Following reports that Hyundai Motor Company managed to purchase American engineering and robotics firm Boston Dynamics from Japanese financial conglomerate SoftBank for a cool $921 million, we’ve learned that the South Korean automaker has also fallen into embracing on-demand features. The trend, which is sweeping through the automotive industry to our dismay, basically involves manufacturers hiding vehicle options behind a subscription paywall instead of just letting you purchase the options you wanted upfront.
That means tomorrow’s car shopper might find themselves buying a vehicle that’s already fully loaded from the factory only find themselves forced to unlock heated seats or an upgraded sound system via monthly payments. In our estimation, the whole concept is ludicrously wasteful, diminishes the private resale values of automobiles, and seems like the kind of corporate nonsense reserved for dystopian fiction novels.
Always eager to slash delivery costs — especially if the government opts to stop subsidizing the company via the U.S. Postal Service — Amazon has been getting chummy with EV startups. It’s also begun exploring new business opportunities in regard to food delivery and ride hailing, resulting in sizable investments into both sectors.
On Friday, Amazon announced it will acquire California-based Zoox to help it further those goals. Coming off a staffing reduction of about 10 percent to contend with the pandemic, the company is currently focused on delivering an symmetrical, self-driving, zero-emissions vehicle that can compete on the currently nonexistent robo-taxi market. While the world’s 13th largest company (by revenue) seems like it would make good use of the property to advance its autonomous delivery program, corporate messaging seems to indicate Amazon is more interested in Zoox’s expertise in people moving.
Volvo Cars, cast off by a struggling Ford and subsequently picked up by an expansionist Geely 10 years ago, might forge closer ties with its Chinese parent. The relationship could become a marriage.
On Monday, Geely said the two companies have begun talks on turning the two entities into a combined automaker.
This new era of electrification has caused many an automaker to eye a competitor’s business, and suppliers are no different. Announced Tuesday, BorgWarner has decided to buy Delphi Technologies, uniting the two businesses to better capture the growing market for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The powertrain giant pegs Delphi’s enterprise value at $3.3 billion, making this acquisition its largest to date.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA both confirmed their intention to merge on Thursday, verifying reports that the pair were in the final stages of approving the deal. The arrangement will be a 50-50 share swap, with the new company’s shares listed on the New York, Paris and Milan stock exchanges.
The duo hope to finalize a deal in the coming weeks to create a group with 8.7 million in annual vehicle sales. That would make it the fourth-largest automaker in the world — behind Volkswagen, Toyota and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
“There is still plenty of work to do before we reach a formal agreement, but what’s clear is that the opportunity that represents for both companies is very compelling,” FCA head Mike Manley told Reuters. It would appear the arrangement is getting plenty of support. French and Italian leadership have both endorsed the move, provided there are no significant job losses in either country.
While mobility has placed the automotive industry in a state of minor limbo, manufacturers achieving a major breakthrough may yet ascend to heaven — financially speaking. Ford has promised to deliver robot-driven taxis within a couple of years and expended quite a bit of cash to get there since acquiring Argo AI in 2017. However its autonomous arm, Ford Smart Mobility, has only encountered mixed success. Progress in terms of self-driving has been incremental, with the company shuttering some of the side businesses that explored alternative revenue streams (e.g. Chariot) and losing millions though its software investments.
Disinterested with failure, Ford partnered with Volkswagen Group earlier this year. As part of the deal, VW agreed to dump another 2.6 billion into Argo in hopes that it would accelerate development. Ford said it would be taking things a step further on Tuesday and announced the acquisition of two more tech companies.
It was downright amazing how fast the proposed merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance collapsed. Considering the auto group’s messy state, there may have been no alternative. While Nissan’s unwillingness to support the merger is often cited as a chief reason in FCA’s backing out, it seems the Italian-American company was similarly spooked by internal strife within the alliance.
Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard addressed the matter on Wednesday during the automaker’s annual meeting in Paris. He told shareholders that the French government’s inability to act was what ultimately led to Fiat Chrysler backing out of the deal, while openly lamenting the missed opportunity.
“This project remains, in my head, absolutely remarkable and exceptional,” Senard said. “Frankly, I am saddened.”
The relationship between alliance partners Renault and Nissan remains incredibly strained. We’ve documented the souring of this corporate relationship closely since November, starting with the arrest of former Nissan chairman and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, but the partnership’s new chapter is a bit more confrontational. Of course, the relationship trouble started long before that.
Still in the midst of a corporate power struggle, Renault recently decided to block Nissan’s board reforms — possibly in response to the Japanese automaker not supporting a possible merger between the French automaker and Fiat Chrysler. Regardless, the Alliance now appears to be in real jeopardy, with neither side interested in cooperating. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa appears to be hip to this fact, claiming the two sides need to take steps to stabilize and reinforce the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance or risk it dissolving completely.
Following a whirlwind 10-day courtship, Fiat Chrysler withdrew its marriage proposal to Groupe Renault on Wednesday night, citing irreconcilable differences.
FCA blames France.
The proposed 50:50 merger with the French automaker, floated on Memorial Day, was snatched off the table following an FCA board meeting, the automaker stated in a release, adding that it had “become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.”
Fiat Chrysler’s desire to merge with Renault has the French government, which holds a 15 percent stake in the French automaker, more than a bit worried. The government has already issued a list of guarantees it wishes to see before giving its blessing to the potential tie-up.
Now, a report claims FCA is working hard to win France’s trust, promising board representation and a French headquarters for the proposed entity.
Will they or won’t they? That’s the question on everyone’s mind after Fiat Chrysler’s Monday morning proposition to French automaker Renault. A 50:50 pairing of equals, with Nissan and Mitsubishi shuffling awkwardly on the edge of the dance floor. To his credit, FCA Chairman John Elkann wants Renault’s alliance partners in on the deal.
According to a report out of Paris, Renault’s board will sit down within days to decide whether to pursue FCA’s offer.
Perhaps sensing that Nissan and its alliance partner, Mitsubishi, feel like third wheels in the romancing of Renault by a merger-happy Fiat Chrysler, FCA Chairman John Elkann had kind words for the pair.
You’re appreciated. You’re valued. And you’re invited to the party.
Nissan has long felt like an unequal partner in its alliance with Renault, and has continually resisted pressure to strengthen its ties with the French automaker. With a potential merger between Fiat Chrysler and Renault now in the discussion phase, the Japanese automaker, having just suffered a year of sales and profit losses, finds itself staring down the barrel of further inequality.
Should the Italian-American and French companies merge, Nissan’s influence would shrink by half. Still, the automaker claims it’s open to discussion.
In what kind of shape would Tesla find itself today if tech giant Apple had acquired the automaker in 2013? That’s a question for analysts to ponder in their off hours, as Apple’s reported offer went nowhere.
Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners, claims specific knowledge of the failed bid, telling CNBC that Apple wished to acquire Tesla for $240 a share — a higher price than the automaker’s stock currently trades at.
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- Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
- Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
- Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
- Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
- VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?