The Minivan Is Back

This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place every weekday morning. 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: But They'll Kill You If You Call It A Minivan

The Minivan Is Back

There's a lot of utility in the minivan design, which pushes the wheels out to the edges and puts a big box on top of it. With the exception of Chrysler and Kia, nobody likes to call them minivans.

Why? We used to drive station wagons, then those became passé, so we made the station wagon taller and invented the Minivan. Then those became passé, so we made them tougher and bigger and invented the SUV. Then those became passé, so we softened them and lowered then and reinvented the station wagon, but called it the CUV.http://www.detroitnews.com/article/201405...

Karl Henkel has the story this morning, point out all the things people are calling minivans that are not minivans:

If the new entrants to the market have one thing in common, it's this: Their makers would prefer you call them "people movers," "multi-purpose vehicles," "family haulers" — anything but minivans, a term that became a stigma associated with soccer moms and baby seats.

"Nobody wants to be categorized as a minivan, but at the same time, they have to let people know about how they can utilize these vehicles," said Jessica Caldwell, an auto analyst at Edmunds.com. "The harder you try to convince people it's not a minivan, the more they are going to think it's a minivan. Just call a spade a spade."

The Ford Transit Connect, for instance, is just a minivan. And a wagon.http://jalopnik.com/is-the-ford-tr...

2nd Gear: The Justice Dept. Is Scaring Parts Makers

The Minivan Is Back

Specifically, the feds are scaring Japanese parts makers who were clearly colluding to overcharged customers in the U.S. for their parts.http://www.detroitnews.com/article/201405...

"It's a very, very safe assumption that U.S. consumers paid more, and sometimes significantly more, for their automobiles as a result of this conspiracy," Brent Snyder, a deputy assistant attorney general in the antitrust division, said in an interview.

So far, 34 individuals have been charged and 27 companies have pleaded guilty or agreed to do so, the Justice Department says. Collectively, they have agreed to pay more than $2.3 billion in fines. New cases have arisen with regularity, with Attorney General Eric Holder promising last September that investigators "would check under every hood and kick every tire."

The AP also reports that execs at these companies would use coded emails and delete documents to try and cover up their tracks. Clearly, it didn't work.

3rd Gear: Panasonic Is Still Sort Of Going Along With Gigafactory

The Minivan Is Back

Tesla seems to really give no kind of shit about their day-to-day stock price or just about anything else as they continue to promise to pour tons of money and effort into a Gigafactory. Panasonic, their prospective partner, doesn't quite feel that way.

As the WSJ reports, Panasonic said that it's not entirely sure how much they want to invest in the potentially $5 billion factory. Why might that be?http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...

"Some Panasonic executives are still haunted by earlier failed capital investments in plasma televisions and batteries."

You gotta spend money to make money.

4th Gear: GM To Start Exporting From India

The Minivan Is Back

GM looks to join Ford in exporting cars from the Indian subcontinent. Specifically, GM is going to sell Chevy Beats built in India to Chileans in 2015.http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/0...

In light of the recent recalls, this makes me think Chileans are looking for the improved quality of an Indian-produced product...

5th Gear: What's Going On In China?

The Minivan Is Back

You have to think that China is at least a little resentful that a huge chunk of the profits being generated by their booming car market is going overseas to Japan, Germany, and the United States. This at the same time their economy is slowing down.

Therefore it's no surprise that premier Li Keqiang made a speech indicating that he's going to change their economic policy to make investments easier and encourage the creation of airliners and "new energy vehicles."http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-2...

As Bloomberg reports, this has led to an increase in Chinese automaker stocks like SAIC and BYD, though it should be noted that the former is a partner of both VW and GM, and the latter is owned partially by Warren Buffett.

Reverse: Like A Sir

Neutral: What's A Minivan And What Isn't?

Which modern three-row people movers are minivans, and which are not?

Photo Credit: AP