigation or autonomous cars or something along those lines.)
Then again, here's a curious lawsuit filed this month in Massachusetts by A123 Systems, the now-Chinese owned company that's a top maker of batteries, including electric vehicles for BMW, General Motors, Fisker and others.
Reuters reports the lawsuit accuses Apple of "aggressively poaching" A123 employees to "build a large-scale battery division" similar to A123's.
Around June 2014, Apple began aggressively poaching A123 engineers tasked with leading some of the company's most critical projects, the lawsuit claims. The engineers left to pursue similar programs at Apple in violation of their employment agreements, A123 said in a filing earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. "Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123," the lawsuit read.
[...] The company said in its lawsuit that the engineers who left were of such caliber that the projects they had been working on had to be abandoned after their departures. It also accused one of the five defendants, Mujeeb Ijaz, of helping Apple recruit among its ranks.
Are these batteries for iPads or for something... bigger? HMMMM! Curiouser and curiouser.
2nd Gear: Maybe It Won't Be Called The Bolt?
Speaking of EVs, GM kind of shocked the world at the Detroit Auto Show with the Chevrolet Bolt concept, not just because it's a $30,000 (after incentives and rebates) electric aimed at Tesla but also because of its odd name. Isn't that a little too close to Volt for comfort?
Well, there's some debate within GM over whether the production car should be called Bolt or not, the Detroit Free Press reports:
"Some people think it's confusing," said Alan Batey, president of GM North America. "People are having some fun with it. It is generating awareness, which is good. It's so conversational."
"We're still in the decision phase," Batey said in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show last week. "It could go either way."
"We have a little bit more time," he said, as much as a year, to decide on the final name for the production car that will look similar to the concept. Whatever the name, Batey is convinced there will be no confusion in the showroom.
"The Volt and Bolt are different vehicles for people with different needs," he said.
Wonder what they'll decide.
3rd Gear: No Cars In Cadillac's Oscars Ad
No Cadillac cars, anyway. I did see a couple taxi cabs and an old pickup truck. That's because Cadillac is all about building the #brand these days, and they hope this ad set to run during the Oscars on Sunday — featuring text from a famous Theodore Roosevelt speech. Here's the deal, again from Automotive News:
The commercials, made by advertising firm Publicis Worldwide, kick off what Cadillac marketing chief Uwe Ellinghaus last month called "a brand campaign about Cadillac's point of view," which he said has been lacking for many years.
"I'm very keen on finding something that encapsulates the sprit of Cadillac in just a very short phrase that hopefully lasts as long as 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' for BMW," he told Automotive News.
I always liked "The Standard of the World" myself.
4th Gear: Delphi To Shrink Some More After Sale
At its mid-2000s height, supplier Delphi employed 47,000 people, ran 47 factories and made just about every kind of car part there is. After coming out of bankruptcy in 2009, the former GM subsidiary has gotten smaller and more focused on tech, and it's been a good move. Now they're getting ready to become even smaller by selling one of their arms to the Germans, the Wall Street Journal reports:
That focus will get even slimmer as Delphi has agreed to sell its lower margin automotive heating and cooling business to German competitor Mahle GmbH for about $727 million, a move that caps several years of refashioning the old-line U.S. parts maker to a more narrowly focused technology company.
The story's an interesting look at Delphi's past, present and future.
5th Gear: The Evora 400 Is A Big Deal
I'm really digging the thoroughly revised Lotus Evora 400. It may not be an all-new model, but it takes a great car and makes it even better. It's also the fastest and most powerful production Lotus ever, did you know that?
It's also a big deal for the immensely talented yet perpetually struggling automaker, Autonews Europe reports from new CEO Jean-Marc Gales:
Gales said the Evora's price will rise to about 72,000 pounds (about $111,000) in its home market of the UK, 9,000 pounds more than the current most powerful Evora. "That is still very much below an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Carrera S," he said.
He said it was "no coincidence" that the Evora 400 had the same power output as the Carrera S, which costs 83,545 pounds in the UK.
Gales expects the Evora 400 to push total Lotus's annual sales to 3,000 next year from 2,000 forecast for the company's current financial year that ends March 31.
As they work to develop new models, Lotus is filling existing gaps in their range, like an automatic Exige (I know! But people are buying it, especially in Asia) and an Evora roadster coming next year.
Reverse: Can't Wait To Watch The 500 This Weekend Too
Driver Cale Yarborough wins his fourth Daytona 500 on this day in 1984. In the history of the 200-lap, 500-mile race, which was first run at Florida's Daytona International Speedway in 1959 and is considered one of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)'s premiere events, only one driver topped Yarborough's record—Richard Petty, who took home seven victories (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1981)
Neutral: What Do We Think Of That Cadillac Ad?
Despite what the naysayers think, Cadillac's current cars are great, but they can't win buyers over from the Germans. (It turns out it's hard to get your reputation back after you spent decades pissing it away.) Will this branding endeavor help people think differently about Cadillac?