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?
Last month we did things a little differently by putting the gears inside the comments below to make it easier for you to comment on individual gears. I think there were some benefits to it, but let's try it out the other way.
I still encourage you to make your own gears in the comments that we can star to the top.
1st Gear: How Much Will The European Market Suck This Year?
The peak of the European car market was in 2007 when they sold 16 million cars. Those days have been over for a while. Car ownership isn't as much of a necessity in dense, transit-heavy Europe.
The question, according to The Detroit News' Neil Winton, is just how bad will it be?
Some carmakers like Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Fiat were still hoping at the Geneva show that the early consensus on Western Europe's sales for the year, a decline of close to 5 percent, might still be possible. But there is a burgeoning weight of opinion that says the roughly 10 percent fall in sales during the first couple of months of the year will carry on throughout the year.
2nd Gear: Audi Über Alles
Audi isn't content to play second (or third) fiddle to Europe's biggest luxury car makers. And by "Europe's biggest luxury car makers" we me luxury brands either based in Germany or owned by German companies.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Audi is closing in on BMW for the top spot, due in large part to the market improvements in the United States.
They've already vanquished Mercedes and in six years have turned around their image as an also-ran to mean clean, sporty luxury. Watch yo back, Bimmer.
3rd Gear: Falling Yen Means Rising Toyota
A lower currency in your country, generally, means a stronger manufacturing segment. Just look at what the Koreans did with a lower Won and the Chinese continue to do with a weaker-than-reality Yuan.
On that note, the Yen has fallen 17% against the dollar in the last five months, meaning that the Japanese are making a lot more much money on each car. How much? According to Bloomberg:
Morgan Stanley estimates the currency boost at $1,500 per car, while the Detroit automakers contend the figure is $5,700 per vehicle.
That debate is important. More money per car means Japanese automakers can cut prices or boost incentives to gain market share.
4th Gear: Bob Lutz Loses Out On Chrysler Pension
Bob Lutz has worked for, basically, every automaker ever. This means he should be collecting a lot of pensions from car companies to keep him in fighter jets and bronzer. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of love from Chrysler or Chrysler's bankruptcy judge for "Maximum" Bob Lutz.
The Detroit Free Press says the issue revolves around whether or not those pensions should have been transferred to the new Chrysler from the old Chrysler.
Lutz is out $3 million if he can't win this on appeal.
5th Gear: Charlie LeDuff Arrested In St. Paddy's Day Brawl
Charlie LeDuff, whose book excerpt we just printed, has just run into particularly LeDuff-esque problem. He was arrested for urinating in public and biting a security guard
It's hard to untangle exactly what happened, other than to say LeDuff was talking shit, a little drunk, and peed somewhere. How badly he bit a security guard, how much she he talked, and the extent to which this is just a rival news station reveling in his bad behavior is unclear. But let's get the money exchange.
One day after the parade, we talked to LeDuff, who says he was not sure where it happened, but he admits that it did happen.
“No, I think I was behind the tent, possibly, I don’t know,” says LeDuff. “I’ll have to see a picture. I don’t think so, no reason to get your head stomped.”
Asked if there was public urination, LeDuff then said, “I don’t know to be honest. I don’t know.”
When asked if he had too much to drink, LeDuff said, “Probably.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images, Audi