By on May 18, 2017

us-capitol

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross want to begin formal talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in a little over three months, adhering to the campaign pledges made by President Donald Trump last year. Ross explained to reporters that “sometime in the next couple of weeks” he will issue a notice to Congress stating the Trump administration intends to start formal NAFTA negotiations in just 90 days.

However, since he expressed his intentions in front of a gaggle of reporters, Congress is probably already aware. But it won’t be “official” until they get a piece of paper signed by the appropriate parties on the applicable letterhead — hopefully, embossed with a fierce-looking eagle surrounded by dollar signs.  (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2017

robert_lighthizer 2017

I hope you’re fond of domestic automobiles.

The Trump administration is setting the table to make importing cars more difficult with the U.S. Senate confirming Robert Lighthizer in an 82-14 vote as the U.S. trade representative, prepping the country for an assertive trust from the White House’s America First trade strategy. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

bob king

The former president of the United Automobile Workers, Bob King, says he supports President Trump’s plan to reconfigure the North American Free Trade Agreement — so long as it maintains labor’s best interests. Ironically, King’s support of the president’s trade plan came as he attended an Ann Arbor rally in support of an EPA testing facility in danger of being closed due to Trump administration budget cuts.

King, who served as the union’s president from 2010 to 2014, faults the trade pact for a loss of American jobs. It’s his belief that NAFTA allowed automakers to invest in more-affordable regions — like Mexico — at the expensive of the United States’ workforce. His successor, Dennis Williams, has echoed these claims and also wishes to see NAFTA reformed.  (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2017

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford Motor Company thinks it has the answers for the impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, believes the key to an updated NAFTA includes protections against currency manipulation and the standardization of product regulation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Of course, Hinrichs is just one voice of many. Despite his initial threat of NAFTA’s abolishment failing to pan out, President Trump has maintained a hardline stance — stating he will negotiate a better deal for the U.S. (or pull out if he can’t). Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has urged for transparency throughout the process while echoing some of Trump’s campaign promises to stick up for American jobs by not showing favoritism or allowing industries to play against each other.

By contrast, Hinrichs’ proposals are specifically focused on streamlining the auto industry and avoiding long-standing complications associated with financial witchcraft.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

A slew of automakers are scheduled for a Thursday meeting with the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation to go over existing Obama-era efficiency rules. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will both be on hand to discuss — and likely reassure — manufacturers on the future of the guidelines.

In March, President Donald Trump ordered an extensive review of U.S. light vehicle fuel-efficiency standards for the 2022-2025 time frame, despite the Obama administration locking them in well ahead of the midterm review’s April 2018 deadline. The decision was rushed to maintain the administration’s climate change policy and avoid any tampering from incoming Trump appointees. While there remains much to be done before the standing emission limits can be rolled back, wheels are now in motion.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

saic-motor-mg-crossover

SAIC Motor, China’s largest state-owned automotive manufacturer, is canceling its plans to export vehicles into North America. Likely fearful of the current administration’s trade proposals, SAIC is blaming President Donald Trump for its hesitation to enter the Western market.

Of course, the Chinese automaker isn’t ruling anything out entirely. Michael Yang, the executive director of SAIC’s international division, explained at the Shanghai motor show that the company might resume its plans for U.S. expansion once trade tensions ease between the two countries. As the Trump administration hasn’t exactly celebrated the idea of imported goods and foreign manufacturing, it could be a long wait. In the meantime, SAIC Motor will be focusing its efforts on the European market.  (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Out of Patience Fuel Gauge Mug

Not to go all political on you, but it’s amazing how President Obama acted more like a bitter foreclosure victim — one who goes nuts and destroys as much of the house as they can, just short of being arrested for vandalism — during his last days in office, and not a graceful man given two terms as the leader of the free world.

Mr. Obama did this in two ways: one action affected a short list of government folk, and the other impacted one of the most important industries in our lives — the auto industry.

The short-listed government victims are those affected by Obama’s order to share dirt on people talking with “foreigners.” It’s against the law — but when did that stop the former President? What’s worse, and perhaps deadly, is Mr. Obama’s decision to renege on his promise to check and perhaps re-adjust the daunting future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard his administration first put in place in 2009, which the administration made even wackier in 2011.

(Read More…)

By on April 9, 2017

ford-raptor-china

Ford’s Mark Fields had plenty of positive things to say about last week’s meeting between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. After spending months of his campaign accusing China of stealing American jobs, Trump left the conference optimistic at the prospect of improving the relationship between the two countries.

