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: GM Ranks Highest Among Major Automakers In Quality
Although you could probably argue Porsche is a major automaker now that they cover a huge swath of the market, but it's part of VW so we'll ignore them and skip ahead to how GM had the strongest initial quality marks for a major automaker in the J.D. Power 2013 Initial Quality Study.
J.D. Power, if you're curious, surveys people in their first 90 days to see how they like their vehicles and comes up with a number of problems per 100 vehicles (something breaks or, in the case of MyFord Touch, just sucks to use). It's not the best measure, but it isn't a bad one and GM doing well here is a bit surprising.
Chrysler and Lincoln also improved and now equal or do better than industry average. GMC is the strongest of GM's brands, although Chevy bested Acura, Toyota, and Honda. Fiat, Scion, and Mitsubishi were all at the bottom.
2nd Gear: Another Day, Another Complaint About The Yen
Engine-licker/Ford CEO Alan Mulally is now on Japan's case for their currency manipulation. You know, the manipulation Japan is saying it isn't doing.
According to Bloomberg, Mulally went on Bloomberg TV and smacked around the country's monetary policy.
Japan is “absolutely” manipulating its currency, the CEO of the second-biggest U.S. automaker said in a Bloomberg TV interview Thursday. “With the currency manipulation, we just have to get back to the place where the currencies are set by the markets and the free trade agreements really are free trade agreements.”
Mulally reiterated his concerns that Japan is a closed market for U.S. automakers, who’ve hired lobbyists to oppose Japan’s bid to join negotiations aimed at creating the Trans- Pacific Partnership, a regional free-trade agreement. Japanese carmakers account for more than 90 percent of sales in their home market.
“It’s just the most closed market in the world,” Mulally said Thursday.
3rd Gear: Tata Struggles In Its Home Market
Despite doing great work with Jaguar and Land Rover, India's Tata Motors is suddenly facing troubles in its home market reports The Wall Street Journal.
Their plan to fight back against a weak economy and heavy discounts/new cars from the competition? New cars. Or, well, at least eight refreshes of existing models. The truly new vehicles probably aren't coming until 2020.
This includes a tweaked Tata Nano, which is generally referred to as the "World's Cheapest Car." Along with a very slight refresh, the new model is getting a CNG engine.
4th Gear: Speaking Of Chevy, Hand Me The Oscar
Chevy says it's going back to the Oscars, says Advertising Age, after a five year absence in which they saw Hyundai dominate.
The plan is to work with company MOFILM to invite aspiring filmmakers to submit their own 30- and 60-second spots, which will be judged by Spike Lee and others. They did this with the "Happy Grad" Super Bowl spot in 2012, which I thought was funny.
They'll show the winning spots during The Oscars.
5th Gear: New Outlander Is The "Safety Vehicle" Of Pikes Peak
The new Mitsubishi Outlander will hopefully not get much work as the safety vehicle of this year's Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
I'm still uncertain about Mitsubishi but, at the very least, I think the larger crossover looks great in this livery.
Reverse: Ford signs first contract with autoworkers' union
On April 1, 1941, a walkout by Ford workers protesting the firing of several union members closed down the River Rouge plant. The strike inflamed racial tensions, as many African-American Ford employees returned to work before their white colleagues, breaking the strike. Though Henry Ford had initially threatened to shut down his plants rather than sign with the UAW-CIO, he changed his position and signed a contract with the union that June 20. Ford's change of heart was reportedly due to the urging of his wife, Clara, who feared that more riots and bloodshed would result from her husband's refusal to work with the unions and threatened to leave him if he did not sign the contract.
Neutral: Who Do You Think Of When You Think Quality? A carmaker? A clothier? Someone besides Jalopnik, maker of the highest quality copy on the planet, pleas.
Photo Credit: Getty Images