Monday, May 2nd, 2011

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


1st Gear: I graduated high school with a kid named Ted Adderley. We both were often in competition with each other, and as is often the case with kids, we would often times even come to verbal and physical blows. Still, looking back on it, it made both of us stronger. By the end of high school we both had a grudging respect for each other and even stood up for each other as Seniors on the lacrosse team at our high school. Sadly, we lost touch when we went to college — so I never knew he went to work for Fred Alger Management on the 93rd floor of Tower One until September 13th, 2001. He was there, already diligently working, early in the morning on September 11th and didn't make it out. Although Ted wasn't a particularly great lover of cars, he always had good taste in them — an admirer of beautiful cars, usually the more expensive, the better. Ted was a competitive bastard, and although today I'm obviously remembering him more than others, I won't ever forget him.

2nd Gear: Crude oil futures tumbled in early Asian trade Monday following news Osama Bin Laden has been confirmed dead. Although his death will likely have little immediate effect on political stability and oil production in countries such as Libya, however it does raise hopes that geopolitical risks in the oil-producing regions of the Middle East and Central Asia could be reduced. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in June traded at $112.33 a barrel, down $1.60 in the Globex electronic session. June Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange fell $1.15 to $124.74 a barrel.


3rd Gear: This is the Porsche Panamera diesel, and if it's how Porsche plans to hit their CO2 targets, then count us in. Sadly, Porsche isn't counting the U.S. in as the four-door engine variant's set to join the German carmaker's Euro line-up in August, with a claimed combined fuel mileage on the European cycle of 36.2 mpg (US) and a claimed range of 766 miles. That'll make it the most fuel-efficient Porsche ever — bettering the 31.8 mpg (US) of the similarly-powered Cayenne diesel. Powering the Panamera diesel is an upgraded version of the Audi-built 3.0-liter V6 common rail diesel engine used in the Cayenne diesel. It produces 247 hp between 3800 and 4400 rpm and 405 lb-ft of torque between 1750 and 2750 rpm. That's ten horses more than the same powertrian produces in the Cayenne diesel, and while torque remains the same, it's developed some 250 rpm earlier in the rev range. That'll help Porsche reach its claimed 0-to-62 mph time of 6.8 seconds. Which, given the fuel economy, ain't too shabby. Where do we sign the petition to get Porsche to bring it stateside?


4th Gear: Just hours ago, Chrysler Group reported a 2011 Q1 profit of $116 million — its first quarterly net profit since company began operations in 2009. It's a really big shift for Chrysler, the only Detroit automaker to lose money last year, to go to earning $116 million in the quarter, after losing $197 million in the period a year ago. Revenue also grew 35%, to $13.1 billion, while sales were up 18%. Boy, President Obama's having a pretty good day today, eh?


5th Gear: The next-generation Malibu may be, as GM North American President Mark Reuss puts it, "the next step in a complete transformation of the Chevrolet passenger car lineup in less than two years." But it masks the dirty little secret of the big bowtie-branded car that's been left behind: the Impala — a car built on a platform that dates back nearly 20 years. Its V6 pushrod engine has less punch than many modern four-bangers. The next-generation Impala isn't expected until 2014 — eight years since it was last restyled and re-engineered — and 14 years removed from a full redesign. Meanwhile, the Ford Taurus, a key competitor in the large-sedan segment, is getting a makeover for 2013, less than four years after a redesign. Automotive News says the aging Impala is part of "GM's bankruptcy hangover." A rear-drive version that had been scheduled for the 2011 model year was scrapped as part of the deep cost-cutting of 2008 and 2009. Redoing the front-drive version then took a back seat to the rest of the car lineup.


6th Gear: Analysts worry that first-quarter momentum in U.S. car and light truck sales is tapering off - a sign the industry's recovery could be a rougher ride than they'd anticipated.
April started strong, but took a dive as gas prices spiked, storms ravaged the Midwest and South, and parts supply shortages in earthquake-stricken Japan squeezed new car and truck inventories, analysts say. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe we'll get an Osama bump in car sales?


⏎ Federal auto safety regulators have opened an investigation into 200,000 newer Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs over complaints that the window glass in the liftgate shattered without warning. [Detroit News]


⏎ Saab seeks a new savior... from China. [Automotive News]

⏎ Testing the price of the McQueen provenance. [New York Times]

⏎ Detroiters split on Bloomberg plan to repopulate the city with immigrants. I can't imagine why that might be divisive to a metro area that could have coined the phrase "They took 'r jobs!" [Detroit News]


⏎ What the hell is "Koreapean?" [Automotive News]

⏎ "Fast Five" cars visit Leno's garage. [Motor Authority]

⏎ Today's my birthday. What did you get me?

Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1918, General Motors Corporation, which will become the world's largest automotive firm, then became the second largest and now will probably become the world's largest again, acquires Chevrolet Motor Company. [History]


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