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Musk, Tesla Board, Move Forward on Privatization Plan

Carmaker hires Goldman, Silver Lake to advise.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Whether Elon Musk could justify tweeing "funding secured" is a matter of hot debate.

Even as questions mount about CEO Elon Musk’s plan to take the automaker private, the car company’s board is beginning the necessary steps to evaluate a proposal, with investment firms Silver Lake and Goldman Sachs brought in to offer advice on what appears to be a Saudi-funded buy-out.

Those developments come just a week after CEO Musk tweeted his interest in taking Tesla private while also hinting that “funding (is) secured.” Precisely where the funding will come from has become a central question, though Musk on Monday put up a blog post indicating he has been meeting with managers of the Saudi Arabian sovereign investment fund who have expressed interest in backing the plan.

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Tesla, meanwhile, now faces a probe by the SEC, as well as at least two lawsuits filed last week questioning whether the South African-born executive’s proposal was, in reality, a “nuclear attack” on by short-sellers.

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Rising Inflation Challenges Profitability for Automakers

Car companies getting hit on rising material costs due to Trump tariffs.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Trucks are still protected in the U.S. by a 25% tariff, despite a lower tax on all other vehicles.

A rising rate of inflation now poses an additional threat to an auto industry already under pressure from new tariffs and trade restrictions.

From June 2017 to June 2018, the U.S. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 2.9%, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending February 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor. The Congressional Budget Office, in a report in which it indicated it expects U.S. economic growth to slow next year, also said this week it expects the rate inflation to top 3.1% through the last half of 2018.

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U.S. workers’ paychecks are worth less than they were a year ago, the Labor Department reported Friday, as modest wage gains have not kept pace with inflation. (more…)

Ford Wants a Premium for All-New Ranger Pickup

Base model to start at $4,000 over Chevrolet Colorado.

by on Aug.14, 2018

Ford will offer a wide range of Ranger body styles, beds and powertrain configurations.

After a lengthy absence, the Ford Ranger is about ready to return to the U.S. market and shoppers now can price and build their own version of the midsize pickup at a special micro-site the Detroit automaker has launched.

Set to reach showrooms early next year, Ford will be offering a wide array of body styles, bed and powertrain options, ranging from the base, 4×2 SuperCab XL with a six-foot box, up to the more lavishly equipped 4×4 SuperCrew Lariat with a five-foot cargo box.

Product News!

But the heavily updated version of the global Ranger launched earlier in the decade won’t come cheap. The 2019 pickup will carry a starting price of $24,300 $1,095 in delivery fees. That’s about $4,000 more than its cross-town competition, the base, extended cab version of the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado starting at $20,500. And for truck buyers on a tight budget, the aging Nissan Frontier starts at just $18,900.

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Honda Adds Upgraded Safety Tech on 10th-Gen Civic

New option ups the safety factor for new Civic.

by on Aug.14, 2018

The 10th-generation Honda Civic gets a new "Sport" update as well as the Honda Sensing safety technology.

Honda is making its “Honda Sensing” driver assistance technology standard on the 2019 Honda Civic sedan and coupe.

The suite of safety technology, which includes collision mitigation braking with forward collision warning; road departure mitigation, incorporating lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, is standard or available equipment on all Honda car and light truck nameplates, Honda officials noted.

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The 10th-generation Civic line-up for the 2019 model year will also include updated styling and new Sport trim for both body styles. (more…)

Trump Supporters Show Their Sexist Side

Bikers put their true colors on display at Trump rally.

by on Aug.13, 2018

President Donald Trump hosted a rally of Bikers for Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club.

It wasn’t just the rumble of nearly 200 motorcycles that raised eyebrows at the normally sedate Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, over the weekend.

The attire of the attendees at the Bikers for Trump rally – invited by Trump himself – appeared to be normal biker fare and that’s the reason for the increased scrutiny.

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Aside from an inordinate amount of leather, bandanas and other stereotypical biker accoutrements, many of the attendees at the rowdy rally wore patches with sexist and other offensive sayings. (more…)

Trump Wants Boycott of Harley-Davidson

President tweets support of motorcycle boycott.

by on Aug.13, 2018

President Donald Trump has once again turn his focus on Harley-Davidson, with support of a boycott of the American motorcycle maker.

President Donald Trump is attempting to rally Harley-Davidson owners to boycott the company if it moves any of its production overseas.

In a tweet, Trump said that “many” Harley owners were going to boycott the company. The company earned the president’s ire after it announced plans to build some motorcycles at overseas locations to avoid the steel tariffs put in place by the Trump administration as well as the retaliatory taxes enacted by the European Union in responses.

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The company said it would lose as much as $100 million annually due to the move, which would raise the price of the motorcycle by more than $2,200. It also noted that all bikes sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. (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.

We Keep You Plugged In!

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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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…)