Tesla Increases Capital Bid – and Investors Eagerly Comply

EV automaker boosts plan to $2.4 billion – and could go even higher.

by on May.03, 2019

Why is this man smiling? Tesla CEO Elon Musk finally has had a good week.

After long dismissing the need to raise additional capital, Tesla has not only gone back to investors with its hands out but been rewarded with about 25% more fresh funding than it had said it would seek just a matter of days ago.

In all, the financially stretched EV automaker will be able to add at least $2.35 billion to its cash horde, and the figure could grow to around $2.7 billion should underwriters exercise their right to purchase even more stock and bonds.

Breaking News!

The news translated into a solid bounce for Tesla stock, as of mid-afternoon Friday, giving some positive momentum after months of decline. But with shares hovering under $245, the Silicon Valley-based company is still well off from its $319.88 high this year, never mind a 52-week peak of $387.46.

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First Drive: 2019 Audi Q8 Quattro

A seamless blend of design, performance and functionality.

by on May.03, 2019

The 2019 Audi Q8 features a number of distinctive tweaks to the brand's familiar cues, including the signature singleframe grille.

Audi made its reputation building sleek, road-worthy sedans that have earned their way into the hearts of motorists around the world. The A8 is a great example of the sort of benchmark-setting model, one that has done well challenging competitors like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.

But that’s becoming a smaller and smaller segment of the premium luxury market as buyers around the world continue migrating from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. The good news for Audi is that, among its impressive stable of utility vehicles it has an alternative to the flagship A8. Like the sedan, the Q8 crossover is flush with all the industry’s latest and most advanced technology. And it also boasts the solid driving characteristics for which the German automaker has won over a legion of loyal fans.

Reviews You Can Use!

We had a chance to spend a full week getting to know the 2019 Audi Q8 and while its base price of around $70,000 certainly would stretch the budget for most buyers, we found it an attractive, lavishly equipped and fun-to-drive alternative to the classic luxury sedan.

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Product Launches Hammer FCA’s Q1 Earnings

But Ram pickup sales provide a cushion.

by on May.03, 2019

CEO Mike Manley needs to prove he can maintain the pace set by his former boss, Sergio Marchionne.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported profits dropped 41% in the first quarter as a slump in sales in key markets cut the company’s revenues by 5 percent.

The automaker attributed the decline to the normal production challenges related to an array of new product launches in North America, as well as pricing pressure in China and South America.

Financial News!

FCA CEO Mike Manley, however, reaffirmed the company’s guidance for the full year. “We expect earnings to grow in the following quarters,” he said as FCA completes the launch of the new Jeep Gladiator and the Ram Heavy Duty pickup truck.

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You Probably Won’t Be Able to Pronounce Its Name, But Zotye is Betting You’ll Want to Buy One of its SUVs

Stealing a page from the Koreans – and undercutting them, in the process.

by on May.03, 2019

The Zotye T600 shown making its debut at Auto Shanghai last month.

At 69, Duke Hale has been selling cars, either at a dealership or working for an automaker, for 50 years, but he’s betting he can become a sort of automotive Pied Piper to Millennials and Gen-Z.

He and a team of aging Baby Boom industry veterans are getting ready to start selling what may become the first cars imported from a local Chinese carmaker. It’s no easy task, his California-based start-up, known as HAAH, is still pitching its idea to the dealers who will have to bet on a brand that’s not only unknown to American car buyers but which is saddled with the ungainly name, Zotye.

Beyond the Headlines!

Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time U.S. motorists were won over by a brand whose name they’ve had to struggle with. Think Hyundai, which Americanized its name to “Hun-day.” The Chinese brand, pronounced “Zoh-tee,” hopes it can lift some other pages from the Korean carmaker’s playbook, starting with a price low enough to make it an appealing alternative to a used vehicle.

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VW Earnings Strong Despite Hit from Diesel Scandal

Credit largely goes to higher-priced crossovers like VW Atlas.

by on May.02, 2019

VW's utility vehicles now account for 23% of group sales, with a target of 20% by late 2020.

Volkswagen’s earnings took a tumble during the first quarter, largely due to a 1 billion euro, or $1.1 billion, set-aside to cover legal costs related to its ongoing diesel emissions scandal.

