Porsche’s New Cayenne Coupe is Pretty – and Pretty Powerful

Newest SUV makes 541 hp and hits 60 in 3.7 seconds.

by on Mar.22, 2019

Porsche is letting the Cayenne lead a new product segment once again with the 2020 Cayenne Coupe.

There were plenty of skeptics when Porsche announced plans to build a sport-utility vehicle barely two decades back. No one’s laughing now, as SUVs now make up the biggest selling – and most profitable part of the Porsche line-up.

So, there should be no surprise that the Schwabian marque is looking to expand that line-up. It recently announced plans for an all-electric crossover, but the next ute in the line-up will be a coupe version of the original Porsche Cayenne.

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Like other recent German “coupes,” this one doesn’t require you to sacrifice convenience. Think of more as a “coupe-like” version of the Cayenne, with a steeply raked roof and four doors. Whatever you call it, the appearance is striking and, arguably, less awkward than some of the other recent “coupe” SUVs. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Sues Former Employees for Theft of Autopilot Code, Trade Secrets

Engineer swiped info before leaving to join Chinese company.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Tesla is now fending off corporate espionage from competitors like Zoox and Xiopeng by filing suits against employees for stealing corporate secrets.

Just days after bragging about the company’s plans in China, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is suing former employees for stealing from the EV maker as they left to join Chinese automakers Zoox and Xiopeng Motors.

The company filed two suits against separate sets of former employees in California. In the case of Zoox, automaker claims that four former employees stole “proprietary information and trade secrets to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations.”

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Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craigh Emigh “absconded with select proprietary Tesla documents useful to their new employer,” according to the filing. Additionally, one of the four used the info to recruit other Tesla employees.  Read the rest of this entry »

First Drive: 2019 BMW X7

Bavaria’s big boy offers Euro alternative to Escalade, Navigator – as well as 7-Series.

by on Mar.21, 2019

The 2019 BMW X7 shown here in Euro trim heading off into the sunset.

Laissez les bon temps rouler…let the good times roll. And since I’m heading to New Orleans, it’s nice to be rolling that way in the new 2019 BMW X7.

The German automaker was one of the first to get serious about building luxury SUVs with the 1999 launch of the original X5. And as the global market has steadily shifted from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, it has steadily expanded the range of what the Bavarian marque prefers to call “Sport Activity Vehicles.” The X7 is the latest and most lavish entry, essentially a two-box alternative to the brand’s familiar flagship, the 7-Series.

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To see if it’s really up to the challenge I headed down to Tallahassee to pick up one of the Bavarian brutes, beginning a day-long drive across the Florida Panhandle, through Alabama and Mississippi and wrapping up in the Cajun State, just in time for the start of the annual Mardi Gras.

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Volvo Using Cameras to Prevent Distracted, Drunk Driving

Move comes after plans to keep top speed to 112 mph.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Volvo plans to use in-car cameras and other sensors to help prevent drunk and distracted driving crashes.

Volvo Cars is looking to finish what it loosely describes as a safety “triangle” by using in-car cameras and other sensors to prevent crashes and fatalies due to drunk or distracted drivers by 2021.

Last month, the company introduced the first “side” of the triangle by limiting the top speed of its non-Polestar vehicles to 112 mph. Now by ensuring whomever is behind the wheel is capable of making appropriate decisions, Volvo believes it is significantly closer to its goal of zero traffic deaths.

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“When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president, Research & Development at Volvo Cars. “In this case, cameras will monitor for behavior that may lead to serious injury or death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Replacing CFO Shanks with Amazon Veteran

Numerous other changes announced by Detroit automaker.

by on Mar.21, 2019

A 42-year Ford veteran, CFO Bob Shanks had previously signaled his plan to retire.

Ford veteran Bob Shanks is stepping down, with his replacement as chief financial officer coming in from the online community.

The well-regarded Shanks, who spent 42 years at the Detroit automaker, will hand over the ledger to Tim Stone who has been serving as CFO of social media venture Snap. The 52-year-old Stone previously spent two decades at Amazon.

