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Saudis Appear to Be Key to Taking Tesla Private

Facing lawsuits, SEC probe, CEO Musk offers more details on privatization plan.

by on Aug.13, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed a few details about the plan to take the EV maker private he teased last week.

In a Monday morning blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered some critical new details about the plan, first announced last week, to take the battery-carmaker private, pointing to a Saudi sovereign investment fund as the potential source of funding — though he also cautioned it would be “premature” to offer full details at this point.

Last Tuesday, the 47-year-old chief executive set off alarm bells when he posted a tweet declaring his interest in taking Tesla private at a price of $420 per share. The news sent investors scurrying to snap up Tesla stock which quickly approached an all-time high before settling back two days later.

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With virtually no details offered, Musk and Tesla quickly came under scrutiny from analysts, investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission which has begun to probe his comments to see if they violate federal securities law. Tesla now faces two lawsuits, as well, alleging the Tuesday announcement was really a “nuclear attack” on short-sellers. (more…)

Jeep Museum May be in the Works With Help From FCA

New gallery might be at Toledo plant.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The success of this year's Jeep Fest in Toledo has organizers thinking there might be enough support for a museum.xx

Auto museums aren’t exactly thriving these days but the fans in Toledo, Ohio, the birthplace of the iconic Jeep, are talking up the possibility of creating a Jeep Museum with help from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Dozens or rare Jeeps turned up this past weekend for the Jeep fest at the Sea Gate Convention Center in Toledo, which only served to bolster support for the idea, according to local news reports.

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Organizers of Jeep Fest, which attracted Jeep fans from 27 states, said they have held talks about establishing a museum with FCA, which has made the Jeep brands its major profit center since the old Chrysler Group’s 2009 bankruptcy. (more…)

Can the Flintstones and Jetsons Sell America on EVs?

New ad campaign brings back two classic cartoon families.

by on Aug.13, 2018

The Electrify America ad campaign plays up the fun-to-drive aspects of battery-cars as much as their environmental benefits.

There’s an electrified revolution heading for your local showroom, with dozens of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next few years. The challenge the industry faces is getting consumers to plug in. All forms of battery-based vehicles accounted for barely 3% of the total U.S. market last year.

Building awareness is a key goal for Electrify America, the project backed by $2 billion from Volkswagen, part of the settlement of its diesel emissions scandal. The 10-year effort makes its public debut this week with an ad campaign pitching the virtues of battery-electric vehicles. And to help get the message across, it’s borrowing the theme music from two Boomer-era cartoon shows, the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

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The first spot, dubbed JetStones, features a number of new battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, and will air on national and local cable television, with a radio version running in both English and Spanish. At the same time, Electrify America will begin placing a network of high-speed charging stations across the country.

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Geely Readying to Plow $1.9B into Lotus Expansion

Could a Volvo-based crossover be in the works?

by on Aug.10, 2018

Geely is rumored to be ready to grow the Lotus brand, giving the Evora a crossover sibling or two.

Geely appears ready to expand its sphere of influence once again. The parent company of Volvo and major shareholder of Daimler AG is rumored to be examining the viability of putting $1.9 billion into sports car maker Lotus.

Holding 51% of the ownership stake, Geely is considering growing the company’s physical and intellectual presence in England with the idea of adding to the brand’s product line-up, including a crossover or smallish SUV, Bloomberg reported.

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Geely isn’t just looking to increase the size of the brand, it wants to expand the size of its ownership stake. It’s buying shares from Etika Automotive, which owns the other 49% of the company. (more…)

Apple Brings Back Top Engineer for Project Titan

Field's return has some wondering if a full-on vehicle is in the works.

by on Aug.10, 2018

Is Apple CEO Tim Cook getting the band back together? The company rehired one of its former engineers, Doug Field, for Project Titan.

Apple rehired Doug Field, one of its top engineers, after he left Tesla Inc. last month and assigned him to report to the leader of the Project Titan team.

Field spent five years at Tesla as the company’s top engineer. He left the company this summer under unusual circumstances. His hire also creates a unique circumstance as well — is Project Titan now focusing on creating a full-blown vehicle again instead of just a self-driving car system?

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Field is returning to work for Bob Mansfield, who has been overseeing Project Titan for the past several years. Mansfield was the person who, reportedly, moved the Apple’s car project from a full-on vehicle to just a self-driving system. (more…)

Car Dealership Numbers Holding Steady in US

Online sales not hurting auto dealers yet.

by on Aug.10, 2018

Auto dealership levels are virtually unchanged year-over-year, according to a new report.

