Welcome to the Starting Grid, where we start your day off right with the biggest news in the auto industry, such as new details on joint development between BMW and Toyota and much more on this Thursday morning.
Pole Position – Toyota and BMW: We already knew that Toyota and BMW would partner on a new sports car and carbon fiber technology, but after a new press conference this morning, we also know they’ll work together to develop fuel cell technology and lithium air batteries (plans for an electric powertrain have been abandoned). It’s good news for the future, but possibly bad for people who fear that all cars about to turn into identical, water-sipping slow-mobiles. [AutoNews]
Front Row – Michigan Union Membership Continues to Fall: Despite its reputation as being union-friendly, the state of Michigan has seen union membership fall drastically in the last twenty years. It’s a big deal for automakers like Ford and GM that depend on that labor and have gone through the gauntlet in recent years. [Freep]
Third Position – Loyalty Ain’t What It Used To Be: Does anybody consider themselves an automotive loyalist anymore? There are more car companies with greater range diversity than ever, and customers are responding by playing the field when they look for new cars. [WSJ]
Fourth Position – Mecum Auction Packs Hidden Gems: It may seem like auction season is over now that Barrett-Jackson (archive here) has wrapped up, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Journalists and cash-heavy collectors are crawling around Kissimmee, Florida this week finding gems like this outrageous Corvette all over the place. [Hooniverse]
Safety Car – Studebaker Head Born: The leader of one of the greatest American auto companies ever was born 142 years ago today. Albert Russell Erksine would go on to run Studebaker and create some of the most beautiful cars of the pre-Depression era. Post-Depression? That didn’t go so well, but Erksine left his mark on automotive history. [History]
Video of the Day – Making the SRT Viper: It doesn't get any cooler than a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the SRT Viper, from the first screwed bolt to the final engine fire-up. It’s just so beautiful. No, we’re not crying. Shut up.