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“Bob will leave a remarkable 42-year legacy at Ford,” the automaker’s CEO Jim Hackett said. “As a CFO, he’s been relentless in driving for results and pushing the company to greater heights. Bob’s leadership was integral to Ford’s comeback during the great recession, and he has been an invaluable partner as we transform Ford to succeed in the next era.”

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Increase in E-Commerce Hasn’t Disrupted Driving Patterns

Amazon's impact less than expected, study suggests.

by on Mar.21, 2019

The rise of Amazon and other e-commerce outlets has had little impact on the amount of driving Americans do, according to a new study.

Amazon has disrupted shopping patterns and habits across the United States and changed the face of American towns and cities by leaving stores vacant and many suburban shopping centers virtually deserted.

But the impact of e-commerce has had only minimal amount of impact on the amount of travel connected to shopping, according to a new study by Michael Sivak, the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.

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In his new study, Sivak said his analysis did not detect any statistically significant changes from 2007 to 2017 in the amount of travel in connection with purchasing goods and services or in the percentage of persons traveling in connection with these activities. Read the rest of this entry »

One of Nine Pickups Earns Top Rating in IIHS Crash Tests

Nearly half of the trucks rated marginal or poor.

by on Mar.21, 2019

Ford's F-150 was one of the best performers in the latest IIHS pickup crash tests.

Pickup buyers concerned about safety might be surprised by the results of the latest IIHS crash results that found over half of the nine models scored poorly in at least one of the key tests,  four earning marginal or poor ratings overall.

Of the trucks the IIHS examined, only two earned good ratings, the Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan. And just one 2019 model, the Honda Ridgeline, earned the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick award – but only when equipped with optional headlights and forward collision prevention technology.

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“As a group,” said David Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “the pickup class still has a lot of work to do.”

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BMW Warns Profits Will Fall in 2019 After Tough 2018

A disorderly Brexit could impact German automaker's bottom line.

by on Mar.20, 2019

The BMW Group warned that profits would be down again in 2019, and at higher levels than 2018.

BMW Group officials are predicting that this year will be tougher than last year and plans to implement a more than $13 billion plan to cut costs and improve efficiency by 2022 to offset technology development investments and currency costs.

The company saw profits drop 7.9% in 2018 and expects that to rise to 10% this year. As a result, it’s looking to improve efficiency levels and find ways to cut costs as Brexit issues are likely to make for a bumpy ride for European-based automakers.

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Additionally, the need to plow more money into electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle development is driving the $13.6 billion, or 12 billion euros, plan to trim expenses. However, BMW officials admit it’s an aggressive response to only a potential problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Investing $900M in Second EV Plant, AV Facility in Michigan

New operation set to open in 2023, add 900 workers.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Ford is planning to use its underutilized plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, to build electric vehicles starting in 2023.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $900 million in two Detroit-area facilities meant to focus on the cars of the future.

The bulk of the investment, about $850 million, will go to Ford’s now under-utilized Flat Rock facility that will become the automaker’s second source for pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, in the process creating 900 new jobs. The rest will fund what the automaker is describing as an “Autonomous Vehicle center,” where conventional vehicles will be modified to operate hands-free and even entirely without a driver.

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Ford was one of the earliest of the automakers to focus on battery-based powertrain technology, though it won’t bring out its first long-range all-electric model until next year, a “Mustang-inspired” SUV expected to take aim at the new Tesla Model Y. It will be produced at Ford’s first battery-electric vehicle plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »

Suppliers, Dealers Express Concerns About Stability of Industry

New studies show trade uncertainty of trade policies worry groups.

by on Mar.20, 2019

Auto dealers and suppliers are concerned about the state of the industry despite winter sales coming in as expected.

Even though sales of new vehicles have met expectations for much of the winter, a sense of unease is creeping through the auto industry, according to new surveys of suppliers and dealers.

The OESA Automotive Supplier Barometer from the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which is a numeric measure of suppliers’ outlook on the automotive industry, continues to reflect a negative sentiment, the group reported this week.

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“There is no question that it’s going to be an interesting year. As dealers look ahead, they have a less-than-positive view of growth in the future,” said Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. Read the rest of this entry »

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