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Marchionne Out, Manley In as Fiat Chrysler CEO

Questions about health issues blamed for Marchionne’s early departure.

by on Jul.21, 2018

Larger than life: Marchionne outlined a broad 5-year-plan during a day-long June session in Milan.

Nearly a year before his scheduled retirement, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Saturday that CEO Sergio Marchionne will step down, with Jeep and Ram brand boss Michael Manley named to replace him.

Though the 66-year-old Marchionne was known to have undergone surgery this past week for what was reported to be a shoulder problem, his decision to leave FCA so quickly nonetheless took most observers by surprise. According to FCA’s statement, the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” while his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.”

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Word of Marchionne’s departure quickly echoed through the automotive grapevine. Few industry executives have had a higher profile presence in recent decades, and even fewer could be said to have done more to shape a company in his own image as did Marchionne, who rescued the then-bankrupt Chrysler by securing a U.S. government bailout and then merging it with Italy’s Fiat S.p.A.

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Musk Denies a Quarter of Model 3 Orders Were Cancelled – But Reveals New Worry

Order rate, he reveals, has fallen behind increase in production.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk denied claims in a recent analyst report suggesting that nearly a quarter of all Model 3 orders have been cancelled.

Elon Musk has dismissed as “bs” a report that suggested a growing number of advanced reservations for the Model 3 battery-car are being cancelled.

The recent report from investment bank Needham & Co. isn’t the first to raise that prospect, which could make it difficult for Tesla to achieve its promised profit for the second half of 2018. Needham’s Rajvindra Gill joined a growing chorus of analysts this week in downgrading Tesla shares, triggering another dip in the stock, traded as TSLA.

“Dunno where this bs is coming from,” CEO Musk said in a Thursday night tweet – but by trying to support the idea that there’s still strong demand for the Model 3, the South African-born executive actually may have sent a signal that Tesla is facing longer-term problems. Musk indicated Tesla received 5,000 orders for the Model 3 last week, but that’s actually less than the production target for the battery-car in the months to come.

The Last Word!

According to a report Needham issued Thursday, 24% of the estimated 400,000 original Model 3 reservations have been cancelled. That’s slightly higher than the 20% figure reported by data tracking site SecondMeasure in June. Each reservation is accompanied by a $1,000 deposit, so, if Needham is right, Tesla has had to refund more than $100 million and risk the loss of perhaps $4 billion or more in sales.

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Wahlberg Jumps into Auto Business, Buys Chevy Dealership

Actor and entrepreneur expands his business holdings.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Actor Mark Wahlberg is adding a Chevrolet dealership in Ohio to his growing business empire.

There is a new Chevrolet dealer in Columbus, Ohio who has the potential to produce some of the best new car ads ever: Mark Wahlberg.

The man who hyped Calvin Klein underwear as a young rapper has since become a top-grossing actor with a burgeoning business empire anchored by the famous Wahlburger restaurant franchise.

Celebrity News!

Wahlberg is partnering with Michigan-based dealer Jay Feldman, who owns eight Chevy dealerships in southeast and mid-Michigan, according to Associated Press. They say they’ve been friends for several years and became partners in Wahlburgers restaurants in Cleveland and Georgia.

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Click & Clack Join #1 US Auto Retailer, Canadian Supplier Chief and Toyota Motor Founder in Auto Hall of Fame

“What are we doing here?”

by on Jul.20, 2018

Car Talk hosts and brothers Ray and Tom Magliozzi had a special relationship that won over fans.

A pair of MIT graduates who preferred getting their hands dirty working on cars became perhaps the most unlikely new members of the Automotive Hall of Fame when Tom and Ray Magliozzi — otherwise known as the “Click” and “Clack,” the hosts of the NPR show Car Talk — were honored at a black tie gala on Thursday night.

The event also saw the induction of Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota Motor Corp., Frank Stronach, the Austrian émigré who founded the Canadian-based mega-supplier Magna, and Mike Jackson, the Philadelphia “street kid” who has transformed AutoNation into the country’s largest automotive retailer.

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The induction ceremony, which drew the largest crowd ever for an AHF ceremony, had quite a few odd moments. Ray Magliozzi, the younger of the two Car Talk brothers, wondered, “What are we doing here?” And Stronach, challenged the hall full of automotive executives to share more of their profits with workers as part of what he called the “Fair Enterprise System.” Not to be outdone, Akio Toyoda, Kiichiro’s grandson and current Toyota CEO, starred in a video in which he time-travelled back to talk to his grandfather.

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All BMW M Models to be Electric by 2030

"It should still drive like an M."

by on Jul.20, 2018

Don't be surprised to see next-generation BMW M models adopt hybrid or even all-electric drive technology, the brand's chief said.

