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Archive for December, 2016

Supplier CEO Suggests EVs May Hurt Automotive Jobs

Conti boss says that some losses will be offset by new positions.

by on Dec.30, 2016

As companies like VW focus more resources on EVs, it will cost some folks their jobs working on combustion-powered vehicles.

Many automakers have been pushing to make big strides in their electric vehicle programs and no automaker has been more successful to this point with EVs than Tesla.

There are plenty of upsides to electric vehicles, but they have their sticking points: limited range and, in some cases, charging times that make them impractical for day-to-day use. However, there is another side to EVs that can also be detrimental that is coming to light.

Industry News!

As many automakers are bolstering the EV operations, especially Volkswagen AG, which points out it expects to have 30 new EVs out in the marketplace be 2025, some believe the move will transform the industry. That transformation make come with a cost. (more…)

Faraday Future Coming Unplugged?

Top execs leaving, lawsuits mounting, work on assembly plant halted.

by on Dec.30, 2016

Faraday Future plans to go full speed ahead with its new sport-ute concept, which it will show at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show.

Faraday Future, start-up battery-carmaker, was hoping to make some big news next week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show – but the story may be quite a bit different than the California-based company had intended.

The CES event is still expected to take place, with Faraday planning to reveal its first production model. But the splashy media event could be hijacked by other issues that raise serious questions about the start-up’s long-term viability.

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The latest setback comes with word that Ding Lei, the unofficial CEO for Faraday, has left his post. He is one of a growing list of executives who have been heading for the exit in recent months. Exactly why the exodus is unclear, but Faraday’s financial fortunes appear to be crumbling. The company recently halted work on its $1 billion Las Vegas assembly plant and has now been sued for failing to deliver payments due to a key contractor on the plant project. (more…)

Connected Car Industry Expected to Exceed $130B Annually by 2019

Drivers pushing for real-time navigation information.

by on Dec.30, 2016

The technology behind navigation systems providing real-time traffic data will grow to a $131.9 billion business by 2019.

The global connected car market is expected to grow into a $131.9 billion industry by 2019. It will be a separate business, but it will be linked to the auto industry, according to a new report.

The report from Transparency Market Research report, titled “Connected Car Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2013 – 2019,” was reinforced by news from GM China that Shanghai Onstar has more than 1 million customers new across China.

Technology News!

The entry of technology companies, such as Sierra Wireless, Gemalto, Verizon Communications and Microsoft, has intensified the competition in the global connected car market where companies such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., BMW AG, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co. have staked out positions. (more…)

Infiniti Unveiling QX50 “Concept” at NAIAS

New CUV loads up the tech, including new AutoPilot and variable-compression engine.

by on Dec.30, 2016

The Infiniti QX50 Concept will reappear in 2017 -- largely unchanged -- in production trim.

It may be called a “concept,” but what you’ll see when the Infiniti QX50 debuts at the North American International Auto Show is darned close to what you’ll be getting in showrooms next year.

Heavily influenced by the earlier Infiniti Sport Inspiration Concept, the crossover coming to Detroit in little more than a week is meant to strike a “perfect balance between lust and logic,” according to the luxury marque’s chief designer, Alfonso Albaisa.

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But the Infiniti QX50 Concept is more than just a styling exercise. It will introduce a variety of significant technical innovations, including the breakthrough variable-compression engine developed by parent Nissan, as well as Infiniti’s next-generation steer-by-wire system and near-autonomous driving capabilities.


Autonomous Cars, Battery Vehicles and Record Sales: a Look at 2016’s Top Auto Stories

Industry at “an inflection point.”

by on Dec.29, 2016

Ford's next-generation autonomous Fusion prototype. Self-driving cars were a hot story in 2016.

Barring an unexpected, December surprise, 2016 will go out like a lion for the U.S. auto industry, automakers collectively racking up their third consecutive year of record sales. That’s an all the more massive achievement considering the decade began with the worst downturn the U.S. car market had suffered since the Great Depression.

What’s ahead for the industry is far from certain, demand showing signs of losing momentum in recent months. But what’s clear is that 2016 will not only go down in the record book from a sales perspective but that the year could be seen as marking a series of major transitions – “an inflection point,” in the words of John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, Google’s recently renamed autonomous vehicle subsidiary.

