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?
1st Gear: C.R.E.A.M.
There's not a ton of exciting car bizness news this morning, it's Friday, but there is this great Bloomberg story about toilets that sheds a lot of light on how currency devaluation or appreciation works and the weird side effects it has.
When the ruble plunged 37 percent in the first half of December, Kazakh businessman Marat Mukhamedov spotted an opportunity: Russian toilets.
Realizing the urinals, tiles and other bathroom accessories he needed to stock the warehouse of his office-refurbishing company were now half the cost of six months earlier, he ordered twice the quantity required for the coming year to take advantage of the exchange rate.
While we've focused on the drunken Jenga-like collapse of the Russian car market from the perspective of Russian consumers and global automakers, there's another side to this:
Bargain-hunting Kazakhs and Belarusians bought about 90,000 of the 500,000 cars sold in Russia in November and December, according to data compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. That’s almost half of the total 182,000 sold domestically in the two countries in all of 2014. Aziz Mamirov, the Almaty-based head of photography at Expert Kazakhstan magazine, said he bought a Volkswagen Jetta in Russia in February and saved at least $4,000 after his travel costs.
It's a happy day for the Kazakhs!
2nd Gear: Land Rover Gives In To Chinese TV Show, Will Recall Evoques
The same Chinese TV show that accused a host of automakers of overcharging for service, parts, and repair also mentioned a little something about gearbox issues with the Range Rover Evoque.
As Reuters reports, this included poor shift quality, transmission noise, and the very annoying "inability to select drive when the vehicle is restarted under certain conditions."
Not surprisingly, Jaguar Land Rover has issued a recall for 36,451 Evoques to issue a software tweak to fix some bad behavior.
3rd Gear: Some Dealers Sold Cars With Unfixed, Open Recalls
Speaking of recalls, the one thing you're really not supposed to do is sell a car that has an open recall until you fix the issue.
Yet, ABC News was able to buy a Chevy Silverado from a dealer with an unfixed recall issue. ABC News went on to confirm that this has happened several hundred times.
Who to blame here? The dealer, certainly, as they are the ones best suited to fix it. GM should have better checks in control to make sure this doesn't happen. Senator Ed Markey also has a suggestion:
Markey, who says the law barring dealers from selling new cars with open recalls is not enough on its own, said NHTSA needs to do more to enforce it.
“NHTSA has 51 people on its enforcement team. We have a couple of producers looking at this – and we pulled up hundreds and hundreds of cars with these issues,” Benitez said. “Why can’t NHTSA?”
“NHTSA should have done this work,” Markey answered. “It shouldn't take an investigation by ABC to find this problem.”
Never underestimate the power of two TV news producers.
4th Gear: Mary Barra May Have To Give Deposition
A lawyer from Corpus Christi, Texas has deposed 35 former and current GM employees, including GM CEO Mary Barra, in a lawsuit connected to the massive recall the Freep reports.
So far, any case that could potentially have execs speaking under oath appear to have been settled, which makes me wonder if this is a ploy by the lawyer to get to the truth or to get GM to swallow a giant settlement.
Only time will tell.
5th Gear: The Federal Government's Fleet Is Going Electric/Hybrid
I feel like a CIA agent in an all black Tesla Model S would be pretty baller, but it's not happening anytime soon. President Barack Obama signed an order that requires the federal government to up its zero-emission or plug-in-hybrid vehicle purchases to 50% of all new car purchases... but not until 2025.
That's still a lot of cars, and I'd guess that most of those cars will be plug-in hybrids and not pure EVs. They certainly have a ways to go.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — the trade group representing Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG — noted that state and federal government purchases “of alternative powertrain vehicles still comprise only a small fraction of their overall automotive acquisitions.”
The group said in the first 10 months of 2014, federal, state and local governments registered 175,122 new vehicles, of which 512 were electric cars – or less than one-third of 1 percent. Hybrids represented 4 percent (7,048) of new government vehicles.
I'm now curious what those 512 electric cars are. Anyone have any idea?
Reverse: Old Packards Are Cool
James Packard, co-founder of the Packard Motor Company, a pioneering American automaker, dies at the age of 64 on this day in 1928. During Packard’s heyday in the 1930s, its vehicles were driven by movie stars and business titans.
Neutral: What's Your Favorite Example Of Currency Impacting Cars?
I'm a big fan of the Sterling 827, which was a popular car in the U.S. but ironically lost steam because of the strength of the British Pound Sterling versus the Japanese yen (thus the popularity of the Legend).
Photo Credit: Getty Images