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: America's Truck-And-Econobox Addiction
You're hearing a lot lately about how whatever month we're having is the "best month in X years" and usually it's about seven-to-eight years. What happened last time? Gas prices were reasonably low and America was again buying SUVs and trucks and big cars. Then the recession hit.
The economy is turning around, of course, and people are reacting slightly differently. Yes, of course, people are still buying a ton of trucks. They're also buying smaller, fuel efficient cars. This helped boost Toyota past Ford into a rare second place in U.S. cars sold last month (that and heavy discounting), reports Chris Woodyard.
It also helped brands like Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru post big double-digit gains, with the latter up a crazy 42.9% year-over-year.
It's true that part of Ford's problems stem from the inability to make as many Fusions and Escapes as the market demands, but vehicles like the Prius C are extremely popular right now.
2nd Gear: Speaking Of Toyota, They're Killing It
Is it fair to say that Toyota's past some of its bigger problems, even if some structural issues (and boring ass cars) remain? Toyota announced its quarter profit, and it was nearly double from last year. Seriously. 94% to $5.5 billion. If you were curious, that's how much GM will make in Europe… never.
As with other Japanese automakers, a weaker yen is making exports more profitable which, as Automotive News points out, is down 13 percent.
But there's more than that, Toyota's sales in the U.S. are like ZOMG OMG CAMRY. A new Tundra and new Corolla are coming and they're trying to move their current cars with massive incentives.
Hell, it works.
3rd Gear: The Chevy Cruze Is America's Best-Selling American Car
What is an American car? If it's a car built in America, then the Camry is definitely the most popular American car in the U.S. If it's one from the big-Three, then it's the Cruze jumping ahead of the Fusion.
The YoY change for the Cruze is an almost silly 70% jump, and that's before mass sales for the Cruze diesel.
GM moved a totally of 25,447 Cruzes, which is more than the Corolla Matrix, Elantra, Prius, and Sonata. It's still about 10K short of the Camry, though.
4th Gear: Ford Pays $17.35 Million Fine
Ford didn't report a defect with about 423,000 Escapes and Mazda Tributes (remember those?) quickly enough to customers, NTSA ruled, and was just forced to pay $17.35 million for their mistake says Karl Henkel.
The company, says NHTSA, seems to have known about the problem where a gas pedal could stay engaged even after the driver removed their foot. The possibilities of fiery death are obvious.
Ford actually gets out of admitting it screwed up by paying the giant fine. WIN!
5th Gear: BMW's Doing Well But It's Costing Them
BMW had a strong quarter with an 8.8% increase in profits over last July, reporting $1.84 billion on increased revenues. This, in the face of a EU car market that blows harder than one of those Dyson handy cleaners that does nothing but sound loud and piss me off.
So what's the problem?
BMW rolled out capital expenditures of like $3.2 billion freaking dollars, an increase of 60%.
Hey, you gotta spend money to make money, but where is that money going? Developing in new markets and staff. Definitely give more money to the people who designed the BMW 4-Series, but maybe cut it down a little so you get a better operating margin?
Reverse: That Is Kinda Fast
On this day in 1987, in the fastest race in Indy car racing at the time, 24-year-old Michael Andretti wins the Marlboro 500 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, with an average speed of 171.490 miles per hour.
Neutral: What's The Best American Small Car? Sonic? Cruze? Focus? Certainly not… the Avenger.
Photo Credit: Getty Images