This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. 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: But It Only Gets Harder From Here
The good news: OMG cars are so efficient, hitting a 2013 MY average of 24.1 MPG, up 0.5 MPG over 2012 and an impressive 5 mpg from 2004 when we all decided it would be smart to drive giant trucks with seats bolted carelessly in the back and festooned with the badges from outdoorsy shops few of the buyers ever shopped at.
The best performer? Mazda with an average of 28.1 mpg. The worst? Chrysler at 20.9 mpg because all anyone wants is Jeeps and Rams. Nissan (zoom zoom!) was up the most, hitting 26.2 mpg from 24.1 mpg the prior year.
Jerry Hirsch, typically a bright and bubbly font of optimism, is here with a bit of a buzzkill reality check:
Despite the 2013 gains, Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, said the auto industry is not moving quickly enough to meet federal fuel economy and pollution reduction targets for 2025. Preliminary projections by the EPA indicate that fuel economy will barely budge this year, to just 24.2 mpg.
"The Environmental Protection Agency's fuel efficiency Trends Report demonstrates that the automakers are thumbing their collective noses at the Obama administration's mileage and emissions rules," Becker said.
Under a different measurement — generated in a federal test laboratory — auto companies must reach an average fleet fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025. That laboratory target translates to about 40 miles per gallon in actual driving, according to EPA officials.
In real world terms, fuel economy will have to increase by more than one mile per gallon annually through 2025, or by about 67% from the 2013 level, to meet the federal goal. But the preliminary 2014 data indicate that auto industry fuel economy has "flat-lined," Becker said.
We should all clearly buy Mazdas now.
2nd Gear: What Is Toledo Getting?
The good news: There's no way that Chrysler's Toledo plant is suddenly going to vanish and lose all of its jobs.
The bad news: It may not be building a new Jeep Wranger.
As you can see from the above story, Chrysler's fleet fuel economy sucks ass, so an aluminum Wrangler is probably a given. That means that Chrysler could shift production away from its ancestral home in Toledo, Ohio to one of their existing plants, leaving Toledo to build...?
Welcome to the new American auto industry, where restructured companies are juggling conflicting realities. Marchionne is weighing his intent to satisfy market demand with existing plant capacity against the investment and production implications of adopting new technology to meet aggressive federal targets.
Something has to give.
The "discussions that have gone in the past about the F-150 ... going to aluminum are going on inside our house now," Marchionne said in Paris, according to a transcript provided by Chrysler.
"If the solution is aluminum, then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong set up to try and build a Wrangler because it requires a complete ... reconfiguring of the assets which would be cost prohibitive," he continued, adding that it would be "so outrageously expensive for us to try and work out that facility."
Yep. It's all connected.
3rd Gear: Audi's 'Best Ever' September Isn't Enough
Most autojournos this morning got an email from Audi proclaiming a "best ever September" for the brand with 159,950 vehicles sold, up 6.4% year-over-year. It's great news until you consider that Mercedes sold 162,746 cars, for their best month in their entire history as Reuters reports.
Ze Germans are so close to one another in terms of car sales and we're all benefitting from the competition with better cars at lower prices.
BMW is still winning, of course, and will probably carry the year, but it's tight.
4th Gear: How Much Of Caddy's SoHo Move Is Window Dressing?
Cadillac is moving to SoHo just in time for Gawker Media to move out of it (maybe they'll move into our office?), but will it make them cool? Does anyone actually care?
Everything that Cadillac has done up until this point has only allowed it to be in the discussion. It’s an American legacy luxury brand with global ambitions, but it’s not even at the head table of today’s mainstream luxury arena. Instead, it’s sitting over at the kids’ table desperate for attention.
And that is simply not a sustainable business plan.
So de Nysschen has everyone’s attention, from CEO Mary Barra on down, and that’s not only good, it’s essential.
5th Gear: Luca Di Ain't The Only One Departing Ferrari
BMW has managed to pick up Ferrari's chief engineer, Roberto Fedeli, for an 'unknown job' that, I guess, will be in engineering.
Fedeli reportedly left Ferrari in September, although no reason is given as to why.
You guys thinking what I'm thinking? The return of the mid-engined BMW! (Note: this is probably not happening).
Reverse: The Value Of The Car Immediately Tripled
On this day in 1992, 18-year-old Michelle Knapp is watching television in her parents' living room in Peekskill, New York when she hears a thunderous crash in the driveway. Alarmed, Knapp ran outside to investigate. What she found was startling, to say the least: a sizeable hole in the rear end of her car, an orange 1980 Chevy Malibu; a matching hole in the gravel driveway underneath the car; and in the hole, the culprit: what looked like an ordinary, bowling-ball–sized rock. It was extremely heavy for its size (it weighed about 28 pounds), shaped like a football and warm to the touch; also, it smelled vaguely of rotten eggs. The next day, a curator from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City confirmed that the object was a genuine meteorite.
Neutral: Will MPG Stall Out This Year? Or will changing tastes and changing technology keep the progress going?
Photo Credit: Getty Images