This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 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?
Earlier this month we did things a little differently by putting the gears inside the comments below to make it easier for you to comment on individual gears. I think there were some benefits to it, but let's try it out the other way.
I still encourage you to make your own gears in the comments that we can star to the top.
1st Gear: The Small Pickup Brigade Is Almost Back
Big trucks mean big money, but higher fuel prices and slowly growing employment means automakers are finally regaining some sense and considering making smaller trucks again, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In the meantime, Toyota and Nissan will still enjoy almost all of the market.
2nd Gear: About That Emergency Manager…
Everything in Detroit is about race and cars, but rarely about race cars. If you don't believe it read yesterday's take on Kwame Kilpatrick's conviction. How you feel about it probably has a lot to do with your race.
As The Detroit News reports, a high-level source says the administration of Governor Rick Snyder wants to appoint attorney Kevyn D. Orr to take over Detroit as an emergency manager. Orr is extremely well qualified, having represented Chrysler LLC in their bankruptcy, and he's also black.
Since the white folks fled to the suburbs and Coleman Young took over as mayor the entire city has been run, with few exceptions, by African Americans. Whatever Orr's qualifications, the idea that white Republican Rick Snyder could send anything but someone who isn't to Detroit is laughable.
Current Mayor Bing, for his part, is doing his best to prevent an emergency manager at all.
3rd Gear: Government Motors Now With Slightly Less Government
The Treasury Department is now lighter about $500 million in GM stock as the government ramps up its quiet selling of the company. The average price in that time, according to The Detroit Free Press, was about $26 to $28 per share.
This means the government offloaded about 18 million shares at a pretty healthy loss. Given that we still own about 270 million shares, the Freep thinks we'd need about $72 per share to break even for the rest of it. The stock is going up, but not by that much.
4th Gear: The Vauxhall Cascada Is The Opel Insignia Is The Buick Regal Convertible
Vauxhall is getting its version of the Opel Insignia convertible which, we hope, will spawn a roadster version of the very nice Buick Regal.
It may be odd that we'd ask for a convertible mid-sizer because, you know, we're not a 40-year-old assistant school principle with a crippling Diet Coke addiction. But it's undeniable that the new Regal is a good car and that, if the millions of Sebring convertibles are any guide, there's a market for them.
Because it's a Brit, the vehicle gets a 1.6-liter gas engine, a higher performance 2.0-liter with nearly 200 horsepower, and a 1.4-liter and 2.0-liter turbo diesel.
5th Gear: Toyoda Shakes That Shit Up
You'd think Akio Toyoda is the scion of a fertilizer family given the amount of shit he's inherited the last few years: natural disasters, unintended acceleration, the Toyota Corolla. Yet, right now is the best we've felt about Toyota in the last 20 years.
As another good sign, Automotive News says Toyoda is shaking up the Toyota power structure so half the company is run not by hand-picked Japanese execs but by local leaders who understand their own markets better.
Take Jim Lentz, a managing officer in charge of Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., who was named to the new post of North America CEO. Lentz will run solo, with no Japanese shadow executive east of Tokyo.
And Kazuo Ohara, Lexus' global executive vice president, will be transferred to California to head Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., reporting to Lentz. That shuffle upends the historical setup of an American executive heading Toyota Motor Sales under a Japanese boss who resides in North America.
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