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Archive for November, 2017

Is Ford Ready to Drive Out of South America?

J.P. Morgan reports Ford execs considering alternatives to stanch “unacceptable losses.”

by on Nov.22, 2017

Ford CEO Jim Hackett continues examine the company's operations, including a potential exit from all or part of South America.

Stung by heavy, ongoing losses that seem to have no end in sight, Ford Motor Co. reportedly is looking at options that could include “selective exits” from emerging markets, notably South America.

Such a move would echo the strategy taken by General Motors since Mary Barra came aboard as CEO nearly four years ago, the automaker pulling out of markets including Russia and India. Since assuming the chief executive post at Ford in May, Jim Hackett has promised to rethink the automaker’s entire strategy, leaving open the prospect of some radical moves.

Industry News!

Among the options, Ford leadership is considering, “an out-of-the-box transformational plan to stanch what it deems as unacceptable losses in South America which we expect could be announced over the short-term. Ford is evaluating strategies in relation to doing business in emerging markets overall,” J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note to investors. “It could also entail selective exits from certain markets.” (more…)

Record Numbers of Drivers Hitting the Holiday Trail

More than 45 million folks on the road this weekend.

by on Nov.22, 2017

Drivers are expected to hit the roads in record numbers this Thanksgiving weekend.

If driving is part of your Thanksgiving plans, you won’t be alone. In fact, you’ll be part of an expected record number of Americans piling into the family car, sport-ute or minivan heading off on your holiday adventure.

AAA predicts that 50.9 million Americans will travel over the holiday, a 3.3% increase over last year and the highest total since 2005. The group claims a growing economy and low unemployment are the motivators for getting on the road for the long-weekend holiday.

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The vast majority of travelers — more than 45 million — will travel by car between now and Sunday, according to AAA, while about 4 million will fly, a 5% increase.  (more…)

Want a Black Friday Deal? Go to a Dealership, Not a Mall

Save thousands instead of hundreds and sleep in!

by on Nov.22, 2017

Automakers are looking to get your money into the pockets of dealers rather than retails at the mall on Black Friday.

If you’ve watched television in the last two weeks, you know that some shoppers are sleeping in on Black Friday and still saving big money — on new cars, trucks and utility vehicles.

Most shoppers are headed to malls across America the day after Thanksgiving, but automakers are providing new vehicle buyers plenty of reasons to head to the nearest dealership. In fact, the four-day Thanksgiving weekend is a holiday makers target.

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“Black Friday is certainly a great time to go car shopping,” Jennifer Newman, editor-in-chief of Cars.com, said in a statement. (more…)

Uber Under Fire as It Belatedly Admits Hackers Stole Data

Ride-sharing service paid off hackers, waited a year to reveal theft affecting 57 million riders and drivers.

by on Nov.22, 2017

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has faced one problem after another since his arrival at the company.

Just when it looked like Uber had put the worst of a very bad year behind it, things have taken yet another turn for the worse, the ride-sharing giant acknowledging that hackers stole personal data from around 57 million user and driver accounts.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Uber officials went on to acknowledge they paid the data thieves $100,000, allegedly to destroy the information they had accessed, and then kept the news secret for a year. With memories of how consumer data firm Equifax kept its own breach quiet for months, Uber is coming under intense criticism, with regulators in the U.S. and Europe already threatening investigations.

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Consumer News!

“You may be asking why we are just talking about this now, a year later. I had the same question,” wrote Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a blog. “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” added Khosrowshahi joined the embattled firm in August following the ouster of founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick who was embroiled in a variety of scandals.

(more…)

Aston Gets in Gear With Launch of New Vantage

Vantage GTE race car also makes its debut.

by on Nov.22, 2017

The new Aston Martin Vantage has been rebuilt from the ground up, sharing little with its predecessor.

For a brand that could go years without even a modest refresh of its line-up, Aston Martin is certainly kicking things into gear. The British marque has been busy rolling out a procession of new products, including two versions of the DB11, a track-ready Valkyrie, its first-ever electric car and now two all-new versions of the Vantage, one for the street and one for the track.

Expected to start at somewhere around $150,000 once it lands in the States, the two-seater is being positioned to take on the more powerful versions of the Porsche 911, and is a critical link in the broad expansion plan envisioned by CEO Andy Palmer when he come onboard at Aston three years ago.

