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: Meet The New Boss... For Now
BMW sells a lot of cars. But, apparently, Audi sells more.
Over the first few months of 2014, Audi sold 242,300 cars. BMW sold 383 fewer cars. Granted, the delta is sales is incredibly tight, but Audi has never held the luxury lead for an entire year. A 383 car lead up to March isn't necessarily evidence of a lead that's going to continue to grow through the year, but Audi hopes it does.
This year alone, 17 new or refreshed models are coming from the brand with four rings. That's coupled with a $30 billion investment over the next five years. The goal? Yep. You guessed it. Audi wants to be number one overall for more than two months.
2nd Gear: Japan Rebounds
Three years ago today was the devastating tsunami that ravaged Japan, leaving 18,000 dead or missing. It also brought the auto industry crashing to a halt.
But in those three years, Japan has recovered in a big way. Dealers that have been washed away are rebuilt, bigger and better than before. And the industry itself has recovered rather nicely.
In 2011, auto production was off 13 percent to the year before because of the tsunami. Last year, Japan built 9.6 million cars, the same level that they made before the disaster in 2010. Automakers have also begun backing up their sources, that way they aren't dependent on just one company if a disaster like this occurs again. There is still work to be done to rebuild everything, especially very storm ravaged areas, but the progress in just three years is jaw dropping.
3rd Gear: Honda And Acura Have Divided
For as long as Acura has been in America, sales and marketing for Acura and Honda have been under one roof. That is changing.
In order to accurately show that Acura is its own brand with its own buyers and its own identity, Honda and Acura will be splitting into two in America. Creating the new Acura division, which will be headed by Honda veteran Mike Accavitti, will hopefully revitalize and reinvigorate Acura, which has been down and out for the last few years. In fact, they haven't come close to equaling their peak sales year of 2005 since, well, 2005.
Just bring us an NSX. That'll help. Kind of. Well, not really, but NSXs are cool.
4th Gear: GM Had Warning Signs Before Recall For Years
GM's big recall has been scrutinized and panned because of a failure to act after years of knowledge. And our friends at The Detroit News have found depositions that show GM was getting customer complaints about the recalled cars for nearly a decade.
GM bought back at least 13 Cobalts that were suffering ignition issues that were causing them to shut down while driving. Why wasn't action taken then for a broader recall?
But GM aren't the only people who didn't act. The feds received hundreds of complaints and never acted either. And now 1.4 million cars are being recalled.
5th Gear: Hyundai Does The Electric Slide
Hyundai has been talking about hydrogen fueled cars for a while now. Thing is, hydrogen is a long way away from having any semblance of a usable infrastructure, and infrastructure is the key to a successful formula.
So while we wait for hydrogen to become something, Hyundai is going to introduce a true electric car in 2016. Hyundai had divided efforts in the past, with Kia going for EVs and Hyundai working on hydrogen, but with the way the markets are going it makes sense to have a true EV as everyone else starts to introduce them.
The Toyota Motor Company announces on this day in 2009 that it has sold over 1 million gas-electric hybrid vehicles in the U.S. under its six Toyota and Lexus brands. The sales were led by the Prius, the world's first mass-market hybrid car, which was launched in Japan in October 1997 and introduced in America in July 2000.
What does Audi need to do to become the luxury leader for an entire calendar year?