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Archive for January, 2017

President Trump Jumps on NAFTA Before Inaugural Speech Ends

Commander-in-chief backing up campaign promise on NAFTA.

by on Jan.20, 2017

President Donald Trump didn't waste any time jumping into governing, issuing a call to renegotiate NAFTA before his inaugural speech ended.

It didn’t take long for President Donald Trump to move from words to actions. As he was delivering his inaugural address, the White House issued statements saying Trump is pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and would take immediate steps to renegotiate NAFTA.

“With a lifetime of negotiating experience, the President understands how critical it is to put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade,” the White House said in a release.

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“With tough and fair agreements, international trade can be used to grow our economy, return millions of jobs to America’s shores and revitalize our nation’s suffering communities.” (more…)

Fuel-Cell Vehicles Need More Time, Says Toyota Chairman

Infrastructure needs more time.

by on Jan.20, 2017

A Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle.

Fuel-cell vehicles will take longer to popularize than other recent green car technologies, such as hybrids, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. said during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Japanese automaker has been an active proponent of hydrogen power, last year launching in the U.S. its first retail fuel-cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai. There are now two other FCVs on the market, including the Honda Clarity and a version of the Hyundai Tucson, with several other automakers expected to bring their own models to market over the next several years.

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But while public acceptance of the original hybrid-electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius, was “much faster than we had anticipated,” Takeshi Uchiyamada told a reporter for Bloomberg news, that’s not likely to happen with vehicles like the Mirai, the chairman said, because “the infrastructure needs to be prepared before it becomes major in the market.”

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With Obama in the Driver’s Seat, Automakers Set Records – But Still Faced Challenges

"A good time for the auto industry.”

by on Jan.20, 2017

President Barack Obama's legacy as it relates to the auto industry will be largely considered positive, according to analysts.

As the new Trump Administration takes shape, auto industry leaders will be watching closely to see how it handles a wide range of issues, from fuel economy regulations to tariffs and trade. They’ll also be taking stock of what happened during the eight years when President Barack Obama was in the driver’s seat.

Few presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during the Great Depression, have been in power during a time of such mammoth change for this powerhouse industry. When he first entered the White House in January 2009, all three domestic automakers seemed ready to fail – two ultimately filing for bankruptcy before receiving massive bailouts. Today, the industry is, on the whole, turning record profits.

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Obama’s tenure coincided with monumental transformation in an industry that, at one point directly or indirectly employed one in seven Americans. And, observers contend, many of those changes will continue to play out during the years and decades to come, including the emergence of autonomous vehicles and the rise of ride- and car-sharing. (more…)

Uber Agrees to Pay “Duped” Drivers

Settlement covers lower earnings, higher costs.

by on Jan.20, 2017

The recruitment page on Uber's website.

Uber has agreed to pay $20 million to drivers who claim they received less pay but faced higher costs after being recruited by the ride-sharing service.

The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission is the latest in a series of legal battles for San Francisco-based Uber Technologies, the company last month ending an autonomous vehicle test project in its home town after a run-in with California over its refusal to get the necessary permits.

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The FTC settlement centers around a recruitment effort by Uber which, driver’s alleged, had promised them high pay for their services. But the government determined that only a small number of drivers operating in 18 major cities earned what the ride-sharing service had published online. It also determined that drivers were paying higher-than-promised fees to lease the vehicles they drove.

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GM Plans to Launch 18 New Models in China in 2017

Automaker leaning toward green vehicles.

by on Jan.20, 2017

GM plans to introduce 18 new vehicles into the Chinese market this year. The automaker set a sales record in China last year.

After setting a sales record in 2016, General Motors China plans to launch 18 new and refreshed models this year to achieve continued growth in what is now company’s largest retail market.

Half of the models to be introduced in 2017 under the Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands will be SUVs or MPVs, GM executives said. The products are expected to build on GM’s 2016 sales record of 3.87 million vehicles.

