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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?

1st Gear: Let The Games Begin
The Independent writes about the moment that Britain has been waiting the past seven years for: the start of the 2012 summer Olympic Games. This year, as never before, there's been a lot of focus on how people will get to the games, and whether it's fair to make it easier for some to get there than others. "Things will, inevitably, go wrong," writes Tom Peck. "Trains will be cancelled, platforms rammed, taxi meters will tick up towards eternity while the traffic never moves and the big boys zoom past in their BMWs on their way to some other segment of the Greatest Show on Earth to which you probably haven't got a ticket."

Over the next two weeks, we'll see plenty of car commercials, starting tonight when Cadillac kicks off its effort to prove the ATS is the equal of the BMW 3-series. And commercials for a lot of other things. But we'll also be seeing a lot of athletes, breathtakingly young, seasoned and fading, who spend their lives getting ready to compete. I've been to one Olympics and hope I can get to more someday. Some of these competitors are paid millions of dollars; some go broke trying to get to the Olympics. We'll probably fume with frustration when NBC runs yet another up close and personal interview, and at least in Detroit, we'll be escaping to the CBC for relief.


But no matter what you think of the Olympics, it's going to be an emotional moment when that mystery athlete lights the cauldron. At least tonight, give credit to the people whose lives will be decided by how they perform in London. Their speed and skill is something to acknowledge and appreciate.


2nd Gear: It's A Euro-Throwdown!
The Detroit News reports on a good old-fashioned throwdown between Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and Volkswagen. Marchionne fired first, declaring in the International Herald Tribune that VW was essentially taking advantage of Europe's weak state to dump cars on the market at abnormally low prices. "It's a bloodbath of pricing and it's a bloodbath on margins," Marchionne said. In response, VW angrily demanded Marchionne's ouster as president of ACEA, the European car manufacturers' association. Marchionne's blood pressure probably went up when he saw VW's second-quarter profits, which were better than anybody else in Europe has yet reported.


3rd Gear: Like This Look? You're Going to See It A Lot
Remember when Lexus unveiled its "spindle grille" on the Lexus LF-LC concept car at the Detroit auto show? Well, according to a newsletter that was sent to Lexus owners, that look is going to show up across the Lexus lineup. "Every new Lexus model will have the spindle grille, each model showcasing its own interpretation to define that model's individuality," Lexus says in the newsletter. Lexus is aiming for an approach it calls "progressive luxury," that will be achieved through advanced technology and more aggressive styling.

Toyota executive Kiyotaka Ise, who is in charge of Lexus, says the brand will be rolling out the changes over the next 14 months; some of them are already appearing. He says customers will be the jury on whether the approach works. "If customers appreciate a car, then it's a good car. If they don't, it isn't. Our customers determine whether or not it's good," he says. Ise works for a guy who likes to taste his car before he offers it to the customer, so we suspect there's a lot of Akio in this new direction.


4th Gear: Aiming For A Lighter F-series
The Wall Street Journal reports Ford is taking a gamble and developing the next-generation F-series with an aluminum body rather than steel. The move is expected to cut the 2014 F-series weight by about 700 pounds, resulting in a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy. Ford's move only affects the F-150, not the heavier Ford trucks. It's aiming for the reduction to meet new federal fuel economy standards. But there are big risks involved. First, an aluminum body will be expensive. One analyst estimates it could cost $1,500 more per vehicle than steel. And, some owners might be skeptical that aluminum really can be Ford Tough.


5th Gear: Ford Plans A Big Escape Recall
Meanwhile, ABC News reports Ford plans to recall nearly half a million Escapes built from 2001 to 2004. The action comes after a high-profile investigation by a Phoenix TV station into the death of a 17-year-old Arizona girl. Federal safety investigators found discovered the accelerator pedal's speed control cables could become stuck on an engine cover when the pedal is almost fully depressed, according to a notice from NHTSA. The recall is separate from another involving the new version of the Escape.


6th Gear: Peeking Inside The New S-Class
Motor Trend took a look inside the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It says the new German flagship has to have a wow factor, because it will be up against a new version of the Lexus LS. According to Motor Trend, there are two new circular air vents each for the driver and front passenger, with a circular analog clock appearing to replace the square-ish unit on the current Benz. It says the infotainment screen seems to have been stretched, which Motor Trend thinks is a good move considering the midsize 2013 Lexus GS sedan can be had with a huge 12.3-inch screen.


VW Creates A Beetle Cage For Shark Week [USA Today]

The Average Wait For A Bus In New Delhi: 70 Minutes {Atlantic Cities]

Jay Leno Clears Out His Fiat 500 Special Edition [Los Angeles Times]

BMW "Astonished" By A Trademark Ruling In South Africa [Business Day]

Peugeot Says Its Deal With BMW Is In Question [Wall Street Journal, sub. required]


VW Trying To Perfect Passat Cupholders {Times Free Press]

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, we'd like to hear what you think of an aluminum F-series. Is this a smart direction for Ford, given the strict fuel economy standards that are coming up? Will it be a financial boondoggle? Are you more or less likely to buy an aluminum pickup? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.


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