By on August 21, 2017

nissan emblem badge logo

Earlier this month, Nissan announced it was in the final stages of sealing a deal to sell its entire EV battery business to Chinese investment firm GSR Capital. The sale includes battery plants in Tennessee, England, and Japan, with a preamble where the Japanese automaker has to buy up minority shares of Automotive Energy Supply Corp. from NEC Corp.

From there, it can sell off the business to GSR for a cool $1 billion — which isn’t a bad deal for the Chinese company. Nissan used around $1.4 billion in government funds building its U.S. factory in 2010, and the remaining plants weren’t exactly cheap to build. So why is Nissan selling them off?

For starters, the Leaf hasn’t been the sales leader the manufacturer hoped for. Even though global deliveries surpassed the 250,000-unit milestone in December 2016, Leaf sales don’t go beyond 50,000 units annually. By electric vehicle metrics, that’s still a win. However, the Tennessee factory is capable of producing 200,000 complete EV battery packs a year — well beyond the company’s current needs.  (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

vw logo volkswagen passat

Financial analysts and industry experts have been expecting Volkswagen to begin selling assets to help cope with the cost of its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The penalty for its deception may have already reached $24.2 billion, and German lawsuits could tack on another $8 billion.

However, Europe’s largest automaker says it’s not interested in selling off properties to recoup losses associated with the scandal. It has another plan to rake in the cash. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Toyota Factory Kentucky

The funny thing about job creators is that they don’t always, you know, create any jobs. So, when a business lets slip that it might have 4,000 positions on offer in the near future, every state with an unemployment rate higher than zero takes notice.

Mazda and Toyota’s joint factory — codenamed Project Mitt — is one such example, and now over a dozen U.S. states are simultaneously competing for the opportunity to host the $1.6-billion factory and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs it will yield.

When the Japanese automakers publicly revealed their cooperative venture a couple of weeks ago, they made it clear they had not yet picked a site — sending economic development offices into a frenzy. But what locale will emerge victorious has a lot to do with what the region can offer the manufacturer, including potential tax incentives, tempting job training programs, and investments into infrastructure.

An affordable and abundant workforce is also desirable — an element that distinguishes many states from one another. But no single area has everything on offer, leaving the final decision of where to build up in the air.  (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

made-in-usa

When Donald Trump took office, one of his first presidential acts was to rally domestic automakers for a series of meetings and promise to remove regulatory barriers. As the administration was a self-described ally to the car industry, the claim appeared genuine. There was some tough talk about foreign involvement but, for the most part, Trump appeared to be in domestic manufacturers’ corner.

As focus shifted toward the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers had one request: to not impede cross-border trade. It was their primary concern leading up to this week’s talks.

Two days later and the issue has become a major sticking point; placing auto industry groups from Canada, Mexico, and the United States at odds with the current administration. As NAFTA talks began in Washington, D.C., automaker and parts groups from all three countries began outright pleading with U.S. negotiators to abandon their push for tighter rules of origin. Now they are formally opposing it.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

car salesman in car dealership with key, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock

Like all companies, auto dealerships are in the business of making money and dealer-installed options are frequently a good way to markup a vehicle’s final price. While that’s great for shops, new cars don’t really need rustproofing or fabric protection. Of course, that doesn’t keep salesmen from occasionally tacking those services on for a few hundred dollars extra though.

One optional extra you actually may want to take advantage of is VIN etching. While this is something you can do at home for cheap, most dealers will gladly do it for a significantly larger fee. But it doesn’t do you any good if the store doesn’t actually follow through with the service and charges you for it anyway — which is exactly what happened at a Nissan dealership in New York.