The Last Word!

What was once the stuff of science fiction began shifting into everyday reality this past year, with hundreds of self-driving vehicle prototypes taking to public roads across the country – some even being used as part of ride-sharing pilot programs in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.


Seat Latches Prone to Fail, Honda Recalling Nearly 650,000 Minivans

New Honda Ridgeline pickup also targeted for wire harness problem.

by on Dec.29, 2016

The 2016 Honda Odyssey.

Honda seems well positioned to end the year, yet again, as the leader in the U.S. minivan market – even as it gets ready to reveal an all-new version of the popular Odyssey people-mover at next month’s North American International Auto Show.

But the Japanese maker is facing a big recall of the outgoing Odyssey. Make that recalls, plural. All told, nearly 650,000 of the vehicles are being targeted for safety-related problems. Meanwhile, Honda also says it will recall nearly 10,000 of its new 2017 Ridgeline pickup to repair another defect.

Safety News!

The biggest problem involves Honda Odyssey minivans sold during the 2011 to 2016 model years because the outboard seat latches can fail. That could lead to serious injuries if the seats fail to lock in place during a crash.


Toyota Likely to Lose Global Sales Crown

VW in position to take the lead despite diesel woes.

by on Dec.29, 2016

Despite its diesel woes, VW should nab the global sales lead for 2016 from Toyota.

When the final 2016 numbers are totaled next month, Volkswagen AG seems well-positioned to topple the automotive king-of-the-hill, replacing Japan’s Toyota Motor Co. as the world’s best-selling automaker, according to year-to-date sales figures and preliminary estimates for December.

Toyota has been the world’s largest automaker, in terms of sales, for the past four years, and five out of the last six – briefly losing its crown to General Motors following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

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For the first 11 months of this year, it has lagged behind VW and, “Unless Toyota has a remarkable December, it will lose its No. 1 status,” the Japan Times observed this week.


Justice Department Set to Smack Takata With $1B Fine

New fine was impact recall efforts.

by on Dec.29, 2016

Takata appears to be ready to accept a $1 billion settlement on criminal charges from the Department of Justice.

Takata may be moving to close another chapter in its troubled history with defective airbags by agreeing to a $1 billion criminal settlement.

The deal with the Justice Department, according to the Wall Street Journal, would not halt the ongoing recall efforts. The Japanese supplier is expected to plead guilty to a variety of charges as part of the deal.

Global Auto News!

It is part of the largest automotive recall in history, involving about 42 million vehicles and more than 64 million faulty airbags. (more…)

Tesla Reaches New Deal with Panasonic

Musk hints at higher kW superchargers coming soon.

by on Dec.28, 2016

Tesla owners can now be charged an "idling fee" if they leave their vehicle in a charging stall after its fully charged.

As Tesla charges ahead with construction of its Gigafactory in the Nevada desert, it got a bit of welcome news: Panasonic Corp. is investing $256 million into its production facility.

However, it’s the plant in Buffalo, New York, where Tesla makes photovoltaic cells and modules, not the Gigafactory. The investment isn’t much of a surprise really as the two companies have been partners for years, including in the factory just outside of Reno.

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In this case, the California-based company is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic as part of the deal, in addition to providing factory space and infrastructure. (more…)

Analysts Lower Ratings on GM, FCA

Falling sales, rising incentives and oil prices dim view on makers.

by on Dec.28, 2016

Despite the introduction of new products and development on others like the autonomous Bolt with GM CEO Mary Barra, analysts cut GM's rating.

With sales peaking, incentives climbing, oil prices rising and production cuts coming, 2017 is already shaping up as challenging year for the global auto industry.

Some analysts have begun to scale back their outlook for the coming year, predicting that sales of new vehicles will decline as the boom that characterized 2015 and 2016 begins to fade.

By the Numbers!

The notion automakers are heading for difficulties was reinforced this week as Zacks Investment Research reduced its ratings on two the prime beneficiaries of the auto boom that got rolling back in 2010, General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (more…)