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Archive for April, 2017

Ford Profits Slide 35% on Recalls, Sluggish Sales

Number 2 Detroit maker also boosts investments in trucks.

by on Apr.27, 2017

The surge in SUV demand drove up prices but Ford still saw overall sales dip in the U.S. and China.

A flurry of headwinds put the drag on Ford Motor Co. earnings during the first quarter of 2017, the numbers dropping 35% to $1.6 billion.

It didn’t help that Ford’s latest numbers are being compared to the best quarterly earnings in company history, the $2.2 billion profit the Detroit maker delivered between January and March 2016. On the upside, Ford’s $0.40 earnings per share and $36.5 billion in total revenues did manage to beat Wall Street $0.35 earnings estimate, according to a poll of analysts by FactSet.

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Among the challenges Ford faced this time around: declining sales, increased recall costs, as well as rising prices for steel and other raw materials. There was also some hefty spending to retool operations like the Michigan Assembly Plant to produce more of the trucks Ford needs in today’s SUV and pickup-centric market, something the maker’s CEO Mark Fields declared “an investment in Ford’s future.”

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Daimler Profits Double in First Quarter 2017

Mercedes-Benz record sales lead to impressive results.

by on Apr.27, 2017

Daimler's Dieter Zetsche said the company rode strong sales from Mercedes-Benz to strong profits in the first quarter.

Record sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans helped Daimler AG double its profits during the first quarter.

“A very successful quarter lies behind us,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, adding the company continues to implement its strategy for sustainable growth.

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“Ahead of us, we have a variety of opportunities for further profitable growth. We do have the right products to take advantage of these opportunities – and the financial strength to make the necessary investments. The latest example: our new S-class. Daimler remains in the fast lane,” Zetsche said. (more…)

FCA Beats Quarterly Earnings Expectations

Company overcomes slow start in North America

by on Apr.26, 2017

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne touted the company's improved margins. He also suggested the company may add more autonomous tech suppliers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. delivered better-than-expected financials results for the first quarter of the year, including an 11% jump in adjusted earnings to 1.54 billion euros, slightly higher than the predicted 1.4 billion euros.

The company beat expectations despite a slow start to the year in North America where FCA has pulled back on sales to rental fleets and started remodeling manufacturing plants to build more trucks and sport utility vehicles.

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Sergio Marchionne, FCA chief executive, noted the entire company’s margins were up 30 basis points to 5.5% and despite the ongoing changes in North America, the NAFTA region climbed to 7.3% thanks to strong sales of Jeeps and sport-utility vehicles.   (more…)

Daimler Cautions it Could Be Target for Diesel Penalties and Recalls

Warning comes days after court approves $2.8b VW diesel fine.

by on Apr.26, 2017

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec is one a number of different Daimler diesels.

Daimler AG is finding itself in the crosshairs and wondering whether it could be the next target in a crackdown on diesel emissions scams.

The automaker today issued an advisory that it could face penalties, which could mean fines and recalls, as regulators in the U.S. and abroad look to see if the German luxury maker violated rules covering its various diesel models. Authorities have been taking a close look at claims made by a number of manufacturers in the wake of revelations that Volkswagen used a so-called “defeat device” to illegally pass U.S. diesel emissions tests.

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“In light of the ongoing governmental information requests, inquiries and investigations, and our own internal investigation, it cannot be ruled out that the authorities might reach the conclusion that Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles have similar functionalities,” Daimler said in its newly released quarterly report.

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BMW Wants to Combine Solar and Hydrogen Power

Overcoming hydrogen's dirty little secret.

by on Apr.26, 2017

At Hannover, BMW is displaying a 5-Series GT fuel cell model that, it boasts fast refueling times and an ability to cover long distances unlike many battery-electrics.

While fuel-cells are often billed as the most environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine, there is a dark side to hydrogen power – one that BMW says it hopes to address.

Fuel-cells combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce a stream of current that can run a vehicle’s electric motors. The only exhaust is water vapor. But the issue is where that hydrogen comes from. In most cases, it is produced by breaking down fossil fuels like petroleum or natural gas, a process that creates carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

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At the 2017 Hannover Trade Fair, however, BMW is looking at ways to make fuel-cells even cleaner, by producing hydrogen through solar-powered electrolysis, a process that breaks water down into two parts hydrogen, one part water. (more…)

Jaguar Adding New Wagon…er…Sportbrake to Line-up

XF Sportbrake due in American showrooms for the first time.

by on Apr.26, 2017

An aerial view of the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake.

