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: Project Phoenix
While many people suspected that the Ford GT would appear at the Detroit Auto Show, no one had a photo. In fact, because there was no early "concept" hinting at it, no one had any idea what it would look like.
In an age where people are constantly leaking car designs (you can reach us at email@example.com) it's a surprise Ford was able to pull it off until the last moment. What was the secret? Good old-fashioned hiding shit.
As Nick Bunkley reports, Ford did most of their work on this car hidden away from the rest of the company.
Just a small number of employees had keys — actual metal keys were used, rather than Ford's standard-issue electronic ID cards — and much of the work happened at night. When the team of six designers, who couldn't tell family and friends what they were doing, needed to see their creation in natural light or from more than a few feet away, they surreptitiously hauled it outside on weekends when no one else was around.
This story includes another little detail that notes the car's genesis was in 2013, meaning that it started under Alan Mulally, even if it was a product of Raj Nair and Mark Fields.
It stayed out of the normal Ford bureaucracy, however, which is why they were able to quickly build something so radical and get it out the door without being noticed.
2nd Gear: GM Gets A Rush Of Compensation Claims
The deadline for submitting a claim related to the GM's ignition defect recall was January 31st and it looks a lot of lawyers waited until the absolute last minute as hundreds of more claims came in, which means GM is going to have to fork over more money than it planned.
Mr. Feinberg’s work, however, will do little to stanch widespread concern about vehicle safety and leave unanswered many questions about victim compensation. Intended to compensate those killed or injured in a batch of small cars built with faulty ignition switches that prevented air-bag deployment, the fund received more than 3,350 claims as of Thursday and roughly quadrupled the death toll from GM’s initial estimate of 13, to 50. Serious injuries receiving compensation totaled at least 75.
The death-toll and injury figures are expected to climb further as Mr. Feinberg and his lieutenants continue sifting through claims.
This ain't over, folks.
3rd Gear: People Are Buying Cars With Their Phones
How many dealers would you think the average person goes to before they buy a car? Three? Four? 10?
Ten years ago, people went to an average of five dealerships when buying a car. According to consultants at McKinsey, Via the Freep, that number is down to 1.6. Why? Because people can just look up that shit on the Internet, meaning that they can get rival quotes without leaving their home or office or bathtub or whatever.
The story also notes that AutoTrader found that half of millennials who purchased cars in 2014 used a smartphone or tablet which, frankly, sounds low.
The question is how do dealers compete? Hire millenials, clearly.
4th Gear: Hyundai Is All Like 'We'll BUILD THE BIGGEST BUILDING!'
Hyundai, rich with won and drunk on power, is in a competition with the rest of the chaebol (the family-controlled conglomerate companies) to have the most excessive HQ in all of Korea and they're going to do it by building the tallest building in all of Korea.
Bloomberg has the full story, including the typical reaction from anyone with a brain saying that it worries people when South Korean corporations throw around money like this.
But this is my favorite part:
To the east of Hyundai’s proposed skyscraper, Lotte Group’s nonagenarian founder Shin Kyuk Ho is building the 555-meter Lotte World Tower, scheduled for completion next year. The Lotte edifice is so massive that authorities approved it under the condition that the runways at a nearby military air base be re-angled to accommodate a change in flight approach.
South Korea is like an even better America, although when someone inevitably does a piece on the dual New York/Budapest Gawker offices I'm sure I'll look like a hypocrite for writing this. People in glass headquarters...
5th Gear: Hyundai Is All Like 'We'll BUILD EVEN BETTER BMWs THAN BMW'
There is one kind of investment Hyundai is making I can totally get into, and that's Hyundai-Kia stealing Albert Biermann away from BMWs M division to head up performance for the Korean company. Wait, what?
Biermann starts work April 1, the beginning of what the company calls a drive "to become a technical leader in ride and handling, producing vehicles that lead their respective segments for driver engagement."
Hyundai says Biermann, who was previously vice president of engineering at BMW's legendary M performance group, will also "accelerate the rollout of new high-performance vehicles and technologies."
I've liked nearly every modern Hyundai I've driven. From the Sante Fe to the Genesis. From the Veloster all the way up to the refreshed and not as bizarre Equus. I've loved almost none of them, because I enjoying driving and the cars have always lacked in the handling and steering department.
If this guy can succeed here then I may end up finding a Hyundai I can finally love.
The 24 Hours of Daytona endurance auto race begins on February 2, 1991; when it ends the following day, driver Hurley Haywood will collect his fifth win, the most victories of any driver in the event's history.
Neutral: Did You Think The Ford GT Was Real? Don't you wish all car reveals could be like this?
Photo Credit: Getty Images