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: Let's All Party Like It's 2008
A sinking yen has made meant increased profits for automakers in Japan, who have had to deal with a fairly stagnant economy. With that in mind, and with a sales tax increase coming, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pleaded with companies to increase worker pay.
Bloomberg's newest Japanese reporter says Toyota's unionized workers will get their first raise since 2008 and it's $26 in base pay per month — or 2,700 yen.
Nissan gave their employees 3,500 yen and Honda is the most miserly at 2,200 yen.
The hope is that this will help Abe turn the economy towards growth and inflation.
2nd Gear: VW's Beigekrieg Rolls Towards 10 Million Sales
Two very nice guys from Volkswagen are coming up to NYC today to talk about their plans for the future and, possibly, ask why we keep referring to their strategy as the "Beigekrieg!" They will almost certainly by us lunch.
On that note…
VW came so close last year with 9.72 million vehicles pushed, just barely topping General Motors. Europe is slowly turning around and China is still the bomba, so hopefully that's enough.
Also, is that a vinegar stroke?
3rd Gear: Mini Cars To The US!
We're fans of small European cars here at Jalopnik, with the one caveat that we're not big on the Smart Fortwo.
For U.S. consumers genuinely interested in the opportunity to experience Europe's best and most affordable city cars, the trick will be persuading the automakers to step up to the challenge. So, just like writing your congressman when you want politicians to make changes, it's time to make some noise at your local auto dealerships and let car company bosses know you mean business.
4th Gear: GM Shares Take A Hit After Investigation
Shares of the company, which were in the upper $30s last week have fallen to $34.86 at the end of close yesterday.
While there's some positive movement pre-market, we'll have to see how the market reacts to the latest news. Oh, and we're having dinner with some nice folks from GM tonight, so we'll see what they have to say.
5th Gear: Musk Makes Global PR Pick
Like Pinky & The Brain, it's hard not to imagine Elon Musk nightly stating his desire to "try to take over the world."
His next big move doesn't involve putting solar panels on a rocket, or an electric motor in your croissant, but rather the more humdrum but always important task of hiring smart people.
In this case, it's Simon Sproule from Nissan-Renault who spent time with Jaguar, Ford and Nissan before moving to Ghosn's shop.
On this day in 1969, "The Love Bug," a Walt Disney movie about the adventures of a Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, opens in theaters across the United States. The film, which was based on a 1961 book called "Car, Boy, Girl" by Gordon Buford, centered around down-on-his-luck auto racer Jim (played by Dean Jones) who goes on a winning streak after teaming up with Herbie. Other characters in the film include the evil Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson), Jim's rival on the racetrack; Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett), Jim's friend who makes art from used auto parts and Jim's girlfriend Carole (Michele Lee). "The Love Bug" was a box-office success and spawned the cinematic spinoffs "Herbie Rides Again" (1974), "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" (1977), "Herbie Goes Bananas" (1980) and "Herbie: Fully Loaded" (2005), starring Lindsay Lohan.
Neutral: Questions for GM or Volkswagen PR?
We're having lunch with VW and dinner with GM, let us know what you want to know.
Photo Credit: Getty Images