Tag: Industry

By on February 15, 2017

Opel-Astra-295903

After yesterday’s shocking news of a potential takeover of GM-owned Opel and Vauxhall by France’s PSA Group, General Motors CEO Mary Barra hopped on a plane to the Fatherland.

Given the sudden uncertainty surrounding a major employer, Opel’s works council, labor union and the German government staged a collective panic attack. Soothing words were needed, stat. Britain, home of Opel’s Vauxhall sister division, would also like to hear a few assurances of its own. (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 10, 2017

ford Argo AI

Ford Motor Company intends to invest $1 billion into tech startup Argo AI over the next five years, giving the Blue Oval a majority stake in the company as it continues to reach for the goal of producing a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.

The Pittsburgh-based Argo will help the Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for its proposed commercial ride-sharing fleets before moving on to retail vehicles. Ford even went so far as to suggest that the software it develops with Argo could be licensed to other companies.

While still officially an automaker, the Blue Oval really is going all in on its new identity as a mobility company and it isn’t afraid to remind everyone of all of the important work it feels that it is doing. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2017

tesla factory fremont

Some employees at Tesla Inc.’s Fremont, California factory have been moving ahead with efforts to unionize. Fronting that campaign is Jose Moran, who claims to have worked at the plant for the last four years. He and other disgruntled Tesla employees have reached out to the United Automobile Workers, claiming they work long hours for low pay under unsafe conditions as the company pursues aggressive production deadlines.

While Tesla’s CEO has responded with his own claim that Moran was paid by the UAW to join his company and proselytize for a union, the organization promptly refuted that suggestion by accusing Tesla of spreading dreaded “fake news.”  (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

Viper Supra Corvette

Japanese cars gradually overcame the stigma of being low-quality, unreliable trash piles after entering the U.S. market decades ago. Imports became commonplace during the 1970s and Japan’s cars began setting the new benchmark for automotive quality while Ronald Reagan was in office.

The inverse can be said of American cars being sold in Japan, and it’s a well-documented and long-running annoyance for the American automotive industry. In January, a frustrated President Donald Trump complained that Japan does “things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan, and yet, they sell cars [in the United States] and they come in by the hundreds of thousands on the biggest ships I’ve ever seen.”

Though the statement could be taken as contentious, as Japan does not impose any tariffs on U.S. cars, the country also exported 1.6 million vehicles to the States while America sold fewer than 19,000 back in 2015. Something is definitely amiss, and while it might not be as simple a reason as Japan hating our cars, that’s still a large part of it.  (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

Skoda octavia Jozef Kabaň

BMW has chosen former Volkswagen stylist Jozef Kaban to head design for its core brand. After Karim Habib’s exodus from the company last month, BMW found itself missing an essential portion of its product planning department.

Kaban, 44, has been an important part of Volkswagen AG’s styling department. Most famous for his early work designing Bugatti’s Veyron, he was later responsible for the less-exciting Volkswagen Lupo and Seat Arosa. He also modeled the current generation Škoda Octavia — possibly after having a fever dream about modernizing the Lincoln LS. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91 rear

Faraday Future’s preeminence in bad publicity has been unsurpassed as of late. It has amassed legal disputes almost as fast as I can report them, so another lawsuit might seem par for the course — until you realize it’s for an almost trifling amount over a mismanaged squabble surrounding the company’s domain name.

A complaint was filed against the automotive startup in San Francisco County Superior Court on November 18th of last year by a business acting as a broker for obtaining the company’s current domain name. The document outlines a $210,000 claim against Faraday for neglecting to remunerate Domains Cable for services that resulted in the acquisition of FF.com.  (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

2004 Suzuki Verona in California wrecking yard, grille badge - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp. have agreed to begin official talks on pushing their partnership further. The partnership memorandum announced today covers a wide range of issues crucial to developing and producing automobiles, while keeping Suzuki independent as an automaker. Toyota is apparently not interested in corporate control. The automaker showed a similar gentle touch in its partnerships with Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.

Instead, the two companies have agreed to start brainstorming on how to best collaborate on advanced safety systems, environmentally friendly tech, information technology, overlapping components, and shared product.  (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

old dealership Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles wants to grow its dealer network by 380 new stores in a bid to improve its dwindling market share. The plan isn’t going over so well with the company’s existing dealers, however. As the strategy could potentially threaten their present businesses, some of those dealerships are putting up a fight over the issue.

The choice to expand comes at a difficult time. Sales locations aren’t doing the best and suffering through a diluted and unpopular product lineup while the automaker shifts its focus away from cars to the more-popular SUVS and trucks. FCA sales have been on the decline for almost six months and the company’s slice of the U.S. market fell to 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 13.6 percent in the same period of 2015. The expansion decision also goes against the advice of FCA’s dealership location consultant, Urban Science. (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 3, 2017

Tata Nano

Tata Motors is best known for its unbelievably affordable and incredibly petite Nano supermini and the tiny Ace work truck. In fact, the two are so affordable that you could purchase them both in India with every optional extra and they would cost roughly the same as a base U.S. model Nissan Versa with no add-ons.

Despite still being deeply rooted in the economy car scene, Tata has grown in recent years — it currently builds smaller SUVs — and now wants to build itself a sportscar. While your first inclination is probably to say “how adorable” in a belittling tone, don’t forget that Tata also constructs vans, city buses, commercial trucks, construction equipment, and military vehicles. It could turn out a little basic, but the Indian automaker is probably up to the challenge of a small sports car.

Still, how utterly adorable. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

President Donald Trump is having a pow-wow with General Motors chief executive Mary Barra, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a slew of other top U.S. executives today. The business community finds itself increasingly divided over how to respond to certain policies, especially after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit the president’s advisory panel over an executive order that temporarily ceased travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Pressure from activists has forced numerous companies to take a public stance on the issue. Elon Musk in particular has begun to face harsh criticism for condemning the ban but continuing to work with the White House on business issues. (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…)

By on February 1, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91 profile

Faraday Future had already broken ground on a sprawling $1 billion factory in North Las Vegas when a multi-million dollar late fee forced contractors to go on hiatus last November. Then, at CES 2017, the company announced the resumption of construction as the city’s mayor waved to the crowd — a physical manifestation of goodwill towards the company’s new promises.

What they did not say, however, was that the factory would be a fraction of the size as originally claimed, existing as a smaller-scale starter plant. Faraday is the automotive equivalent of Monty Python’s Black Knight. It continues to suffer horrendous blows that cripple its operational ability, all the while telling the world, “Tis but a scratch.” (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

Elaine Chao

The U.S. Senate voted ninety-three to six to confirm Elaine Chao as transportation secretary on Tuesday.

Chao, a former labor secretary and deputy transportation secretary, will face familiar issues while providing oversight on some new obstacles — specifically, autonomous vehicles and upholding President Trump’s promise to improve the nation’s infrastructure.  (Read More…)

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