Ford, VW Looking at Potentially Major Alliance

Update: Ford rules out merger or equity swap with VW.

by on Oct.18, 2018

Ford Motor Co. entered into a MoU with Volkswagen AG to work on some undetermined projects.

(This story has been updated to reflect comments from Ford ruling out a merger or equity swap.)

Like many an automotive manufacturer, Ford Motor Co. has been forming alliances with erstwhile rivals such as General Motors in a bid to reduce development costs and speed new products to market. But one potential partnership has been generating widespread buzz in industry circles, observers wondering just how far Ford might take things with German giant Volkswagen AG.

The two companies inked an MoU, or memorandum of understanding, announcing they will explore a number of possible projects, including the joint development and production of commercial vehicles.

Insight!

But industry analysts are now suggesting such a partnership could reach far beyond the commercial vehicle market, some even wondering whether there could be full-fledged merger or, at the least, an equity swap, in their future. Read the rest of this entry »

NHTSA Investigating 54,400 Ford Trucks for Tailgate Problem

Power tailgates fall for no reason.

by on Oct.18, 2018

NHTSA is investigating a problem with power tailgates on some 2017 Ford F-250s and F-350s.

The power tailgates on some Ford F-Series pickups are opening for no reason causing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a preliminary investigation to determine the cause of the problem.

There have been five instances in which the tailgate has opened while the truck was driving, according to the agency. Right now, the query covers 54,400 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks from the 2017 model year.

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Complaints reveal the tailgate just falls open while traveling at speed, sometimes causing damage. One person said it fell while they were driving 65 mph, damaging the tailgate and the trailer they were towing. Another person said opened at least 12 times while driving. Read the rest of this entry »

Uber’s Estimated Valuation in IPO Pegged at $120 Billion

Lyft is looking to doing an offering as well next spring.

by on Oct.18, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been making substantive changes to the company since his arrival.

Uber could raise as much as much as $120 billion, dwarfing the market capitalization of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, when it launches an initial public offering next summer, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Uber is already in discussions with bankers about an initial public offering in early 2019, the Journal reported. At the same time, Uber’s principal Lyft raised $15 billion during a round of fund raising and has indicated it is preparing go public next spring, raising the prospect the two ride-sharing companies could collide in the race for cash.

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Uber’s potential valuation could be greater than the combined current valuation of the U.S. automakers, the Journal reported. The comparison has been the subject of some fierce debate with some critics suggesting that for “game changing” technology companies like Uber it is not a relevant. Read the rest of this entry »

Departure of Manufacturing Chief Accelerates Tesla Management Defections

Three top execs have bailed out since September, including brand new accounting chief.

by on Oct.18, 2018

Tesla's VP of Manufacturing, Gilbert Passin, has left the electric vehicle maker without offering an explanation.

While a variety of factors may be in play, Tesla is having more and more trouble holding onto key executives, three top members of its management team bailing out since just the beginning of September.

The latest to walk: Gilbert Passin, the battery-carmaker’s vice president of manufacturing. His departure comes barely a month after both Tesla’s chief accounting officer and chief people officer quit. While the company contends it has a deep enough pool of talent to weather these and prior departures, the management turmoil comes at a time when Tesla is under heavy pressure to accelerate production and sales in order to deliver the long-sought profit that CEO Elon Musk has promised for the second half of 2018.

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Musk himself is facing a variety of pressures, among other things to find a new chairman for Tesla, a role he agreed to forfeit as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk also paid a $20 million fine after settling SEC allegations of fraud linked to the company’s abortive effort to go private. Read the rest of this entry »

Ford Expands Alliance with Mahindra Group

New deal comes on heels of partnership with VW.

by on Oct.18, 2018

Ford and Mahindra officials, including Ford's Jim Farley, (l), celebrate the signing of their first alliance. The two sides added two new agreements.

(This story has been updated to more accurately represent partnership between Volkswagen and Ford.)

Just a day after rumors circulated about the state of its open-ended partnership with Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co. expanded its alliance with India’s Mahindra Group.

The two companies this week signed new agreements on sharing powertrains and connected car solutions to reinforce the progress made in the strategic alliance between the two companies, first announced in September 2017 and followed with five Memoranda of Understanding.

