Gasoline is gloriously cheap and the automotive industry is taking a break from the tiresome “more mpg” game.
That, Christmas comes early for Volkswagen employees, Carlos Ghosn has a plan to save big bucks, Google is luring more humans and Bentley can’t build enough SUVs for the “you call this caviar?!” crowd … after the break!
Americans say “that’s enough fuel efficiency for now”
The average fuel economy of cars and light trucks in the United States continues to stagnate, says Automotive News.
Average efficiency for the country’s private fleet didn’t budge in February, matching the 25.2 miles per gallon recorded in January.
With automakers continuously struggling to meet mileage targets imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the flat-lining of average fuel consumption has much to do with satisfying buyer demand for bigger vehicles in during a time of low gas prices.
Average mileage peaked at 25.8 mpg in August of 2014 after a rapid climb from the previous decade.
This is for sticking around
Things must have been great at Volkswagen last year, because its factory employees are going to get a nice bonus, reports Automotive News.
Volkswagen’s employee newsletter spells out the reasons for the payout: regular overtime, extra shifts, and … continued loyalty to the company in light of the diesel emissions scandal.
About 100,000 in-house workers will be rewarded for staying at their posts, and though there’s no word yet on what amount the payout will come to, previous bonuses amounted to over 5,000 Euros.
Meanwhile, over at Audi, the annual bonus will be downgraded by about 1,100 Euros.
Renault and Nissan move their relationship to the next level
There’s piles of money to be saved at Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Company, assuming both can get along with each other while sharing a lot more stuff, writes Bloomberg.
Under a new plan, the longstanding automotive alliance stands to save $6 billion in 2018 by sharing engineering processes and personnel. Existing resource-sharing agreements will also be extended.
The renewed spirit of European-Asian cooperation being pushed by joint CEO Carlos Ghosn aims to lift Renault’s flagging fortunes as it tries to gain a foothold in new overseas markets.
More humans hired for Google’s robot car
Google’s self-driving vehicle project stands to benefit from a dream team of automotive insiders, reports Automotive News.
A hiring surge is underway at Google in order to bring the car to the teeming masses, with at least 170 dedicated workers on the self-driving project payroll. About 40 of them hail from the human-driven auto sphere, including from such companies as Ford, Tesla and General Motors.
Google doesn’t like to talk about who it’s hiring or the total tally of the team, but the company has listed 40 job ads in the past month, several listing prerequisites related to manufacturing.
It is known that John Krafcik, former head of Hyundai Motor Company’s U.S. operation, is running the show and assembling Google’s team.
There’s still room at the top
If ultra-luxury vehicles are a reliable economic indicator, then there’s no reason to lose sleep worrying about the world’s rich people.
Motor Authority reports that Bentley is mulling another boost in production for its Bentayga SUV, even after raising the estimate in December. The $230,000 SUV is built using a highly laborious process and can be optioned with almost anything a wealthy buyer desires.
If an SUV costing nearly a quarter-million dollars is flying off the shelves, an automaker would be foolish to limit demand.
The production boost hasn’t yet been confirmed, so the target for the model’s first year still officially stands at 5,500 units.
[Images: Volkswagen: Rob Brewer/Flickr; Bentayga: Bentley Motors]