Archive for the ‘Automakers’ Category

Ousted Nissan Chairman Ghosn Expected to Be Indicted Monday

Japanese reports anticipate charges for financial misconduct.

by on Dec.07, 2018

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is expected to be indicted next week by Japanese prosecutors.

After languishing in the Tokyo Detention Centre for nearly three weeks, facing regular grilling by Japanese prosecutors, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is expected to be formally indicted on Monday, the Nikkei business daily is reporting.

Ghosn and Nissan board member Greg Kelly were arrested nearly three weeks ago as they flew into Japan, authorities responding to a report by the second-largest Japanese automaker that alleged the pair engaged in financial misconduct. Ghosn, in particular, allegedly failed to report millions of dollars in income while also misappropriating Nissan funds, among other things, to purchase homes in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut. He is Lebanese by heritage but grew up in Brazil.

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The Nov. 19 arrests, which marked the downfall of one of the industry’s most powerful executives, have stunned the automotive community. They have also generated a number of questions about why Ghosn was taken into custody and put in the position of possibly serving a decade in prison, rather than simply facing civil penalties. Some observers have suggested he may be an unwitting pawn in a battle for control between Nissan and the French automaker Renault which rescued the then-failing Japanese automaker in 1999. (more…)

Barra Completes Two-Day Tour, Sticks to GM’s Guns About Closings

Senators push CEO to change her mind — with no luck.

by on Dec.07, 2018

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said no changes would be made to the closures of five U.S. plants.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra completed two days of tense discussions with politicians in areas affected by the company’s recently announced plans to close five plants and displace thousands of workers.

Barra’s message was that these decisions were not made lightly and that the company would find jobs for many of the displaced workers, but ultimately they were made due to shifts in the buying habits of Americans.

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“We had really productive discussions, and I think they have a better understanding of what we’re doing and why, and how we’re making sure that we’re supporting the displaced workers, especially at the plants that are impacted, ” she said after meeting with Michigan politicians, the Detroit News reported.  (more…)

FCA Set to Open New SUV Plant in Detroit

Move would come as GM prepares to idle three plants.

by on Dec.06, 2018

The converted engine plant will produce a three-row version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to open a new assembly plant in Detroit to expand its capacity to produce hot-selling sport-utility vehicles, according to several reports.

The automaker has yet to confirm that it will completely retool an old engine plant on Detroit’s east side, but company officials have, in recent months, indicated that they are strained to the limits of capacity at their existing light truck plants.

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The news comes at an awkward time for FCA’s largest domestic rival, General Motors. GM’s CEO Mary Barra on Thursday spent a second day in Washington trying to minimize criticism of the automaker’s plan to close three assembly plants building slow-selling passenger car models like the Chevrolet Cruze. That would leave what has long been known as the Motor City with only one working assembly plant within its borders, at least unless and until the new FCA truck plant were to come online.

(more…)

Supra Not Only Surprise from Toyota at NAIAS: New Lexus RC F

Toyota, Lexus showing off a need for speed.

by on Dec.06, 2018

Toyota EVP Bob Carter said Lexus will debut a new RC F "track car" next month at the Detroit Auto Show.

Lexus plans to show off one of the most powerful cars it has ever built during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.

Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, said in addition the Toyota Supra, the long-awaited heir to original Supra, Lexus will show the Lexus RC F, which he described as a limited edition “track car” that has been developed expressly for enthusiasts.

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“Aside from the LFA, this is the fastest, most powerful vehicle we’ve ever built,” Carter said. (more…)

Tesla Hustling to Build New Plant in China

New site will build only Model 3s at launch.

by on Dec.06, 2018

Tesla Inc. has reached an agreement with the Chinese government to build an assembly plant in China.

Tesla’s $2 billion Gigafactory in Shanghai, China, may begin construction sooner than observers expected as the EV maker is accepting bids from companies to build the plant that will theoretically build all of the batteries for the maker in China.

The company is accepting bids from construction companies wanting to build the plant, and in fact, much of the prep work is complete, according to Reuters. The new plant will be noteworthy for two reasons: it’s going to accelerate Tesla’s ability to sell vehicles in the country.