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“We are pleased with the progress our teams have made since we announced our strategic alliance with Mahindra Group a year ago,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of Global Markets. Read the rest of this entry »

Car Crashes on the Rise in “Pot-Legal” States

New study suggests a 6% jump in collisions.

by on Oct.18, 2018

A new study suggests that states where recreational marijuana is legal, car crashes are up 6%.

With all of the talk about blue waves and red waves coming in the November election, a couple of new studies show that Americans may want to direct their attention to the “green” wave: recreational marijuana.

Several states have measures on ballots to make the recreational use of marijuana legal, just as the aforementioned studies show that vehicle crashes are up as much as 6% in states where it is already legal.

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Crashes are on the rise in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows.  Read the rest of this entry »

BMW Officially Pulls Wraps Off Flagship X7 SUV

“Hey, BMW.”

by on Oct.17, 2018

The new 2019 BMW X7 is ready to take on whatever Mother Nature sends its way.

BMW has been dropping plenty of big hints in recent months as it prepared to launch an all-new flagship. And now, we’re finally getting a look at the production version of the 2019 X7.

As the name might suggest, you can think of the big ute as the SUV counterpoint to the Bavarian brand’s traditional flagship, the 7-Series. And it reflects the massive shift in the global luxury market as highline buyers by the millions switch from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs, mirroring what’s happened in mainstream segments.

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The 2019 BMW X7 is more than just a stretched version of the familiar X5. It’s not only nine inches longer but loaded with the sort of luxury features you’d expect on a 7-Series – or the also-new 8-Series. It also introduces BMWs new voice assistant infotainment system which, like Amazon’s Alexa, is always listening for its wake words, “Hey, BMW.” Read the rest of this entry »

Porsche Adds GTS Variants to Panamera Line-up

New models fill gap between top and bottom offerings.

by on Oct.17, 2018

Porsche added the GTS Sport Turismo, left, and GTS to give Panamera fans a couple of sportier options.

Porsche is adding two new models to its Panamera line-up: Panamera GTS and Panamera GTS Sport Turismo models, positioned between the Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo variants, giving customers seeking a sportier driving experience, said Porsche officials.

As compared to the previous Panamera GTS with a naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8, the current engine — a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine with output of 453 horsepower from 6,000 to 6,500 RPM and peak torque of 457 lb.-ft. from 1,800 to 4,500 rpm — offers an increase of 13 hp and an additional 73 lb.-ft. of torque.

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The engine, which sends power to all four wheels through an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission via the standard Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system, allows both the Panamera GTS and Panamera GTS Sport Turismo models to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The former reaches a top track speed of 181 mph, and 179 mph for the latter. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesla Locks Down Site for 1st Chinese Assembly Plant

U.S. Senate, meanwhile, considers extending tax credits for Tesla, GM buyers.

by on Oct.17, 2018

Tesla Inc. has reached an agreement with the Chinese government to build an assembly plant in China.

After suffering a series of setbacks in recent weeks, things may be moving in the right direction for Tesla this week, and on a variety of fronts.

For one thing, the automaker has inked an agreement with the Shanghai government that will let it move forward on plans to set up a plant in the booming Chinese battery-car market, its first outside the United States.

Global News!

Closer to home, the U.S. Senate is  now considering a proposal that would extend the tax credits that have helped Tesla attract potential customers. Under current law, the incentives – worth up to $7,500 for an EV buyer – begin to phase out once a carmaker has sold 200,000 electric vehicles. Tesla recently passed that threshold, and General Motors is expected to reach that cap before the end of 2018. Industry analysts warn both companies could lose market momentum if they can’t offer the tax credits. Read the rest of this entry »

Gas Prices Remain High Despite Drop in Consumption

Hurricane Michael and a pipe rupture impact pricing.

by on Oct.17, 2018

Gas prices jumped due to recent weather and infrastructure events, but the rise has leveled off this week.

An unseasonal rise in the cost of gasoline this autumn appears to have leveled off this week, according to AAA.

At $2.89, the national gas price average is 2 cents cheaper than it was a week ago amid consumer gasoline demand declining for a third week. But the price of gasoline, on average, is 4 cents more than a month ago and 42 cents more expensive than in October 2017.

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The majority of states have seen gas prices decrease on the week with the exception of a handful of states, some of which were impacted by fuel disruptions on the west coast and in the southeast. Read the rest of this entry »

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