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: Tesla Soon To Be No Longer In Debt To The Government
Sometimes, you gotta call a "win" a "win." The green energy loan program started by President Bush and carried out by President Obama has seen its share of massive failures, but Tesla today became the first company to repay all of its U.S. Department of Energy loans, nine years ahead of schedule and with a net gain of $12 million to U.S. Taxpayers.
What Tesla did, smartly, was squeeze out every dime to make a profit, watched their stock price soar, borrowed more money from Goldman Sachs. So, basically, Elon Musk has traded his debt held by the government to debt held by Goldman Sachs and has leveraged his other companies to do so.
Ford and Nissan, who took massive government loans as well, are still on schedule to slowly repay their debt. Taxpayers are likely to lose millions on Fisker and A123Systems.
2nd Gear: Will New Jersey Drivers Have To Pay A GPS-Monitored Mileage Tax?
There's a massive discrepancy between gasoline taxes and transportation needs for nearly every state. For instance, New Jersey's transportation system is $14.3 billion in debt but the tax revenues from gasoline sales just covers the $991 million debt payment.
You can stop paying for roads, but if you've driven in New Jersey lately you're probably aware of what that's not a great idea. Initially, a State Senator proposed a bill that would use a GPS device to track mileage.
That was shot down and has been replaced by a yearly fee of $50 for EV and CNG vehicles. Totally the same.
3rd Gear: So Much For Summer Vacation
Workers at The Big Three plants in North America have a problem: The cars they make are suddenly popular. Sure, it means more money and work for them, but it also means more work for them. The summer vacation they'd gotten used to is going away, reports Karl Henkel.
Automakers customarily idle their plants for two weeks during the summer, but in recent years have been reducing that off-time — allowing them to produce tens of thousands more vehicles. This year, for instance, nearly all of Chrysler’s engine, transmission and stamping plants will work straight through the summer.
All the fun will have to be restricted to "Summer Nights." Oh well-ah-well-ah!
4th Gear: Sergio Marchionne Apologizes For "WOP" Engine Comment
Sergio Marchionne made headlines at this year's Detroit Auto Show when he said all Alfa Romeo's must have a "wop engine." This is, of course, an outdated racial slur for Italians.
According to Automotive News, Marchionne responded to a complaint from a New Jersey-based organization dedicated to protecting Italian Americans against stereotyping, bias, and discrimination by apologizing.
He said the remark was "in jet" but acknowledged that it was irresponsible. He was later heard to say, while trying on sweaters, "And really, I'm not against international cooperation. Think of all the cars we have based on kraut hardware!"
5th Gear: See The Cars From F&F6
They'll be on display in University City on the famous CityWalk "5 Towers" on Thursday, May 23rd as part of a larger screening. There will also be advanced screenings of the film at 7:15, 10:00 PM and midnight.
Reverse: How Paul Newman Became A Car Guy
On this day in 1969, the legendary actor, philanthropist and automobile enthusiast Paul Newman makes his onscreen racing debut in the action-drama film "Winning." Three years after making the film, Newman launched a racing career of his own, driving a Lotus Elan in his first Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race in 1972. In the mid-1970s, he joined a racing team, and they finished in fifth place in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1977. Newman's personal best finish was second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979; he drove a Porsche 935. In 1980, Newman talked to Sports Illustrated about his entry into racing after "Winning": "I found I had enjoyed the precision of it, of controlling those cars... I could see it would be a gas to do something like that really well."
Neutral: Does This Change How You Feel About Tesla?
Photo Credit: Getty Images