A rose by any other name? For most American motorists, the word, “wagon” carries with it a whiff of rotten eggs. So, most manufacturers either avoid the two-box body style entirely or hope to find a more pleasing alternative, such as Jaguar’s “Sportbrake.”

We’re getting a look at the next wagon, er, Sportbrake to come from the British automaker in a teaser released this week. It gives us an overhead image of the new model, as well as an outline painted onto the main court at the tennis mecca of Wimbledon.

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Whatever you wish to call it, expected to see the new Jaguar XF Sportbrake join the maker’s line-up in Europe a few months from now. And for those Americans who love a wagon, whatever it’s called, it’ll finally make its way to U.S. dealerships as well, this time around.

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Consumer Reports Takes Another Swipe at Tesla Model S

Electric sedan downgraded over lack of emergency auto-braking.

by on Apr.26, 2017

Tesla says its Model S has standard Emergency Auto Braking, but it isn't active on some vehicles.

The influential Consumer Reports magazine has again downgraded Tesla’s Model S sedan, this time due to a lack of an important safety feature that was supposed to be included as standard equipment.

CR has downgraded Tesla products on several occasions, though past moves focused on quality concerns. This time, the magazine said, the Model S produced over the last six months did not have a working emergency auto-braking, or AEB, system, apparently because of a problem with software that was supposed to control an updated version of the AEB hardware introduced in October 2016.

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It’s the latest in a series of problems involving Tesla’s high-tech safety technology. Last week, Tesla was hit with a lawsuit claiming that its optional, semi-autonomous Autopilot system is “unusable and demonstrably dangerous.” Days later, the battery-carmaker announced a recall covering a parking brake problem affecting 53,000 vehicles.

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New Vehicle Sales Expected to Slide in April

Sales roller coaster continues to provide chills and thrills.

by on Apr.26, 2017

New vehicle sales are expected to drop at least 2% in April, according to several analysts.

Sales of new vehicles are expected to drop in April by between 2% and 3% year-over-year despite steadily rising incentives, according to estimates by Kelly Blue Book and J.D. Power, fueling concerns that the industry is facing a broad decline in 2017.

“After a weaker-than-expected March, it’s becoming more likely that 2017 will be the first down year for the industry since 2009,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Kelley Blue Book expects April to continue this downward trend, however, the SAAR should bounce back to approximately 17.1 million as a result of one less selling day.

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“Beyond April, we will continue to closely monitor still high levels of inventory and elevated incentive spending by manufacturers, both of which are signs of overproduction following last year’s sales peak,” he added in his new analysis of industry sales trends. (more…)

Hyundai Closes Potential Opening for Hackers

Experts discover Blue Link shortcoming.

by on Apr.25, 2017

Hyundai's BlueLink service can be accessed through a smartphone or smart watch — and by hackers until last month's security software update.

Hyundai’s latest attempt to expand its technological appeal could have ended up becoming a costly snafu for owners and the company.

Last December, the South Korean automaker unveiled a new app for its Blue Link system permitting car owners to start their vehicles remotely, a la General Motors and several other automakers. However, Hyundai unwittingly left an opening in the software that left it susceptible to hackers.

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The issue, which was resolved in March, allowed potential car thieves to locate vehicles with the new upgrade, unlock and start them, putting them in a position to be stolen, according to Reuters. (more…)

Uber Hopes to Elevate Riders with Flying Taxis

“Push a button, get a flight.”

by on Apr.25, 2017

An artist's rendering shows an Uber Elevates VTOL approaching Dallas.

It looks like ride-sharing service Uber is about to take off – quite literally.

Already running tests on a network of autonomous vehicles, Uber now wants to launch a flying taxi service. At a summit meeting in Dallas, Uber officials revealed plans to begin test flights by 2020 in Dallas and Dubai for what the company plans to call Uber Elevate.

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“Urban aviation is a natural next step for Uber,” chief product officer Jeff Holden said ahead of the opening of the three-day Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas. “That’s why we’re working to make ‘Push a button, get a flight’ a reality.”

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