Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Shake-Up and Setback for Ghosn

Former Nissan chief cuts legal team; likely to lose Renault payout.

by on Feb.13, 2019

Carlos Ghosn fired his legal team, replacing them with a lawyer known as "the razor."

Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman facing charges of financial corruption, has shaken up his legal team in an effort to reverse a series of setbacks that have resulted in his being held in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison since last November.

Ghosn is replacing his lawyers with a new team led by a high-profile defense attorney known in Japan as “the razor,” for his ability to win acquittals in a number of high-profile cases. That’s relatively rare in Japan where prosecutors claim conviction rates of more than 90%.

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Separately, Renault is ready to scrap about $34 million in deferred pay and severance Ghosn stood to collect after tendering his resignation last month. Nissan’s French alliance partner is also expected to drop a two-year non-compete clause, which would free up Ghosn to join another automaker once released from Japanese prison, Reuters news service reported. (more…)

Ghosn Affair Hits Nissan’s Bottom Line, Along with Weak Sales

Automaker downgrades future earnings forecast.

by on Feb.12, 2019

Nissan is taking an $83.2 million charge against earnings due to the scandal surrounding Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan Motor Co. warned that its earnings for the fiscal year ending March 31, could be about the lowest the carmaker has seen in six years.

Nissan now expects to earn 410 billion yen, or $3.7 billion, for the fiscal year, a 45% year-over-year decline. It originally projected a 500 billion yen, or $4.5 billion profit.

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The second-largest of the Japanese automakers put most of the blame on sliding sales in the U.S. and China, its two largest markets. But it also revealed that it has logged an $83.2 million charge related to the scandal that began with the arrest last November of its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn. (more…)

Plugging In: An Inside Look at the MEB — VW’s Platform for an Electrified Future

A combined VW-Ford battery-car program seems to have come un-plugged, however.

by on Feb.11, 2019

An under-the-skin look at VW's modular MEB battery-car platform reveals the skateboard-like layout.

Volkswagen is plugging into battery power in a big way, the German automaker planning to launch 50 or more all-electric models by 2025, an aggressive push that will have it betting heavily on a single new platform it is developing. Dubbed the MEB, this flexible, modular “architecture” will be used to underpin the vast majority of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that will be offered by VW’s dozen different passenger car brands.

The MEB has been a topic of discussion between VW and Ford Motor Co., the two companies recently launching a joint venture to develop light commercial vehicles. They also are exploring ways they may be able to work together on the development of electric vehicles, possibly using the new VW platform — though a senior Ford official cautioned that this might prove more difficult than originally hoped.

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“The future, for us, is really a dedicated EV platform,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen’s North American Region, a platform “flexible enough to cover a broad gamut of products ranging from an entry level subcompact up to models like the ID. Buzz minivan and even midsize SUVs.

(more…)

Tesla Out of Cheaper Model 3s, Stakeholder Cuts Share in Half

T. Rowe Price halves stake from 10.12% to 5.2%.

by on Feb.11, 2019

The mad rush to blow out Model 3s at the end of the year has left Tesla with very few Model 3s to deliver.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently said that the company would face some stiff headwinds in the early part of this year, and now some of those issues are now coming to light … as are the consequences.

The company’s last recent round of layoffs were unexpected, but were initially seen positively as analysts suggested the company would need to find ways to cut costs. However, according to Reuters, one of the teams that were cut significantly should have raised alarm bells sooner.

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Reuters reports that Tesla’s delivery team saw 150 of 230 employees lose their jobs. The Las Vegas-based group was largely responsible for delivering the company’s savior vehicle: the Model 3.  (more…)

Want a 205 mph BMW 7-Series? Here Comes the New Alpina B7

What else could you want for $141,700?

by on Feb.11, 2019

Alpina is going where the folks at BMW fear to tread by producing its own version of the M7 named the B7.

There’s long been a yawning gap in the BMW line-up. While virtually everything the automaker now offers is available with an “M” option, the Bavarians have resolutely refused to offer an M7 model. But that’s where Alpina, a German tuner with a long relationship with BMW comes in.

And it’s about to launch its own take on a performance version with the debut of the latest-generation Alpina B7. The sixth-generation sedan – and the third generation of Alpina B7s to make it to the U.S. – starts out from where the newly updated 2020 BMW 7 Series leaves off.

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If anything, the 2020 Alpina B7 adds even more luxurious details to the latest BMW 7, while also boosting performance significantly, the full-size sedan now able to hit 60 in a mere 3.5 seconds before racing to a top speed of 205 mph – 12 mph faster than the prior-generation B7. (more…)

Alfa Romeo Bringing Back 4C Spider for 2020

It will enjoy a limited run of just 15 cars.

by on Feb.11, 2019

The 2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia will be a limited-edition vehicle this year with just 15 units.

