Tesla Gets Tariff Exemption from Commerce Department

EV maker gets pass on Japanese aluminum.

by on Jun.24, 2019

Tesla secured a tariff exemption on Japanese aluminum used in battery production for the Model 3.

The U.S. Commerce Department hasn’t come down against requests for tariff waivers by auto companies as it first appeared it would. But most of those have been for steel, but recently agreed to Tesla Inc.’s request to waive 10% tariffs on imported aluminum from Japan.

Tesla said in government documents that it needed the Japanese aluminum for the production of battery cells at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The company made the request in April, and the waiver is good for a year.

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Nippon Light Metal Co. Ltd. is the aluminum producer and Tesla asked for an exclusion for 10,000 tons annually, Reuters reported. The approval was apparently given on June 5, after the department found the aluminum “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality.”  Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2020 Hyundai Palisade

A serious new alternative for family buyers who want features, as well as more space.

by on Jun.24, 2019

Hyundai's SUV portfolio is just about complete with the introduction of the new 2020 Palisade.

Late to the party, perhaps, but Hyundai is intent for making up for lost time when it comes to stretching out its utility vehicle line-up. Barely two years ago, it had just three offerings to choose. Now by the end of the year it will have a full seven, including two new bookend models, the pint-sized Venue, as well as the big Palisade.

We set off for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, last week to check out that three-row offering, the first to offer a truly competitive alternative for family buyers. What about the older Santa Fe XL, you might ask. True, it also offered three rows, but the back bench was little more than a penalty box that even a tween would feel cramped in. With the 2020 Hyundai Palisade, the Korean carmaker set out to prove that bigger really is better.

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Longer, wider, taller — a good formula for family buyers. But the new Palisade has a number of other attributes that should appeal to potential customers. It’s also quieter, more powerful, loaded up with more creature comforts and safety features, and boasts a far more upscale feel to it than any Hyundai product we’ve seen before, short of the old Genesis and Equus models that have been spun off as part of the new Genesis luxury brand. Read the rest of this entry »

Musk Making Moves on Mission to Mars

SpaceX's Starship development accelerated, CEO tweets.

by on Jun.24, 2019

SpaceX is speeding up development of its Starship, which is designed take people and cargo to the moon and Mars.

For those looking to make the trip to Mars, they may start packing that suitcase sooner than they thought, at least if SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is to be believed.

Musk tweeted Sunday that as soon as Starship, SpaceX’s latest rocket in development, returns from its first orbit around Earth people can start reserving seats to Mars. He noted in a tweet the development of Starship is being accelerated to build the “Martian Technocracy.”

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This prompted one follower to ask when folks can start buying tickets to Mars and Musk replied, “After Starship returns from orbit.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diesel Recall Forces Daimler AG to Revise Earnings Outlook

Company had to recall 60,000 Mercedes-Benz diesels.

by on Jun.24, 2019

Mercedes recalled 60,000 GLK diesel SUVs from model years 2012-2015, causing Daimler to cut its earnings forecast.

Daimler AG has been forced to cut its 2019 earnings outlook after increasing the money set aside to cover issues related to its diesel vehicles by hundreds of millions of euros.

“Daimler AG reassessed the earnings expectations for the 2019 financial year for the Mercedes-Benz Vans division and the Group,” the German automaker said in a statement released over the weekend

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“Relevant for the reassessment is an increase in expected expenses in connection with various ongoing governmental proceedings and measures with regard to Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles,” the company added. Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Diesel

A package that’s easy to live with.

by on Jun.24, 2019

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 gets its first diesel since the 1999 model-year.

The diesel emissions scandal that enveloped Volkswagen a few years back has done a lot to tarnish “oil burners.” After gaining traction in the early part of the decade, a number of manufacturers have walked away from the high-mileage powertrain technology. There are a few exceptions, such as Mazda’s new SkyActiv-D, but the real energy, if you will, is concentrated in the pickup truck segment where there are more diesel options than there have been in decades.

The list will soon include the bowtie brand which is introducing its first full-size, light-duty model in more than twenty years. And the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Diesel is a package that a lot of potential buyers are likely to take seriously.

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No, it doesn’t have the raw, stump-pulling power of the 6.6-liter Duramax that also will make it to market this coming year in the all-new Silverado HD, with its 910 pound-feet of torque and maximum 35,500 pounds of towing capacity. That said, at 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, the new 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel is no slouch.

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Japanese Government Catching Blame for FCA-Renault Merger Talks Breakdown

Deal was unexpectedly scuttled on June 6.

by on Jun.21, 2019

FCA CEO Mike Manley pulled out of the proposed deal when the French government sought to delay it.

