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: Their response? "Nuh Uh"

General Motors is no longer under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, with the U.S. Treasury having long ago sold off the last few remaining shares of GM. The total loss? About $11 billion of the nearly $50 billion we handed over to them. I think it was worth it, but the Inspector General of that program has some things to say about it.

Per Reuters:

According to Christy Romero, special inspector general for the U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program, "Treasury significantly loosened executive pay limits resulting in excessive pay for (the) top 25 executives" at GM and Ally while "taxpayers were suffering billions of dollars of losses" on loan repayments and share sales, said the report, prepared for Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

Treasury said executive pay packages for the top executives at GM and Ally were "restricted" while those companies were receiving government funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.

GM had roughly the same response.

While I'm uncertain of the regulatory constraints here, there are two ways to look at this:

  • We, as taxpayers, lost billions of dollars and GM wasn't exactly run in any sort of reasonable or predictable way so that extra few million dollars we gave to execs seems poorly spint and a kick in the ass.
  • GM's executives were paid at-or-below their peers at other automakers and had, arguably, a harder job to tackle. You could have paid all the executives $0 and the amount the taxpayers would be short would still be roughly $11 billion.

Which view you take will largely depend on how you already feel about GM.

2nd Gear: Iowa Tesla Dealers Can't Ofer Test Drives

While, ultimately, Tesla is expected to win in their ongoing battle with dealerships, they've hit another snag in Iowa where they've been banned from allowing test drives since they aren't licensed dealers.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said the test drives were illegal for two reasons: Tesla isn't licensed as an auto dealer in Iowa and state law prohibits carmakers from selling directly to the public.

That may be true, but it's a dumb law and they should probably change it.

3rd Gear: Mary Barra Still Fancy, Can't You Taste This Gum?

While people may still argue about old GM, there's no denying that being the CEO of new GM isn't entirely a slog through one Congressional hearing after another.

As Bloomberg reports, sometimes you get to hang out with the Clintons.

Barra joined Clinton and Ma on Sept. 23 on a panel hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative, a foundation run by Chelsea’s father, former President Bill Clinton, that works with CEOs and government leaders to tackle global challenges. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the audience.

Later that day, Barra accepted an award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith organization that honors leaders for putting social responsibility ahead of business results.

And she's also on the cover of TIME magazine, which is a thing some people still care about. I think.

4th Gear: Ford's Missouri Plant To Become Its Biggest

The Ford Transit has taken off in the United States, which means that Ford will add a second shift to the Kansas City plant where it's built alongside the Ford F-150.

Reuters reports that this will push annual capacity to 500,000 vehicles, which makes it better than Ford's current largest plant in Valencia, Spain.

USA! USA!

5th Gear: 15 People Get Initial Cash Offers From GM Victim Fund

The Ken Feinberg-run compensation fund for victims and the families of victims in the GM ignition failures has made its first 15 offers.

David Shepardson has a good explanation of what happens next:

Lawyers for victims and their families can propose to Feinberg for why the victim was entitled to higher damages for “extraordinary circumstances” — for instance, a crash prevented them from going to law school, or a victim was convicted of criminal charges in a crash that was the fault of the ignition switch.

The death claim number has also risen to 143 from 131 last week and at least 21 death claims have been approved.

Reverse: And It's Still Going

On September 25, 2004, Chinese officials gather at the brand-new Shanghai International Circuit racetrack in anticipation of the next day's inaugural Formula One Chinese Grand Prix. Though Formula One racing was traditionally a European sport, the builders and boosters of the state-sponsored Shanghai track—part of an elaborate complex called the Shanghai International Auto City—hoped that they could help the sport catch on in Asia. In particular, they hoped their high-tech raceway would draw attention and investment to the fledgling Chinese auto industry. (China was an enormous untapped market for carmakers: In the year the Shanghai track opened, there were only 10 million cars for the country's 1.3 billion people.)

[HISTORY]

Neutral: Did GM Overpay Its Execs or Meh? Where do you fall on the Inspector General's report?

Photo Credit: Getty Images