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?
The top picture has nothing to do with the Japanese, but Dale Earnhardt died 14 years ago today.
1st Gear: Show Them The Money
In light of huge profits from the Japanese automakers, the unions that represent workers at Japanese auto plants want them all to get 6,000 yen ($50) a month raise. The unions represent about 766,000 people.
But for companies that are bringing in a projected profit of $33.6 billion, that seems rather modest. It's just $600 a year per person. But spread across that huge workforce, the total cost will be nearly $500 million. Still, that isn't that bad when you spread it across all of the Japanese automakers.
The hope is that the raise will help continue the economic recovery that the country has been see sawing with as the yen has weakened and taxes have risen. Will $50 a month help? Maybe.
2nd Gear: Infiniti Ousts US Leader
Michael Bartsch has left his position as Vice President of Infiniti Americas. Infiniti says that he did it to "pursue other interests," which are probably working for a company that didn't just fire him.
He will be replaced by Randy Parker, Nissan's West Region Vice President.
Bartsch leaves the job after just 18 months in charge and follows Johan de Nysschen, who was the global head of Infiniti for less than two years.
No wonder those concept cars never get built.
3rd Gear: Things Are Looking Up At Peugeot
Peugeot hasn't been doing that great in recent years. Huge losses and crappy cars have added up to a not so stellar reputation.
But Carlos Tavares, the new CEO, has been changing that. Instead of posting a huge loss on cars in 2014, they posted a modest profit. Overall, the company went from a loss of billions of euros to a loss of hundreds of millions.
That sounds terrible, but when you make a gain of 1.5 billion euros in one year, that's something to be celebrated. Tavares also had a goal of having two billion in cash flow by 2018, and he accomplished it in 2014.
Maybe he'll overtake Carlos Ghosn as the superhero auto exec.
4th Gear: Euro Sales Rise
The car market in Europe has been a sluggish slug for the last few years, but things are starting to pick back up. January saw continued growth to the tune of a 6.2 percent increase in sales to 1.03 million cars.
Sales were up across the board, but especially in smaller countries. You go Cyprus!
5th Gear: The Loonie Problem
Who would have thought that a currency called the Loonie would have the problem of being too strong, but that's exactly the issue that Canada is running in to.
Apparently, the strength of the Canadian dollar has been harming auto manufacturing in Canada for the last decade, and continued strength isn't going to get new investments. Other than Chrysler's decision to build its next minivan in Windsor, Ontario, investments in Canadian manufacturing have lagged behind the rest of the Americas.
On this day in 2001, Dale Earnhardt Sr., considered one of the greatest drivers in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) history, dies at the age of 49 in a last-lap crash at the 43rd Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Earnhardt was driving his famous black No. 3 Chevrolet and vying for third place when he collided with another car, then crashed into a wall. After being cut from his car, Earnhardt, whose tough, aggressive driving style earned him the nickname "The Intimidator," was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead of head injuries.
Should the Japanese automakers give out even bigger raises?