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: Or Maybe A Crossover
It took maybe 15 minutes to realize that Dany Bahar would be a disaster as Lotus CEO, but Lotus is basically disaster incarnate so it's hard to blame him for everything. If I'm being generous, Bahar merely accelerated a crash that was surely to come.
The new boss, Jean-Marc Gales, has actual automotive experience, which is why he's probably right about Lotus having to do an SUV.
The board may decide this year to invest in a new four-door model, most likely an SUV, Gales said. Echoing Aston Martin, VW's Bentley and other luxury brands that are cautiously edging into fast-selling premium crossovers, he vowed that Lotus would "reinvent the category" rather than simply join it.
"We'd do an SUV that is very light, very fast on the track and has outstanding handling," he said. "I'm a bit torn between an SUV and a four-door sports car — but in the end I can see that the SUV has the bigger market."
It is not a lie. To Gales' credit, he did remove the useless electronically opening glovebox in the Lotus Evora. Point in his favor. He also warned us this might happen...
Welcome to the future.
2nd Gear: VW Will Build Its Next Tiguan In Mexico?
Reuters seems to have the interesting news this morning, with a source telling them that Volkswagen will spend about $1 billion expanding its Puebla plant to build the next generation Tiguan.
You'll remember the Tiguan as the halfway decent crossover that no one bought when they realized they could have an equally nice and better equipped Hyundai for like $5k less.
We should find out for sure next week.
3rd Gear: Mercedes Officially Building Vans In Charleston, S.C.
Ze Germans love Dixieland, so it's no surprise that as Mercedes-Benz moves its U.S. HQ to Atlanta in a huge tax grab, the company is also taking advantage of tax abatements and grants worth, oh, maybe tens of millions of dollars to build Sprinter vans in Charleston, South Carolina.
South Carolina is essentially the new Mexico when it comes to automotive production, with BMW also operating a humongous plant in the state.
Other states have recently lost out to Mexico on getting new auto factories, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in an interview on Thursday that those developments “woke the whole Southeast up.” Declining to comment specifically on the Daimler plant because details of the move aren’t public, she said South Carolina needed to show companies that they can be a partner and not just a source of tax breaks or other incentives.
“We need jobs and we need jobs quickly but I am not going to sell out the state,” Ms. Haley said, pointing to a solid workforce and direct access to political decision makers as reasons to invest. “We don’t throw out all kinds of money that other states do. We are not out there wasting the taxpayer’s money.”
Robert “Bobby” Hitt III, South Carolina’s secretary of commerce, said the state’s willingness to help educate future employees is important.
“Worker training is our secret sauce,” he said. The state covers the cost of training even if it means buying a plane ticket.
Louisiana will only buy you a bus ticket, so points to S.C.
4th Gear: Sergio Took Home $7.24 Million Last Year
Sergio Marchionne – unless he has some sort of secret Magic card habit we don't know about – is probably not a poor man. Still, he's basically running two global car companies now and trying to pull of a few crazy financial deals, so he's worth the $7.24 million he made last year.
Marchionne's compensation included an annual salary of about $2.76 million (2.5 million euros), a $4.41-million annual bonus (4 million euros) and other compensation valued at about $122,000 (111,000 euros), according to Thursday's exchange rates of euros to dollars.
At the current exchange rate, I hope he got his money in dollars.
5th Gear: NHTSA Thinks It's Doing Great
While previous recalls have made me wonder what, exactly, NHTSA has been doing, it seems like with Takata the agency hasn't been essing around.
Or, to quote NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind, via the Detroit News:
“The fox is not guarding the henhouse, we are,” Rosekind told Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in a Monday letter that was obtained by The Detroit News on Thursday. “NHTSA is committed to doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of the American public.”
For once that may be true.
Reverse: Didn't Even Live To See Group C
Gottlieb Daimler, the German engineer who invented an early version of the internal combustion engine and founded an auto company bearing his name, dies at the age of 65 on this day in 1900.
Neutral: Lotus SUV/CUV or Four-Door Sports Car? What should they build? What do you want them to build?
Photo Credit: Getty Images