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Toyota CEO “Sad” About Being Declared “National Security Threat,” But Plans $3B More in U.S. Investments

Tariffs actually could backfire and see investment plan cut back, warns top Toyota official.

by on Mar.15, 2019

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda called the prospect of his company being called a "national security threat" by the Trump administration "sad."

Toyota plans to boost by $3 billion its investment in the U.S. market, a decision that comes as the automaker – and other foreign-based brands – are facing the possibility of huge new tariffs from an American president who has labeled them a “national security threat.”

That designation is something that “makes feel sad,” Akio Toyoda, the Japanese giant’s CEO, said during an appearance at the Economic Club of Washington. “I hope that this kind of conversation can go away,” the grandson of Toyota’s founder said through an interpreter.

Business News!

Separately, the head of Toyota’s North American operations cautioned that those planned investments, which include $749 million to upgrade existing plants in five states, could be cut back if the Trump administration moves ahead with tariffs, something experts have warned could actually result in lower U.S. car sales and a sharp loss of automotive jobs. (more…)

Mustang Electrified?

Ford counter-programs debut of the Tesla Model Y and hints of a high-performance CUV to come.

by on Mar.15, 2019

“Hold your horses,” or so said Ford Motor Co. in a tweet not-so-coincidentally timed to reach the social media world just as Tesla CEO Elon Musk was getting ready to debut his company’s new Model Y battery-electric SUV.

The Ford post featured that short blurb and a blue version of the Mustang logo against a black background, nothing more. But it does hint at several projects that Ford has already confirmed are in the works. That includes both a hybridized version of the pony car, as well as a Mustang-influenced all-electric SUV that Ford announced during the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Electrifying News!

An early player in the electrification field, Ford has fallen behind not just Tesla but conventional rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen, both investing heavily in long-range, battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. Ford officials say they are going to make a push to catch up and have confirmed that the first entry into next-gen electric technology would be a performance-oriented crossover tentatively named Mach 1 and due to market about when the Tesla Model Y hits the street about a year from now.

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SEC Suing VW, former CEO, for ”Massive Fraud” in Emissions Cheating Scandal

Lawsuit "legally and factually flawed," the automaker responds.

by on Mar.15, 2019

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn faces legal problems in Germany, as well as the U.S.

Volkswagen’s ongoing efforts to end a scandal triggered by its cheating on diesel emissions testing just took a turn for the worse, the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing both the automaker and former CEO Martin Winterkorn of committing a “massive fraud” on U.S. investors.

The automaker has acknowledged it used “defeat devices” to rig its diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests and has so far laid out over $30 billion in fines and settlements. It is still facing other legal headaches, including a separate lawsuit by investors and ongoing investigations in Europe, one resulting in the arrest and jailing of the former CEO of its Audi subsidiary. But it responded to the latest challenge by declaring the SEC lawsuit “legally and factually flawed.”

Breaking News!

The SEC lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, claims the automaker and former CEO Winterkorn concealed the depth of the scandal – and the potential penalties – from both investors and federal regulators. The Thursday complaint noted that in the year before the cheating was discovered and publicized by the EPA Volkswagen issued $13 billion in bonds and securities in the U.S. Those value of those financial devices were directly impacted once the carmaker’s subterfuge was revealed.

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As Tesla Model Y Debuts, Musk Asks: Do You Think We’re “S3XY”?

New Model Y to be offered in four distinct versions – but economy buyers will have to wait.

by on Mar.15, 2019

The Tesla Model Y is likely to look quite familiar to fans of the earlier Model 3 sedan.

The long-awaited Tesla Model Y made its formal debut on Thursday night, with CEO Elon Musk declaring it takes an already attractive line-up and makes it “S3XY.” The inside joke adds the new electric SUV to the automaker’s existing line-up of Models S, 3 and X.

But there’s a serious side to the launch. Tesla continues to struggle to right its balance sheet, plunging back into the red this quarter after earning money during the second half of 2018. The Model Y is expected to become Tesla’s best-seller, Musk declared, telling his audience “we’ll do more Model Ys than S, X and 3 combined.” And that includes not just the U.S. but also China, where Tesla is struggling to get a foothold in the world’s largest market for battery-electric vehicles.

Breaking Product News!

The Model Y will be one of the vehicles Tesla plans to produce once it opens up a new plant in Shanghai later this year. That will give it a way to hold costs down and also to sidestep any escalation in the U.S.-China trade war.

(Here’s our Model Y preview. Click Here to see how close we came.)

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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…)

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.

Product News!

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…)

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.

Out of this World!

“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.

Product News!

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…)

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.

Beyond the Headlines!

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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Infiniti Set to Abandon Western European Market

Weak demand leading Nissan’s luxury brand to focus on Europe, China.

by on Mar.12, 2019

The concept version of the Infiniti Q30 debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show as part of the brand's push to become an EU presence.

Infiniti has come to recognize there are limits to its global growth plans, the Nissan luxury brand announcing it will pull out of Western Europe by early next year.

Going forward, the brand will limit its scope to just two markets: the U.S. and China. Along with ending sales in Europe, Infiniti also will halt production of the Q30 and QX30 models at Nissan’s assembly plant in Sunderland, England. The parent company has raised questions about the broader viability of that plant as Britain struggles to manage its planned exit from the European Union later this month.

Breaking News!

A broader restructuring by Infiniti will see the luxury marque pair back on its overall product line-up, the brand’s new global CEO told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview earlier this year.

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