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: So, if you listen to the guys who measure this stuff — they think gas prices have sort of peaked this year. Seriously. Despite gas prices jumping more than 11 cents over the past two weeks, the pace of higher pump prices seems to have slowed, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey published Sunday. The survey claims the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.88 in the United States, not including Alaska and Hawaii. That's just 23 cents off the all-time high of $4.11 set in July 2008, but weakening demand for gasoline and a slower rate of rise in crude oil prices may keep it from hitting that mark.
2nd Gear: Ford may report its largest first-quarter profit since 1998 tomorrow despite those surging-yet-peaking U.S. gasoline prices. Profit excluding some items may have climbed to 50 cents a share, according to an average of 14 analysts' estimates and a trained chimpanzee firing darts at a wall, from 46 cents a year earlier. Net income may have risen to $2.1 billion, the average of three analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg, and the most since a $17.6 billion profit in the first quarter of 1998.
3rd Gear: Chris Paine's Revenge of the Electric Car premiered on Friday at the Tribeca Film Festival. Yes, I saw it. But, since it might seem a little bit self-serving for me to review the movie as I was in it (and playing, basically, along with former Valleywag editor Owen Thomas, the role of industry Waldorf and Statler), I'll let others do it for me. Here's a few good reviews penned by the Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter, Cinema Blend, and The Wrap. They all say you should see it whether you couldn't care less about cars or if you're one of those "obsessed-with-the-auto-industry" types just aching for clips of GM's "Maximum" Bob Lutz and Elon Musk saying ridiculously laughable things. There's also this review by John Voelcker at Green Car Reports that I don't entirely agree with, as I think it's rather simplistic for a documentary to require a "villain," but whatevs, John says I don't link to him enough, so here ya go. See it this week at the Tribeca Film Festival and take a shot every time you see me on screen.
4th Gear: Just weeks after Hyundai killed its innovative job loss buyback marketing program, the Korean automaker unveiled a new program determined to attack nagging consumer perception its vehicles depreciate faster than the competition's. Hyundai agrees to pay fixed sums for Hyundai trade-ins in the third or fourth years of ownership when the owner buys a new Hyundai. Basically, the program guarantees the trade-in value of new vehicles bought from its dealers starting May 1st with values based on residuals set by Automotive Lease Guide. The buyback guarantee requires scheduled maintenance be performed at Hyundai dealerships, and that could help with an issue nagging the brand: absorption, the percentage of a dealership's overhead covered by gross profit from service and parts. So basically, everyone's a winner. Except the competition.
5th Gear: As we reported back in November, Honda President Takanobu Ito says the automaker's developing a sports car designed to be the spiritual successor to the discontinued Acura NSX. But as expected these days, the new car won't feature the brute V10 that had initially been envisioned for the next NSX. That vision? Scrapped in 2008 during the carpocalypse. Speaking to reporters at the Shanghai auto show, Ito said the car would be exhilarating to drive but also environmentally friendly: "That's the kind of sports car we want to make." Ito did not give details of the sports car or a timeline for its launch. The vehicle is expected to use an electric drivetrain to give the gasoline engine a boost, a Honda spokesman said. The car will be positioned as a high-performance counterpart to the two-seat Honda CR-Z hybrid. Wonderful. So, umm, it'll be a hybrid or something similar? Great. Hey Honda, you're doing it wrong.