Kia Thinks It Can Build A Better Juke

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The Morning ShiftAll your daily car news in one convenient place. Isn't your time more important?

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?

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Last month we did things a little differently by putting the gears inside the comments below to make it easier for you to comment on individual gears. I think there were some benefits to it, but let's try it out the other way.

I still encourage you to make your own gears in the comments that we can star to the top.

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1st Gear: Lincoln Admits It Screwed Up The MKZ Launch

Illustration for article titled Kia Thinks It Can Build A Better Juke

When Lincoln showed the new MKZ we were far from impressed and even hinted that it could be Lincoln's undoing. We even took issue with their terrible marketing strategy. Alas, their problems weren't of the kind we were predicting.

After all the hype about building a brand about customer service and doing everything they could to get people into cars – going so far as to offer people a free dinner and hotel – when a customer eventually decided they did want a car the dealer had to tell them there were no cars to sell.

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Automotive News chronicles the problem and points out that "the new cloak of luxury that Lincoln had promised to create — treating customers in a way befitting a true luxury brand — was frayed at all the edges."

The good news is the cars are finally rolling into dealerships. The bad news is Jimmy Fallon is probably going to cost a lot more the second time around.

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2nd Gear: The New Buicks Are In

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Hey, look. It's the 2014 Buick LaCrosse. It has engines. It's been slightly refreshed. It's still massive. Your aunt will love it.

3rd Gear: BYD Sees Profits Sink

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BYD, our favorite Chinese Automaker, was a little too busy rigging their own Facebook contest and building full-sized R/C cars to focus on making money.

BYD says their 2013 profit was just $13 million this year, well down from a year before according to the AP. The company expects profits to grow next year as new models roll out.

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You better. No one makes a fool out of Warren Buffett, who owns about 10% of the company.

4th Gear: Is The Kia Cub A Juke Or A Mini?

Illustration for article titled Kia Thinks It Can Build A Better Juke
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The polarizing Nissan Juke (which we actually like) has found a home with some consumers. It's no surprise then that Kia is attempting to make their own version.

When we saw the Kia Provo (pictured here) at Geneva we hoped the final version would look as attractive. This 'teaser' shot from Kia of the new Kia Cub (at the top of the post) shows a design fairly similar to the concept we saw, although just 4 meters long.

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Does that make it more like a Mini Countryman, a Mini, or a Juke? Is there a difference anymore?

5th Gear: Chinese Dealers Misled Chinese-Owned Volvo

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If Chinese dealers lie to automakers like Honda or VW or sales, it's just typical over-inflated hype. When Chinese Volvo dealers lie about how much product they've moved, does it count as self-deception now that Volvo is a Chinese-owned company?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Volvo says some of its dealers inflated their sales figures so they could take in more money from cash incentives. This led Volvo to claim it gained ground in China, when in reality it lost it.

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Volvo is trying to just write this off as more of an error than outright deception:

"Our incentive program at the time created a transparency problem that meant that reported sales to end-customers didn't reflect the actual retail sales," Mr. Fröberg said in a telephone interview. "But this is not about cheating, the dealers acted within the rules of the incentive program at the time and that created ambiguity."

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Sure…

6th Gear: Ok, Sometimes Awesome Does Happen In Florida

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For all the crap we give Florida, it would be wrong not to note the historic run from Florida Gulf Coast University.

If you've watched their games, you know what we're talking about. If you haven't watched their games, there's a lot of this going on.

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Reverse: A Danica Is Born

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It turns out that Danica Patrick is almost exactly a year older than I am, having been born on this day in 1982. She is the first woman to lead a lap of the Indy 500, the first to win an IndyCar race, and an IndyCar Rookie of the Year. She's currently racing in NASCAR. You can follow along with all of our Patrick coverage here.

There's been a lot of criticism of Danica over her marketing of her sexuality, her attitude, and her driving. That was to be expected. Being the first female driver to break through in North American racing was always going to mean dealing with critics and, whatever your opinions are of her, it's hard to ignore that she's managed to do it with a public smile and a private desire to achieve something bigger. [History]

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Neutral: Tiny Crossovers

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.

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Today, tell us what you think of that crossover space where the Mini Countryman and Nissan Juke exist. Are they crossovers? Hatches? We need a name for it and we're open to suggestions. Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.

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DISCUSSION

You know, I completely understand the criticism of how Lincoln handled the MKZ's introduction, along with their marketing scheme for the car.

What I cannot for the life of me understand it the criticism of the car. Everyone says that they want Ford to make a RWD Lincoln again, and you know what? So do I. But that's not going to happen for one simple reason: at the moment, they simply don't have a suitable platform to build one.

"But they have the Falcon in Australia!"

Yes. Yes they do. In Australia. Not certified in the US, and may not meet vastly more stringent American standards. Even if it did, there is the very simple fact that it was not designed to be a luxury platform. It was designed as a high-volume model, which necessitates that some fancy things be left off for the sake of affordability. The Falcon platform may be a capable RWD platform, but it may not be a capable luxury platform. It may not meet the level of NVH requirements, or any number of other requirements, that would be expected in a car intended to go up against cars like the vaunted S-Class, whose gorgeous new interior we saw not too long ago.

And if it can't do that - and my guess is that it can't, otherwise Ford would have made more of an effort to bring it to that market - then I would rather them not make it all. I don't want another also-ran out of an American manufacturer. I don't want another 2013 Malibu. At this point, it's just getting embarrassing. At this point, if they are going to do it, then they need to do it right. They need to make it perfect. To do anything else, to fall short on such an effort, actually would doom the brand. It would never be taken seriously again.

Creating a flagship luxury car rightly takes time. Get used to it. It's going to be a while before we see one from Lincoln. But in the meantime, Lincoln needs to do something to re-establish itself as a viable brand. It can't do that by simply jumping right in the fray to compete directly with the German brands, product-by-product. Even if it did have the cars and platforms to do (which it doesn't), it would still be suicide. The German brands have decades worth of legacy and reputation of building quality cars behind them. Lincoln has decades worth of legacy and reputation for building crappy cars behind them. That difference alone would be enough to kill them if they tried to compete head-to-head with the Germans.

Instead, Lincoln needs to find its own way, its own new interpretation of luxury, and establish itself as the unquestioned leader in that particular niche. Once it's done that, it can start thinking about taking the fight to the Germans. But for the moment, the reputation Lincoln is currently stuck with didn't arise overnight, and it won't go away overnight, either. It's going to take lots of little steps, just as it took Cadillac lots of little steps (and Cadillac still isn't there yet, even after 10 years).

Right now, the MKZ is a good step. It's not trying to take on the Germans directly, but rather trying to offer an alternative. It's got distinctive styling, its interior seems up to par for its price range, and despite being FWD, it's a decidedly capable car for its class. After all, as Jalopnik was so fond of pointing out, it beat the slalom time of the vaunted M5, and came within snapping distance of the 911s slalom time, with nothing more than a tire swap. Not a more powerful engine. Not vectoring all wheel drive. Not uprated suspension. Just a tire swap. A fucking tire swap. I don't care who you are or where you're from, that's damned impressive.

The MKZ might not be the end goal that we all envision for Lincoln, and it might not be the end goal that Lincoln imagines for itself. In fact, I think that it's just the first step in Lincoln's search for a new identity. But it's a damn good first step, and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It's certainly not going to be the death of the brand, despite Torchinsky's amusing little comic.

Lincoln's marketing strategies, however, do indeed suck balls. I can't argue with you on that one.