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: Bill Ford Is Mentoring Fiat Head John Elkann
Great read over at the Detroit News this morning on the friendship between the Ford family and the Agnellis, the family that founded Fiat. Bill Ford is mentoring John Elkann (A descendent of the Agnellis) on the auto industry.
He's been giving me very good advice. He is very encouraging about what we were trying to do about getting more involved in the U.S. and really supporting Chrysler's turnaround. It's great to have the opportunity to share this with someone like Bill, who has experienced many things and gone through many things ... especially linked to Detroit.
2nd Gear: VW's Beigekrieg Becomes Unbelievably Profitable
The Volkswagen Group has a goal: To become the biggest automaker in the world by 2018. They're already well on their way.
VW has reported a profit of $15 billion for 2012. How did Toyota and GM do? Toyota had a profit of $11.1 billion, GM's was $7.9 billion. They're not totally number one yet thought. 2013 forecasts put Toyota's profits at $17.9 billion while VW will make a measly $17.3 billion. Sales are closing in too. VW moved 9.07 million cars last year. Toyota sold 9.75 million and GM moved 9.29 million. VW boss Martin Winterkorn's vision is coming to fruition.
VW has some great profit margins now. This will be interesting to watch for the next few years.
3rd Gear: Those Darn Millennials Aren't Buying Japanese Cars!
Oh you millennials! Seems like you aren't buying Japanese cars. Why? Why not? Are they not hip? Instead, sales are going to GM, Ford, and South Korean brands Kia and Hyundai.
The Japanese still lead the small car segment, but gains with a younger demographic are only good news for the big three and Hyundai/Kia. The gains are small, around two percent for domestics, seven percent for Hyundai/Kia, but they aren't insignificant.
4th Gear: Hey Look, It's The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
We drove the Subaru Crosstrek in Hawaii last year, and found it was capable but lacking some power and some passion. Well, here's a hybrid version.
No official details yet, just this picture of a very electric green ride. Hopefully they're using it to add some power, performance, and torque to help the Crosstrek off-road... and on road. We'll see it at the NY Auto Show next week.
5th Gear: Audi RS5 Cabrio Starts At $77,900
Like the Audi RS5 but hate roofs? Then be prepared to fork over $77,900 for the car when it goes on sale next month. Seems like a lot, but that car sounds pretty great too.
Vorsprung durch opentopsexysound-nik, indeed.
6th Gear: 2014 Jaguar XJR: This Is It
The Jaguar XJR went away with the last generation, leaving us with the range topping "Supersport." But we always new there was a chance for more classy power. And here it is: The XJR is back. More >>
Reverse: Happy Birthday Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna, possibly the greatest F1 driver of all time, was born on this day in 1960. Senna was a three time F1 world champion and a national hero in Brazil. in 162 races, Senna had 41 wins and 65 pole positions before his untimely death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Happy 53rd Ayrton.
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, tell us what you think about the domestic and South Korean gains with younger car buyers. Could this spell a resurgence and build brand loyalty over the generations? Or is it just a fluke? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.