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: April Sales Prove What We Already Know
In many ways, the traditional three-box sedan is one of the least efficient ways to make a car. It's less attractive than its coupe-y brethren, less useful than its hatchback'd cousins (whether CUV or wagon).
It's why automakers are making their cars into crossovers, hatches, and coupe-like sedans. I mean, Volkswagen even refuses to call their sedans sedans anymore, it's a coupe.
With the exception of a few remaining American and Chinese consumers, the idea of the sedan is largely dead and automakers are scrambling to respond.
If you make non-luxury cars, you're probably suffering or not growing very quickly. Chrysler, which has no SUV/Crossover/Hatch-y thing is down 21% on the year, Jaguar is down 9%, Volkswagen is down too. Honda is barely scraping by.
Now look deeper into car sales for March and you'll see, with a few exceptions, the market for sedans stumbling along while the market for hatches and coupes going up (The Subaru XV Crosstrek is up 58% March-over-March).
Now, go back to the brand chart and look at people who make trucks or hatches. Subaru is killing it, Ram is killing it, Jeep is killing it. Hell, even Mitsubishi, which barely sells cars anymore, is way up.
Most of the top top crossover/suvs are experiencing year-over-year growth in the double digits, and most of the vehicles losing ground are older and thus giving up market share to better alternatives.
Here's Tim Cain's take on trucks:
Americans have already registered more than 700,000 pickup trucks in 2014, and there are two-thirds of the year yet to be, well, lived. That's ahead of last year's four-month pace by nearly 26,000 units, a feat that's been accomplished in large part thanks to the growth achieved by Ram's pickup lineup. Ram sales are up 24,577 units so far this year, having risen 17% during the month of April.
Contrary to what you might believe, the American consumer has gotten smarter, and the smarter consumer doesn't want a sedan.
2nd Gear: Fields Will Maintain His Home In Florida
Smashing stereotypes about Jewish people from New Jersey, Mark Fields is going to maintain his residence in Florida, reports Karl Henkel in yet another piece about how Mark Fields is going to be Ford CEO. That's the more interesting thing to me:
Another aspect that won't change: Fields will maintain his Florida residence, though he said he just bought a home in the Metro Detroit area. Fields has two sons; one attends the University of Michigan and the other recently was accepted at U-M.
"My wife will spend a lot more time up here, maybe not because of me, but my kids," Fields said, laughing.
A lot of people who are auto execs do this, so there's no judgment here. I just find it interesting.
3rd Gear: GM Goes Back To A Bankruptcy Judge
Oh GM. You thought you were done with bankruptcy court? Not quite. Because of the recall's "Old GM" and "New GM" distinction, a judge has to decide if they can really ignore all those lawsuits from people hurt before the dissolution of Old GM.
And they'll likely make out well.
GM may have the upper hand when it meets for the first time Friday morning in Gerber's courtroom with the plaintiffs' lawyers leading the challenge. The company asked Gerber to enforce the so-called bankruptcy shield, in a pre-emptive move aimed at staving off dozens of lawsuits from customers who say they took a financial hit from the recall.
Most legal experts believe the shield is virtually iron-clad and that Gerber would be unlikely to undo a key part of the bankruptcy sale order he approved in 2009. But the high-stakes issue is not necessarily a slam dunk for GM.
4th Gear: Student Government Inaction!
Hey, look, the University of Michigan invited Mary Barra to give the university's commencement address. That makes perfect sense.
Oh, the Graduate Employees Organization and Student Union are against it? Why?
The group cites her leadership in the delayed recall of millions of vehicles for faulty ignition switches tied to at least 13 deaths.
I had Scott McClellan speak at my college's graduation, she can't possibly be worse than he was.
5th Gear: John Krafcik Lands At TrueCar
There are definitely second acts for automotive CEOs, with John Krafcik landing at TrueCar as the CEO ahead of that company's impending IPO.
Krafcik has been serving on the board of TrueCar and was recently "consciously uncoupled" from Hyundai, opening himself up to work for TrueCar.
I always liked Krafcik, so glad to hear he's landing on his feet.
Reverse: They Also Had A Discussion Of Ignition Problems
On this day in 1918, General Motors Corporation (GM), which will become the world's largest automotive firm, acquires Chevrolet Motor Company.
Neutral: Am I Wrong About Sedans?
Or very, very right?
Photo Credit: Getty Images