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: All They Needed Is An Italian Company
We've long known that the Mercedes CLA was going to underpin an entry-level Infiniti product and now we have more details of the deal which will have Nissan producing both their own products and Mercedes products at their plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
This will be the biggest thing the two companies do together and will bring the FWD Mercedes platform to the U.S., from its current production in Hungary.
So what's going on here? Nissan-Renault still has growth issues and allows them to save a ton on development and in return Mercedes expands manufacturing options and makes more money from its new platform (many think Mercedes merely breaks even on the CLA).
It's also more proof of the coming world of consolidated global automotive companies, with Nissan-Renault-Daimler forming one strong Franco-German-Japanese axis.
2nd Gear: Can Ford Keep Changing, Part One
No one with any kind of functioning central nervous system should have to debate which car company in Detroit has done the best over the last decade: It's Ford.
With Mulally out to spend his days chatting with Matt Miller on the phone, what's up for the future of the company? Here's take one from Daniel Howes.
I think this is the right question:
The corollary at Ford, and for Fields, is whether eight years of Mulallyism sufficiently exorcised demons of the past — complacency, overconfidence, a sense that the return of good times measured in billions in net income means restored concessions for hourlies, fatter bonuses for salaried, gilded perks for the people at the top.
3rd Gear: Can Ford Keep Changing, Part TwoThere's a terrible "Ford Trend Conference" going on today and Hamilton Nolan from Gawker went and should be able to rip it apart with his usual thoroughness, but here's a taste from Alisa Priddle.
Fields brought along celebrities in the fields of fashion and innovative thinking: American designer Kenneth Cole and innovator and author Clayton Christensen.
Cole, who started in the shoe business, noted that shoes as a means of transportation predates Henry Ford — and have fewer recalls.
Today, "there is not a woman in the U.S. who needs another pair of black shoes," Cole told a captive audience, but it is his job to convince them.
To do that, he said he has had to adjust his thinking in sync with today's social media trends.
Must. not. brad. up. breakfast.
4th Gear: China Wants Its Own Teslas
China will probably relax some of the existing barriers to creating new electric car companies so that they don't end up buying nothing but Teslas in the future.
"Production licenses are hard to come by when China is trying to consolidate the industry," said Steve Man, Hong Kong- based Asia automotive analyst at Bloomberg Industries. "This is a chance for China to take a global lead in EVs and transform itself into a technology leader in a mature auto industry that has traditionally been led by the West and its neighbors to the east."
Can China produce people with that right mix of hopeful idealist and demented supervillain necessary to start their own Teslas?
5th Gear: There Was A Chance Takata Wasn't Going To Be In The Red?
I'm kind of shocked we need this story asking whether or not Japanese airbag maker Takata is going to lose money this year. If they weren't something is terribly, terribly wrong considered they're recalling what seems like, oh, everything, they've ever made.
Although it seems that way, the reality is they've made many more of these airbags and it's not like there are so many suppliers that everyone can just suddenly quit Takata.
Reverse: A Proud Day
On this day in 1956, the U.S. Congress approves the Federal Highway Act, which allocates more than $30 billion for the construction of some 41,000 miles of interstate highways; it will be the largest public construction project in U.S. history to that date.
Neutral: Can Ford Keep It Up?
Is the company so changed that Fields can just continue the Mulally banner?
Photo Credit: AP Images