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?
1st Gear: We Love To Say We Told Ya So
Volkswagen going after a lager market with cheaper, larger cars makes good sense. It does. Many people here may not like it, but there's no reason why a Volkswagen can't fit two people in a back seat (vertically or horizontally).
This Wall Street Journal article makes me thinks the answer is "no."
As it points out, they made a $1 billion investment in a Tennessee plan to produce cars that people aren't in love with. I like the Passat TDI, but at best it's just a nicer Camry and can't compete with the Mazda6 or Ford Fusion (or Honda Accord).
The same goes for the Jetta. All those people lured by a Jetta they could afford were still remembering a Jetta they could reasonably lust over. You know, one without drum brakes and an actual rear suspension. Those people have now all bought VWs and the sales that doubled between 2009 and 2012 have stuttered, down 1.3% this year.
While the styling may be a little boring, the Jetta GLI has some essence of VW-ness missing from the line, and we're excited to hear it's coming back. The new Golf, too, looks pretty good.
I just think you were too clever by half, VW, and now you seem to realize it.
2nd Gear: Chrysler CEO To Not Gawk At Girls At This Year's Frankfurt Show
Sergio Marchionne will not, as he has in previous years, go to the Frankfurt Motor Show. This will be a first in a long time for the Fiat/Chrysler executive reports DS3 (We link to David Shepardson so much we need a good nickname for him. I'm open to suggestions. He's 19-feet tall).
Davide Kluzer, a spokesman for Fiat, said the reason was because Marchionne's "last-minute, unforeseen business commitments."
Oh man, I'm using that excuse anytime I can't do anything.
3rd Gear: GREAT NEWS! NEW DACIA DUSTER!!
Ok, so the new Dacia Duster is only partially new with additional styling that they describe as "Emphatic 4x4 looks."
What does that mean?
The front end has been upgraded, with a redesigned grille, adorned by two chrome-plated strips and housing a new, lower-set air intake and new double-optic headlights with daytime running lights.
BTW, that bolding comes courtesy of the actual press release. I'm not shitting you.
4th Gear: Why Those Fuel Economy Stickers Are Only A Guide
We've noted it many times before, but let's say it again, once more, with feeling: DO NOT USE THE EPA WINDOW STICKER AS GOD-GIVEN PROOF OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU DRIVE THAT CAR.
As A. Priddy pointed out in the Freep on Sunday, many people do not achieve that claimed mileage. Why?
The EPA test is an idealized system that most automakers do on their own and can generalize across models with similar engines and platforms. Only about 15% of them are randomly checked and for hybrids the difference can be starker.
So, yeah. Don't get angry if your C-Max can't get 47 MPG when you drive halfway, up a hill, in a freezing environment, blasting your A/C.
5th Gear: Elon Musk's Game Of Risk
The Tesla v. Dealers battle has yielded mixed results for Tesla so now it's to them to ponder whether or not they should continue to fight state-by-state instead of just focusing on a federal strategy.
This is nicely captured in an Automotive News story.
"If responding to these dealers associations' actions becomes too much of a distraction, then it would be natural to pursue a federal solution," said Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president of business development. "It doesn't mean that would be easy to obtain.
Money. Money. Money. Moooooneeeey.
Reverse: Motor Vehicle Safety Act
On September 9, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signs the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act into law. Immediately afterward, he signed the Highway Safety Act. The two bills made the federal government responsible for setting and enforcing safety standards for cars and roads. Unsafe highways, Johnson argued, were a menace to public health: "In this century," Johnson said before he signed the bills, "more than 1,500,000 of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways; nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all our wars." It was a genuine crisis, and one that the automakers had proven themselves unwilling or unable to resolve. "Safety is no luxury item," the President declared, "no optional extra; it must be a normal cost of doing business."
Neutral: VW? What do you think?
Photo Credit: Getty Images