Archive for March, 2019

Takata Airbag Kills 16th Person in U.S., NHTSA Says

Driver was at the wheel of 2002 Honda Civic: 14th Honda fatality.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Takata's faulty airbags claimed their 16th victim in the U.S. Fatality discovered during recent NHTSA and American Honda investigation.

Takata’s faulty airbags that triggered the most expansive automotive recall in U.S. industry have killed another person, according to a newly completed investigation, bringing the total number of U.S. fatalities tied to the airbags to 16.

Following a joint inspection by American Honda Co. and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was determined the driver of a 2002 Honda Civic was killed June 8, 2018, in Buckeye, Arizona.

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After sustaining injuries from the ruptured inflator, the unidentified driver died June 11. It is the 14thperson killed driving a Honda equipped with Takata airbags. More than 200 people have been injured by the faulty devices. (more…)

General Motors Sells South Korean Plant to EV Maker

Consortium not building Teslas.

by on Mar.29, 2019

GM sold the Gunsan plant it closed last year to Myongshin, an auto supplier that is part of a larger consortium that will build EVs there.

General Motors sold a recently closed plant in Gunsan, South Korea, to Myongshin, a South Korean supplier, for $99.5 million. A supplier to Tesla, the company said it plans to build EVs at the site, Reuters reported.

Myongshin is part of a consortium that plans to spend more than $170 million on the plant, which will build electric vehicles, according to a statement from the provincial government. The government added the plans call for the factory to churn out 50,000 electric vehicles annually by 2021 and 150,000 by 2025.

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“We aim to close this deal as soon as possible to ensure that there will be ongoing economic activity,” GM Korea said in a statement. (more…)

Daimler Expects Acquisition Will Speed Up Launch of Self-Driving Trucks

Level 2 rigs to debut this year, with Level 4 trucks to follow.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Michael Fleming, CEO of Torc Robotics, (left) and Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, in front of the Torc headquarters in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Daimler Trucks, the parent of brands like Freightliner, has purchased a majority stake in Virginia-based Torc Robotics, a move it expects will help it speed up the commercialization of automated trucking.

No price tag for the deal was announced but Daimler board member Martin Daum said Torc will now be closely integrated into the German company’s broader push to develop self-driving vehicles, including both trucks and passenger cars. Torc, however, will focus specifically on the truck side of its program.

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“For our customers and our economy, (the) potential for autonomous driving is tremendous,” said Daum, during a media teleconference on Friday morning. (more…)

GM Could Earn Close to $1B in Profit from Today’s Lyft IPO

Future for GM/Lyft alliance uncertain, however.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Lyft founders Logan Green, left, and John Zimmer, right, with GM President Dan Ammann after inking a $500M partnership, which jumped another $500M.

General Motors could turn a large investment into an even bigger profit if the IPO of the nation’s second-largest ride-sharing service goes off as planned today.

On Thursday, Lyft announced it was targeting $72 a share for its public debut. At that price, GM’s 18.6 million Class A shares would be worth more than $1.3 billion, a big increase over the $500 million it originally invested in Lyft back in January 2016.

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The question is whether the Detroit automaker will take the money and run or continue to work with Lyft. When it announced its investment more than three years ago, GM indicated it saw an opportunity to not just provide products to Lyft drivers but also to use the service as a test bed for the autonomous vehicles it was developing. But it now appears to be shifting focus to Maven, a service that could soon become a major Lyft competitor. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Attracting Another French Suitor: Renault

Peugeot family expressed interest recently.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Could another sign change be in Fiat Chrysler's future?

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. is apparently being pursued by not one, but now possibly two French automakers.

Reports have the Agnelli clan turning down an overture from Peugeot but Renault S.A., which also is still trying to re-organize its alliance with Nissan in the wake of Carlos Ghosn’s legal troubles and abrupt ouster, is also interested in pursuing a tie with FCA, according to an article Financial Times.

