By on November 29, 2021

Nissan Motor Co. has confirmed plans to invest 2 trillion yen ($17.65 billion USD) over the next five years to accelerate its electric vehicle development program. Like most major manufacturers, the automaker wants to launch a bevy of electrified products over the next decade and derive a relevant portion of its income from EVs.

As explained by CEO Makoto Uchida on Monday as part of the “Nissan Ambition 2030,” the plan is to launch 23 new vehicles with some amount of electrification while it attempts to implement solid-state batteries into three concept vehicles that supposedly foreshadow future lineups. These include the battery-electric “Surf-Out” lifestyle pickup, “Max-Out” sports convertible, “Chill-Out” regular car, and “Hang-Out” adventure crossover. Though all three appear to be little more than drafts of vehicles Nissan would eventually like to build, boasting technologies that we’re not sure are feasible. For example, the Hang-Out is featured with a polygonal purple awning that oozes impossibly out of the vehicle’s roof. It lacks realism, which ended up being a central theme of the Nissan Ambition 2030 presentation that was broadcast on Monday(Read More…)

By on November 4, 2021

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Ford Motor Co. has announced a cash tender offer to repurchase up to $5 billion of the company’s high-yield debt in the hopes of rebalancing its budget after needing to borrow so much during the back-to-back-to-back production shutdowns incurred since the start of 2020. The automaker is retiring as much of the $8 billion in bonds the company issued at the start the coronavirus pandemic as it can and will be doing the same for some older bonds issued at similarly high rates (over 8 percent annually).

However this will be used to make room for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives and establish a “sustainable financing framework” the automaker said would be a first for North America. Ford clearly believes social governance investments will become increasingly routine and is attempting to showcase itself as one of the kinder, more forward thinking, and environmentally responsible multinational industrial concerns. Sort of like a fully armed M1 Abrams tank painted with peace symbols and hippie daises. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2021

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Volvo Cars has confirmed months of speculation by announcing that it’s planning to go public on NASDAQ Stockholm. On Monday, the automaker stated that it would be seeking to raise 25 billion Swedish kronor (nearly $2.9 billion USD) via the selling of new shares as a way to fast-track its electrification plans. Those include ensuring half its annual volume being represented by EVs and transitioning the majority of its sales stemming from online orders by 2025.

While the targeted IPO valuation is unknown, prior information coming from Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Volvo’s Chinese parent company) suggested it was aiming for something in the neighborhood of $20 billion. We’ve also learned that the collaboratively owned Polestar would also be going public, except it will be using the always sketchy special-purpose-acquisition-company merger to help pump the stock.  (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2021

The troubled Lordstown Motors has announced it will be selling its Ohio production facility to the Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. But this is not a case of the prospective automaker offloading its assets so it can pay off its debts in full retreat. Instead, Lordstown has asserted this is a necessary partnership that will help guarantee it can still deliver the all-electric Endurance pickup truck.

Terms stipulate that Lordstown Motors will sell the sprawling factory to Foxconn for about $230 million. Two years ago, the site was purchased from General Motors for a very breezy $20 million after the Detroit-based manufacturer decided to abandon the Chevrolet Cruze. Foxconn will also be buying up $50 million worth of common stock and effectively take responsibility for production at Lordstown Assembly. However there is a laundry list of things that need to be done before pickup assembly is even an option.  (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2021

Daimler is getting cozy with Chrysler again, or at least the American side of Stellantis, so they can tackle battery development and production. Those in the know will recall that Chrysler has been passed around more than a bottle of booze at a middle school party. But its long history of partnerships also kept it in business and resulted in some of its better products.

Before the Amero-French merger that resulted in Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was an Italian-American company with facilities dotted around North America. Prior to that, it was known as DaimlerChrysler – resulting in the LX Platform, Pentastar V6, and a wider variety of Jeep Wranglers. Now, Chrysler’s alienated German wife has shown up on the doorstep with a wad of cash and news that she’ll be investing it into the new battery business.  (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2021

On Tuesday, Nissan Motor Co. announced that it would be selling its shares of Daimler AG. The Japanese firm owns about 1.5 percent of Germany’s oldest automaker and the move is something many were predicting after Renault did the same in March.

Nissan’s offloading will mimic its partners and likewise use an accelerated bookbuild offer that basically means dumping shares as quickly as possible with help from an underwriter. Investors were to expect shares to be priced around 69.85 euros apiece, netting the automaker at least $1.2 billion if everything goes smoothly.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2021

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On Tuesday, Ford Motor Co. said it would be putting $185 million toward the construction of a research and development site focused on electric vehicle battery development in southeast Michigan. The facility will be called Ford Ion Park and employ roughly 150 full-time employees that will be focusing on small-scale projects that it hopes might lead to technological breakthroughs offering it a competitive advantage.

