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 parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: Chrysler has set prices on its four new SRT vehicles: the Chrysler 300 SRT8 ($47,995), Dodge Charger SRT8 ($46,660), Dodge Challenger SRT8 ($44,077 — plus a $1,300 gas guzzler tax on the auto transmission version and $1,000 on the six-speed manny-tranny) and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 ($55,295). Prices include the $825 destination charges. Each is equipped with the 470 HP 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine.
2nd Gear: AutoCar's got a rendering of what their sources tell them the all-new, seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf will look like. It appears to have more rakish looks than the current model when it goes on sale in a year's time. Volkswagen's plan to subtly alter the proportions of its bread-and-butter hatchback includes giving it a wider footprint, a lower roofline and a lower driving position, which should improve the driving environment. Also, should separate it, looks-wise, from the new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle — you know, the better-looking, more-expensive, but much-less-practical Golf.
3rd Gear: These leaked in-house computer renderings obtained by Autocar (god, they're all over Volkswagen brands today, aren't they?) are the first definite proof that Porsche is intending to build a direct rival for the sporting three-door Range Rover Evoque. The Evoque-chasing Cajun is expected to be launched in two years' time and will be based on the Audi Q5 SUV. As well as a five-door Cajun, Porsche has apparently already started work on a three-door coupé version. As these renderings - from an internal styling exercise at Porsche's design HQ - show, the Cajun coupé is likely to draw heavily on 911 design cues. Except, you know, with a much larger ass.
4th Gear: Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally is aiming to replicate in Germany what he achieved in the U.S.: Use fuel economy and technology including voice-activated stereos to command more respect and cash from car buyers. Ford says its retail prices lagged VW by an average of 6.3 percent in the past eight months. This month, it outfitted 1,100 German sales people with iPads loaded with a special Ford sales application that demonstrates fuel-saving technology. It is doubling the size of its stand at the Frankfurt auto show in September, adding a test track and hands-on displays that will make it "an adult science museum," said Jim Farley, Ford global marketing chief. Well, that's one way to do it.
5th Gear: OK, don't panic, but the average price of domestically-made passenger vehicles in China fell 1.4% in June from a year earlier, China News Service reported, citing information from the National Development and Reform Commission. Automakers may offer more discounts in the fourth quarter to meet annual sales targets as demand growth slows, the news service said, citing a report from the government agency.
6th Gear: European new-car registrations fell 8.1% in June to 1.24 million vehicles, the ACEA industry group said in an e-mailed statement today. Over the first six months of the year, a total of 7.12 million new cars was registered, 2.1% less than in the year-earlier period. OK, NOW you can panic!
⏎ The Guilty Pleasure of a Drive Through Central Park. [New York Times]
⏎ VW 'confident' it will keep outpacing world market in second half. [Automotive News]
⏎ Benz falls behind as Audi, BMW storm ahead with double-digit first-half growth. [GoAuto]
⏎ Suzuki names Chris White new U.S. head of auto sales, marketing. [Automotive News]
⏎ Transportation Department to Test Collision Warning Systems. [New York Times]
⏎ Do Drivers Understand Fuel-Saving Technology? [Wall Street Journal]
Today in Automotive History:
Today the Jeep brand is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It was 15 July 1941 when the Willys-Overland military model was produced. It was the forerunner of the first 4x4 Jeep model for civilian use, the CJ-2A. [History]