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Trump Administration Shifts US Energy Policy Away From Conservation

Country's leadership in oil production feted.

by on Aug.20, 2018

The president has ordered or supported the rollback of numerous Obama-era regulations.

The Trump administration is advocating a more relaxed approach to oil conservation, pointing to the rise of oil supplies from fracking as well as natural gas and other alternatives reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

This new direction is in direct conflict with decades of efforts and programs by the federal government to promote fuel-efficient vehicles as well as conservation of natural resources.

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It was spelled out in a new in a memo released last month in support of the administration’s proposal to relax fuel mileage standards. The government released the memo online this month, according to the Associated Press. (more…)

CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

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That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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NAFTA Negotiations Stalling Out Again

Auto industry concerned about lack of consistency.

by on Aug.20, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been holding talks with Mexico only these days.

Negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement are ongoing, but anxiety continues to grow inside the auto industry, which is looking for measure of stability, due to the slow pace of the talks.

While some progress has been made during bilateral talks between Mexico and the United States, key issues revolving around automotive content and an automatic, five-year “sunset” provision proposed by Trump administration remain unresolved.

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“I am less optimistic than I was,” said Julie Fream, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which represents a broad cross-section of automotive suppliers. The critical content requirements for automobiles still haven’t been addressed, she said after a recent event sponsored by the OESA. (more…)

Woodward Dream Cruisers Out Early and Often

Fans and cruisers get an early start on the event.

by on Aug.18, 2018

Classic car fans and owners began trekking up and down Woodward Avenue Friday in advance of the Dream Cruise.

The roar of powerful engines and the smell of exhaust began filling the air as the classic car fanatics began their annual trek to Woodward Avenue, north of Detroit, for the Woodward Dream Cruise.

The event begins today, but there is plenty of “pregaming” on the days leading up to the main event. On Friday afternoon, cruisers were out in force as car aficionados had already set up shop to enjoy the cars of their youth.

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“I like the classic muscle cars,” said Charles Kinsley of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I don’t care for the cars they remake.” Despite not being a big fan of the retro-based efforts of the Big Three automakers. Kinsley has attended almost every Dream Cruise since its inception in 1995. (more…)

Musk Laments “Excruciating” Toll He’s Faced at Tesla

But no plans to give up post as CEO.

by on Aug.17, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that he feels like this has been the toughest year of his life.

Forget the amusement park. Anyone who wants to ride a roller-coaster might be better off purchasing Tesla stock. But no one has faced more ups-and-downs during the last year than the automaker’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk.

Even as Tesla appears to be resolving its production problems and seems poised to deliver a long-promised profit, the automaker and its CEO are facing a probe by the SEC, lawsuits filed by several short-sellers, additional investigations by the NLRB, NHTSA and the NTSB, and allegations of safety and quality problems by several self-styled whistleblowers.

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No wonder, “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” Musk said in an interview newly published by the New York Times. “It was excruciating.” (more…)

Ford’s Autonomic Inks Deal in China With Alibaba Cloud

New deal boosts autonomous vehicle business potential

by on Aug.17, 2018

Liu Fei, director of Automobile Division, Alibaba Cloud (left) and Gavin Sherry, CEO and co-founder of Autonomic, after signing the deal.

Ford Motor Co. has taken another step toward bolstering its sinking operations in China with a new partnership to put autonomous vehicle technology into the Chinese market.

Autonomic, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility LLC and the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, one of the world’s leading Internet-oriented companies, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring to China the Transportation Mobility Cloud – a transportation and mobility solution for connected vehicles developed by Autonomic.

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“The TMC is positioned to help automakers succeed and meet growing demand for connected vehicles and mobility services in China,” said Gavin Sherry, co-founder and CEO of Autonomic. (more…)

Good News, Bad News: A Round-Up of the Latest Tesla Developments

Whistleblower reveals defects; SEC probing Musk tweets and a key analyst raises earnings forecast.

by on Aug.16, 2018

Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp tweeted images of what he claimed were faulty Tesla batteries.

Regulators, whistleblowers, analysts and investors? Oh, and did we leave out factories finally emerging from “production hell?” It’s been a busy 24 hours for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, with a heavy mix of both good news and bad news.

Here’s a summary of key developments including claims for a quality cover-up, an SEC probe and the possibility that Tesla could wind up being more profitable this year than even its most bullish proponents had expected:

Whistleblower claims Tesla covered up battery problems, delivered defective cars to customers.

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Tesla’s battle with Martin Tripp – a self-styled whistleblower whom the carmaker prefers to call a saboteur – is heating up. The former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has tweeted out images of what he claims are defective lithium-ion battery packs that were nonetheless installed in sedans to help Tesla speed up production of the Model 3. Tripp also posted of vehicle identification numbers that he claims are equipped with the batteries which, among other things, may have punctures.

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Chinese EV Maker Nio Eyes $1.8B IPO on NYSE

EV maker joins other Chinese automakers on exchange.

by on Aug.16, 2018

Chinese EV maker Nio is preparing its $1.8 billion IPO for the New York Stock Exchange.

A Chinese electric vehicle start-up, Nio, which is backed by one of China’s largest technology companies, is preparing for a $1.8 billion initial public offering of its American depositary.

It represents the biggest U.S. listing by a Chinese automaker, according to reports from China.

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Nio is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, a company with holdings the internet, technology and gaming as well as other ventures, including the emerging automotive-oriented mobility industry, has is seeking a float of up to $1.8 billion, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NIO.”  (more…)

Ford Spending $740 M to Revamp Dilapidated Train Station, Campus

Automaker hopes to get $250M in assistance for the project.

by on Aug.15, 2018

A rendering of what Ford's new campus, including Michigan Central Station, in Corktown will look like.

Ford recently unveiled its plan to move its electric and autonomous vehicle operations into a campus in southwest Detroit, anchored by a historic train station the company plans to refurbish during the next few years.

The move to reinvent the former Michigan Central Station was hailed by Detroit politicians and neighborhood advocates; however, other than a nebulous figure of $4 billion it planned to invest overall, no real dollar amount for the new campus was released.

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Ford disclosed Tuesday at a meeting with community leaders it plans to spend $740 million to revamp Michigan Central Station, as well as other neighborhood sites. The automaker aims to turn the building into a campus of offices for up to 5,000 employees. (more…)

Spy Shots: Next Edge, Lincoln Nautilus Get Caught With Minimal Camo

Ford continues shifting focus to ute lines.

by on Aug.15, 2018

The new Lincoln Nautilus, formerly the MKX, in minimal camouflage is out for real-world testing.

Ford Motor Co. is planning some drastic changes over the next several years, the automaker all but abandoning its mainstream passenger car line-up in favor of SUVs and CUVs, reflecting one of the most dramatic transformations we’ve seen in decades.

Sometimes, big changes begin with small steps, and that appears to be the case as we look at these spy shots of two familiar models set for updates in the coming months. On the Ford side, that includes the popular Edge crossover, while we’ve also caught the Lincoln Nautilus, the renamed MKX, with minimal camouflage.

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We got our first look at a concept version of the Nautilus at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, but the image here finally captures the upcoming production model. Lincoln’s stylists have reworked the design to include more luxury touches, five new sets of wheels as well as new colors. The Nautilus also comes with a bold new front grille that is distinctly Lincoln and emphasizes the all-new front end on the vehicle that reaches back to the A pillar and windshield. (more…)

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