Nissan of New Rochelle was caught charging customers for an unwanted VIN etching service that they frequently didn’t even apply to cars. Now the dealer has agreed to pay nearly 300 customers more than a quarter of a million dollars in restitution and issue a public apology for its shady practices.   (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2017

nafta-secretariat

The first round of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations begins on Wednesday. U.S. President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have planned to meet in Washington, D.C. on August 16th and stay through the 20th to discuss trade policy. Afterward, NAFTA debates will be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

While this all began as a Trump campaign promise to renegotiate a better deal for the United States (or abandon the trade agreement entirely), it has evolved over the last six months into an opportunity to modernize NAFTA policies. There’s no firm deadline for the three countries to reach an agreement, but Mexico is pushing for the process to wrap up before its presidential campaign begins in earnest in February. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2017

Frankfurt Auto Show 2016

While automotive trade shows are likely to persist as a way of showing off major manufacturers’ freshest fleets, they’re losing relevance. Automakers continue to option smaller, less trade-focused events, while the big shows are giving ground to the likes of CES. The most recent example involves nine brands that have decided to forego next month’s International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany.

Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Nissan, Infiniti, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, DS, and Volvo, have all decided not to attend the IAA for 2017. Ian Fletcher, principal analyst for IHS Markit, claims automakers feel it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify spending the colossal fees associated with taking part in a major auto show when they measure that investment against the perceived effect on sales.

“I would question what the translation rate is between attendance on public days to transactions,” he said. “I bet most customers now are happier to do research online.” (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

zhengshanghai2013__mid

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been hoping to sell the company to the right kind of buyer for a while now. But, with no serious contenders, FCA has been forced to trudge onward into the future without a bonafide suitor.

That’s rumored to have changed, as numerous sources are claiming Chinese automakers have taken an interest in the Italian-American company. However, whether these are potential one-night stands or a serious courtship remains unknown. Marchionne has previously specified he only wants to see FCA enter into the warm embrace of an established automaker and, while China has them, some would be better partners than others.  (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

Takata-jpg

Takata, the airbag supplier whose cost-cutting measures ended up killing people, issued a request on Wednesday to suspend lawsuits against automakers filed by those injured by its faulty inflators.

Without the injunction, Takata claims the rampant litigation would prohibit management from completing the sale of the company’s viable operations to Key Safety Systems for $1.6 billion, threatening the supply of air bag inflators meant to replace already recalled ones (which may include all previously repaired units, pending an EPA investigation).

Obviously, the injured parties want restitution. Plaintiffs’ lawyers call the proposed injunction “an abuse of the bankruptcy laws for the benefit of all of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers.” The fear is that Takata’s request will delay consideration of numerous lawsuits for several months to a year, which is a long time to wait when you’ve been wronged.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

tesla model 3

Tesla Motors launched the Model 3 last month and has been scrambling to improve production volume as over 500,000 eagerly await delivery. However, by the time Tesla hits its targeted production rate of 10,000 units per week in 2018, it is still going to have months — if not a full year — of orders sizzling on the back burner.

It’s not the worst problem to have, since each reservation holder tossed down a $1,000 deposit. But CEO Elon Musk is aware that meeting demand is going to be an uphill battle. “We’re going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell,” Musk told the press ahead of Model 3 launch event.

With the company already having spent over $2 billion in capital this year, restocking the safe is probably a good idea. As an upstart automaker framing itself as going into battle with traditional manufacturers, Tesla is issuing $1.5 billion in junky war bonds to fund the coming onslaught.  (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

Mazda Driver's Choice YouTube Screenshot - Image: Mazda YouTube Channel

Toyota Motor Corp. is set to strike a deal to take a 5-percent stake in fellow Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. The alliance includes the construction of a joint-venture $1.6 billion U.S. automotive plant and sharing EV technology — showing that Mazda hasn’t totally sworn off the idea of an electric car.

The two companies have been dating casually for a couple of years; Toyota sometimes uses Mazda’s Mexican factory to build compact cars, the two have fostered a love child (the Mazda 2-based Toyota Yaris iA), but this is the first time they’ve seriously considered moving in together. Toyota claimed the decision was about more than just a strategy to share technology, suggesting the automakers had genuine feelings for one another.

“The greatest fruit of our partnership with Mazda is that we have found a new partner who truly loves cars,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement, “It has also sparked Toyota’s competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda. This is a partnership in which those who are passionate about cars will work together to make ever-better cars. It is also the realization of our desire to never let cars become commodities.”

