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: Toyota Sticks Its Landing, Sees More Gold Ahead
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports that Toyota earned $3.71 billion during the second quarter, a 99.4 percent increase over the year-ago period. It was the best quarterly profit in four years, since Toyota fell off its balance beam with massive recalls and the financial crisis. One of the reasons Toyota did so well was surging sales in Japan, where the government offered incentives to buy fuel-efficient vehicles like the Prius. But, Toyota did better in every part of the world, including Europe, although its business there is tiny compared with other companies.
Still, if you add it up, Toyota out-earned General Motors and Ford combined, and it expects its sales to keep rising. Toyota now thinks it will sell 9.76 million vehicles this year — up 23 percent compared with 2011, and a big comeback from the 7 million it sold in 2009. Those sales would put it solidly on top of GM, and if you add in its financial performance, you could say Toyota has made the most of its do-over. Nobody really thought Toyota would remain on the mat after it ran into problems a few years ago, but bringing the company back to this level of performance was going to take some strong coaching from Akio Toyoda and his management team. Nobody can blame Akio if he's smiling as broadly as Gabby Douglas' mom right now.
Now: can Toyota be big and rich, as we said the other day, and avoid the issues that made it stumble before? If its rise and fall were one of the stories of the past five years, its comeback and how it handles it will be one of the stories of the next five years. This time, it knows that some of its problems were self inflicted, and where the danger lies.
2nd Gear: Drama For Obama In GM Profit Slump
US News says problems for General Motors could boomerang on the Obama administration. The president has gone so far to link his fortunes with those of GM that the auto company's problems are bound to reflect on him, says correspondent Rick Newman. "The downshift seems to have scotched any notion of the government selling its stake in the company prior to the November elections, since that would amount to a taxpayer loss of roughly $17 billion, and a major embarrassment for Obama," Newman writes. The delay is likely to frustrate CEO Dan Akerson, who would like the government out of GM's hair as soon as possible. The good news, he writes, is that GM could well rebound in 2013, when new vehicles will be in showrooms. But that's after the November election.
3rd Gear: Partying With The Porsche Spyder
Car and Driver reports that some lucky party goers got a glimpse of the 918 Spyder at an event in New York, and someone's swag bag included this video. While the 918 isn't exactly a secret, the video seems to give details of a closer-to-production vehicle. Porsche first showed a concept 918 Spyder at the Geneva Motor Show two years ago. This car which replaces the Carrera GT, car is supposed to be a 2014 model.
4th Gear: Chrysler Looks Stuck With Total Dud
Inside Line reports on the new ads Chrysler is running in conjunction with the remake of Total Recall. There are Chrysler and Dodge hovercrafts in the movie, which is set in 2084. But reviewers are not being very kind to the remake, in theaters today. Said Wired: "Watching the Total Recall remake proves about as inspiring as a trip to Costco. Every now and then something shiny and new catches your eye, but mostly you're just eyeballing stuff you've seen a hundred times before." On the other hand, it's summer and the Olympics only have a week more to go.
5th Gear: The Feds Want To Talk To Navistar
Forbes takes an in-depth look at Navistar, the big truck maker that put itself in jeopardy when a risky technology bet failed to pay off. On Thursday, it seemed like Navistar was digging out when a group of banks agreed to give it a billion-dollar loan, meant to provide breathing room so it can meet diesel emissions standards. But now the Securities and Exchange Commission wants to talk to the company. If all this blows up in its face, Navistar might not have any choice but to file for Chapter 11, one analyst says.
6th Gear: Angelenos To Decide If They Want Streetcars
The Los Angeles Times says voters are going to decide if they want streetcars to return to the City of Angels. The downtown project would cost $125 million, and it would be paid for by a tax on about 7,000 people living within a 397-acre area. The city also will seek federal grants. The four-mile streetcar line would run seven days a week and serve the Civic Center, Grand Avenue, L.A. Live, the Convention Center, Pershing Square and the city's historic core, the paper says. People have been trying to get streetcars back in L.A. for years, arguing a trolley would be a great downtown revitalization tool. But some of those who might have to pay the annual tax think it will stretch their budgets.
U.S. Jobless Rate Rises To 8.3%, But 163,000 Jobs Added [New York Times]
Italian Politicians Want To Know What Fiat Is Up To [Bloomberg]
Ford Add Jobs At A Transmission Plant [Detroit News]
Toyota Says Its Electric RAV WIll Go Farthest On a Charge [Bloomberg]
Kraft's New Snacks Company Lands A Former Ford Exec [Kraft]
New Romney Ad Takes On Dealership Closings [Automotive News, sub. required]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, we'd like to know what you think of car companies putting their vehicles in movies. Good idea? Bad idea? Do you have a favorite movie in which a car appeared? (We still want the Mercedes SL from To Catch A Thief.) Remember, there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.