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: U.S Carmakers Up In May On Back Of Trucks
All three American automakers were up last month as the industry sold 8.2% more cars than they did the prior year, or 1,444,626 total vehicles. On the American side, Ford was up 14.1% while Chrysler gained 11% and GM lagged with just 3%.
But the big news was in trucks. Both Ford and Chrysler have new-ish products out on the market. The Ford F-Series cracked 70,000 trucks, up 30.6% year-over-year. The Ram line increased 21.6%. GM's new trucks are still slowly pouring out but, with old inventory on the lot, GM's sales were also up 24.3%.
The difference is, Ford is selling everything (including SUVs and cars) which puts their market share at 17% from 16.2% according to The Detroit News. Chrysler edged up to 11.5% from 11.2% while GM dropped from 18.4% last year to 17.5%.
GM is at the start of a new product cycle so they'll look to improve those numbers over the next year.
2nd Gear: Nissan And Subaru Doing Well
Nissan dropped the prices of its cars despite having new, fairly well-received product, taking advantage of a lower yen and the troubles Korean automakers are going through. It worked. Nissan sales were up 25%. Subaru, just by virtue of being Subaru, saw an increase in sales of 34%, besting Subaru.
That's two ways to look at how to be a successful automaker. Subaru has slowly grown out their niche products to appeal to more people (adding vehicles like the XV) and improving core products like the new Forester. Nissan improved its vehicles from a mix of good to mediocre products to almost universally good cars.
Toyota, which is desperately in need of a new Corolla, only edged up 2.5%, the lowest of the main automakers. Honda was up just 4.5%.
3rd Gear: Caddy Doing Its Best Since 'Play That Funky Music'
The top song of 1976 was Paul McCartney and Wings with 'Silly Love Songs,' although I'm partial to 'Love Rollercoaster' by the Ohio Players which only hit #30.
It was also the last time that Cadillac saw an increase in sales of 40% or more, per Automotive News. Cadillac's deliveries this month were up 40% year-over-year, with the ATS and XTS leading the way.
The XTS, hilariously, was a sort of expedient development for Caddy until they could build a new CTS. Now it's a hit. The Cadillac ATS, one of the best cars you can currently buy, is seeing even better demand, with 70% of ATS customers in the U.S. buying their first Cadillac.
Great. More cars like the ATS please.
4th Gear: Nissan Leaf Outselling Volt, Model S
My big complaint about Tesla is that they're too good at manipulating the media, mostly by running to the uncritical pushovers in the tech world or just running around them altogether. For example, they still get away as a public company with not releasing their own sales numbers.
Now we have Autodata, which has added Tesla to their monthly U.S. sales and, according to the company, sales were down to 1,425 units in May. Of course, Tesla won't comment on the number, but it does fit with our expectations that the company did all it could to squeeze sales out of Q1.
This means that, for the month, the Nissan Leaf is outselling the Volt with 2,138 sales to the Volt's 1,607. That puts Tesla behind, although the company is probably making more money than either the Volt or the Leaf per-unit.
In fact, it may be the only one of the three making money at all.
5th Gear: Lutz Says Wagoner Was Too Nice
Bob Lutz is at it again, this time with a new book: "Icons And Idiots". So, you know where this is going.
David Shepardson, who got his review copy before me, says Lutz calls out ex-GM CEO Rick Wagoner as being "too nice" to get shit done.
Lutz, whom Wagoner named GM vice chairman of product development in 2001, offers sharp criticism of the GM CEO in his new book, “Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership.” He compares Wagoner, who was forced out by the Obama administration in March 2009, to a character in “The Thin Red Line”: a Marine captain who decides a hill can’t be taken without sacrificing a large number of troops. He is deposed by a battalion commander who neutralizes the enemy after losing a few men. “In many ways, Rick Wagoner was that captain,” Lutz, a retired Marine, writes in the book due out today, published by Portfolio/Penguin. “A magnificent human being, Rick was simply too nice, too introspective, and too thoughtful in many of his actions to see the company through the turbulence of 2008-09.”
It's true that, if you take any photo or video of Rick Wagoner, you can play the sad Charlie Brown music and it works perfectly.
Speaking of battles, the almost universally old white men who were there for the bankruptcy will continue to fight over who was right and who was wrong in posthumous novels and interviews. At least until they die, and maybe sometime after.
Reverse: I Want A Quadricycle
At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the "Quadricycle," the first automobile he ever designed or drove. With Bishop bicycling ahead to alert passing carriages and pedestrians, Ford drove the 500-pound Quadricycle down Detroit's Grand River Avenue, circling around three major thoroughfares. The Quadricycle had two driving speeds, no reverse, no brakes, rudimentary steering ability and a doorbell button as a horn, and it could reach about 20 miles per hour, easily overpowering King's invention. Aside from one breakdown on Washington Boulevard due to a faulty spring, the drive was a success, and Ford was on his way to becoming one of the most formidable success stories in American business history.
Neutral: What's The Strongest Brand? When you think of brands (not companies), which one do you most highly regard? Which one do you think is kicking ass?
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