Product News!

“A true sports car with a sharper look and a keener dynamic edge, the new Vantage is the Aston Martin pure driving machine enthusiasts have been waiting for,” proclaimed Palmer. “Creating a worthy successor has been a challenge,” he added, considering the outgoing Vantage was “the single most successful model in Aston Martin’s history.” (more…)

NAFTA Talks Fail to Make Headway as New Year Looms

Mexico and Canada not giving U.S. what it wants.

by on Nov.22, 2017

President Donald Trump has reiterated he has no problem replacing NAFTA with unilateral treaties.

With chances the of failure rising, delegates from the United States, Mexico and Canada have wrapped up another round of talks centered on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement without making any progress on a range of key issues such as automobiles and agriculture.

The negotiations held in Mexico City were aimed at reforming the NAFTA pact enough to head off U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to scrap it.

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The latest round focused on trade remedies, rules of origin, which are critical to the auto industry, and matters related to agriculture, which represents a key element of any kind of agreement, Mexico’s chief technical negotiator, Kenneth Smith, told reporters.  (more…)

Oil Prices Falling Slightly for Thanksgiving Weekend

Increase in inventory offset by usual uptick for travel.

by on Nov.22, 2017

Gas prices are down slightly as what is expected to be a holiday record for travel kicks off.

With the Thanksgiving holiday underway, gasoline prices dropped slightly as motorists began filling up their tanks for what looks to be a record week for travel.

AAA reported after holding steady for nine days, the national gas price average was slowly declining at the start of the Thanksgiving week. At $2.54, the average price of gasoline was two cents less per gallon than one week ago and 40 cents more per gallon than a year ago.

Fueling Up on News!

While lower prices are a welcome sight for travelers, higher pump prices have not typically stopped Americans from hitting the road for holiday travel, AAA noted. (more…)

Are You the New Infiniti QX50?

Luxury marque teases “most advanced car ever” ahead of LA Auto Show.

by on Nov.21, 2017

Infiniti teases an important new offering it will reveal at the LA Auto Show next week.

Well, we do know we’ll see the Infiniti QX80 at the Los Angeles Motor Show next week, after it made a world debut at the Dubai Auto Show earlier in November. But that doesn’t tell us much about the curious teaser Nissan’s luxury brand sent out today.

We’ve already been told that the vehicle whose grille and headlight we see will be the brand’s “most advanced car ever,” but it almost certainly isn’t a sedan or coupe. The nose is just too tall and upright. So, that would suggest the automaker means a car-based crossover.

Filling in the Blanks!

“As with all Infinitis,” the latest release tells us, in the words of global design boss Alfonso Albaisa, “we have been inspired by our desire to drive, expressed with power and artistry. With this all-new model, inspiration comes from striking the perfect balance between lust and logic. At a glance, seamless and sculptural, getting closer to the car reveals an ingenious blend of proportion and space.”

(more…)

Toyota Tells Camry Plant Employees to Cut Costs — Now

Cheaper to build Camry in Japan and ship it to U.S.

by on Nov.21, 2017

Employees at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky, plant were told that they needed to find ways to cut costs at the site.

Employees at Toyota’s largest plant in North America were just delivered a message from Japan: cut costs or lose jobs.

The company’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, produces the Camry, which is the best-selling sedan in the U.S., was told in a video from the company’s plant manager that currently it is cheaper for Toyota to build the Camry in Japan and ship it to Kentucky than it is to simply build it in Kentucky.

Global Auto News!

“I’m not sharing this to scare you, but to heighten your awareness of the current risk we now have,” Wil James, Georgetown’s plant, said in the video dated this month, according to Bloomberg News.  (more…)

Key Safety Systems Agrees to $1.6B Purchase of Takata

Deal expected to be completed next year.

by on Nov.21, 2017

Key Safety Systems agreed to a $1.6 billion acquisition of Takata, except its airbag replacement business.

The final chapter for Takata is being written as Key Safety Systems will purchase most of the assets of the Japanese suppliers for $1.6 billion.

The Detroit-area supplier gets everything, including the company’s 45,000 employees, but not the operations producing replacement airbag kits for Takata’s faulty airbag recall. Takata will run that until the operations are complete.

Safety News!

Most of the proceeds will go to pay the $1 billion penalty levied against Takata from a U.S. criminal fraud judgement.  (more…)