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 parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Oh That Poor Caliber Driver
I'll start off this morning with a deep look from Bloomberg Businessweek on the challenges a resurgent Chrysler has had to face. Specifically, they're selling popular trucks and SUVs through Jeep and RAM, but their cars still lag behind the competition.
While the Chrysler 300/Charger is a fine vehicle and the Fiat 500s are popular, the company hasn't been able to break into the popular compact and mid-size sedan markets. Chrysler will try again with a 200 they hope can compete with the Camry and Fusion.
The lede is killer:
Driving home from work earlier this month, Chrysler dealer David Kelleher was struck by a pang of guilt when he stopped at a red light behind a Dodge Caliber, a compact criticized for stodgy styling and inferior quality before it was killed off last year.
“It was from my store,” said Kelleher, who has two Chrysler Group LLC dealerships in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. “I almost feel bad that a customer of mine is driving that car, considering the offerings we have now.”
2nd Gear: Vauxhall Gets Its Own GTS
See if you can follow here and, of course, correct me if I'm wrong. We're getting the Chevrolet SS, which is a version of the Commodore SS from Australia, of which there's also a hotter ZL1-powered Holden HSV GTS, which is now also the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS in England.
That's a helluva muscle car and I can't imagine what it costs to insure/register/fuel this bad boy. If you've forgotten, it's the supercharged LSA engine putting out 576 horsepower, or about 150 more horses than the old VXR8.
That'll let it do 0-60 in 4.9 seconds with an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. It's also a BRZ less than an M5 or an E63 AMG, although less refined and more Beatlemania. Maybe they'll have one in the press fleet next time one of us is in the UK...
3rd Gear: Tesla To Expand Supercharger Network
Tesla's supercharger network of charging stations that no longer look like powerdicks is expanding soon from nine stations to, they say, at least 100 in the U.S. and Canada.
This week (maybe today) they're going to announce a few more chargers to extend the range of the Model S and Roadster. I'm hoping they extend east from Los Angeles and west from New York to make a bridge.
Because they use their own proprietary charger design, what Tesla is also doing here is making every other plug-in vehicle owner feel like they're being left out. Will other companies conform to Tesla's standards or will it offer Tesla another competitive advantage?
4th Gear: Speaking Of Electric-ish Car Companies
Ray Lane, the man behind much of VC fund Kleiner Perkins' decision to invest in Fisker, has resigned from the Fisker Board of Directors.
KP's involvement with Fisker doesn't look great in hindsight and Lane is much to blame for that. Once again, we go back to Katie Fehrenbacher for a view of what they were thinking.
When I did Fisker and another car company, my partners thought I was out of my mind. But I had a thesis. We can invest in a car company and either have a way to get the valuation high enough so you don’t get crushed on dilution or get low-cost loans that are high leverage for equity investors. Or buy cheap assets, which I did not know going in. I did not know we could go to GM Disposal corp and buy a plant for $20 million; that is a big deal for us and Tesla at the NUMMI plant.
It takes a little more than that, unfortunately. You have to actually build something in one of those plants.
5th Gear: Flat Rock To Produce Fusion And… RWD MKS?
As Karl Henkel reports this morning, the ever popular Ford Fusion will start production this August in the Flat Rock plant, meaning it'll be possible to buy a Fusion not built in Mexico.
Currently, the facility builds the Ford Mustang.
What's interesting in this article is the mention of a few more vehicles. Ford will probably make the next generation Ford Mustang there and will definitely make the next generation full-size Lincoln MKS at Flat Rock.
We know for sure that they're moving the MKS from the Chicago Assembly plant where they build the Taurus and Explorer, all of which are built on the same FWD/AWD platform.
Now we can use this information for some mostly unsupported wild speculation based on very few facts and talking to almost nobody:
Assuming the MKS isn't built on a Fusion platform, is it possible they'll build an MKS on the new Mustang platform? It's a crazy, crazy thought but the new 'Stang is going to have an IRS for the first time ever...
The alternative is that they build three separate platforms at Flat Rock or, perhaps more likely, base the MKS on the Fusion platform and stretch it out, a la the Azera and Impala.
On this day in 2005, 23-year-old Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to take the lead in the storied Indianapolis 500.Patrick entered the Indy 500 in a car co-owned by Bobby Rahal, winner of the Indy 500 in 1986, and David Letterman, the late-night talk show host. After a pit stop on the 79th lap of the 200-lap, 500-mile race, Patrick stalled her engine, falling from 4th to 16th place. She spent the next 70 laps climbing back into the top 10, then took the lead with 10 laps left in front of 300,000 screaming fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Neutral: How Much Crack Am I Smoking? Am I Rob Ford? Is Ford just planning on building three platforms at Flat Rock? Or is there more to this?
Photo Credit: Getty Images