Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

What to Expect When Tesla’s Model Y Rolls Out

New electric-SUV could double sales of Model 3.

by on Mar.14, 2019

The Model Y debuts tonight and will be more expensive than the Model 3.

In a market where SUVs and CUVs have overwhelmed traditional sedans and coupes, there’s a yawning gap in the Tesla line-up that the upstart automaker intends to fill in the months ahead.

And the process will begin this evening when CEO Elon Musk pulls the wraps off the Tesla Model Y. Set to become the fourth product in the automaker’s portfolio, the battery-SUV could outsell all existing Tesla products combined, at least if a recent forecast by CEO Elon Musk proves accurate.

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“We will probably see higher volumes for Model Y than Model 3, (perhaps) double,” the 47-year-old exec said during a late January conference call with auto analysts and journalists. (more…)

Porsche Grabs Top Score in Power Customer Service Index

Buick takes top honors in non-premium segment.

by on Mar.14, 2019

Porsche took first place in JD Power's 2019 Customer Satisfaction Index, ahead of Lexus and Cadillac.

Communication is key to the success or failure of any relationship, and perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the service department of an auto dealership.

Auto dealers that communicate the best, i.e. the way consumers want, finished atop J.D. Power’s new Customer Service Index ranking. This year, that means Porsche, Lexus and Cadillac took the top three spots in the luxury car rankings.

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In the mainstream results, Buick, Mini and somewhat surprisingly, Mitsubishi took the first three spots. Mitsubishi’s third-place finish came as a result of the greatest improvement (27 points) in the entire study year-over-year. (more…)

Audi Planning Dozens of EV Concepts, Production Models

But shift threatens familiar models, like the TT.

by on Mar.14, 2019

The Q4 e-tron appears to be about the same size as the current Q3, and is expected to hit the road in 2021.

Few automakers have decided to plug into electrification like Audi, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG showing off an assortment of concepts and production models over the last year. Now, the automaker says, its push is ramping up, with as many as three dozen battery-electric products in the pipeline.

Audi is echoing the direction being blazed by its parent, VWAG CEO Herbert Diess yesterday announcing the company’s dozen passenger brands expect to sell a collective 22 million battery-electric vehicles by 2029, a 50% increase from its previous forecast.

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But the transition to electric won’t come cheap. The billions of euros Audi and its parent are investing in electrification will drop the luxury brand’s own operating return on sales to between 7 and 8.5%, officials said during a meeting at brand headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, compared to a long-term Audi goal of between 9 and 11%. (more…)

VW Drafts Plan to Cut 7,000 Workers in Europe

Automaker looking to offset rising EV development costs.

by on Mar.14, 2019

Volkswagen AG COO Ralf Brandstaetter said the company will be cutting thousands of jobs in Europe.

Following in the footsteps of some American automakers, Volkswagen AG is preparing to trim costs by eliminating thousands of jobs in face of a slowing European economy, and profits across the industry begin to slip while the high cost of shifting to electric vehicles and self-driving cars adds up.

The German carmaker said Wednesday it will eliminate as many as 7,000 positions – with measures including early retirement and not filling vacant positions – to achieve an annual profit gain of 5.9 billion euros $6.7 billion starting in 2023.

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GM recently cut 4,000 white-collar job and plans to close five plants while Ford is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan that will include cutting a slew of salaried personnel, the announced closure of its plant in Brazil, resulting 2,700 losing their jobs. (more…)

Over 70% of Americans “Afraid” to Ride in a Fully Autonomous Car

"The good, the bad and the ugly."

by on Mar.14, 2019

The fatal crash involving an Uber vehicle in Tempe, AZ has negatively shaped many peoples' view of autonomous vehicle technology, AAA found.

Almost exactly a year after an autonomous Uber prototype struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, a new AAA study finds more than seven in ten Americans “afraid” of riding in a fully autonomous vehicle.

That’s despite the fact that 100s of self-driving prototypes are plying U.S. roads on a daily basis, a number that could soon climb into the tens of thousands if Congress moves to approve proposed legislation designed to help make the technology a part of everyday life. Already, the first self-driving vehicle ride-sharing program has gone into operation, launched last December by Google spin-off Waymo.

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“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.