Despite rumors floating around of its imminent demise, the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider will stay around for the 2020 model year, officials from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have confirmed.

Alfa Romeo unveiled the limited-edition 2020 4C Spider Italia for North America with its limited production run of only 15 vehicles, during the press preview at the Chicago Auto Show. In keeping with the special color and badges, each car will be numbered.

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Ben Lyon, FCA product expert, said the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Italia, which is hand-built in a factory in Italy, offers enthusiasts a chance to own a unique mid-engine design inspired by the brand’s legendary racing history and the essential sportiness embedded in the brand’s DNA.  (more…)

Ford’s Future Relies on Its Manufacturing Prowess

Technology is going to lead, but old school rules will ensure success.

by on Feb.08, 2019

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of Global Operations, meets with the media after the announcement that Ford would pump $1B into the Chicago plant.

As the auto industry stands on the cusp of a huge upheaval, Ford Motor Co. is pursuing a strategy that not only looks to new technology, but also relies on the deft use of the manufacturing skills that were instrumental in the company’s rise more than a century ago.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford president, Global Operations, said the billion-dollar investment the company is making in its manufacturing operations in Chicago, where the company has some 6,000 blue-collar workers and plans to add 500 more in the few months, will depend utilize both the latest automation but also the human touch.

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“We’re going to have a new, highly-automated paint shop and body shop,” said Hinrichs talking about Ford’s future plans with reporters at the Chicago Auto Show. But Ford is also depending on the skill of its employees to build the new Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator.as well as specialty vehicles such as the police interceptor that is based on the Explorer.   (more…)

Mazda Marks Miata’s 30th With Party, Special Edition

Carrot-colored 30th Anniversary Edition will start at $35,915.

by on Feb.08, 2019

Mazda Motors North America President Masahiro Moro introduces the 30th anniversary limited-edition Mazda MX-5 Miata in Chicago.

February in Chicago isn’t normally what you’d call convertible season, but on a cold and blustery morning almost 30 years ago to the day, Mazda took ragtop fans and, indeed, the rest of the auto industry, by surprise with the debut of the original Miata roadster.

While never a major seller, the pint-sized two-seater also known as the MX-5 captured the hearts – and checkbooks – of those who wanted something that put the emphasis on pure driving fun, inspiring a wave of imitations from Mazda’s Japanese, German and U.S. rivals.

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On another cold and blustery day in the Windy City, Mazda pulled the wraps off a special, commemorative edition of the fourth-generation Miata Thursday. And to mark the occasion, it brought to its Chicago Auto Show news conference not only some of the roadster’s most loyal fans, but some of the folks who helped create the little car. (more…)

Daimler AG Profits Fall as Car, Van Division Sales Drop

Mercedes fails to meet last year's profit, sales marks.

by on Feb.08, 2019

Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche fields questions from the media during the company's annual earnings press conference.

Daimler AG said its fourth-quarter operating profit fell 22% as trade wars and ballooning costs for developing electric and self-driving cars took a bit out of the company’s profits.

The German automaker’s earnings before interest and tax or EBIT dropped to 2.67 billion euros in the fourth quarter, falling short of analyst expectations of 2.92 billion euros.

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Mercedes-Benz said increased tariffs on vehicles imported from the United States to China and delivery stoppages for individual diesel models hit demand and resulted in weaker prices. (more…)

Pickups, SUVs Push GM Profit Well Above Expectations

Automaker betting numbers will look even better as truck production ramps up in 2019.

by on Feb.06, 2019

GM reported stronger than expected earnings as Chairman and CEO Mary Barra continues to reshape the company.

General Motors handily beat Wall Street’s earnings forecast for the fourth quarter and full year a strong performance that reflects both booming truck demand and the payoff of shedding the company’s long-struggling European operations.

For the final quarter of 2018, GM delivered earnings of $1.43 a share — $1.40 after excluding special items. The consensus, according to Zacks Investment Research, was $1.24. For the full year, earnings came to $6.54 a share, well ahead of the consensus forecast of $6.29. After special charges, the figure dropped to $5.58 per share.

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GM’s overall $8.1 billion profit for all of 2018 was more than double the $3.9 billion number from the year before, but the 2017 figure reflected a significant hit from the sell-off of the company’s long-troubled European Opel-Vauxhall subsidiary. It was acquired by PSA Group, parent of the Peugeot and Citroen brands. (more…)