Category: Industry

By on February 27, 2017

U.S. Mexico Border

Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s senior trade negotiator, reaffirmed his position to break off talks to reconfigure NAFTA, saying his country will completely abandon talks if the United States continues threatening levies and caps on products coming in from its southern border. He said Mexico will refuse to even consider the kind of tariffs President Trump has discussed and revert back to World Trade Organization rules. Under those guidelines, the most the U.S. could impose on a Mexican product would average 3 percent.

“The moment that they say, ‘We’re going to put a 20 percent tariff on cars,’ I get up from the table,” Guajardo said in an interview. “Bye-bye.” Read More >

By on February 27, 2017

Elon Musk ice cream

With his employees showing a growing interest in unionization, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shot off a lengthy email to staff urging them to forgo joining the United Auto Workers. While the UAW has romanced Tesla’s growing workforce for years, a recent — and highly publicized — blog post written by an employee expressed renewed concern over the company’s treatment of its workforce, as well as his hope to see them join the labor federation.

Musk initially reached out to the press to defend his company and is now appealing to workers directly, refuting allegations about subpar wages and condemning an earlier investigation into worker safety. “After looking into this claim, not only was it untrue for this individual’s team, it was untrue for any of the hundreds of teams in the factory,” he wrote. Read More >

By on February 26, 2017

behind the wheel

Finance companies have begun using ignition kill switches and tracking devices, which allow them to disable and then easily locate vehicles for repossession. Some of the devices even remind borrowers when they’ve missed a payment. According to PassTime, a company that sells such devices, somewhere between 35 and 70 percent of cars financed on subprime loans have some variant of the hardware installed.

Now the the Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether these automotive finance companies are illegally harassing consumers with poor credit by imposing the hardware onto their vehicles — potentially violating their privacy while also garnering unnecessary intimidation from banks.  Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

Every automotive manufacturer currently selling cars within the United States has incessantly requested that the government dial back federal fuel economy standards ever since Donald Trump took office. Now, two advocacy groups — Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America — have sent a letter to Trump making a case to maintain Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the good of average Americans.

Automakers have claimed that higher efficiency targets will increase vehicle cost, making this a battle between two camps, each focused on U.S. wallets: MSRP and MPG. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass

We knew that Jeep’s redesigned small crossover was going to be sized up, priced up, and niced up in order to avoid cannibalizing the Renegade. What we didn’t know was that Jeep would dump it into the KL Cherokee’s lap like a scalding cup of coffee. At $22,090, the base 2017 Compass is only a stone’s throw away from the larger model’s pre-destination price of $23,695 MSRP.

Worse still is that Fiat Chrysler’s inability to update or enhance the Jeep Cherokee in any meaningful way has helped sales implode in recent months. The KL was Jeep’s top selling model in 2015, with 220,260 units sold in the United States, but it took a sales hit of almost 30,000 vehicles the following year and saw a noticeably weaker beginning for 2017. Read More >

By on February 23, 2017

tesla factory fremont

After posting a profitable fall quarter, Tesla returned to spending more than it made. However, its fourth quarter losses, announced on Wednesday, were substantially less than originally assumed by analysts. The electric carmaker’s stock price continued to climb during the final three months of 2016, despite losing $448 million from its operations.

Tesla has been throwing a lot of money at projects and acquisitions. It recently purchased SolarCity and Grohmann Engineering, so going into the red was to be expected. However, the dark cloud looming in the distance isn’t related to capital — it’s about production. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

download

Captain of industry John Mendel is retiring as the executive vice president of American Honda’s sales division this April, following ten years of service to the company. Mendel is probably best-known for ensuring that Honda and Acura’s marketing and sales focus remained on North America’s retail markets, not fleets.

Also retiring this spring is Honda Canada’s current president and 42-year company veteran, Jerry Chenkin. Filling the vacuum created in Chenkin’s absence is Dave Gardner, currently senior vice president and future president. Gardner will assume the role of president and provide direct oversight for the automotive and motorcycle divisions, power equipment, ATV, and small engine businesses.  Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

mercedes-benz logo

If Mercedes-Benz dealers manage to overhaul their stores to the brand’s updated “Autohaus2” image standards, the locations can forget about additional modifications until after 2024.

