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More on Japan's multi-Ferrari crash, Ram Power Wagon wins real truck award, and the Saab story continues

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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: "World's Costliest Car Crash" 14-Car Japanese Supercar Smash-Up A "Gathering Of Narcissists"
An officer responding to yesterday's massive multi-million-dollar Japanese supercar crash — eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini, three Mercedes-Benzes, and a Prius were among the 14 cars involved — called the car convoy a "gathering of narcissists." Mitsuyoshi Isejima, executive officer for Yamaguchi Prefecture's Expressway Traffic Police unit, told Bloomberg the person suspected of causing the accident, a 60-year-old self-employed man from Fukuoka prefecture, may now face up to three months in jail or a fine of as much as 100,000 yen ($1,280), said Isejima. The accident included a Ferrari F-360 that costs more than 18 million yen ($231,000). It took longer than six hours to clear the highway of wreckage, Isejima said.


2nd Gear: Bank Of China May Take Stake In Saab
Automotive News and SaabsUnited report that Saab's owner, Swedish Automobile, said on Monday it is in discussions with a Chinese bank and Chinese automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile over a rescue deal for Saab. Media reports said on Sunday that the Bank of China, the country's fourth-largest bank by market value, would replace China's Pang Da as an investor in Saab, which is under bankruptcy protection. Right, because swapping out a state-backed automaker and replacing it with a 29.9% ownership by a state-backed bank should totally help alleviate fears on GM's part that their technology and intellectual property won't fall into the wrong hands.

3rd Gear: 2012 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Named Four Wheeler "Truck Of The Year"
The 2012 Ram 2500 Power Wagon's been named Four Wheeler magazine's "2012 Pickup Truck of the Year." To qualify for the competition, a vehicle must have been entirely new or have substantial mechanical revisions from a previous model year. Also, you know, unlike some wussy North American competitions for "Truck of the Year," it's got to actually be a truck. And not a Mini Countryman. Just sayin'...



4th Gear: Mercedes-Benz Boosts 'Bama Output, Jailed Employees
According to Automotive News Europe, Daimler plans a third shift and 30% more output at its Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama next year, citing a letter sent to employees. Mercedes plans to build 185,900 units at the Vance factory next year, and will introduce the third shift from Aug. 20, Automotive News said. As an added incentive, Alabama has promised to jail 30% more foreign Daimler employees visiting the state by the same date. See, these are the type of corporate-government partnerships we need more of.

5th Gear: A Diesel X6M? Sure.
I don't care what you say. I absolutely love the BMW X6M. It might not fit into some enthusiasts' classifications — what with the X6 having a form factor derived from an unholy love-child of a crossover, sedan, and an "In Living Color" fly girl — but those folks haven't driven it. The thing's absolutely brilliant. And since its form factor alone defies convention, maybe it can be the first M car to defy convention with its powertrain. Like, for example, with a tri-turbo diesel engine — as some claim this teaser trailer's showing. All I know is that if it's got the same ass-waggingly amazing numbers of the current X6M, it can be powered with electric farts for all I care.


6th Gear: America's Hottest Brands Are Not So Hot
We'd heard last week that three vehicles — the Kia Soul, Chevy Cruze and Jeep Wrangler — were named to Ad Age's list of America's 25 hottest brands that "sizzle from strong sales, big buzz, savvy marketing." Sounds good, right? Yeah — you know what other "hot brands" are on that list? Malt-O-Meal cereal (you know, for the olds and the poors), Arizona Tea (you know, for the who-the-hell-buys-this-crap), DC Comics (yeah, you know, the not-quite-as-cool-as-Marvel comic book company), a brand of pickle juice (you know, for the people who are stupid), and a college textbook-rental company named "Chegg." Yeah, so totally hot, dudes. Totally.



⏎ Even on the 11th Floor, There's Parking Right Out Front. [New York Times]

⏎ Hey buddy, distracted driving applies to you, too. [BeCarChic]

⏎ Slow Sales Dogged Volt Before Fires. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ U.S. Automakers Set for Best Year Since 2008. [Bloomberg]

⏎ Subaru expects image boost from BRZ. [Automotive News]

⏎ Kurt Busch Reported Out At Penske Racing. [Motor Authority]

⏎ Grim Findings in Latin Crash Tests. [New York Times]

⏎ First drive: Mazda electrifies. [GoAuto]

⏎ Great price, perfect condition on Craigslist: It's a steal. [Detroit News]

⏎ Hot Nissan Juke Nismo by 2013. [What Car?]

⏎ How Cruze became GM's top-selling car. [Automotive News]

⏎ Former Miss USA Rima Fakih arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after appointing herself designated driver. [Detroit Free Press]


⏎ And on that bombshell... [ThinkGeek]

Today in Automotive History:

On this day, highway administrators pile into a car and take a ceremonial drive through a paper ribbon at the entrance to the final segment, known as the West Leg, of the infamous Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. (Most of the Dan Ryan proper had opened in 1961; construction on the West Leg, or Interstate 57, began in 1967.) The road got its name from Cook County Chairman Dan Ryan, who had written the 1955 bond issue that directed many millions of dollars to the county's expressway-building fund. Today, his namesake road, despite being one of the widest in the world, is known for its frequent traffic jams. [History]


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