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: Afraid Of Chinese Automakers? You Got That Backwards
Any fear you had that Chinese cars might take over the American market are, though not unwarranted, at least very premature. As The New York Times reports, they have more reason to fear the U.S. than vice versa.
They find American cars more attractive, safer, and more youthful. Basically, they feel about American cars the way Americans felt about Japanese cars a couple of decades ago. It's a worthwhile read for the color and information it provides, but here are some hard numbers buried in there:
Chinese brands' share of their home market for cars and light trucks has fallen at much the same pace that American automakers lost share over most of the last three decades, about a percentage point or two each year, down to 45.1 percent last year. Exclude the bare-bones pickup trucks and minivans that make up the separately regulated light commercial vehicle market, and domestic brands had only 29.5 percent of the car market last year, according to LMC Automotive, a global consultancy.
2nd Gear: GM To Build A Cheaper Volt
All things considered, I don't think the Volt is over-priced for what you get. Yeah, it's just a slightly less useful Chevy Cruze, but it can be extremely efficient under the right conditions and I think it's handsome looking in a way. While it was originally priced high, subsequent revisions and incentives keep the price reasonably under $35K.
Reuters has it exclusively that, in addition to Hamtramck building a new Cadillac flagship and a redesigned Buick LaCrosse, they'll also work on an entry-level Volt with less equipment that would make it one of the cheapest plug-in hybrids in the U.S.
Given that Volt sales never lived up to promises, perhaps this will help.
3rd Gear: Toyota Hybrid Engines Droppin' In Non-Hybrids
The Atkinson cycle engines in Toyota's hybrids (and Ford's) will start dropping in Toyota's non-hybrid vehicles in an attempt to improve efficiency by about 10% to 15%.
Per Toyota, the new engines will be 1.0- and 1.3-liter fourbangers and use higher compression like the Mazda SkyActiv engines.
This is more evidence that we have plenty of efficiency left to squeeze out of the old ICE.
4th Gear: UAW Wants To Take Sen. Corker To Court
The UAW-VW-GOP fight isn't over yet, with the UAW subpoenaing multiple conservative individuals in a National Labor Relations Board investigation into whether or not the issue of a midsize SUV being built in Chattanooga was used to illegally sway the outcome.
Amongst those named are Grover Norquist, Tennessee's Governor, and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and his staff. Here's who they responded:
"After a stinging defeat, rather than respect the workers' decision the UAW is trying to create a sideshow and we've referred this matter to legal counsel. We hope other people who might be inclined to consider the UAW will take this development as a cautionary tale," said Todd Womack, Corker's chief of staff, who is among those subpoenaed.
I have no idea how this is going to play out legally, but no Republican is going to look bad spending life under siege by the unions.
5th Gear: OK, One Recall Story
Trying to highlight some non recall stories, but here's another take from the WSJ on the era of the "Big Recall."
With everyone recalling cars, a good question is: Why?
Industry experts say a landscape that once allowed auto makers to negotiate terms with regulators has been transformed because of the potential for huge fines and criminal prosecution now hanging over executives.
Yep, execs don't mind tossing money around in their defense or small paying fines, but no one wants to go to jail over a seat spring.
Reverse: I Always Forget This
On this day in 1879, Sandor Herz—the future John Hertz, the man behind what will one day be the world's largest car-rental company—is born in present-day Slovakia.
Neutral: What Would You Buy If You Lived In China?
Assuming you're middle-class in China, and young, what would you buy?
Photo Credit: Getty Images