By on March 26, 2020

peugeot

Following reports from France that the merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be upended by the coronavirus, PSA announced that the media got this one all wrong. While the French automaker admitted that economic problems stemming from the outbreak are indeed concerning, it reiterated its commitment to safeguarding employment while adding that a merger makes even more sense now than before.

Still, there are valid reasons to question the current state of the merger agreement established in December via a memorandum of understanding. COVID-19 has sent global markets into a tailspin, with PSA and FCA seeing their share prices seesawing in the wrong direction over the last two weeks.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2020

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While Ford Motor Co. plans to reopen several factories by early April, it’s not doing much of anything at present. That’s a standard problem among domestic brands with the coronavirus afoot, and two of them — Ford and General Motors — are coming off sizable restructuring efforts that included staffing reductions in the thousands. Additional cutbacks aren’t desirable; not with everyone watching how these companies handle the outbreak.

As it secures extra spending power from credit lines, Ford knows the steep financial cost of having the majority of its workforce stuck at home (to say nothing of its customers) will be steep. A plan is now afoot to keep jobs secure. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2020

As we attempt to wean ourselves off endless discussions the new coronavirus, we’ve noticed there’s not exactly a glut of alternative news out there. Trade shows are being delayed, factories are being idled, and the whole world seems to be in standby mode as we attempt to stall the spread of COVID-19 following its migration out of China.

Regional quarantines in Asia were already doing a number on supply chains, and it wasn’t long before manufacturers around the world began idling production to further slow the virus’s spread. By the beginning of March, it was becoming quite clear that auto sales would suffer significant impacts as people spent the next several weeks isolated in their own homes. Now, the push is on to assess just how much this whole ordeal will impact an OEM’s bottom line.  (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

It could be argued that a large portion of the Chinese economy has been propped up by government programs, with electric vehicles making one of the best examples. With a vested interest in battery technology, China did everything it could to encourage industry players to focus on EVs while subsidizing their purchase by consumers. The end result was a country with the highest number of alternative-energy vehicles in the world — and more automotive automotive startups than it knew what to do with.

While the plan was always to force accelerated competition by getting new manufacturing firms to duke it out for supremacy, EV sales were also supposed to remain sky high. Yet they didn’t. China’s auto market began running out of steam far earlier than everyone assumed. When the country nixed electric-vehicle subsidies over the summer, the segment went into a tailspin, with every successive month returning negative growth.

China would like to see things turn around, so it’s mulling the prospect of reintroducing incentives to get EVs into more driveways.  (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2020

Dave Pericak, former head of Ford Performance and now responsible for the brand’s icon models, told CNET on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show that evolving environmental regulations have forced the automaker to reassess how it views performance.

“A lot of countries are changing regulations so quickly, and so much, they’re almost forcing the performance products out,” he said.

“Our job is going to be two-fold,” Pericak continued. “One is to figure out how to continue to make performance that will exist in some of these regulated countries, even our own, and how do you do it so it’s a global offering?”

It’s a good question. Environmental regulations have indeed forced automakers to downsize displacement and re-familiarize themselves with turbocharging. Electrification is an option growing in popularity too, with many global automakers tossing battery packs into vehicles of all sizes at no small cost to themselves.  (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2020

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power - Image: Mercedes-Benz

In November, Daimler announced a restructuring plan that called for the elimination of 10,000 jobs, claiming the effort would result in an estimated 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in savings by the end of 2022. Chairman Ola Källenius may just be getting warmed up.

According to German outlet Handelsblatt, sources within the company claim austerity measures will be expanded at Tuesday’s investor conference. Källenius is said to raise the job cut figure to 15,000 while scaling back (or dropping) several side businesses that aren’t turning a profit. As well, the automaker will likely axe a few models that don’t fit in with the core brand’s luxury image, starting with the Nissan Navara Mercedes-Benz X-Class. (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2020

Jaguar Land Rover has decided to stall production at two of its British factories for several weeks. Starting in late February, JLR intends to stop work at both its Castle Bromwich Assembly and Solihull plants until the end of March. The factories won’t be totally inactive for the duration; the manufacturer claims there will be half days intermixed with full-day closures.

Unlike the bulk of plant idlings taking place across the globe (though mostly in China), this has nothing to do with the coronavirus. While the outbreak has begun disrupting supply chains as the PRC attempts to keep the illness in check by barring people inside their homes, JLR said it’s stalling UK production to address falling demand and Brexit complications — the latter of which is beginning to feel like a lame excuse.  (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2020

Despite it only being a little over a month into 2020, Tesla’s stock has already doubled since New Year’s. Share prices surged to over $900 before Tuesday’s trading, leaving many scratching their heads as to how one of the smallest global manufacturers manages to clean up so well on Wall Street.

