This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 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: Ford Knows How Much You Love Churros And Lorde
Like to go to Taco Bell and sit in the parking lot whilst jamming Lorde over Pandora and crying into your grilled stuft nacho about the beauty of it all? In theory, Ford will be able to figure that out and sell you ads based on that information.
Every automaker this side of Morgan has been working to use the terabytes of data you're producing when you drive, but Ford became the poster child for Automotive Big Brother when one of their execs had the audacity to tell the truth, which is automakers know more about you thank you think.
They took flack for it, so now Ford CEO Alan Mulally is out seeking new laws to protect the rights of motorists… from Ford (and other automakers).
"It's really important that we have boundaries and guidelines," Mulally said from the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show. "I think this area of privacy — and it always has been — (is) the domain of the government."
Sounds great, right up to the moment that Karl Henkel twists the knife.
Yet even as Mulally called for regulation of driver data, Ford and other automakers are pursing new ways to use data for commercial purposes. The Dearborn-based automaker recently received a patent for targeted in-car advertisements, which collect data including GPS coordinates and other variables to decide which ad to broadcast and when it will be broadcast.
2nd Gear: Joe Biden To Take A Victory Lap At The Auto Show Today
The man who said "Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive" will be in Detroit today, the home of one of those things.
According to the Freep, he'll be in town to discuss the "resurgence" of the auto industry.
He also may or may not have met with new mayor Mike Duggan and may or may not have pleaded with Mary Barra to make a bitchin' new Trans Am.
3rd Gear: Akerson Looks Back
Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson used the Automotive News World Congress to say goodbye to much of the press as hand-picked heir Mary Barra started working.
It's worth reading this article from Automotive News, but here's a highlight:
Asked about how his legacy would be viewed, Akerson said he tried to be a coach and mentor who brought accountability to a culture that lacked it for decades.
"I want to look back at this company in 2020, 2025 and 2030, when I'm really old, and say I was part of that success," he told reporters. "I hope Mary is gangbusters successful. And my name fades to black."
If the scrum around Barra during the show was any indicator, that's already happening.
4th Gear: GM's Earnings To Only Be So-So This Year
GM took a slight hit on the markets yesterday as they projected a pre-tax profit of $7.62 billion, up from last year but not by a whole lot.
Why? Instead of tossing money into big dividends or big profits, they're going to take this windfall to invest in the future.
"We're taking advantage of strength to really take aggressive and assertive steps to fix other parts of the business," GM President Dan Ammann said on Wednesday during a presentation to auto-industry analysts in Detroit. "We're committing a large amount of cash and resources to restructure Europe and we are spending money, real money to restructure some of the international operations that will pay off substantially for us in the future."
5th Gear: Subaru To Crack 500,000 Sales by 2016?
VW's execs like to talk a lot about hitting 800,000 sales in the United States, and a million when combined with Audi, but what I think would be far more impressive is if Subaru of America was able to sell 500,000 cars by 2016.
It's not that far fetched, I guess, considering sales were up 26% to 424,683 cars last year, but it's still impressive given that Subaru is mostly on its own with product development despite being tethered to Toyota.
As Automotive News reports that's only a 6-8% annual growth to get there, although they think they'll need a seven-passenger vehicle (as does VW) that doesn't scare people.
On this day in 1997, comedian and TV star Bill Cosby's 27-year-old son Ennis Cosby is murdered after he stops to fix a flat tire along California's Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. The 405, which runs some 70 miles from Irvine to San Fernando, is known as one of the planet's busiest and most congested roadways. Construction began on Interstate 405 in the late 1950s, with the first section opening in the early 1960s.
Neutral: Who is the most impressive brand right now? Subaru? Tesla? Cadillac?
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