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: No Japanese Allowed
There's a long history between China and Japan and it's not a great one. Despite about 60 years of relatively peaceful coexistence with the world around them, the Japanese were kind of dicks to everyone in their neighborhood for much of the first half of the 20th century… especially China and Korea.
China hasn't forgotten, and it's used the dispute over a couple of rocky islands to further stoke nationalist, anti-Japanese feelings (Japan, for their part, haven't been helping matters). Remember the Audi dealer with the banner wishing for the death of all Japanese people?
Thus we arrive at this rather eye-opening article from Bloomberg that shows the experience of Honda and Toyota employees who are banned from entering restaurants, can't get tee times, and are otherwise treated like a second class.
“Wherever I go, like department stores or in taxis, people ask me whether I am Japanese,” Mizuno, 49, president of Dongfeng Honda (GHAJCZ), said in an interview at the Shanghai auto show. When he says yes, he said, the reception can be frosty. Mizuno’s experiences in the city, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930s, illustrate why sales for Honda and Toyota Motor Corp (7203). have yet to recover since violent protests across China seven months ago. Though the riots — triggered by a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands — have subsided, Japanese carmakers are continuing to lose share in the world’s biggest auto market
Note, this isn't just in rural China, but in larger cities like Wuhan in Central China.
This should go further in explaining why Japanese automakers have had trouble in what's now the world's largest car market, although that's not the only issue. There's a lot more competition as Ford, GM, and Volkswagen all eye the market.
2nd Gear: Lighten Up, Fatty
How are automakers going to meet stronger fuel efficiency standards? As The Detroit News reports, they're going to go on a diet.
This is one of those great pieces of news for everyone. Lighter cars are not just more fuel efficient, they're much better to drive. Just look at the 2014 Cadillac CTS, which dropped 250 pounds between models.
This is also great news for people who are involved in the production of aluminum.
3rd Gear: Ford Hit Those Numbers, Sort Of
Ford did, indeed, make record bank in the first quarter, although whether or not they actually beat estimates depends on what those estimates were.
Yesterday, the call was for $2.7 billion pre-tax profit while Ford actually hit $2.1 billion.
But, net income of $1.61 billion means a per-share profit of 41 centers, besting the 37-cent average that experts surveyed by Bloomberg came up with. Revenue was also slightly over the analysts expectations.
Oh well, it's a win in Dearborn either way as F-150s draw in major cash and the new Fusion continues to sell.
4th Gear: British Men Are The Worst Drivers In Britain
In the UK, if you rack up more than 12 points on your license in a short period of time you're supposed to take the bus for a while but, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, more than 2500 people are driving with more than a dozen points.
The breakdown? 2256 men and just 351 women. Of the top 34 points holders (up to 36), all but two were men.
Does that make male drivers worse, more reckless, or just better at getting away with it?
5th Gear: Toyota Still On Top Despite China
As predicted, Toyota still bested VW and GM in the first quarter with sales of 2.43 million per the AP. This is on top of 2.36 million vehicles for GM and 2.27 million for VW.
Toyota still saw a fall of 2.2% compared to a surging GM and VW, blamed largely for the aforementioned issues with Chinese consumers. Toyota sales in China were down 13% for the quarter. It's also worth noting that Toyota was down 15% in Japan where, you know, there's slightly less anti-Japanese sentiment.
Reverse: RIP Rolf
On this day in 1983, Rolf Stommelen, a four-time 24 Hours of Daytona champ as well as a Formula One driver, is killed at the age of 39 in a crash at California's Riverside International Raceway.
Neutral: Can Japan Come To Terms With China, Or Vice-Versa? Given the importance of the Japanese to the Chinese economy and the importance of the Chinese to the Japanese economy, how long will it be before they get this resolved?
Photo Credit: Getty Images