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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Why Was Ernst Lieb Fired As CEO Of Mercedes-Benz USA?
Daimler spokesman Han Tjan said Ernst Lieb was relieved of his duties as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, effective immediately. The AP says that Tjan would not give a reason for Lieb's ouster. The brand's daily U.S. business operations will be handled by Herbert Werner, its chief financial officer and vice president of finance, controlling and IT, Tjan said. Lieb's ouster is surprising, considering the sales growth that Mercedes has posted here in the U.S., despite tough economic conditions. The brand's sales are up 10.4% through September. Lieb's been here for five years and during that time, Mercedes moved from the third largest U.S. luxury brand in 2008 to second in 2009 and 2010, and it took the top spot for the first three quarters of this year, unseating Toyota's Lexus brand, according to Autodata Corp. So what the hell happened? Seriously — we don't know. One source told us there's "no business reason for this decision." But that's all we got. If you know — send us an email.
2nd Gear: Prius C Is The Itty-Bitty, Teeny-Weeny Hybrid You Still Don't Care About
A brochure for the Prius C — the itty-bitty one — has apparently leaked out ahead of... ahead of... well, ahead of whenever they planned to officially reveal the little hybrid, giving us our first look at the baby Prius. The photos show that the "C" has adopted some styling cues from the larger Prius and even larger Prius V models — all in a package that doesn't look much larger than a Toyota Yaris.
3rd Gear: 2013 Lincoln MKT: The Waterfall Grille Is Dead
Edmunds Inside Line has the straight line on some new spy photos of the 2013 Lincoln MKT. The shots show that the brand named after the greatest Republican president is finally moving away from the "waterfall grille" they've floated over — in a wooden barrel filled with their countless dozens of blue-haired buyers — the past half a decade. Edmunds said that grille looked "more like a poorly made fence than the front of a high-end luxury vehicle." I couldn't agree more. The new grille, on the other hand, certainly exorcises the final vestiges of Horbury-ism left in the brand and it looks... umm... better? Maybe? I think it may need some chrome trim around the edges of the grille to keep it all from looking like a cheap aftermarket product.
4th Gear: Dallara To Dedicate 2012 Car In Honor Of Dan Wheldon
The 2012 Dallara IndyCar, which was designed with cockpit safety enhancements and body styling to reduce the incidence of wheel-to-wheel contact, will replace the chassis that has been in use since 2003. After wind tunnel and crash testing, the car debuted in early August at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Dan Wheldon behind the wheel. Now, after this weekend's deadly crash, it'll be named in honor of him.
5th Gear: Buick Gets Good Infotainment System Standard
Later this year, Buick will begin rolling out its IntelliLink multimedia system as standard across the brand's entire lineup. Among other features, it will give owners access to Pandora internet radio. It's sort of like the new Cadillac infotainment system, dubbed "CUE," we showed you last week — except not as cool. Expect the new 2012 Buick Verano and 2012 Regal to come standard with a 7-inch touch-screen, while the LaCrosse will get an 8-inch screen. The 2013 Buick Enclave will get a touch-screen and IntelliLink standard, too. No word on the size of said screen.
6th Gear: Class-Action Price-Fixing Lawsuits Filed Against Seven Auto Suppliers
Three class-action lawsuits have been filed against Troy, MI-based Delphi Automotive LLP, Southfield, MI-based Lear Corp., Furukawa Electric Co., Leoni AG, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., S-Y Systems Technologies GmbH, Yazaki Corp and its North American unit based in Canton Township, MI, alleging the companies engaged in a "massive decade-long conspiracy to unlawfully fix and artificially raise the price" of wire harness systems. The suits, filed by three vehicle owners on behalf of millions of others, argue the higher prices raised the price of new vehicles, harming tens of millions of new car buyers. The suits also seek the return of ill-gotten profits to car buyers. Wait, auto suppliers over-charging and price-fixing? Who knew?
⏎ In San Francisco, a Gathering of the E.V. Converted. [New York Times]
⏎ Ford sets Dec. 19 as St. Paul plant closing. [AP via Chicago Tribune]
⏎ Asbury completes $900 million credit line for floor planning, other purposes. [Automotive News]
⏎ Hyundai Veloster might be delayed in Australia. [GoAuto]
⏎ Detroit councilwoman to propose new resolution to fix buses. [Detroit News]
⏎ GM: ‘autonomous vehicles by 2020'. [Autocar]
On October 18, 1933, the American philosopher-inventor R. Buckminster Fuller applies for a patent for his Dymaxion Car. The Dymaxion-the word itself was another Fuller invention, a combination of "dynamic," "maximum," and "ion"-looked and drove like no vehicle anyone had ever seen. It was a three-wheeled, 20-foot-long, pod-shaped automobile that could carry 11 passengers and travel as fast as 120 miles per hour. It got 30 miles to the gallon, could U-turn in a distance equal to its length and could parallel park just by pivoting its wheels toward the curb and zipping sideways into its parking space. It was stylish, efficient and eccentric and it attracted a great deal of attention: Celebrities wanted to ride in it and rich men wanted to invest in it. But in the same month that Fuller applied for his patent, one of his prototype Dymaxions crashed, killing the driver and alarming investors so much that they withdrew their money from the project. [History]
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