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Back From the Big Apple: Cadillac Comes Home With Expanding Line-Up of CUVs and BEVs on the Way

New brand boss outlines a mix of short- and long-term strategies aimed at reviving its “renaissance.”

by on Mar.13, 2019

The 2019 Cadillac XT4 is the brand's newest offering is now the top seller in its segment.

The boxes still have to be unpacked, but Cadillac is back from the Big Apple, ending a four-year experiment designed to put the brand more closely in touch with one of the country’s top luxury car markets. Instead, it needs to bring closer together the folks who will both design and then market the wave of new products that will be rolling out over the next decade, brand boss Steve Carlisle said during a Wednesday lunch meeting.

Long billed as the “standard of the world,” Cadillac has slipped well behind key competitors like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. But last year’s surge in global sales suggests Caddy may finally be making some of the right moves – beyond last week’s closure of its offices in New York’s tony SoHo neighborhood.

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In a broad-ranging discussion, Carlisle outlined both the short and long-term steps Cadillac is taking in its bid to become a truly relevant luxury car player once again. It’s a move that has already begun with a shift in the brand’s product portfolio. (more…)

Rise of Electric Vehicles is a Threat to Jobs, UAW Says

Union calls for new investment.

by on Mar.13, 2019

UAW President Gary Jones told members that new investment was needed by automakers to offset the 35,000 union jobs that could be lost to EVs.

The move to electrification could wipe out as many 35,000 jobs in engine and transmission plants operated by the Detroit’s three automakers and their suppliers during the next several years, the UAW suggests.

Jennifer Kelly, the union’s research director, offered up the observations Wednesday during a sobering presentation to the final day of the UAW’s Special Convention on Collective Bargaining.

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She noted during presentation the auto industry is rapidly changing and electric vehicles are the wave of the future. Automakers, especially General Motors, are charging hard to advance electric vehicle technology. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Eyes Extending Diesel Run in Europe

CEO Manley says consumer demand will determine final decision.

by on Mar.13, 2019

FCA CEO Mike Manley said the company may rethink its diesel plans in Europe if demand is strong.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. could wind up backtracking on the company’s earlier pledge to eliminate diesel from its passenger cars in Europe by 2022.

In a conversation on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show, FCA CEO Mike Manley indicated that the company could reconsider its decision to eliminate diesel engines from its passenger car models if public demand for the vehicles remains strong.

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“We don’t want to say we got rid of diesel, and by the way, it also came with a 15%, 20%, 30% drop in our sales,” Manley said. (more…)

SEC Prepping Response to Musk Over Tweet Dispute

Tesla CEO claims agency wants to restrict his 1st Amendment rights.

by on Mar.13, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized his distaste for the SEC during an interview on "60 Minutes."

A federal judge has given the SEC permission to fire the next shot in an ongoing battle that could determine not only whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk can continue tweeting about company business but whether he may face new penalties for allegedly violating terms of a fraud settlement.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Musk of improperly publishing a tweet on February 19th outlining Tesla’s 2019 production plans. In technical terms, the agency referred to it as a “material” statement, one that could impact the company’s stock price. Musk later revised the tweet and then asserted that the information had been previously announced, anyway.

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The latest in an ongoing battle between securities regulators and the 47-year-old executive could have a significant impact if the courts agree with the SEC that last month’s tweet violated an agreement aimed at settling the fraud settlement stemming from Musk’s proposed plan to take Tesla private. He not only paid a fine but agreed to run material comments by the automaker’s legal team before posting them. As part of last year’s settlement, Musk was forced to relinquish his position as Tesla chairman. He could now face penalties including his removal from the CEO’s job, as well.

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Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance Reconfigures Board of Directors

Ghosn denied board meeting appearance by judge.

by on Mar.12, 2019

The leaders of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi celebrate the reconfiguration of the Alliance's board of directors.

Former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Chairman Carlos Ghosn may be free from jail, the leaders of the three-headed monster don’t want him free to exercise any more influence over the company in his role on the board of directors.

Fortunately, a Tokyo court gave them what they wanted, banning the former boss from taking part in the meeting of the board of the directors.

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“Mr. Ghosn is disappointed that the Court denied his request to attend the Nissan Board of Directors meeting,” according to a statement issued by a spokesman.  (more…)