(Read More…)

By on August 3, 2017

Volvo-self-driving-car

Suppliers have begun putting automotive companies on blast for overly ambitious mobility claims. While self-driving cars are definitely en route, manufacturers have ramped up their arrival time and omitted the necessary pit stops to win favor with investors or the general public. Meanwhile, parts suppliers have been frank on the matter — explaining they know when autonomous cars are really coming because they’ll be the ones providing the tidbits that make them work.

Don Walker, CEO of Magna International, one of the world’s largest OEM parts suppliers, suggests automakers may even be misleading their customers. “A full autonomous vehicle is a long way off for lots of reasons, because of legislation, class-action lawsuits, all the complexities and the costs associated with it,” the executive said.

Speaking Wednesday at the 2017 Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars, Walker also took umbrage with the popular claim that electric vehicles could comprise around 25 percent of the new market by 2025. Instead, he claims EVs will only account for 3 to 6 percent of the global market within that timeframe — a figure predominantly dependent on how swiftly the highly regulated Chinese market grows. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

rusted truck interior old

You might not have noticed, but car interiors are growing increasingly more complex — not just in how they incorporate technology but also in the materials used. While the 1990s were awash in gray or beige plastics and upholstery, today’s vehicles source furnishings from a vastly broader palate.

Hyundai’s Ioniq is a prime example. In addition to using recycled plastics, it also uses bio-fabrics for the headliner and carpeting. Hyundai has also touted the use of sugarcane as a component for the interior’s soft-touch materials, while powdered wood and volcanic ash hides in harder surfaces.

OEMs are always trying to provide customers with something they can’t get elsewhere. More colors, different trim pieces, eco-friendly materials, and little embellishments that could be the deciding factor. Higher-trimmed vehicles from 2o years ago were primarily set apart by their upgraded mechanical components, adjustable seats, and superior electronics. With today’s vehicles already so well appointed, manufacturers are implementing custom stitching, chrome accents, and decorative lighting on a mass scale to inform occupants, “This is not a base model!”

It’s great news for consumers, but suppliers are scrambling to predict what automakers and their buyers will want next. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

german flag and reichstag

Volkswagen will hold an emergency supervisory board meeting on Wednesday to discuss recent allegations that Germany’s automakers have been operating as an automotive cartel since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Daimler’s workers council is demanding answers from management as the automaker reels from a one-two-punch of collusion and emissions cheating accusations.

“I advise the car industry to clear the air now, to say what has happened, and then we can look to the future together again,” parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder, said Monday on German television. “If the antitrust violations prove true, and there’s a lot to suggest that, then one must really say the clear sentence: the rule of law also applies to the car industry.”

However, claiming there is sufficient proof to prosecute is a little premature. With the exception of a somewhat damning letter intercepted from VW, no hard evidence of collusion has been made public. Investigators are still in the early stages of the antitrust probe and have given few details as to its progress.  (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2017

Volkswagen Blue

Government authorities are concerned that Germany’s automakers have been running one of the biggest CARtels in history. Allegedly active since the 1990s, automakers used secret working groups to remain in cahoots on decisions regarding technical issues, suppliers, and cost suppression. The groups may have even set the table for Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal by encouraging regulatory cheating.

Major manufacturers had apparently agreed on the size of the tanks containing AdBlue, Germany’s preferred diesel treatment fluid to reduce exhaust emissions, and decided the units should be small to keep fluid prices up. When the entire system turned out to be insufficient in meeting regulatory guidelines, illegal software manipulation became the alternative solution.  (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • dal20402: It was more a cut-down 2nd-gen Legend, with the Legend’s weird layout, but without its great build...
  • SunnyvaleCA: $40k gets you the A4 with stick-shift and AWD. Further, if the A3 and A4 were like previous models, the...
  • speedlaw: Oh yes. I recently flew La Garbage (sorry mayor) to Wisconsin. The middle of the country and europe tends...
  • SCE to AUX: Looks like a rehashed Audi Q3. Nice, but small inside.
  • speedlaw: What I reserve and get are often different….sometimes you get an FX35, a 320d with sport pack, a nice...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff