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Tesla Posts Q4, Full-Year Loss

Company says Model 3 launching in July, full volume in September.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Tesla's Elon Musk dismissed concerns about possible delays involving the Model 3, which is slated to begin production this summer.

Tesla’s founder and leader Elon Musk dismissed concerns about the much-anticipated launch of its mainstream vehicle, the Model 3, this summer, noting the substantive differences between it and the preceding vehicles.

Musk noted during the maker’s Q4 earnings call, that the Model 3 is a much less complicated vehicle than its predecessors, lacking some of the gee-whiz technology like the self-presenting door handles.

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Additionally, the company has a track record of success, in terms of production, so suppliers are providing the company with their “A-teams,” making for fewer problems and constraints. Finally, he noted that it’s the company’s fourth time through process and the learning curve will reflect that. Read the rest of this entry »

Land Rover Velar to Add Coupe-Like Model to Range Rover Line

New premium ute aimed at the likes of BMW X6.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Land Rover wil show off its new coupe-like SUV, the Velar, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

Land Rover is ramping up its aggressive product proliferation strategy, the British maker set to reveal an all-new coupe-like SUV at the upcoming Geneva Motors Show.

Set to slot in-between the top-line Range Rover and more mainstream Evoque models, the new Range Rover Velar will become the fourth model in Land Rover’s premium line-up. The maker is offering a first teaser image but only a handful of details. It promises to reveal more on March 1st, with the Velar itself set to make its American debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

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“We call the Velar the avant-garde Range Rover,” Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern said in a statement accompanying this teaser image. “It brings a new dimension of glamor modernity and elegance to the brand. The Range Rover Velar changes everything.” Read the rest of this entry »

High-Tech Glitches Remain Long-Term Reliability Issue for Automakers, Says New J.D. Power Report

Lexus, Porsche tie for top spot in annual Vehicle Dependability Study.

by on Feb.22, 2017

New vehicle buyers are craving bigger, better and more interactive infotainment systems; however, they have no patience for systems that don't work.

Car buyers may crave infotainment systems and voice-controlled navigation, but they’ve also become frustrated with technologies that don’t work as promised, according to the latest annual Vehicle Dependability Study, or VDS, from J.D. Power and Associates.

Technical glitches now far outweigh traditional mechanical issues such as balky transmissions, rust and wind noise when it comes to the problems that motorists reported after three years of ownership – and with more cars offering such digital technologies, it was a key reason why complaints actually rose last years, according to the 2017 Power VDS.

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“The increase in technology-related problems has two sources,” Power Vice President Renee Stephens, who oversees U.S. automotive research. “Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Driving Costs Drivers $3 Billion Annually

Road salt and de-icing solutions wreak havoc on a vehicle.

by on Feb.22, 2017

U.S. drivers pay nearly $500 for each vehicle due to the affect of road salt and de-icers. Photo credit: AAA.

Winter storms have created havoc across the U.S. this year, causing travel delays, carnage on the roadways and an expected $3 billion will be spent by drivers to fix rust damage caused by road salt and other de-icing solutions.

According to AAA, drivers spent $15.4 billion during the last five years to repair the damage these answers to snowy and icy roads do to American vehicles. It averages $490 per vehicle.

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In case you believe you are immune this is “phenomenon,” note that more than 150 million vehicles drive on roads affected by winter weather. Read the rest of this entry »

Daimler Building New Plant in Russia; Opens in 2019

Mercedes is the country's top-selling luxury brand.

by on Feb.22, 2017

Daimler is opening a new plant in Russia. The new facility, just north of Moscow, is slated to open in 2019.

Daimler AG plans to establish its first passenger car production in Russia at the Esipovo Industrial Park, about 25 miles northwest of Moscow.

The new plant, which will cost 250 million euros, will be built with a flexible production system capable of building both sport utility vehicles as well as the E-Class Sedan cars when the plant opens in 2019.

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“Russia is of strategic importance for Mercedes-Benz and an attractive growth market. That is why we expand our worldwide production network with a new plant at Esipovo Industrial Park,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeep Sales Likely to Flatten This Year

Retooling in U.S. may cost some sales while China, Brazil expected to be strong.

by on Feb.22, 2017

FCA is moving production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to Illinois as part of its production overhaul.

After a long run up in sales, Jeep sales in the United States will probably be flat or down slightly this years as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. pulls back from sales to rental car fleet and moves through a series of new product launches that require closing key plants for model changes.

However, Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, also said that the Jeep brand could still post a modest sales increase in Europe, China and South America, particularly in Brazil.

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In China, for example, sales of Jeep branded vehicles increased by 131% last years to more than 147,000 vehicles. Manley said he expects another big increase in Jeep sales in China this year since it will have three different vehicles, the Cherokee, the Renegade and the new Compass, available for Chinese customers. Jeep will also have the capacity to build 350,000 units in China and could build more as demand increases. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Money Earners Drive Big Money Vehicles: Like the Rest of Us

Those earning $200K most often drive a Ford F-150, study shows.

by on Feb.21, 2017

The Ford F-150 was the top selling vehicle for buyers making more than $200,000, as it was for all buyers.

The “1%” has been the topic of many discussion during the past several months: who they are, what they do, etc. However, if you’re making more than $200,000 a year, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to what’s in the garage.

Nearly any luxury vehicle would be in your range, and even some supercars … albeit used supercars. So what do people in that economic “class drive” more than any other vehicle? The Ford F-150, according to a new study.

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MaritzCX conducted the study covering the 2016 model year and discovered the F-150, which is already the most popular vehicle in the U.S., was also tops among those earning more than $200,000 a year. Read the rest of this entry »

Honda’s Top American Exec, John Mendel Stepping Down

Jeff Conrad to take his place.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Honda's John Mendel accepted the North American Truck of the Year award this year. Mendel is being replaced by Jeff Conrad.

As part of a series of management changes announced Tuesday, 62-year-old John Mendel will step down as the executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co.’s automotive divisions.

A one-time Ford executive who joined Honda in 2004, Mendel was the highest-ranking U.S. member of the Honda team and given credit for not only delivering a series of record sales for the automaker but also for helping guide it through some potentially serious problems, including the recall of millions of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

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Mendel, well-regarded not only within the company but also by franchised dealers and the automotive media, will be replaced by Jeff Conrad, currently the general manager of the Honda division. In his new role he will, among other things, oversee the high-line Acura division. Read the rest of this entry »

Uber Hires Former US Attorney General Holder for Sex Harassment Investigation

Ride-sharing service facing new boycott threat.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick called for an expedited investigation of sexual harassment charges by a former engineer at the company.

Facing new calls for a boycott in the face of sexual harassment charges, Uber has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an “urgent investigation” of charges leveled against the company by former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti.

Over the weekend, Rigetti posted a blog, titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” alleging a climate at Uber that not only discouraged female engineers but showed no interest in pursuing their complaints and concerns through the corporate human resources department.

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The widely reported post came in the wake of a series of other embarrassing setbacks for Uber, including a brief boycott that resulted in thousands of the service’s users deleting their smartphone apps to protest connections between Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and President Donald Trump. New calls for a boycott, using the #DeleteUber hashtag, have emerged since Rigetti’s post began to go viral. Read the rest of this entry »

Governments Catalyzing Growth of Autonomous Vehicles Globally

Japan, Dubai leading the way to more autonomous vehicle use, testing.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chairs a committee reviewing a proposal that would set 2020 as the target for commercializing automated-driving technology.

The push to develop autonomous cars is increasingly taking on a global hue as activist governments around the world take a hand in making more space for self-driving vehicles.

For example, the Japanese government now aims to have self-driving vehicles provide transport to its rapidly expanding population of senior citizens and others with limited vehicle access by 2020 and is deliberately encouraging development of the self-driving technology to address growing social challenges, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

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Meanwhile, Dubai has cut a deal for autonomous vehicles with Tesla. The country’s transportation authority announced a deal to buy 200 Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs for the city’s huge taxi and limousine fleet, which now number numbers more than 10,000 vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »