Author Archive

Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

The Last Word!

“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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VW Reportedly Set to Undercut Tesla Model 3 Price with Entry Long-Range EV

Entry model could come in around $23,000, according to report.

by on Nov.09, 2018

VW plans to have two dozen fully electric vehicles, like this I.D. Crozz concept, in production.

Volkswagen is set to launch a base-model, long-range electric vehicle for less than $23,000, according to a report by Reuters, a price that would undercut the long-awaited entry-level Tesla Model 3 by more than a third.

Initially reluctant to enter the electrified vehicle market, the Volkswagen Group has now laid out an aggressive strategy that will include more than 40 all-electric models, as well as dozens of hybrids and plug-ins, for sale through its dozen different passenger vehicle brands. Meanwhile, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker is in discussions with Ford Motor Co. that could see them cooperate on EV development.

Plug In!

The VW brand itself will cover a wide range of model segments with pure battery-electric vehicles through a new sub-brand dubbed I.D. These will include a reborn version of its legendary Microbus set to be marketed as the I.D. Buzz, as well as mid-sized and smaller offerings. The base model, TheDetroitBureau.com confirmed, is being referred to internally as the “MEB entry.” (more…)

Volvo’s Care Subscription Program Key to Growth Plans

VCNA chief acknowledges reliability concerns but says problems, warranty costs, are tumbling.

by on Nov.08, 2018

Volvo Cars North America CEO Anders Gustafsson with images of some of the first workers at the automaker's new Charleston plant.

U.S. new vehicle sales are on course to post their second consecutive decline as 2018 draws to a close, but you’d have a hard time telling that if you were just looking at Volvo’s numbers.

The Swedish automaker has posted a 27% jump in demand through the end of October and, with more products ready to land in U.S. showrooms, Volvo Cars USA CEO Anders Gustafsson said Thursday he is optimistic the company can keep its momentum growing.

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Brand News!

Several factors could give meaning to his forecast, including not just the launch of the new Volvo S60, but the start of production at the Chinese-owned automaker’s first U.S. assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina. Then there’s Care by Volvo, the subscription program the carmaker launched late last year.

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Ford Gets into the eScooter Business With Spin Acquisition

Plans call for growing into 100 cities.

by on Nov.08, 2018

Ford Smart Mobility, LLC acquired Spin, a San Francisco-based electric scooter-sharing company .

Ford is putting a new spin on its push into mobility services – quite literally, with the acquisition of the San Francisco electric scooter start-up Spin.

The move comes as the auto industry attempts to cope with the explosive growth of alternative transportation businesses, ranging from ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber to the growing availability of bicycle and e-scooter rentals in major cities in the U.S. and abroad.

Business News!

“Everywhere you look around the U.S., people’s mobility choices are changing,” Sundeep Madra, head of Ford X, the company’s mobility incubator, wrote in a post about the acquisition. “In crowded and congested cities, especially, many are reconsidering their transportation options. From ride-hailing to dedicated bicycle lanes, people and cities are considering alternatives to personal vehicles, but some are also taking more novel approaches — including scooter sharing.” (more…)

Denholm Replaces Musk as Tesla Chairman

Appointment could be temporary, as Musk can regain post after three years.

by on Nov.08, 2018

Australian Robyn Denholm will succeed Elon Musk as Tesla's chairman, though he remains CEO.

Australian Robyn Denholm is Tesla’s new chairman, replacing Elon Musk as head of the board of directors following a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that forced the South African-born exec to relinquish his role.

Musk, who will remain chief executive officer of the battery-carmaker, can attempt to regain the chairman’s post, as well, after a three-year hiatus mandated by the SEC settlement. The agreement was reached after the government accused the 47-year-old of lying to investors when, last August, he declared that he had arranged funding to take Tesla private.

Breaking News!

The move will position Denholm as one of the highest-ranking female executives in the auto industry, with General Motors’ Mary Barra the only other woman serving as chairman of a major car manufacturer. Denholm had already been serving as an independent director on the Tesla board since 2014. There is one other woman on the board. (more…)

Midsize Truck War May Heat Up Fast

Once seemingly dead, market is going to get crowded fast.

by on Nov.07, 2018

The new Ford Ranger is likely to be just the first of a wave of new midsize trucks.

Once written off for dead – or at least dying – the midsize pickup market is coming back with a bang, but not only are sales on the rise, but also is the number of players entering, or returning, to the segment.

The question facing the industry is whether the list of brands might be growing too fast and too large, something that could make it hard for anyone to turn a profit.

Product News Now!

Among the latest to target the U.S. midsize market are Ford and Jeep, both returning after lengthy absences. But Volkswagen could be eyeing its opportunities, as well as Mahindra & Mahindra, the Indian automaker that recently begun building off-road vehicles at a small plant in the Detroit suburbs. And Hyundai is moving forward with the development of a car-based compact pickup based on the Santa Cruz concept of a few years back. (more…)

Is Toyota Next to Pare Back its Passenger Car Line?

US CEO “taking a hard look” at model mix in the era of the SUV.

by on Nov.06, 2018

No longer #1; the Camry is just one of the Toyota passenger car models losing momentum.

With the exception of the Mustang, Ford is winding down production of passenger cars. Fiat Chrysler has eliminated almost all of its sedans and coupes, as well. In an era when SUVs have come to rule the roads, could Toyota be far behind?

While we’re not likely to see the Camry or Corolla nameplates vanish anytime soon, the Japanese giant is also rethinking its model mix and could toss some of its sedans, coupes and hatchbacks as it puts more of an emphasis on sport and crossover-utility vehicles, according to the head of its North American operations.

Beyond the Headlines!

“We are taking a hard look at all the segments we compete in, to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products that we sell have strategic value to the brand,” Jim Lentz told the Wall Street Journal.

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Toyota Earnings Soar on Global Sales Surge

Automaker lifts full-year forecast.

by on Nov.06, 2018

Strong demand for Lexus, especially in the Chinese market, helped Toyota deliver strong earnings.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 28% increase in its net profit for the July-September quarter, earnings buoyed by strong demand in key global markets, including the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The Japanese giant also advised that it expects to see earnings push past earlier forecasts for the full year, in part driven by unexpectedly strong demand in China. Sales of the Lexus brand, have been booming there, despite a slowdown in the overall Chinese market.

Business News!

Sales gains were only one of the factors that propped up Toyota’s bottom line, said Senior Managing Masayoshi Shirayanagi. Referring to aggressive cost-cutting efforts, he said, “We are steadily making progress toward achieving our challenge-level target.”

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Detroit Symphony Turns Lincoln Warning Buzzers into Sweet Music

Automaker wants to create a “symphonic landscape.”

by on Nov.05, 2018

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra made over 100 recordings before coming up with the right warning sounds for the new Lincoln Aviator.

Warning sounds are, by definition, designed to draw your attention, but sometimes they also can get on your nerves.

Ford has been trying to find the right balance with some recent products, looking for sounds that are distinctive yet easy on the ears. It’s going a step further with the new SUV its luxury brand will launch this coming year, turning to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to record 25 of the “non-critical, soft-warning chimes and hard-warning chimes that will be used in the new Lincoln Aviator.

We Sound the Right Note!

“Aviator represents the true vision of the Lincoln brand,” explains Lincoln design director David Woodhouse. “With a look this striking, we needed to have sounds that matched the beauty of this vehicle.”

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Uber Aiming to Relaunch Autonomous Testing on Public Roads

After fatal crash, ride-sharing service plans to redouble steps to ensure safety.

by on Nov.05, 2018

In the wake of a fatal collision with a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber suspended all of its autonomous vehicle testing. Now it wants to resume in Pittsburgh.

Uber plans to relaunch the autonomous vehicle testing program it suspended following a fatal crash in Arizona last March, but it has advised regulators in Pennsylvania that it will take additional steps to ensure the safety of its vehicles.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service has been betting heavily on fully driverless technology, hoping it will lower costs to the point where many Americans won’t even feel the need to own a private vehicle anymore. But that effort was put on hold after a modified Volvo struck and killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a road in a Phoenix suburb.

News Now!

It was initially unclear why the Volvo hit the 49-year-old Herzberg, as its system spotted her six seconds before impact. It was subsequently revealed during a police investigation that the backup driver charged with taking control in an emergency was actually streaming the TV show, “The Voice,” rather than watching the road. She failed to intervene when the car’s brakes weren’t automatically applied because of improper modifications made to the vehicle. (more…)