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: Apple Is Making People Freak Out Without Doing Anything
If you have never been on the internet before, you might not have heard the big news this week: Apple is making a car called Project Titan.
That's great, right? Well, the problem is that Apple has not said a goddamn word.
Basically, people have seen a minivan with equipment on it that was registered to Apple and then they got curious. Then "insiders" started talking about how Apple is getting ready to take down Tesla and has "hundreds" of engineers working on a car project.
And guess what? The internet has run wild.
The Apple car is exactly what investors want. A car would be the final piece of Apple's puzzle. Is Apple going to challenge Tesla with an electric car? Will the Apple Car be self driving or not? If Apple's car business gets as big as Porsche, guess how much more money they'll make? Apple's surprise isn't that it's building a new car it's that it's not buying Tesla. Everything we know about the mysterious Apple car. Move over Tesla, Apple Car reportedly revs its engine in secret.
Those are just a selection of real headlines. It's nuts.
But how do we know they aren't working on integration with a current automaker? What about the rise of new mapping technology? What about just driving a weird van? Maybe people are lying?
These reports have raised more questions than answers. Who would they partner with to build it? Cars are harder to build than phones. Has Apple registered any autonomous vehicles? They'd have to if they're testing an autonomous car on the streets. Hiring an engineer from Ford (who worked on the iPhone), one from Mercedes, and some from Tesla doesn't mean a car is coming. Maybe they went to Apple because they got tired of cars.
Who knows for sure. Apple might be working on a car, but they might also be working on connected car technology to sell to existing OEMs or mapping software or autonomous car retrofits. It could be literally anything. But to say Apple is definitely building a car is a lot premature.
2nd Gear: Anti-UAW Group Is Registering VW Employees
VW is the first of the foreign automakers with plants in the south to allow the UAW in to represent its employees. What they want to create is a German works council, a way for employees to be collectively represented. But they haven't given that right exclusively to the UAW, they are allowing other unions in as well.
An anti-UAW group, the American Council of Employees, has met VW's threshold to make the bottom tier of the policy. They have registered 15 percent of the hourly workforce, which gains them access to the conference center once a month, they can post announcements, and they can meet with HR once a month. The UAW can get the conference center whenever they want and meet with HR twice a month. That make the ACE the chess club and the UAW the football team.
3rd Gear: People Want GM's Bankruptcy Shield Stripped
In the wake of GM's awful 2014 that was full of recalls for ignition switch issues, they will head to court today to defend the shield that protects new GM from lawsuits related to old GM. What's at stake? Billions in lawsuits.
When GM declared bankruptcy and restructured, it was supposed to get rid of the liability that the new company would hold for mistakes made by the old company. But right before the decision in 2009, GM decided that they would take on responsibility for future accidents that involved cars from old GM.
That weakened the bankruptcy shield. What is being decided is if GM is liable to compensate people seeking billions of dollars for diminished values and other issues with their cars. The bankruptcy court will decide if GM is liable and needs to pay these people, or if they have to go another route to get compensation.
4th Gear: GM Just Gave $9.6 Million In Stock To Executives
Maybe GM isn't too concerned about the findings of the bankruptcy court? Or perhaps this is a very poorly timed release of stock to executives?
Shares valued at $9.6 million have been awarded to 12 executives, with CEO Mary Barra getting 79,639 shares worth $3 million at today's prices. Barra's salary is $1.6 million for 2015, but she could earn more than $14 million if she meets targets. Dan Ammann received 29,865 shares ($1.1 million) and Mark Reuss got 25,385 ($954,000).
5th Gear: Toledo Wants To Keep The Wrangler
Toledo, Ohio is the home of the Jeep Wrangler. Toledo wants to keep it that way.
Now, Marchionne has not said that he wants to move Wrangler production. He's also said that if has to move production, nobody in the plant would lose their jobs. But Toledo has apparently put forth an eight or nine figure offer to help expand the plant to keep the Wrangler in Ohio.
There doesn't seem to be any negotiation on FCA's part to move production, so it doesn't seem like Toledo is in danger of losing the Wrangler.
On this day in 1972, the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle comes off the assembly line, breaking a world car production record held for more than four decades by the Ford Motor Company's iconic Model T, which was in production from 1908 and 1927.
Is an Apple Car real or are people nuts?