Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Did You Reserve Your Tesla Model X?

I’m fascinated to see how the Tesla Model X does in the marketplace. Tesla’s invested a ton of money into production and they need it to be a big hit. It’s also far from cheap, but also stupid fast. And it’s coming at the end of this month, reports Reuters:

The Model X, eagerly awaited since it was announced in early 2012, will launch with a premium-priced special version called the Signature series that will cost between $132,000 and $144,000, a Tesla spokeswoman said.

It is customary for automakers to debut higher-priced versions of their cars before introducing standard models.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the first cars would be handed over Sept. 29 at the company’s factory in Fremont, Calif.

2nd Gear: Poetsch Aims To Take The Top Post

A day after it was learned Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winkterkorn was unlikely to take the top spot as chairman, the conglomerate has selected the man they want to do the job: finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch. One more from Reuters:

Europe’s biggest carmaker has been looking for a permanent successor to Piech, who was ousted in April after clashing with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn over strategy but still wields influence through his family holding.

One day after proposing to extend the CEO’s contract by two years until the end of 2018, the supervisory board’s executive and nomination committees proposed to elect Poetsch, 64, as chairman, VW said on Thursday.

“Mr Poetsch distinguishes himself by strategic foresight, profound knowledge of the auto industry and great expertise in financial markets,” said Berthold Huber, VW’s interim chairman.

He’s a finance guy, not an engineer or a crazy person like Ferdinand Piech was, even though he has Piech’s support. It will be interesting to see what this bodes for the VW Group.

3rd Gear: Mercedes’ Tesla Fighter To Have 311-Mile Range

The “Tesla fighter” is the vehicle every automaker wants these days, and Mercedes is no exception. Here’s what’s coming from Tesla’s former partner in Germany, via Automotive News:

Mercedes-Benz is working on an electric car with a range of up to 311 miles that could compete with Tesla’s Model S battery-powered vehicle, development chief Thomas Weber told German magazine auto motor und sport.

“We are working on an intelligent concept for a highly attractive electric vehicle with a range of 400-500 kilometers (228-311 miles),” Weber said in an interview, adding that the car would come “soon.”

4th Gear: Health Care Deadline

Lots of stuff going on with the ongoing automaker-UAW negotiations. Here’s one, via The Detroit News:

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., facing a midnight Sept. 14 contract deadline, are considering a proposal floated by the United Auto Workers to create a health care co-op that pools together active workers from all three Detroit automakers.

“We’re discussing it and we’ll see where it goes, but again, it’s way too early,” Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said during a charity event Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of the Ford Volunteer Corp.

5th Gear: Can Uber Succeed In Developing Markets?

Here’s an interesting one. Uber is partnering with Kia in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, to boost the number of drivers in that city to 3,000. They’re working with Kia to reduce the down payment on new cars to get more Uber-drivers Uber-ing. But it’s a tough road, reports Bloomberg:

Challenges facing Uber in Lagos, the first sub-Saharan African city to have the service outside South Africa, include congested traffic and poor mapping quality, according to Lits. Another is that a relatively small proportion of Nigerians know how to operate a smartphone well enough to manage the trips, Ebi Atawodi, general manager for Uber Lagos, said in the same interview.

“The smartphone module is usually what trumps people,” Atawodi said. While Nigerian active mobile-phone subscriptions rose about 14 percent to 148.5 million in the year ending July, according to the Nigerian Communications Communication, fewer than 10 percent are for smartphones, or Internet-enabled devices. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with more than 170 million people, of which about 21 million live in Lagos.

Reverse: BUZZ-WAGON!

On September 3, 1900, the first car ever made in Flint, Michigan makes its debut in the town’s Labor Day parade. Designed and built by a county judge and weekend tinkerer named Charles H. Wisner, the car was one of the only cars built in Flint that did not end up being produced by General Motors. In the end, only three of the Wisner machines were ever built.

Neutral: Will The Model X Be A Hit Or No?

And if it is, how soon until we start seeing Model X fighters?


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.