1st Gear: BMW has finally let loose with the full details of the refreshed 1-Series sedans going into production now. Slightly bigger in every dimension, with a reworked interior, the new 1-Series in Europe can be delivered with a choice from five different engines — two four-cylinder gas units and three diesels topping out at 184 hp, all backed by an eight-speed automatic. So far, the new 1-Series hasn't been given a U.S. visa; the U.S. will have to soldier on with its older, more powerful six-cylinder varieties.
2nd Gear: We told you yesterday about JetBlue's $4 airfare spurred by Los Angeles' upcoming Carmageddon (the Carpocalypse already came and went) due to the shutdown of Interstate 405 this weekend. The Wall Street Journal explores the dozens of ways residents are planning to cope with the loss of the area's busiest freeway — and the other sweet deals businesses are dangling in an attempt to lure Angelos into the streets this weekend. Cut-rate helicopter trips, anyone?
3rd Gear:Bloomberg reports that General Motors, the automaker that has lost $14.5 billion in Europe since 1999, blames Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn for stoking rumors that GM's German-based Opel unit is for sale. Winterkorn was quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung saying if Opel were for sale, a Chinese automaker would be more likely than Hyundai Motor Co. to buy it. Detroit-based GM said on its website that Winterkorn's comment "continues a regrettable pattern of fanning speculation" that Opel is on the sales block.
4th Gear:Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group LLC will have a single management structure soon, Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both companies, said today, as he takes another step toward merging the two carmakers. Marchionne plans to announce a unified structure "in terms of leadership pretty quickly," the executive told reporters in Zurich after a speech at the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. Marchionne, 59, declined to say whether the announcement would come along with Fiat's quarterly earnings report July 26.
5th Gear:Chrysler will recall 242,000 Dodge Ram pickups to fix a tie rod that could fracture, cause a crash and lead to a...right fiery death. (A "few" low-speed accidents and one minor injury have been reported so far, per The Detroit News) The recall covers 168,458 2008-2011 model year Ram 2500, 3500, 3500 4x4 and 3500 Cab Chassis 4x2 models, along with the 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4x4 and 74,322 2003-2008 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles that received the part after they were sold. It's the second recall for the Ram trucks involving that particular part. Fix it again, Tony.
6th Gear: German aid for car-plant projects by BMW and Volkswagen face European Union probes amid concerns the subsidies may harm competition. The European Commission said it needs to investigate whether state funding for the two projects in the German state of Saxony would violate rules restricting state aid that hurts competition in the 27-nation EU. Bloomberg reports that regulators will examine a proposed 46 million-euro ($65.2 million) grant to subsidize BMW's production of two models of electric passenger cars at its site in Leipzig. The EU said it "could not immediately decide" whether electric cars counted as new products that may be eligible for aid.
⏎ China keeps its "cash for clunkers" plan going for a third year. [Marketwatch]
⏎ Toyota will merge its subsidiaries to cut costs, keep building cars in Japan [Shanghai Daily]
⏎ Great news: It's the first drive of the 2012 Nissan Versa. [Automobile]
⏎ The Saab 9-4X finally rolls into a Saab dealer near you. Maybe, sorta. [AutoNews]
⏎ Floor mats keep Japanese auto dealers afloat [DriveOn/USAToday]
Raymond Loewy, the hugely influential industrial designer who put his mark on the American automobile industry with groundbreaking vehicles such as the Studebaker Champion, Starliner and Avanti, dies on this day in 1986 at his home in Monte Carlo at the age of 92. [History]
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