The German automaker’s promise to leave dealerships alone is abnormal, and comes after the second generation of its controversial Autohaus standard established — to the chagrin of dealerships — in 2008. Much of Mercedes’ salesforce objected to the mandatory image alterations, similarly to how Cadillac’s dealer network has responded to that brand’s Project Pinnacle.

Hoping to ease tensions as showrooms adhere to the new status quo, the 2024 pledge provides all sides with a reprieve. The Autohaus2 plan, and subsequent dealer amnesty, was penned under former Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon, though the company’s current North American boss, Dietmar Exler, also supports it.  Read More >

By on February 13, 2017

2016 Lexus RX450h

December is typically a peak month for automotive sales, especially among premium brands. With more holiday-themed ads than the majority of its competition, Lexus always sees the year’s final month of sales as its best. However, it did so well last December that January saw a 26 percent drop in sales due to an exhausted supply of sport utility vehicles.

With the narrowest of exceptions for the LX, last December turned out to be the best month in the history of all of Lexus’ SUVs. The bad news is that most of those sales came at the expense of the automaker’s sedans, which saw comparatively low sales. At around 41,000 units, December 2016 wasn’t all that much different from 2015. However, cars made up a significantly smaller piece of that pie. Read More >

By on February 12, 2017

engine parts

A Houston man says his Lexus went missing after the local auto repair shop, which he entrusted to fix his car, closed without notice. Returning to the mechanic to make a prearranged twice-monthly payment, he noticed an eviction notice and a completely empty parking lot.

“I’m thinking this guy has stolen my car,” said Randy Exom of the mechanic after being unable to find his automobile.  Read More >

By on February 7, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen AG has announced a new U.S. unit that will manage its hefty court-mandated investments in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and green awareness programs.

Electrify America LLC, located in Reston, Virginia, is supposed to be entirely separate from Volkswagen Group’s automotive brands and owned as a subsidiary of VW of America. It will oversee $2 billion in initiatives to promote the use of zero emissions vehicles in the U.S. over the next ten years as part of VW’s diesel emissions settlement. Read More >

By on February 5, 2017

maserati emblem

Maserati is recalling roughly 40,000 Ghibli, Levante, and Quattroporte models in the United States after uncovering two defects that could lead to fires. According to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records, adjusting the front seats runs the risk of causing an electrical shortage and potential fire in vehicles from model years 2014 through 2017. Fuel-line leaks are also forcing Maserati to recall Quattroporte and Ghibli cars from 2014 and 2015. Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

Takata, the damned Japanese parts supplier with the exceptionally dangerous airbags, has lost the two top executives at its United States headquarters. According to their LinkedIn profiles, former North American President Kevin Kennedy and former Executive Vice President Robert Fisher are no longer with the company.

Meanwhile, BMW Group is recalling roughly 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. after discovering that some could have been outfitted with defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators during repairs.  Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

Alfa Romeo Stelvio nose logo badge

Relaunching Alfa Romeo has been an expensive undertaking for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the brand continues to hemorrhage cash while FCA scrambles to get the Giulia and upcoming Stelvio into driveways. While discussing the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Alfa was a financial vortex last year and will remain that way until Americans see more than just the occasional 4C cruising down the boulevard.

It cost a fortune to develop the Giorgio platform that underpins the new Alfa models — Marchionne claims FCA spent $2.7 billion on the relaunch. To recoup some of those expenses, the brand is going to share its fancy new bones with Maserati, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles.  Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

BMW Group CEO Harald Krüger says the automaker fully intends on sicking with its current investment strategies in Mexico and the United States, even after President Donald Trump’s proposal to levy steep import taxes on vehicles brought into American borders.

“We need free world trade,” Krueger told the CAR Symposium automotive congress in Bochum, Germany, on Wednesday. Read More >

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