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“2017 will be an even better year for General Motors in China,” said GM Executive Vice President and President of GM China Matt Tsien. “We will continue to create safer, simpler and better ways for customers to move about productively and enjoyably.’’ (more…)

Thirteen Automakers Issue New Round of Takata Airbag Recalls

More than 652,000 vehicles involved in latest action.

by on Jan.19, 2017

Thirteen automakers issued recalls for 652,000 more vehicles with defective Takata airbags.

More than a dozen automakers are engaging in another round of recalls involving faulty Takata airbag inflators impacting more than 652,000 vehicles in the U.S.

The largest recall in U.S. history continued when Audi, Nissan, Jaguar-Land Rover, Subaru, Daimler Vans, Tesla, Mitsubishi, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Mazda, McLaren and Fisker issued recalls for front passenger inflators.

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Takata’s inflators degrade over time and can explode with too much force sending pieces of metal shrapnel flying into the vehicle cabin. More than a dozen people have been killed as a result with hundreds more injured. (more…)

Tesla Autopilot Cleared by Feds

But investigators will continue monitoring system – and fault name, Autopilot.

by on Jan.19, 2017

Federal investigators cleared Tesla and its Autopilot system of any safety defects that may have caused this fatal crash in Florida last year.

Federal safety regulators have determined there is no known safety defect with Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system, wrapping up an investigation that was launched after a fatal Florida crash last May that resulted in the death of a former Navy SEAL.

A handful of other crashes were tentatively linked to the technology, though the battery-carmaker strongly disputed those claims. With Autopilot considered one of the key selling attributes for Tesla products like the Model S and upcoming Model 3, getting the all-clear from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was a significant development for the automaker.

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In a Twitter post, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk declared the wrap-up of the investigation was “very positive,” Tesla following up with a statement that said “the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA’s report and its conclusion.” (more…)

China’s BYD Again Outlines Plans to Enter U.S. Market

But it - and other Chinese makers - could hit the great wall of Trump.

by on Jan.19, 2017

The BYD F3 could be one of the first products the Chinese maker brings to the U.S.

Even with an incoming president threatening to erect stiff trade barriers on automotive products, China’s BYD says it wants to start selling automobiles in the U.S. market within two to three years.

Though it already has an American corporate office near downtown Los Angeles, the battery-electric automaker has repeatedly delayed its entry into the U.S. But with their home market expected to continue slowing after a weak 2016, a growing number of Chinese makers are looking at the U.S. as a source of growth. Guangzhou-based GAC Motor outlined its own plans during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week.

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Saying its product plans could be “adjusted” to American needs, Li Yunfei, deputy general manager of BYD Co Ltd., said during a Beijing event that it wants to enter the U.S. in “roughly two to three years.” (more…)

VW’s Ex-CEO Winterkorn Under the Microscope

Denies hiding diesel scandal from investors.

by on Jan.19, 2017

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn remains a target of investigators in Germany.

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn testified that he had no advance warning of the company’s diesel emissions cheating despite some concerns he intentionally misled VW investors before the scandal broke wide open in September 2015.

Winterkorn has been under a cloud of suspicion in recent months as prosecutors in both Germany and the U.S. have dug ever deeper into VW’s rigging of diesel emissions tests. As part of a $4.3 billion settlement between the company and the U.S. Justice Department announced last week, six VW employees were indicted for their alleged role in coming up with the so-called “defeat devices” used in the automaker’s 2.0- and 3.0-liter engines. Now, the focus turns to whether top management tried to conceal what they knew.

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“As CEO I took political responsibility,” the 69-year-old Winterkorn said during a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday, adding that, “this step was the most difficult of my life.”

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Trump EPA Pick Eyes Taking Power from California

Pruitt believes in states' rights, except California.

by on Jan.19, 2017

Scott Pruitt, Trump's choice to head the EPA, believes the agency has overstepped its authority.

The Trump Administration’s choice to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the stark difference between his expected approach to issues involving automakers, if confirmed, and those of previous administrations during his Senate confirmation testimony.

Scott Pruitt, the former oil industry lawyer and Oklahoma Attorney General, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the EPA, told a Senate committee he was a fervent believer in a “states’ rights” approach to environmental regulation and controls.

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However, at the same time Pruitt said that he planned to review the State of California’s right to set its own air quality regulations. (more…)