While the facility was said to also be capable of manufacturing cells, Ford made it clear during the teleconference that it won’t be operating as a battery plant. Any packs assembled at the R&D center are likely to exist exclusively for evaluation, with the luckiest batteries being installed into concept or test vehicles.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2021

Lotus Cars has announced that the Emira sports car will be its next and final internal combustion model as it prepares itself to become an exclusively electric brand. The historically British manufacturer says its Chinese owners, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, are preparing a cash injection of $2.8 billion to swap to EVs and expand its footprint.

While the present market makes those items feel as though they could conflict with each other, Lotus thinks that the climate will be different a few years from now and plans on going EV only by 2028. In the meantime, the Emira is scheduled to launch in July. (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2021

General Motors backed autonomous vehicle startup Cruise has reportedly scored $2.75 billion from its last round of funding, with Walmart again taking a particular interest in the company. The multinational retail corporation previously participated in a pilot program where Arizona-based shoppers could call upon a Cruise AV to have their groceries delivered. While just one of several autonomous programs Walmart is involved with, the relationship with Cruise must be in fairly good shape to throw that kind of money into a business that seems to have missed more deadlines than it has kept — even if that does seem to be the trend for AV startups.  (Read More…)

By on February 12, 2021

Goldman Sachs is creating a joint venture that will help it capitalize on automotive technology firms while they’re consistently being overvalued on the New York Stock Exchange. Automotive startups have become a hot item, so long as they’re trading on the assumed merits of new technologies, and there’s no shortage of new companies being propped up by established players. The last few years have been a merry-go-round of establishment automakers and financial intuitions investing in startups on the off chance they might have something useful.

Meanwhile, burgeoning electric vehicle companies are using special purpose acquisition firms (aka blank-check companies) to maximize their advantage. Even though some have argued this is being done unfairly, there’s not much accountability in general. The iron could not be more primed for striking if you happen to be one of America’s largest banks.

(Read More…)

By on February 10, 2021

Rivian Automotive is seeking to go public in the fall and targeting a valuation of at least $50 billion, according to the latest reports. The all-electric startup company, supported by Amazon and the Ford Motor Company, has already amassed around $8 million from investors and was valued at $27.6 billion less than a month ago.

While we couldn’t possibly say what it’s actually worth, burgeoning EV manufacturers have performed incredibly well on the stock market lately. Rivian would almost assuredly see its valuation balloon to the targeted sum through an initial public offering. It already has a product line, 3,600 employees spread between the Midwest and California, some serious marketing under its belt, and a relatively strong relationship with a few of the world’s largest companies. We’ve seen more done with far less on Wall Street.  (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2021

General Motors will reportedly be making a $75 million investment into Toledo Transmission later this year. This follows an earlier $39 million investment from GM set aside for the eight-speed rear-wheel-drive transmission, which came as a package deal offering another $32 million for Defiance Casting Operations.  (Read More…)

By on October 8, 2020

With Ford and Unifor having agreed to a new three-year contract last month, Oakville Assembly (which currently manufacturers the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus) is slated to be retooled to manufacturer electric vehicles and their batteries. While the first example wouldn’t roll off the assembly line until 2026, according to the agreement, Canada is excited about the prospect of green jobs. In fact, the Canadian government has committed itself to an ambitious program aimed at boosting electric vehicle sales in order to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

We’re always suspect of central planning, as regulatory changes often have unintended consequences for the associated industries, but need to praise Canada for actually putting some money where its mouth is. Barring a mishap in 2023, the nation has promised to contribute $447 million (split evenly between the Ontario and federal governments) toward Ford’s 1.4-billion program to convert the facility.

(Read More…)

By on October 7, 2020

Mercedes-Benz looks poised to retreat from high-volume compacts. During an online corporate strategy meeting held on Tuesday, Daimler CEO Ola Källenius indicated that the luxury subsidiary may have overextended itself.

“Maybe we went at a bit too far to cover each and every space into each and every segment. Compact particularly comes to mind,” he explained. “This is not where the main thrust should go, we should not become a competitor of the volume makers.”

But the company only has itself to blame for that. Around a quarter of the brand’s annual sales come from compact vehicles and they’ve been taking up a larger share of its product portfolio. Källenius seems to think Mercedes has done enough to broaden its appeal and need to refocus on higher-end vehicles with better margins. “Our [current] strategy is designed to avoid non-core activities,” he said, adding that funds will be prioritized for more profitable products.

“We’re not chasing volume, we’re targeting profitable growth.” (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2020

As the manual transmission gradually joins the wheel-mounted throttle lever in the automotive history trash bin, we’ve been wondering which manufacture would be the next to take a bold stance against be-clutched vehicles. Today we have our answer, thanks to a tweet explaining the brand’s research boss had indicated Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have room for manuals in its current restructuring program.

“The head of @MercedesBenz’s R&D operations, Markus Schaefer, has confirmed the company will ‘eliminate manual transmissions’ as part of cost-cutting initiatives that will also see a ‘substantial reduction in platforms’ and a ‘very dramatic reduction in combustion engines,'” automotive journalist Greg Kable explained via social media on Tuesday.

(Read More…)

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