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A deal could give FCA better options to solve its problems with technology where it lags larger rivals and help strengthen its position in Asia. The prospect of becoming part of an $80 billion global group could be tempting for FCA Chairman John Elkann. (more…)

Geely Gets Smart with Daimler

Automakers form 50-50 venture to produce electric smarts.

by on Mar.29, 2019

Daimler and Geely executives celebrate the signing of their new deal.

Just as Daimler AG’s Smart division appeared to be on the outs with the support of Ola Kallenius, the incoming chairman and CEO, the company’s largest shareholder, Geely, swooped in and saved the oft-near death quirky brand.

In recent weeks, its been reported – including by – when current Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche retires shortly, the primary supporter of the Smart brand would no longer be around to protect the underwhelming product line and soon-to-be-top-dog Kallenius, who isn’t a fan, was ready to kill the vehicle.

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However, the company’s top shareholder, Chinese automaker Geely Motors, which bought a nearly 10% stake last year, jumped in at the last minute to save Smart by forming a new 50-50 joint venture between the two companies to produce the tiny EV in China. (more…)

Hyundai’s New CUV Will Be the Place to be Seen at NYIAS

Automaker chooses Venue as new crossover name.

by on Mar.28, 2019

Hyundai released a teaser photo of its new crossover debuting at the New York International Auto Show.

The number of utility vehicles, large and small, grows as carmakers chase consumer demand. Perhaps more importantly, they also have to find names for the new vehicles.

Hyundai said this week it plans to name its all-new 2020 crossover utility vehicle, the Hyundai Venue.

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The new entry CUV name references a “place” where people want to be seen, or in this case, inside the vehicle, Hyundai officials said. The Venue symbolizes a trendy, unique style, perfect for Hyundai’s newest and smallest CUV, according to the automaker. (more…)

Ford Teases All-New Escape Before New York Debut

Picture implies a new shape for the new model.

by on Mar.28, 2019

Ford offered a tease of what the new 2020 Escape looks like ahead of the New York International Auto Show next month.

Ford is readying to roll out the next-generation Escape small utility at the New York International Auto Show in a few weeks, but decided to provide a teaser photo of what the new model looks like.

Unfortunately, the shot doesn’t provide much other than a look at a revised grille that borrows its design from the other newly redesigned members of the Ford SUV family. The hood looks a bit more rounded as well and when those two items are taken into account, one can expect a significantly new look.

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The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker didn’t provide any more details, but it has been either freshening or redesigning its sport-utilities during the past two years as it moves away from passenger cars – Mustang excepted – to a utility-only line-up. (more…)

Hyundai Jumps Big Apple, Debuting New Sonata in Seoul

Korean carmaker also shows off customized N performance line.

by on Mar.28, 2019

Attendees of the Seoul Motor Show got an early look at the 2020 Hyundai Sonata turbo with its revised grille and sleeker overall design.

Hyundai will be bringing the next-generation Sonata to the New York International Auto Show next month but the automaker’s home market show got a jump on the Big Apple this week with the debut of the Sonata 1.6 Turbo model.

Expected to be one of the more important launches of the year, the 2020 remake adopts a much bolder look than the current Sonata, with a more coupe-like silhouette and the new “Parametric Jewel” grille intended to accentuate the car’s width and refinement.

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Separately, Hyundai is showing off its new Veloster N performance model with a heavily modified version of the hatchback featuring 45 different customizable parts, including lightweight forged wheels and a high-performance suspension system. (more…)

Ford Shutting Down Passenger Car Operations in Russia

Automaker latest to cut losses in the country.

by on Mar.28, 2019

Ford is closing three auto plants in Russia as it restructures its agreement with Sollers to focus on more profitable commercial trucks.

Ford Motor Co. is closing three plants in Russia as part of its overhaul of its money-losing European operations.

Ford announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to restructure its Ford Sollers joint venture in Russia to focus exclusively on growing its commercial vehicle business moving forward.

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“This represents an important step towards Ford’s target to deliver improved profitability and a more competitive business for our stakeholders,” said Steven Armstrong, president, Ford of Europe. “General Motors had shut down its Russian operations almost three years ago. (more…)