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: Fields In On July 1st, Mulally uhh....
We've already told you everything you need to know about new Ford CEO Mark Fields, but what we didn't have an answer to was: What happens to Alan Mulally?
Now we know. Mark Fields will take over on July 1st and Alan Mulally, one of the most successful auto executives of all time, will allow for a smooth transition (for once as Bill Ford notes).
But what the hell is Mulally doing?
He did say he'd leave the board and leave his position as CEO, but he didn't say what he's doing next. Thus this guess, courtesy of our friend Scott:
2nd Gear: Chrysler Up 14% In April
Proving that, yeah, maybe the weather really did hamper car sales, Chrysler is the first to report its progress by announcing that total sales were up 14%, beating expectations of a 10% increase according to the Freep.
Where did all of that growth come from? Jeep sales were up 52% (thanks Cherokee!) and Ram was up 22%. Fiat grew by 10%, but Dodge was static and Chrysler dropped a big ass 21% (save us Chrysler 200, you're our only hope!).
3rd Gear: Sergio Has Another Five Year Plan
The 20th anniversary of albums you remember is enough to make you feel old, but if you truly want to understand the passage of time take into consideration that Fiat bailed out Chrysler about 4.5 years ago.
They did a decent job (see above) and now are going to have to outline what they'll do to keep the merged Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alive and prosperous for another five years.
According to Bryce Hoffman, another five year plan is coming later this month to explain how Fiat and Chrysler will become more than just adjacent companies.
4th Gear: Speaking Of Keeping Companies Alive
Ben Klayman provides insight into Mary Barra's inner-circle, which we can assume is having a rougher go of it than they'd imagined when they joined her upstairs at the Ren Cen.
The group includes non-exec Board Chairman Tim Solso, chief counsel Michael Millikin, and and Mark Reuss, as well as John Quattrone, Alan Batey, and Dan Ammann.
"She's not looking for personal advisors who would be separate from the management team," said a person familiar with GM's operations. Barra, a 34-year GM veteran, believes that looking outside the GM executive ranks and board room is not necessary, given the management team's crisis experience surviving the U.S. economic meltdown in 2008 and the company's bankruptcy the following year, the person added. Most have worked around the world for GM.
The Mark Reuss bit is interesting, given that they both clearly wanted to be CEO, and Klayman reports he's likely her closest ally.
5th Gear: Japan's Great Hangover
Our buddy Craig Trudell and his partner-in-crime Masatsugu Horie have their take on what the hell is going on with Japanese car sales which, to the outside, look confusingly erratic, like a wasted frat boy trying to play Dance Dance Revolution.
Vehicle deliveries last month in Asia's second-largest auto market fell to the lowest since December 2012 after Japan raised its consumption tax for the first time 17 years, according to industry figures released today. In the run-up to the levy being increased 3 percentage points to 8 percent on April 1, sales had surged for seven straight months.
More broadly, the figures may foreshadow the extent of the consumer backlash resulting from the higher taxes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe imposed to counter the world's biggest debt burden. Economists estimate that this quarter, Japan will see its biggest economic contraction since the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country three years ago.
So, yeah, debts are high, so Abe is upping taxes, thus everyone bought anything they could afford right before taxes went up, causing a temporary boom in consumer spending. Now it's contracting, and the yen is low and… we'll see how automakers deal with this.
Reverse: Something Besides Senna, Which We'll Be Talking About A Lot Today
On this day in 1926, Ford Motor Company becomes one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy would be extended to Ford's office workers the following August.
Neutral: What do you think of the Ford news?
Seriously, what is Mulally doing?
Photo Credit: Getty Images