If anyone still has doubts about the expanding role of battery powertrain technology in the luxury car market, comments from Frank Van Meel, the head of BMW’s vaunted M brand, should put them to rest.

During a media event in Spain, Van Meel told a group of Australian journalists that “all M vehicles wil be electrified by the end of the next decade,” a shift that will include a mix of hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

Electrifying!

If the comments, first published by CarAdvice, are accurate, it puts BMW M in line with what we’re seeing from a number of other high-line automakers and, more notably, with what high-performance brands are planning. All future Maserati and Alfa Romeo models, for example, will be offered with some form of electrified option and Alfa’s reborn 8C supercar will use a plug-in hybrid all-wheel-drive system to punch out over 700 horsepower.

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Automakers Warn Trump Administration About Tariff Impact

Proposed tariffs could add $6,000 to price of a new car.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the Section 232 investigation into whether or not imported automobiles and parts represent a threat to the U.S.

During the U.S. Department of Commerce’s public comment hearing today, the Trump administration was warned the steep tariffs it has under consideration could add a total of $83 billion to the cost of new vehicles sold to American consumers.

“Higher auto tariffs will harm American families and workers, along with the economy” and “would raise the price of an imported car nearly $6,000 and the price of a U.S.-built car $2,000,” the Auto Alliance said in a statement prepared for the hearing.

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Meanwhile, dozens of employees from Toyota’s 10 U.S. assembly plants descended on Washington D.C., to oppose the government’s threat to impose a 25% tariff on imported vehicles and parts. They were joined by U.S. production workers from other international automakers across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Audi’s Stadler Wants Out of Jail During Diesel Investigation

Former CEO goes to appeals court.

by on Jul.19, 2018

German prosecutors arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, though no charges have yet been filed.

A month ago, German authorities jailed then-Audi CEO Rupert Stadler as part of an investigation into the diesel emissions scandal — now he wants out.

Stadler, who is being held at a prison in Augsburg, appealed to a Munich court to be freed from jail during the investigation. He was “provisionally” arrested in mid-June as authorities expanded their investigation into Volkswagen AG and its other brands because they feared he may flee.

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However, Stadler cooperated with investigators, but has since stopped giving statements, the Reuters reported. Munich prosecutors are probing Stadler and another member of Audi’s top management for suspected fraud and false advertising tied to illegal pollution levels in its cars and manipulated vehicle tests.  Read the rest of this entry »

Colorado Jumps on Path to Match California’s Zero Emission Mandate

Hickenlooper signs executive order to implement LEV standard.

by on Jul.19, 2018

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's recent executive order put the state on the track to match California's ZEV mandate.

Colorado, thanks to an executive order by the state’s Democratic governor, is on the path to becoming a ZEV state, joining California and nine other states that are using their authority to push cleaner and more efficient vehicles.

First, he wants the state to adopt California’s rules for becoming a low-emission vehicle state by the end of this year. This is in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to weaken emissions requirements.

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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) manages the ZEV program, although it has also been adopted by Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia and now Colorado. Three other states, Washington, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have adopted similar rules. Read the rest of this entry »

Volvo Moves XC60 Production to Europe from China to Avoid Trump Tariffs

Automaker reports record first-half sales, profits.

by on Jul.19, 2018

Volvo chief Hakan Samuelsson said the company is shifting production of XC60 SUVs allocated for the U.S. from China to Sweden to avoid tariffs.

The effects of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on China are beginning to take shape — and it’s unlikely he’d hoped for this result.

Volvo Cars, which just opened a new plant in South Carolina, announced it would be shifting production of its XC60 SUV from China to … Europe. The move is to avoid the tougher tariffs currently in place on Chinese imports.

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Trump has been pushing foreign automakers to build more vehicles in the U.S., and Volvo’s new plant in Charleston will build the S60 sedan, later adding a SUV to the list, but that won’t be until 2021. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodge Debuts 10,000+ HP Hellcat

New NHRA Funny Car to make its first race this weekend.

by on Jul.19, 2018

The new Dodge Funny Car aims to pick up design cues from the Charger SRT Hellcat.

While Dodge may have pulled the Demon out of production, it isn’t easing up its assault in the horsepower wars. In fact, it’s got a new Hellcat that it expects will churn out more than 10,000 horsepower when it makes its official debut this coming weekend.

Unlike the Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon, however, there has been no pretense at making the 2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car street legal. It’s designed to dominate the quarter-mile adding to the 50 wins and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship the previous Dodge Charger Funny Car racked up.

Track News!

“The Dodge//SRT brand is all about performance, and the introduction of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car body showcases our commitment to performance and excellence at the dragstrip,” said Steve Beahm, who heads up North American passenger car brands, including Dodge, for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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