Photo: AP

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: Volvo Wants A Bigger U.S. Footprint

Volvo is apparently so jazzed about building its first U.S. factory in South Carolina that it’s not planning to drop an extra $1 billion to make it even bigger. What’s that mean? Jobs, for one thing. Jobs, jobs, jobs. A lot of them, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Volvo will add a second production line to a factory now under construction near Charleston, S.C., a Volvo spokesman said. The auto maker plans to make the S60 sedan at the plant starting in late 2018 along with another unnamed vehicle.

The expansion will add 1,900 jobs to the 2,000 already planned for the plant.

Geely wants the South Carolina factory to be an anchor for Volvo’s bid to grow in the U.S., the WSJ reported. Maybe the company’s feeling good because of the insatiable thirst here for crossovers and SUVs—the WSJ noted sales have bounced back thanks in part to the XC90; the new XC40 looks sharp, too—but like everyone else, Volvo’s sales have dipped a bit in 2017 as record new car sales have tapered off.

Whatever the case, South Carolina’s getting a much bigger factory now.

2nd Gear: FCA Recalls A Lot Of Rams

Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly a half-million Ram trucks of various shapes and sizes over a potentially defective water pump that could spark a fire, according to the Detroit Free Press. The pumps affected 2013-2017 model year Ram 2500 and 3500s with 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs, the newspaper reported, but it only impacts those with a 6.7-liter engine.

Heres more from the Freep:

“Customer feedback prompted an FCA US investigation that discovered certain trucks are equipped with a water-pump bearing that, after exposure to certain conditions, may overheat and potentially cause an engine-compartment fire,” the release said. “Compromised water-pump function may activate a warning light in an affected vehicle’s instrument cluster. Customers are urged to consult their dealers whenever they observe warning lights.”

The scope of any potential fire is apparently wide. A company spokesman said that “in accordance with (the) regulatory definition, which includes everything from a burning odor to open flame, we are aware of a small number of such incidents. Of these, a smaller number involved damage – none of which extended beyond the immediate area of the water pump.”

No injuries or accidents are known, but if you have an affected car, give FCA a shout 800-853-1403.

3rd Gear: Ford To Temporarily Shuts Down 5 North American Plants

Everyone’s feeling a pinch these days from a slower auto market, and Ford’s no exception. The automaker’s planning to temporarily shut down production at five North American assembly plants before the year’s up, Automotive News reports.

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The reason? A wide-ranging recall from this summer of Transit vans, along with an abundance of unsold inventory. Here’s more from Automotive News:

Both of Ford’s Mexico plants are affected. Cuautitlan Assembly Plant, which makes the Fiesta sedan, will be down for three weeks. Hermosillo Assembly Plant, which makes the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, will be down for two weeks.

In the U.S., Flat Rock Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Mustang sports car and Lincoln Continental sedan, will be down for two weeks. Kansas City Assembly Plant’s Transit line will be down for two weeks. Michigan Assembly Plant, which makes the Focus sedan and C-Max hatchback, will be down for one week.

So get that fixed, too, Transit owners. But, damn, I’m wondering if this really is the start of a slippery slope for the auto industry.

4th Gear: A Fake Hospice?

This scandal involving former United Auto Workers officials and FCA execs is downright wild. Back in July the feds indicted a number of folks connected to the scheme, which involved allegedly funneling $1.2 million of FCA cash to keep senior UAW folks—as one employee of the automaker put it—“fat, dumb and happy.” Yowza.

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Monica Morgan, the wife of former UAW vice president, diverted the funds to pay for a potpourri of fun luxuries: a $315,000 Ferrari 458 Spider; a pool; two Mont Blanc Pens at $37,500 a piece; mortgage payments. Think big, they might’ve gone for it.

Anyway, the total cost accrued in stolen funds is somewhere around $4.5 million now, according to reports, so the feds have dug their heels in and, expectedly, more unseemly details have trickled out. The latest is covered by The Detroit News:

Federal prosecutors have seized $292,000 from a fake hospice that funneled cash to Monica Morgan-Holiefield, a central figure of the Fiat Chrysler-UAW corruption scandal, court records allege.

A federal court filing Tuesday seeking forfeiture of the money deepens a $4.5 million scandal involving two pillars of the auto industry and illustrates how federal agents are following money raided from a training fund for blue-collar workers.

Federal prosecutors have seized $292,000 from a fake hospice that funneled cash to Monica Morgan-Holiefield, a central figure of the Fiat Chrysler-UAW corruption scandal, court records allege.

In the filing, federal prosecutors chart the winding path of money from Fiat Chrysler’s bank account to Morgan-Holiefield’s pocket — after being transferred through her husband’s nonprofit and an acquaintance’s sham hospice in Detroit.

A fake hospice? No joke, that’s a wild idea of a scam. But I’m surprised by the comments from a former board member, who reportedly told prosecutors that he attended “infrequent” board meetings. What was on the agenda? How to cover-up A, B, and C? I mean, damn.

5th Gear: Tencent and Guangzhou Auto Team Up

China’s Tencent and Chinese automaker Guangzhou, the latter of which has been rumored to be a potential suitor for FCA, are teaming up to build smart cars, according to Reuters.

Tencent and Guangzhou Auto will work together to develop internet-connected cars and artificial intelligence-aided driving, as well as explore investment in areas such as auto-related e-commerce, so-called new energy cars and auto insurance, the automaker said in a filing late on Monday.

Guangzhou Auto said it aimed to tap Tencent’s expertise in mobile payments, social networking, big data and artificial intelligence. Tencent will also provide cloud services and other technical support.

Because stock markets respond to the whims of The Deals Being Made, Guangzhou’s share price jumped, of course, reports Reuters. The partnership with Tencent’s interesting. Earlier this year, the company netted a 5 percent stake of Tesla, which, albeit being small, it’s Tesla, so many saw it as a huge deal. Clearly, this suggest something different; that, perhaps, Tencent just wants a stake in the tech-forward action of the automotive world going forward. But who in the auto industry doesn’t these days.

Reverse: The Cars, They Drive Fast

Neutral: Volvo Comes To America And Expands

Are you surprised Volvo’s so gung-ho about the U.S. of A? Excited? Let’s talk about our feelings. Will this pay off for the brand and for the job base?