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: Welcome To The Tesla Referral Program

So Elon Musk had a conference call with the media yesterday, and in it he announced Tesla Motors’ first real incentive program, which he said was based on their word-of-mouth success: if you’re a current Model S owner and you refer a new one to the company, you get discounts and other stuff. Same goes for the person getting referred. From Bloomberg:

Anyone who orders a new Model S before Oct. 31 using the referral link of a current owner will get $1,000 off the purchase price, the company said in a statement. In return, the current owner will get a $1,000 discount that can be applied to a new car, service center visit or accessories.

And:

Owners who make five referral orders will receive an invitation for them and a guest to attend the April 2016 grand opening party for the Gigafactory, Tesla’s massive battery plant being built near Reno, Nevada, the company said.

Neat.

2nd Gear: Product Drought For Fiat Chrysler?

An exclusive from Reuters this morning claims that Fiat Chrysler has a “drought” of upcoming products for 2016, particularly when it comes to crossovers and pickup trucks, the two biggest segments in North America right now.

While the Italian-American automaker said it will bring three new sports models from Italy to the United States in the coming year, it plans to introduce only one all-new vehicle developed and built in North America: A redesigned Chrysler Town and Country minivan that is due next spring.

In comparison, FCA’s two Detroit rivals between them plan to introduce more than a dozen new or redesigned U.S. models by the end of 2016, the sources said. General Motors’ Chevrolet brand alone expects to launch as many as six new U.S. vehicles over the next 18 months.

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But a Fiat Chrysler spokesman countered the claims, saying they have some big deal products on the way:

Ranieri cited the new Chrysler minivan, as well as the three Italian-designed vehicles: The Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan, the Fiat Spider convertible and a new Maserati crossover vehicle.

I’m actually inclined to side with the spokesman here, because those are all very important vehicles, especially the minivan. A few more crossovers couldn’t hurt though.

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3rd Gear: Mazda Quarterly Profits Down

Mazda has one of the most consistently strong lineups in the industry right now despite being smaller than just about everyone else. In spite of this, they had a disappointing Q2 even though they had solid sales gains in the U.S. and China. Reuters:

Mazda Motor Corp. today said quarterly profit fell 5.4 percent despite higher auto sales in China and the U.S. that helped cushion the blow of foreign exchange losses and costs booked for new plants in Mexico and Thailand.

Mazda said in a statement that its April-June operating profit was 53.32 billion yen ($430 million). That was down from 56.38 billion yen a year ago.

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Everyone just needs to buy more Miatas, that’s all.

4th Gear: Crash Avoidance Standard On Volkswagens

In another example of high-tech safety features that start on expensive luxury cars, trickle down to becoming expensive options and then ultimately become standard equipment, the 2016 Volkswagens are getting an array of fancy safety equipment. Via Automotive News:

Volkswagen Group has long sold sensor-based crash prevention systems in high-end models from Audi, Porsche and Bentley. On Wednesday, the German automaker showed the trickle-down effect in action as it detailed plans to roll out features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and automated parking across its entire U.S. lineup of the plebeian Volkswagen brand for model year 2016.

Many of these features have previously only been available on the premium-priced Touareg. Volkswagen decided the time had come “to democratize these technologies,” Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn said in a statement.

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5th Gear: GM Going Big In India

Automakers are increasingly putting resources into emerging markets, and India’s no exception. General Motors announced recently that they’ll spend $1 billion to make 10 new locally-produced Chevrolet models in that country. From Bloomberg:

The company will invest $1 billion in Chevrolet in India and roll out 10 new models in the next five years, GM said in a statement. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra told reporters in New Delhi on Wednesday she sees “much more” growth in India for GM, and the total car market may grow to about 8 million units by 2025.

The investments are being announced at a time when demand for passenger vehicles in India is waning, with deliveries declining in June for the first time in eight months. Vikram Kirloskar, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said this month that there is lot of excess capacity in factories.

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Can GM reverse their fortunes in India?

Reverse: Godspeed Beetle

On this day in 2003, the last of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetles built since World War II rolls off the production line at Volkswagen’s plant in Puebla, Mexico. One of a 3,000-unit final edition, the baby-blue vehicle was sent to a museum in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered.

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Neutral: Are Those Products Enough For Fiat Chrysler?

Or are there other segments they should be focusing on?


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.

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