But at 3.05 billion euros, or $3.41 billion, after-tax profits came in close to last year’s 3.30 billion euros figure from the January-March quarter, with profit margins actually rising across the company’s 12 different automotive brands.

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News You Can Trust!

It was a “very strong first quarter,” said Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter, and “to an extent better actually better than we expected.”

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Volkswagen AG Meets Q1 Expectations Despite $1.2B Charge

Sport-utility profits carry automaker during the quarter.

by on May.02, 2019

Volkswagen rode the sales of its highly profitable SUV line-up to a strong Q1 earnings result.

Despite taking a $1.2 billion charge to account for the continuing fallout from its emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG hit its target for first-quarter earnings before interest and taxes of $4.4 billion.

Sales revenue of the Volkswagen Group rose 3.1% year-on-year to EUR 60 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year.

Earnings News!

“The Volkswagen Group is once again off to a good start this year,” said Frank Witter, chief financial officer of Volkswagen AG. The sales revenue performance and earnings growth in the first three months of the current fiscal year are encouraging.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Nissan Adds Another Nail to Convertible Coffin with Plans to Kill 370Z Roadster

Choice of ragtops growing increasingly thin.

by on May.02, 2019

Nissan will still offer the Z Roadster overseas, but it's dropping the ragtop in the U.S. due to slow sales.

Nissan is pulling the plug on its 370Z Roadster at the end of the 2019 model-year, the Japanese automaker has confirmed, marking the end of one of the brand’s most iconic offerings.

The good news for roadster fans is that the coupe version of the sports car will remain in production indefinitely – which doesn’t mean it will last forever, just that there are no current plans to once again remove it from the line-up.

Product News!

The 370Z Roadster joined the Z Coupe after it was returned to the Nissan family in 2009, part of the automaker’s turnaround program. Its demise comes as automakers rethink their passenger car strategies and, in particular, cull their slow-selling convertible offerings.

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Tesla Looking to Raise More Than $2 Billion

Company using a mix of stock and new debt to get cash.

by on May.02, 2019

Tesla is looking to add to its cash reserves to ensure the Model Y hits the market early next year.

Less than two weeks after saying Tesla likely would not seek to raise more money even though the time was right, CEO Elon Musk led the charge to raise $2.3 billion to bolster the California-based EV maker’s cash reserves.

The company launched issues of new shares and debt worth about $2.3 billion on Thursday, with Musk adding $10 million of his own as investors and analysts wondered how the company would be able to meet all of its goals without the extra cash.

Business News!

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the EV maker said it plans to raise $650 million through new shares and tap the debt markets for an additional $1.35 billion. The underwriters have the option to buy an additional 15% of each offering, which would bring the total to $2.3 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

GM Ponders $1B Investment in Missouri Plant

Automaker reportedly meeting with governor about incentives.

by on May.02, 2019

GM may invest as much as $1 billion into its Wentzville, Missouri plant that produces midsize trucks and full-size vans.

General Motors is apparently preparing for a major investment at its big truck assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, according to media reports from St. Louis.

GM officials are expected to meet with Missouri Governor Mike Parson to discuss what is described as a $1 billion expansion project at Wentzville, which currently employs 3,800 hourly and salaried employees, St Louis Today reported.

Plant News!

No details about the expansion have been disclosed but GM is expected to request a package of incentives from the state of Missouri to help pay for job training and retooling the plant, which is located about 40 miles from St. Louis. Read the rest of this entry »

Auto Insurers Hammering Distracted Driving Violators

Violation pushes premium up nearly 10,000% since 2011.

by on May.01, 2019

Distracted driving behavior is being punished harshly by insurance companies as the penalty has increased nearly 10,000% since 2011.

Despite the efforts of automakers to make using a cell phone less intrusive and less distracting for drivers, tickets issued for distracted driving are on the rise and so is the price increase for your insurance premium: Nearly 10,000% since 2011.

Drivers cited for distracted driving eight years ago could expected to see their premiums rise just $2 a year. Now, despite the influx of systems like Sync, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, et al, prices will jump $290 or 19%, according to the 2019 State of Automotive Insurance by The Zebra.

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In comparison, the average penalty increase for all other violations including speeding, running a red light, or a hit-and-run was just 34% (or $494) from 2011 to 2018, and averaged 3% from one year to the next. Read the rest of this entry »

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