Urban Science released statistics and insights today from its 2018 mid-year Automotive Franchise Activity Report, indicating continued stability in the number of automotive dealerships in the United States.

As of July 1, 2018, there were 18,252 dealerships (rooftops), a 0.2% increase from the Jan. 1, 2018, total of 18,213. The number of franchises, or brands a dealership sells, also experienced a period of stability, slightly decreasing from 32,029 on Jan.1, 2017 to 32,024 as of July 1, 2018.

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Despite the shrinkage of “brick-and-mortar” retailing that has emptied shopping malls across the country and threats from online sales, car dealerships, the centerpiece of automotive retailing are holding their own, according to a new study by Detroit-based Urban Science. (more…)

China Locks Down American-Made Mercedes SUVs

Brake problems cited, but move comes as trade war heats up.

by on Aug.10, 2018

China has placed a hold on U.S.-built Mercedes-Benz SUVs due to a "problem" with the rear brakes.

Chinese customs agents are holding up a shipment of American-made Mercedes-Benz SUVs, ostensibly due to technical issues, but the timing of the move raises questions, coming just as the trade war between the U.S. and China heats up.

Following a move by President Donald Trump to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods, the Asian giant responded with its own new duties, including an additional 25% tariff on vehicles made in the U.S. That move will impact not only products from Detroit manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors but also European carmakers with U.S. assembly operations such as Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG.

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According to the Chinese, two Mercedes models, GLE and GLS SUVs produced between May 4 and June 12 of this year, are being help up at the port in Shanghai due what customs authorities have described as a “safety risk.” (more…)

Tesla Stock Tumbles Hard as Questions Mount About Proposal to Go Private

Investors are “raising a lot of sensible questions,” while the SEC also begins sniffing around.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Investors -- along with the SEC -- are raising concerns about CEO Musk's proposal to take Tesla private.

Barely two days after euphoric investors started snapping up Tesla stock, buoyed by a tweet from CEO Elon Musk suggesting the company was ready to go private, gravity has set in. After nearing an all-time record, Tesla’s share price settling back to barely above where it started.

While the battery-carmaker’s board – along with at least one major investor — has cautiously backed the idea, saying it will now explore the idea of taking Tesla private, there appear to be more questions than answers. One of the uncertainties is how the SEC is viewing what happened this week, the federal agency set to take a close look at Musk’s suggestion that “Funding (is) secured” to make the transition once Tesla stock hit $420 a share.

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That number was certainly a big jump from where TSLA shares began the day on Tuesday, just over $340 a share. By the end of the day it had rocketed close to Tesla’s record closing of $389.61. But concerns were apparent almost immediately with some analysts pointing, among other things, to the “420” in Musk’s tweet, a number more often used as slang for marijuana.

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SEC Amps Up Investigation of Tesla After Musk’s Buyout Tweet

Moving to "Private" mode.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's tweets about taking the company private and having the funding to do it has the SEC's attention.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is ramping up its investigation of Tesla Inc. in light of CEO Elon Musk’s recent tweets about taking the company private at $420 a share.

More precisely, they are interested in his assertion that he already has the funding in place. According to a Bloomberg report, the SEC’s San Francisco office was already investigating the company and the recent round of tweets escalated its interest.

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Though it is not illegal for company officials to use to promote Tesla, talking about potential buyout prices and issuing other proclamations that could artificially alter the California-based EV maker’s stock price could be reason for an investigation and ultimately charges. (more…)

More Japanese Companies Guilty of Falsifying Emissions Tests

Suzuki, Mazda and Yamaha latest offenders.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Suzuki's Toshihiro Suzuki apologized to customers after it was discovered the company certified emissions tests on vehicles that actually failed.

Three more Japanese automakers admitted to using falsified emissions data to inspect their new vehicles after a government-ordered review of procedures by the automotive and motorcycle industries.

Suzuki Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co. each told Japan’s Transport Ministry they certified products after they’d failed emissions tests. They follow Nissan Motor Co. and Subaru Corp. in admitting to the improper inspections.

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Japan’s transport ministry ordered 23 Japanese auto and motorbike manufacturers to examine their inspection procedures in July following similar mistakes made by other companies at final product quality checks. (more…)

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