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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?

This space has essentially become a vanity card for me where I get to write about what's going on during the week. I have no idea if anyone reads it or not, but here it is.

Going into this season I knew the Astros would be bad, but the opening day victory gave me this false belief that we'd have a better season than everyone thought we'd have. Alas, we went on a six game skid due mostly to cold bats.

Last night? They got 16 runs and hit five dingers. That's the great thing about a young team. When they're great they're amazing, they just don't know how to be great for more than a game or two at a time.

1st Gear: The 2014 F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition Is Neither A Special Nor An Edition, Discuss


Everyone knows we're suckers for the F-150 SVT Raptor. We're in the bag for it. Say the word "Raptor" and we get a big, stupid grin and go borderline catatonic. Drool forms at the corner of our mouths as we picture ourselves blasting over Baja jumps with Merle Haggard blasting over the speakers. DAT SUSPENSION TRAVEL.

But, c'mon Ford. The 2014 Raptor Special Edition is the kind of sticker package special that we'd hoped automakers were done with. What do you get from Ford?

Ford today reveals the 2014 F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition, which adds unique new touches to Raptor’s existing Luxury Package, including a Ruby Red Metallic exterior color and box-side graphics. Interior upgrades include Brick Red seat bolsters with black inserts and cloth honeycomb highlights, console top finish panel, and center stack and door panel appliqué accents. Raptor Special Edition is also available in Tuxedo Black Metallic.


Look, the fake mud on the outside is a finer grain than the fake mud on a regular Raptor! Or it's Camo or something.

Oh well, so long as it has that sweet sweet Torsen limited-slip diff do we really care?

2nd Gear: GM Goes Back To Facebook


Then GM Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick famously said he'd pull the company's Facebook ad spending right before Facebook's IPO. It created a massive headache for the tech company at the worst possible time.

Guess what? Facebook is still here, Ewanick isn't, and now The Detroit News reports that some of those "new roads" that GM is hoping to find are going to run through Facebook.

That ads will be for the Sonic and will appear on mobile phones.

3rd Gear: EcoMotors Goes To China


EcoMotors, the company building an opposed-piston turbodiesel engine, has signed a $200 million deal to build a plant in China according to Automotive News.

Here's a brief explainer we did on the opposed-piston engine. It's an odd concept but one we're excited about.


The first engines will be sold to electronic generator manufacturers, but could see vehicle use as early as 2015.

4th Gear: Ford Still Flat Rocking It In Michigan


Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant, home of Ford Mustang, is continuing to look for new employees as some production of the new Fusion moves to that plant (which used to assemble the Fusion and Mazda6 before the Mazda6 moved to Japan).

Of the 1,400 jobs added to the plant, only about a third will be new hires Ford tells the Detroit Free Press. The rest will be transfers, temporary workers promoted up, or former employees from other plants.

This production isn't replacing the shifts in Hermosillo, rather just augmenting it based on the popularity of the new sedan.


5th Gear: China Has 170 Automakers

When the U.S. car market first formed, the nascent industry was full of small brands like Abbot-Detroit, Binney & Burnham, and Maxwell-Briscoe. Over time, these companies either folded or were gobbled up into other companies until we were left with The Big Three.


Because of local government incentives to create new, Chinese-based companies, China now has more than 170 automakers. This isn't a good thing. Companies like Jonway, reports The Wall Street Journal, sells fewer cars in a year than Volkswagen sells there in a day.

Eventually, they're going to have to consolidate, but the desire to do so isn't there. Give the WSJ a read, it's a fascinating look into China's strange market.

Reverse: From Sandor To John

On this day in 1879, Sandor Herz—the future John Hertz, the man behind what will one day be the world’s largest car-rental company—is born in present-day Slovakia.


Hertz immigrated to America with his family as a child and grew up in Chicago. In 1915, he founded the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago as a means of providing affordable transportation to average citizens. Yellow Cab franchises soon opened across the country. In 1923, Hertz bought a rental-car company from Walter Jacobs, who had founded the Chicago-based business in 1918 with a fleet of Ford Model Ts. Hertz renamed the business Hertz Drive-Ur-Self Corporation, and in 1926, it was acquired by General Motors (GM). John Hertz became a member of the board of directors of GM, which in the 1920s overtook Ford to become the world’s biggest automaker.


Neutral: Special Editions Are you offended when an automaker calls something "special" and, yet, it's mostly just stickers and trim? Or is this something that just offends the autojournos who have to read these press releases?


Photo Credit: Getty Images