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Archive for March, 2017

Daimler Charges Up EV Program: Mercedes to Get 10 Electric Models by 2022

Electrification effort accelerates as luxury maker struggles to meet CO2 targets.

by on Mar.29, 2017

A Mercedes-EQ battery-car prototype.

Daimler AG, the parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, plans to accelerate its battery-electric vehicle program and now plans to have at least 10 BEVs on the market by 2022, about three years ahead of its earlier target.

The move was announced by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche during the automaker’s annual meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, and will require an investment currently estimated at around $11 billion. The decision to speed up the program comes as Daimler’s Mercedes brand struggles to meet strict new European CO2 emissions targets.

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“We attach high priority to responsible mobility across the entire value chain,” said Daimler board member and research chief Ola Kallenius. “We are continuing to systematically promote the issue of sustainability through targeted investments in environmental projects in the development and production of our vehicles.”


U.S. Market the Big Battleground for Toyota, Volkswagen

Japanese maker regains lead in global sales.

by on Mar.29, 2017

Toyota is counting big sales results from the RAV4 in the United States. The maker has regained the global sales lead it lost to Volkswagen last year.

The battle of the titans has taken a new turn this year. After toppling Toyota as the global king-of-the-hill in 2016, Volkswagen is again finding itself back in second place in the global sales sweepstakes this year.

Toyota saw a real surge in global demand during the first two months of the year. On the other hand, VW lost momentum, especially in the massive Chinese market, where it has long been the leader.

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But the real, long-term test could come in the U.S. market where Toyota has been a traditional powerhouse, and VW is still struggling to reverse the significant sales losses it experienced in the wake of the September 2015 revelation that it had rigged more than 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the States. In contrast to global trends, VW is now regaining American momentum while Toyota is the one struggling. (more…)

Ford Recalling Nearly 450K Cars Due to Fire, Latch Problems

Automaker spending $295 million to resolve issues.

by on Mar.29, 2017

The 2014 and 2015 Ford Fiesta ST is being recalled for a coolant problem that could lead to an engine fire.

Ford issued two recalls today affecting nearly 450,000 vehicles and are expected to cost the company $295 million to resolve.

The first of the two involves about 231,000 vehicles equipped with 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engines, which pose a potential fire hazard. The vehicles with these engines include the 2013-2014 Fusion built at the Hermosillo, Mexico, factory, 2014-2015 Fiesta ST, 2014 Escape and the 2013-2015 Transit Connect.

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The problem centers on a coolant problem. After the engine overheats, due to a lack of circulating coolant, the engine block can crack. Oil may leak from the crack and catch on fire. The automaker says there are 29 reports of fires in North America, but no injuries or deaths. (more…)

Is This Concept Toyota’s Answer to the Ford Bronco?

Japanese maker confirms plans to debut FT-4X at New York Auto Show.

by on Mar.29, 2017

Toyota drops a hint of what it has coming at next month's New York International Auto Show.

Rumors have been buzzing since last autumn, when Toyota registered the new trademark, FT-4X. What might that be used for? The initial inklings suggested it would likely show up on a light truck, perhaps the replacement for the old FJ Cruiser, dropped after the 2014 model-year.

The Japanese maker is now confirming a concept using that badge will make its debut at the New York International Auto Show next month, and from the teaser image accompanying that terse announcement, it’s safe to assume the show car will be some form of utility vehicle.

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But what type of ute does Toyota have in mind? A “soft-roader,” ala the RAV4, seems unlikely. The betting would suggest that the new Toyota FJ-4X will be a serious off-roader, perhaps even something opting for a body-on-frame design, that would take aim at the likes of the new Ford Bronco or next-generation Jeep Wrangler.


Mercedes Ready to Unleash the New S-Class

Zetsche says new model will hit the show circuit.

by on Mar.29, 2017

The S-Class sedan is getting an update that will be on display at the New York and Shanghai auto shows.

Mercedes-Benz plans to present an updated version of the S-Class sedan next month during auto shows in New York and Shanghai, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told the company’s shareholders in Berlin.

