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: Cars Are Extremely Hard
Allegedly, Steve Jobs regretted never making a car saying and thought of modern car design as a "tragedy."
Alas, it's damn hard to make a car. Here are a ton of experts saying why it's not happening anytime soon in the Bloomberg story on this.
“It’s impossible to overestimate the difficulty of integrating an outside software system well into a vehicle,” said Eric Noble, president of industry consultant Car Lab. “Silicon Valley routinely fails to recognize this.”
“Siri has not been designed for the car, where the cabin is often noisy,” said Chris Schreiner, a research director for consultant Strategy Analytics Inc. and a former engineer for GM’s OnStar telematics service. “Automakers tune voice systems for each car. Expecting Siri to work at the same level in every vehicle isn’t practical.”
“It works well enough for some things, but I personally think Siri doesn’t work that well,” Montoya said in a phone interview. “It frequently doesn’t recognize my voice.”
It should be noted that, historically, people don't like Apple playing in their sandbox. Remember what they said about the iPhone at first?
2nd Gear: (Almost) Everybody Hates The Chicken Tax
I think Jason wrote the definitive anti-Chicken Tax screed last month, but it's nice to see our buddy Karl Henkel follow up with a piece on how the U.S. may axe it to get better access to the Japanese market.
We've been over what all these means before, especially regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership. At stake for Japan is opening up their historically closed automotive market, but as a huge exporter with manufacturing all over Asia the country could stand to benefit more from free trade. The Chicken Tax might be the best bargaining chip.
Henkel brings up that price inflation in pickup trucks could be the result of lack of competition.
The average selling price of full-size pickups has grown at more than twice the rate of the overall industry — cars and trucks combined — since 2005. The average truck sells for more than $40,000, nearly $9,000 more than the average vehicle, according to automotive research firmEdmunds.com. Automakers in recent years have added more luxury items to pickup trucks — and cars, too — so it’s difficult to pinpoint how much an uncompetitive market can be attributed to price.
3rd Gear: Caterham Goes Suzuki
If you go to the Caterham page on Jalopnik you'll see that the company has offered just about every engine available in their Lotus-derived Se7en. Most recently it was the crazy Caterham Se7en 620R with a 310-hp Duratec V6.
Now? They're offering an entry-level car with a tiny 660-cc turbocharged Suzuki three-cylinder. This is Kei car territory, but simplify and add lightness right?
There's no word on power but this will probably be the lightest of all the Se7ens and also the cheapest, priced under $27,000 USD. Cool.
4th Gear: Ze Germans At Ze Eff With Ze Chrysler
Kind of a weird story from Mark Phelan at the Freep this morning about the tie up between Chrysler and ZF, the German transmission company that he points out "has nearly become Chrysler's transmission department."
The article brings up all the salient issues, including that Chrysler couldn't have put together the money to build advanced automatic transmissions and keep the company moving forward and ZF wanted to move to the U.S. It's a perfect tie-up.
The upcoming Jeep Cherokee and Range Rover Evoque will be the first vehicles to use the unique new 9-speed, which should boost fuel economy by 11% to 16%. In Gray Court, ZF just began making 9-speeds for the Evoque. Chrysler has been building the gearbox in Indiana for a while.
Great, but did anyone ask if the "powertrain" tweaks that are delaying the new Jeep Cherokee's rollout extend to the transmission? Maybe so and the answer was "no."
Either way this piece reads a little puffy to me.
5th Gear: Volvo Slowly Turning It Around
Or, at least, they've reached rock bottom.
We've been excited about Volvo's progress lately, and their new designs. The cars aren't perfect but, for the first time in a while, they're at least stating to become competitive.
The Wall Street Journal reports the Chinese-owned Volvo had sales in July that were up 14% on the back of increased sales in China.
The automaker is up 37.5% in China, 3.3% in the U.S. and 17% in Europe. As with many other companies, look for China to eclipse the U.S. and Europe as its biggest market in the future.
Reverse: And Everyone Ran The Yellow
The world's first electric traffic signal is put into place on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, on this day in 1914.
Neutral: Apple In Your Car? Do you care?
Photo Credit: Getty Images