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Perhaps more importantly, it will be the first wholly foreign-owned facility in China — a concession the government made to get more electric vehicles into the country. (more…)

Toyota’s U.S. Chief Says More Tariffs Will Hurt Auto Sales

Lentz has reservations about NAFTA replacement as well.

by on Dec.06, 2018

Toyota's Jim Lentz expressed concern about the imposition of new tariffs and the impact they'll have on the auto industry.

The imposition of a new round of tariffs by the Trump administration could raises the price of new cars and trucks and cripple the U.S. auto industry, Toyota’s top executive in the United States said this week.

Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota North America, said during an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club, like at Ford and General Motors, Toyota operating costs for steel and aluminum have increased by because of the increase in tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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“We use American-made steel, but the cost has gone up 40%,” Lentz said. (more…)

GM CEO’s “Open Mind” May Not Save Any of Five Plants Slated to Close

“We do have an overcapacity problem,” says Barra, after Capitol Hill meetings.

by on Dec.06, 2018

GM CEO Mary Barra has been meeting with members of Congress, explaining why five plants are being closed.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra told members of Congress she will keep an “open mind” when it comes to plans to close five plants next year, including assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario, Canada.

The closures were announced late last month, along with plans to trim about 15% of the automaker’s white-collar workforce, as it addresses a variety of problems, including the ongoing shift from passenger cars to light trucks. But Barra also stressed that the automaker faces “limitations” on what it can do because “we do have an overcapacity (issue) across the country.”

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The one-time “shop rat,” who began working at GM as a co-op student said she told Congressional representatives from Ohio and Maryland on Wednesday that “These were difficult decisions – decisions I take very personally,” while adding in a statement that GM wants to “minimize the impact on the (affected) communities” by, among other things, offering workers a chance to switch to other GM plants, where possible or by offering outplacement services. (more…)

Faraday Future Furloughs More Employees

Company blaming Chinese investor for woes.

by on Dec.05, 2018

A large portion of Faraday's workers have been furloughed, those remaining taking pay cuts.

After a lengthy silence, financially challenged EV maker Faraday Future issued a tweet reconfirming its commitment to build its FF 91 model, while warning if an infusion of cash doesn’t arrive soon that could change. The company noted a round of layoffs are on tap as well.

In mid-November, the company was assumed dead before some churn at the top of the company’s management structure lead to founder Nick Sampson departing the company and the new leadership team announcing the company would come back.

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Today’s Twitter missive laid the blame for their current financial issues squarely at the feet of Chinese investment firm, Evergrande Health. (more…)

Hyundai Workers Plan Strike to Protest New Venture

Automaker teams with city for non-union auto plant.

by on Dec.05, 2018

Hyundai workers in South Korea are planning to strike in protest of a new joint venture planned between the automaker and Gwangju to build a non-union plant.

Union workers in Hyundai Motor’s plants in South Korea plant to walk off the assembly line in protest about a potential joint venture between the automaker and the city of Gwangju to build small vehicles using non-union labor.

The plan, which is still in negotiations, calls for the two sides to jointly own a plant employing 1,000 workers to produce mini-SUVs. The employees would earn a little more than $31,000 annually, which is less than half of what unionized workers earn at existing auto plants.

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South Korean workers often strike to during wage negotiations, walked this time for four hours to protest the salaries and use of non-union workers. (more…)

Waymo Kicks Off Autonomous Taxi and Ride Sharing Service

Autonomous service starts in Phoenix.

by on Dec.05, 2018

This scene may become more common as Waymo One kicks off service in Arizona.

Self-driving ride-sharing service is here. Well, it’s in Arizona, technically, but the day that Uber, Lyft and others have waiting for has arrived with the debut of Waymo One, Waymo’s autonomous taxi and ride-sharing service.

The service operates in a 100-square-mile zone covering four Phoenix suburbs: Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. The company has been testing its vehicles in the area since 2016, including offering free rides earlier this year to generate some goodwill for autonomous vehicles.

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“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO wrote in a blog post. “Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully.” (more…)