“Technological paradigm shifts often result in the former top dog of a sector being replaced. But we’ve got everything we need to resist that pattern,” he said.

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“The future offers Daimler a multitude of new opportunities and we will do our utmost to take advantage of them,” said Zetsche, who added the company’s overall strategy calls for boosting new initiatives and well-established advantages. (more…)

Zetsche: Daimler Preparing to Meet Different Challenges

CEO says company's financial strength key to flexibility.

by on Mar.29, 2017

Daimler's Dieter Zetsche said the company is using its financial strength to meet the often contradictory challenges it faces.

Daimler AG continues to use its financial strength to push innovation as it faces the multifaceted challenges that often seem to be pulling the auto industry in opposite directions, the company’s top executive told the company’s shareholders at the automaker’s annual meeting in Berlin.

“We demonstrated once again in 2016: The combination of financial strength and innovativeness is stronger than ever at Daimler,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

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“At the same time, we initiated the biggest transformation in our company history last year,” Zetsche said as Daimler is developing further from a position of strength for the next generation of customers, employees and shareholders. (more…)

GM Squashes Proposal to Split Stock into Two Classes

Investor Einhorn pushing plan at shareholder meeting.

by on Mar.28, 2017

David Einhorn, head of Greenlight Capital, wants GM to split its stock into two classes. He believes the move would nearly double the company's stock price.

General Motors today rejected an investor-proposed plan that called for the automaker to split its common stock into two classes, suggesting the idea could harm the company.

Billionaire investor David Einhorn, who runs Greenlight Capital, suggested that the company common stock into two classes: one that would receive the current dividends and a second that would participate in all earnings and future growth of the company.

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The rejection won’t stop Einhorn, who is one of the world’s best poker players, from submitting his proposal for a vote of the company’s shareholders at GM’s annual meeting later this year. (more…)

Chinese Investment Firm Takes 5% Stake in Tesla

Tesla Autopilot car hits police officer, adding new concerns about autonomous vehicles.

by on Mar.28, 2017

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company needed an infusion of cash, and it got it, from Tencent, which now holds 5% of Tesla stock.

One of China’s largest technology investment firms has taken a 5% stake in the U.S. battery-electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla.

In a public filing, Tencent Holdings said it has purchased nearly 8.2 million shares of Tesla stock. The automaker’s shares have been on a roller-coaster ride in recent months as the company struggled to fund the development of its critical Model 3 battery sedan.

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The automaker’s shares surged on news of the Chinese investment. (more…)

Ford Reveals $1.2B Investment in 3 Michigan Plants

Project in the works for some time, but automaker hails pro-growth environment.

by on Mar.28, 2017

A worker on the line at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant. It will soon be building trucks.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1.2 billion in three Michigan facilities, the automaker announced Tuesday, a move signaled overnight through a tweet from Pres. Donald Trump.

The three projects the package covers will help save and, in some cases add, thousands of jobs in the suburban Detroit region, in line with one of the president’s priorities. But a senior executive from Ford told that all three projects were in the works well before Trump took office – the largest, involving an $850 million assembly plant investment, approved as part of a deal with the United Auto Workers Union in 2015.

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The announcement is “consistent with what we announced previously,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, though he quickly stressed that Ford is “encouraged by the pro-growth approach the administration is trying to follow. We continue to be encouraged by the dialogue.”


Drivers Think Autonomous Vehicles will End Distracted Driving

New study shows drivers need a primer on self-driving vehicles.

by on Mar.28, 2017

A new study shows that drivers believe autonomous vehicles will cut down on distracted driving.

As the theory that is self-driving vehicles moves closer to reality, drivers clearly have mixed feelings on what it means for them; however, a new study shows that most think a major benefit will be substantial reduction in distracted driving.

According to a new survey released by Erie Insurance, 59% of drivers believe automated vehicles will eliminate distracted driving. In fact, 66% of the men firmly believed this while just a little more than half, 52%, of the women felt this way.

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However, those results there reveal that consumers don’t have a clear picture on what the role of the driver is when behind the wheel, or big red button depending upon which automated vehicle is being driven. (more…)