That’s welcome news for Ford, which wants to dramatically expand its presence in Asia over the coming years. The automaker has already decided to launch Lincoln models in the Asian market, hoping to piggyback off Buick and Cadillac’s success in China. On Thursday Fields also outlined a company decision to have 70 percent of all Ford nameplates sold in China by 2025 be part or fully electric — helping the company meet stricter emission standards and maintain volume in the East.  (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

sothebys-trump-ferrari

While Donald Trump seems to take a keen interest in the current state of the automotive industry, he doesn’t exactly come across as an car enthusiast. However, he is very rich and has had his share of obligatory Rolls, Benz, and Bentley-built vehicles over the years. And, like any exceptionally wealthy American male, he purchased a tomato red Ferrari, drove it infrequently, and then sold it off.

That car — a 2007 Ferrari F430 F1 Coupe — was auctioned by Sotheby’s over the weekend for a little less than one might expect. You would assume having the opportunity to say you owned “the president’s Ferrari” would add a substantial premium to the final sale price, but you’d be wrong. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Bob Lutz

If you’re unfamiliar with Bob Lutz, it’s likely that you’re a recent addition to the world of automotive enthusiasm. Allow me to be the first to welcome you. The rest of us have been following Lutz’s career shift from extremely outspoken auto executive to extremely outspoken car blogger for years. Now 85, he hasn’t become any less critical of the industry after entering his “retirement,” nor has his advanced age done much to soften his frank rhetoric.

Love or hate him, Lutz’s time spent jumping between the Big Three has provided him with unique insights — and he always has plenty to say on the current state of the American automotive industry. His most recent revelations circle around the unsustainable nature of Tesla and his growing distaste for president Trump, despite his having voted for him.  (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Donald Trump

The Trump administration is changing its tune regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Despite the president calling the pact the “worst deal” in history throughout his campaign and hinting his goal was to abandon the agreement, the White House intends to keep numerous provisions while seeking more moderate changes.

Among the more controversial arrangements Trump intends to keep are the arbitration panels that permit investors in the three nations to circumvent local courts to resolve civil claims. The administration even has a proposal that would improve these bodies’ procedures to resolve disputes.

Is this the bold trade overhaul that Trump promised on the campaign trail? (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

pumping fuel

California has green-lit light-vehicle pollution targets that the Trump administration has placed under review. As expected, the Golden State is going to continue playing hardball over Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Already critical of the automotive industry for asking the president to reconsider federal guidelines through 2025, the California Air Resources Board hinted that it wouldn’t stray from the emission targets set by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, CARB finalized its state emissions rules while setting an updated ordinance on zero-emission vehicles. “We’re going to press on,” said Mary Nichols, head of the board, during last week’s press conference.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

U.S. Mexico Border

Now that Mexican negotiators aren’t reacting specifically to President Trump’s heated rhetoric over foreign trade policies, their terror and rage has begun to subside. The North American Free Trade Agreement might even continue to exist for the time being.

Trump’s previous attacks on NAFTA, import tariff threats, and promise of a border wall incensed Mexican officials to a point where many suggested Mexico should simply abandon the renegotiation talks on principle. However, now that cabinet officials will be speaking on behalf of the president and the focus of the negotiators have shifted toward the fundamentals — and not the politics — Mexico can relax a little.  (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2017

autonomous hardware

President Donald Trump received a tour of the American Center for Mobility this week. He did not, however, discuss the federal funding of the Michigan-based autonomous testing and development facility. Instead, the site was used as a location for the president to discuss regulatory policies and meet with automotive executives. Little was said on the subject of self-driving cars.

Still, automakers routinely remind us that autonomous vehicles are right around the corner. Ford says it can have autonomous cars rolling out by 2021, Audi and Nissan have said 2020, and Volkswagen has claimed it’ll be ready for self-driving models in 2019. Tesla — which has been pioneering the technology longer than most — has stated it has the hardware necessary in its current production vehicles and would have a bulletproof system installed in 2018, anticipating regulatory approval in 2021. However, suppliers are predicting much less optimistic timelines for self-driving cars — and the dates given vary wildly.  (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

Donald Trump

Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will reopen a review of the current auto emissions directives passed in the final throes of the Obama presidency. This is cause for celebration for automakers, who’ve practically begged the president to repeal the mandates on grounds that the goals are far too uncompromising and ill-suited for the present-day market.

Speaking at the American Center for Mobility, President Trump promised to bring more manufacturing back into the United States and continue to bring down regulatory barriers so that automakers can continue to thrive.

“We’re going to work on the CAFE standards so you can make cars in America again,” Trump said. “There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.”

Clearly, the president has either never seen an Aston Martin or is trying to make a point about the importance of domestic product.  (Read More…)

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