This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 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: Let's All Party Like It's 2007 Carpocalypse Schmarpocalypse. The car market in the United States is back to pre-recession levels despite a December that was weaker-than-hoped. Despite two relatively recent bankruptcies and all manner of other problems, all the American carmakers can celebrate 2013 as a great year.
The big number? As Bloomberg reports, total industrywide sales reached 15.6 million in 2013, an increase of 7.6% over 2012.
Big winners include Cadillac, Jeep (thanks Cherokee!), and Ford. The biggest loser might be Volkswagen, although Audi did quite well.
The best-selling vehicle in America, overall, is the CozyCoupe followed closely by the Ford F-Series.
2nd Gear: Ford Ford Ford Ford "Wait, you think if we make good trucks and good cars we can pick up market share?" — Confused Ford product planner circa 2006 having an epiphany, maybe.
That's basically the point of this article from Nick Bunkley that should point out the obvious, which is that Ford increased its market share and banked huge profits thanks to a product mix that included the always popular F-Series trucks and Escape CUV, as well as Fusions and Foci.
Thanks to those products Ford was able to pick up half-a-percent of US market share (a big deal) and elbow aside some of the competition.
Here's a fun fact: the F-Series, Escape, and Fusion make up more than half of the company's total sales in 2013.
3rd Gear: Let's Spread Some Of That Money Around Rather than keep all those sweet sweet profits to themselves, the Big Three are going to talk about sharing some of their profits with hourly workers. And not just small change, we're talking about $400 million to hourly workers.
In Michigan, which is home to nearly half of the Big Three's U.S. hourly workforce, the combined payout could reach $400 million, surpassing the combined economic benefits of Super Bowl XL in 2006, which generated $274 million; the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which brought in $52.5 million; and the recent Winter Classic festivities, which brought in about $30 million.
It's also likely to help in areas near Ohio where a few plants are clustered and where the recession took a huge chunk out of the local economy.
And lest you think this is just out of the goodness of their hearts, it's actually a deal worked out with the UAW to compensate workers for helping the companies become more efficient and profitable.
4th Gear: Mercedes Uber Alles Mercedes ended up besting BMW this year in the race to be the biggest luxury brand in the United States, selling a total of 312,534 cars, compared to 309,280 cars. All this despite BMW actually outselling Mercedes in the last month of the year.
The difference? As The Wall Street Journal reports, the recently launched Mercedes CLA saw sales of 14,113, while the E-Class has also improved year-over-year.
When you count all the derivative brands like Mini and Smart and Sprinter, BMW sells more vehicles overall in the United States.
5th Gear: So What About 2014? Automakers have had an impressive run, capped with a huge performance in 2013. What will 2014 bring in terms of auto sales?
This year, Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said he expects U.S. sales will increase to 16.3 million.
But with manufacturers cranking up production, launching more new models than they have in recent years, their discipline that bolstered prices and reduced rebates will be tested.
"We are going to be watching the incentive wars," said Eric Lyman vice president of ALG, a company that measures the resale value of cars after leases.
Ah yes, all that increased capacity has to go somewhere. Will people continue to need to buy cars? Will they want them? WIll automakers still be able to afford to not make an offer people can't refuse, or will incentives go up, up, up, again?
Reverse: What A Guy
On this day in 1925, John DeLorean, a maverick auto industry executive and founder of the DeLorean Motor Company, is born in Detroit, Michigan. The DeLorean Motor Company produced just one model, the DMC-12, a sports car with gull-wing doors that opened upward, in the early 1980s before going bankrupt. In 1982, John DeLorean was charged with drug trafficking; prosecutors argued that he was attempting to raise money for his struggling company. In total, approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were produced. The car became a collector's item and got a big publicity boost when it was featured as a time-travel machine in the "Back to the Future" movies starring Michael J. Fox.
Neutral: Make Your 2014 Predictions How many cars will be sold in the US in 2014?
Photo Credit: AP Images