The Japanese government played a central role in the breakdown of merger talks between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Group Renault earlier this month, according to a report by the Bloomberg news service.

The agreement, proposed by FCA last month, was widely expected to win the approval of the Renault board at a meeting in Paris on June 6, but even as the two companies prepared a joint announcement, things unexpectedly fell apart. Sources close to the negotiations previously told TheDetroitBureau.com that Fiat Chrysler decided to withdraw its offer after the French government, Renault’s lead shareholder, called for a week’s delay.

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The new Bloomberg report fleshes out the details, indicating that French government officials were reacting to the “misgivings” of their Japanese counterparts who thought the merger “could harm Nissan,” Renault’s long-time Alliance partner.

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UAW, Faurecia Reach Deal to End Strike Michigan Plant

Workers hit pickets just after midnight.

by on Jun.21, 2019

Workers at Faurecia's plant in Saline, Michigan, walked off their jobs just after midnight. A deal has been reached ending the walkout.

The United Auto Workers and the French supplier Faurecia have reached a tentative agreement that ended a brief walkout at a critical parts plant in Saline, Michigan.

Brian Rothenberg, UAW director of communications, confirmed that a tentative settlement had been reached Friday morning. Members of UAW Local 892 in Saline had set up picket lines around the plant at 12:05 a.m. Friday after negotiators failed to reach an agreement by the deadline set earlier by the union.

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Details of the pending agreement were not released, pending a ratification meeting for the Faurecia employees. The dispute, over wages and benefits, had been simmering for several weeks while both sides worked to find a formula that could settle the dispute. Read the rest of this entry »

Mitsubishi Shareholders Vote to Remove Ghosn as Chairman

Former top exec continues to maintain innocence.

by on Jun.21, 2019

Carlos Ghosn was fired by Nissan and resigned from Renault this spring. Mitsubishi shareholders approved his removal on Friday.

Carlos Ghosn is out of his last job: Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shareholders voted to approve his removal as chairman of the company. Ghosn was the head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance until he was arrested last fall on charges of financial misconduct.

The vote took place in a two-hour general meeting of shareholders at a Tokyo hotel. Mitsubishi was added to the alliance when Nissan Motor Co. bought 34% of the company when it was at the precipice of financial ruin. The move was made at Ghosn’s urging and design.

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Osamu Masuko, who was reappointed chairman, promised to strengthen governance and transparency and monitor wrongdoing. More outsiders will check executive appointments and compensation, according to the Associated Press. Read the rest of this entry »

With Product Blitz Continuing, Hyundai Defies U.S. Market Downturn

More SUVs coming, but Korean carmaker also eying possible sedan revival.

by on Jun.21, 2019

The new Palisade will join a fast-growing line-up of Hyundai crossovers.

Its been a busy year for Hyundai, the Korean carmaker launching 10 new or significantly updated models during just the last 12 months, and with more on the way. That includes bookends to its SUV line-up, the three-row Palisade just rolling into U.S. showrooms, and the pint-sized Venue set to debut later this year.

“Stretching the Hyundai brand” has been paying off, Brian Smith, the chief operating officer of U.S. operations said during a media drive of the new Palisade this week. While the overall American new vehicle market has stumbled 1.8% since the beginning of the year, Hyundai sales have climbed 1.7%. And while domestic retail sales are down 5%, Hyundai’s have increased by 5%.

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The rapid expansion of Hyundai’s SUV line-up has clearly helped it regain momentum after several years of decline, but it also hasn’t hurt that the automaker’s traditional image, that of a bargain-basement brand selling vehicles of questionable quality, is fading away, said COO Smith. That was underscored by the fact that Hyundai came in third on the 2019 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, behind only Genesis, the luxury brand it spun off several years ago, and sibling Kia. Read the rest of this entry »

UAW Chides Trump Administration about Emissions Plans

CARB refutes claims of unwillingness to negotiate.

by on Jun.21, 2019

UAW Legislative Director Josh Nassar expressed the union's concerns about the Trump administration's emissions plans during a House subcommittee hearing.

A Congressional subcommittee heard testimony this week that the Trump administration proposed changes to the existing emissions and fuel economy requirements would reduce employment in the auto industry and open the car business to junk science.

Josh Nassar, the United Auto Workers legislative director, said the UAW “shares the concerns expressed by auto manufacturers” that the administration’s proposal could lead to protracted litigation and uncertainty that will limit industry growth.

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“We fear the (administration’s proposal) would stifle innovations and discourage investment in the industry while insufficiently combating climate change. We are very concerned that the final rule will be a setback for U.S. workers, the economy and environment,” said Nassar, adding the union was urging the California Air Resources Board, manufacturers and other stakeholders to develop balanced regulations. Read the rest of this entry »

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