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:Today's the set-up day before the press preview at the Geneva motor show, and among the early reveals will be the MTM's chromed Audi R8, with 777 horsepower, 700 hours of work in polishing the body and seven potential buyers. Good for 60 mph in three seconds. We'll have more from Geneva, thanks to our own Ray Wert who flew over for the show and to snag duty-free Toblerones.
2nd Gear:After criticizing Ford for stuffing too many electric geegaws in its cars, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was invited out to Dearborn for a spin in Ford's driving distraction simulator. She surveys the battle lines between Ford execs who know they can't stop people from using cell phones while in the car, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who thinks he can.
3rd Gear:Oil prices are cruising along just under $98 a barrel, thanks to Libyan protestors who are OK with keeping the pumps flowing. But don't worry — oil traders are ready to race past $100 and stay there, what with Yemen and Oman now looking a little shaky as well. (And yes, when you fill your Aston Martin in Beverly Hills, you're paying $4.55 for premium.)
4th Gear:Gibbs Technologies, the British brainiacs behind the Amphicar, have filed a patent application for what looks like an amphibious trike. A watergoing Can-Am spyder; perfect for the driver who just can't decide between any regular vehicle.
5th Gear:Fresh off a booming year for sales and flooding the Oscars with ads, Hyundai's ready to take on BMW by building a direct competitor to the 3-Series, off the Genesis platform. To be a true competitor, Hyundai would also need to develop the technology behind $5,000 paint jobs that can't be washed.
6th Gear:Meanwhile, Hyundai's little brother Kia also has visions of world-beating grandeur, if the spy shots of a big rear-wheel drive sedan dubbed the K9, looking all Euro-upscale are anything to go by. How many luxury car lines can the Chung family come up with?
⏎ U.S. auto sales figures out Tuesday may show the strongest pace since "cash for clunkers." [Bloomberg]
⏎ Shanghai General Motors, GM's joint-venture in China, recalls 233,000 vehicles for bad fuel lines that could lead to...wait for it...fiery death! [AFP]
⏎ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs more time to write rules for backup cameras. [Detroit News]
⏎ That guy in the stands at the Oscars who looked like Top Gear America's Rutledge Wood? It wasn't Rutledge Wood, whose with his co-hosts having tea and crumpets with Richard Hammond today. [Twitter]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1940, in the town of Montona, Italy, Mario Andretti was born. We imagine the scene was similar to the Stig's nativity. [History]
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