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: Ain't That Confusing, Car Buyers Say To J.D. Power
Forbes reports that confused consumers are giving car companies lower marks on J.D. Power surveys because they don't understand vehicle technology. This year's Initial Quality Survey, which measures a vehicle in the first year of ownership, found that the overall quality of cars and trucks is going up. But there's also been a 45 percent increase in complaints about audio, entertainment and navigation systems.
In other words, it's like the opera glasses that Julia Roberts used in Pretty Woman. She thought they were broken, until Richard Gere showed her how to use them. One of the reasons the complaints are rising, according to Edmund, is that car owners are keeping their vehicles longer than ever. They're coming out of relatively low-tech vehicles into sophisticated new models and trying out some features for the first time, like those little TVs that our parents think we have on our dashboards.
2nd Gear: Now You'll Have The Human League In Your Ear All Day
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports Akio Toyoda went way off script at the Toyota annual meeting last week to level some complaints about the press in an unusually blunt way for a car industry executive, let alone one at a Japanese company. Toyoda apparently was upset by a critical story in Bungei Shunju, a respected Japanese magazine that's something of a business bible there.
According to the Journal's Chester Dawson, Toyoda said, "I am a flesh-and-blood person. Some of the things written about the company and myself are without sufficient understanding and are speculative. Others are tantamount to character assassination, and these have been quite honestly heart-breaking," Toyoda said.
He went on, "But more than me, it's tough to see our employees and their families hurting from this. Those articles don't bring joy to anyone. So if there are any media people in attendance, that's what I want to convey to them." At that point, Dawson says, many in the 3,860-member audience burst into applause. It's not the first time that Toyoda has surprised people by going rogue. Back in 2009, Toyoda choked up in front of a group of dealers and journalists, talking about how he appreciated the support Toyota had gotten during its recall crisis.
3rd Gear: Nigh Time Tesla Model S Gets Its Ratings
GreenCarReports says the Tesla Model S has gotten its fuel efficiency ratings, mere hours before owners are set to begin picking up their cars. The EPA has judged the Model S to get the equivalent of 89 mpg in combined driving, 88 in the city, 90 on the highway. The agency measured the car's range is 265 miles, which puts it at the top of electric cars in distance. (Don't get Matt started on that.) Tesla will begin doling out Model S cars at its factory in Fremont, Calif., on Friday.