Seeking answers, Bloomberg looked to industry analysts and executives from rival car manufacturers to better understand Tesla’s mojo — and determine whether all the stock heat is warranted. The gist appears to be that Elon Musk and company are simply running away with battery technology, something that’s difficult to refute. However, some claims that Tesla has surpassed what constitutes an automaker feel overblown and not entirely consistent with reality.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2020

Tesla’s planned factory in Germany could face major delays if the manufacturer doesn’t start construction within the next two months. Brandenburg’s Economy Minister, Joerg Steinbach, recently told German outlet Handelsblatt that the 300-hectare area in Grünheide Tesla set aside is subject to environmental regulations that prohibit interfering with the local wildlife’s breeding habits.

These twitterpated critters are not to be interfered with if the company hasn’t started building by mid-March.

Until then, it’s fair game. Once crews finish clearing the land (and leftover ordnance from World War II), they can finish scaring away the animals. However, if Tesla can’t get all of that done in a couple of months and start construction on the factory, it will be forced to delay the entire project another nine months.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2020

Frankfurt Auto Show 2016

Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), the organizing body of Germany’s International Automobile Exhibition (IAA), has announced it will no longer hold its bi-annual trade show in Frankfurt. Last week, representatives from Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich and Stuttgart met with VDA to present their concepts for IAA 2021.

Frankfurt has already been taken out of the running, with the group saying the event would no longer take place at the Frankfurt am Main trade fair location after “evaluating all relevant criteria.” Despite being home to the show for decades, attendance has waned, encouraging VDA to examine its options.

Other trade events have undertaken similar changes in an effort to promote turnout amid growing public disinterest. Detroit managed to keep the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) from leaving town, shifting its timing from January to June. Officially, this was done to allow more opportunities for manufacturers to set up outdoor displays and on-road vehicle demonstrations.

But simply having it take place at a time when Michigan air isn’t bitingly cold is bound to encourage more people to turn up.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2020

Ralf Speth, the longtime CEO of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is stepping down. Parent company Tata Motors confirmed the move, saying Speth would continue serving as a non-executive vice chairman on the board holding company and advisor to JLR.

At 64, Speth is easing into retirement after having led the company for the last ten years. He’s scheduled to leave his post in September, having spent the brunt of his tenure expanding the company’s global footprint.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons holding company, said a search committee has been formed will work closely with him to identify a suitable successor in the coming months. But news of Speth’s prospective replacement followed closely after the retirement announcement.  (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2020

As part of its planned $740 million campus development project in Detroit’s Corktown, Ford is planning a vehicle testing site behind the once-abandoned Michigan Central Station. The land was already earmarked to serve as home base for the company’s latest mobility projects, so the space will be used for exactly that. However, due to location’s size, it’ll probably be relegated to projects outside the normal automotive scope.

Mary Culler, director of Michigan Central Station’s redevelopment, teased what the site might look like further down the line at the Detroit Policy Conference on Wednesday. The prospective testing ground was clearly shown in a slide during her presentation, located at the site of the station’s old loading area. However, the site isn’t expected to be operational until 2023, as the book depository and station renovations take precedence.  (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2020

We’ve kept light tabs on Harley-Davidson over the past few years, typically to chronicle its downward progress in an effort to make parallels between it and the world’s automakers. Despite having its share of ups and downs throughout its long history, the motorcycle brand finds itself with an impressively loyal customer base willing to pay premium prices for its product.

Unfortunately, its key demographic is quickly aging out of the hobby. In response, the company turned its focus towards younger generations. While Boomers living in America remain H-D’s most important clientele, it’s seeking to branch out into other markets and age brackets. It’s also attempting to rebrand itself to achieve broader appeal without torpedoing the heritage angle that has worked so well for it in the past.

When we last checked in with Harley-Davidson, the company had just delayed its all-electric LiveWire — a bike aimed at helping the brand tap into a new market while broadcasting its ability to gaze ahead into the same vague future automakers are now struggling with. H-D has since released its Q4 earnings for 2019.

The prognosis could be better.  (Read More…)

By on January 29, 2020

In an effort to reduce expenses and lower its headcount, an embattled Nissan is offering buyouts to its U.S. employees.

It’s rumored that Nissan plans to eliminate thousands of white-collar jobs and shutter several global factories as part of its effort to improve the company balance sheet. Going into 2020 weak and not expecting to make any money, the automaker is turning its focus to restructuring for at least the next 24 months.

“To adapt to current business needs and improve efficiencies, Nissan will offer voluntary separation packages to eligible U.S.-based employees,” the company said in a statement.  (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2020

Renault has appointed the former boss of Volkswagen Group’s Seat brand, Luca de Meo, as its new chief executive. Eager to remove former CEO Thierry Bollore and further distance itself from any ties to Carlos Ghosn, the company has been without an official leader since October.

The automaker made an announcement Tuesday, saying that after a selection process led by the Governance and Compensation Committee, the Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Jean-Dominique Senard had settled on de Meo.

Clotilde Delbos, currently serving as interim CEO, will continue to assume her functions until Luca takes office at the beginning of July. Viewed as the most-likely successor since 2019, de Meo was simply waiting out the non-compete clause in his contract with VW. His official hiring still needs approval from Renault shareholders, with the next meeting taking place in April.  (Read More…)

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