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Archive for August, 2018

Tesla Stock Rises and So Does the Controversy Around It

Stock jumps 4.36% despite class action suit, merger news.

by on Aug.21, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's plans to take the company private have it facing a class-action suit and 4.36% jump in its stock price.

As the Saudi investment fund that Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested could provide the funding necessary to take the EV maker private is in talks to invest in another EV maker – Lucid Motors – Tesla’s stock shot up more than 3% early in the day.

After taking a hit the last few days, the stock turnaround comes on news Morgan Stanley withdrew its rating on Tesla, suggesting that some sort of deal is in the works and the bank has agreed to help make it happen.

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Goldman Sachs also eliminated its coverage of Tesla stock last week then confirmed it was acting as a financial adviser to the company. Musk listed Goldman Sachs in the tweet as one of the financial advisers involved the potential deal to take the company private. (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Honda Pilot

Building on strength, fixing the weaknesses.

by on Aug.21, 2018

The 2019 Honda Pilot offers four terrain control modes to handle off-road conditions.

Nose up, front right wheel spinning in the air. That’s not the pose you normally expect to find yourself in while driving a Honda Pilot. Like most modern SUVs, its buyers are traditionally looking for a people-mover rather than an off-roader — which made for something of a surprise when we joined Honda for a first drive of the 2019 Pilot last week in farm country a few hours north of Los Angeles.

The event included the requisite drive route mixing freeway and local roads but also worked in an off-road stretch which, while brief, managed to demonstrate that the 2019 Honda Pilot isn’t just another, interchangeable soft-roader but a surprisingly competent update of what is already one of the American market’s best-selling vehicles.

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The fact that Honda is updating the Pilot at all might come as a surprise considering the current, third-generation model made its debut in the 2016 model-year. And so, as you might expect, the changes are, on the whole, relatively modest, but Honda’s product development team did a good job of picking precisely what to target. That included some subtle exterior updates, improvements to the Pilot’s drivetrain, the addition of a hands-free liftgate and some welcome revisions of its infotainment system, notably the return of a volume knob.

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Want a Good Deal? Buy a Three-Year-Old Car

The best overall deal on vehicle? A three-year-old BMW 3-Series.

by on Aug.21, 2018

Edmunds determined that the 2015 BMW 3 Series may be the best bargain, in terms of price, to be had these days.

Looking for a good deal on a new vehicle? Check out midsize cars. Want a great deal on a used vehicle? Check out three-year-old midsize cars.

Midsize cars are waning in popularity as more and more buyers are looking for crossover vehicles, sport-utilities and trucks. In the meantime, automakers are offering plenty of enticements to buy their midsize cars. However, used midsize cars are available with record savings.

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Record savings can be found on used vehicles compared to new, according to the latest Used Car Report from Edmunds. The data reveals that supplies of three-year-old vehicles hit a record-high level in the second quarter of 2018, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all franchise dealer sales.  (more…)

Loss of Control, Viruses Top Hurdles for Autonomous Vehicles

Ford charging ahead with AVs by trying to establish trust.

by on Aug.21, 2018

Ford says consumers need to believe they can trust AVs, and that will take time and energy.

A new study found that losing control of the vehicle and the threat of computer virus are the two most important reservations or fears consumers have about autonomous vehicles.

The study done by the University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology also found that AVs have yet to break through as status symbols. The study found that improving social status among peers is the least important incentive to adopting AVs. In addition, fewer than 5% of respondents indicated their households are willing to pay an additional $20,000 to add automation and greater connectivity to their vehicle.

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One very interesting finding was that the feeling of losing control was more important than safety concerns for people. In addition, the threat of computer virus penetrating the vehicles was considered an important barrier to adoption. (more…)

Lucid Hunting for Money from Saudi Fund Eyed by Musk

Saudis buying Tesla on open market, may be money left for Lucid.

by on Aug.21, 2018

Lucid executives are on the hunt for additional investors, like the Saudis.

Tesla apparently has competition looking to tap Saudi Arabia’s money to finance Elon Musk’s plan for taking the electric car company he founded private in the near future.

PIF, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that Musk has said could help him fund a $72 billion deal to take his electric car maker private, is also in talks to invest in aspiring Tesla rival Lucid Motors Inc., according to Reuters.

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The talks between privately-held Lucid Motors and PIF highlight the Saudi’s desire to invest in electric car makers to diversify their investment portfolio. Moreover, PIF has already made substantial commitments to other technology companies, including a $45-billion agreement to invest in a giant technology fund led by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., which recently offered more than $2 billion to help finance General Motors’ autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruze. (more…)

Nissan Looks to Expand Production in China, Secure No. 3 Spot

Toyota, Honda and Ford also looking to grow sales.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Nissan President and CEO Hiroto Saikawa laid out plans to grow sales in China by 2022.

Nissan Corp. is wasting no time playing catch up with General Motors and Volkswagen AG in China, nor is it wasting money spending $900 million to ramp up its vehicle production in the country.

Working with its Chinese joint-venture partner Dongfeng Group, Nissan’s plans call for expansion of production capacity during the next few years to 2.1 million vehicles annually, according to Reuters.

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Currently, Nissan sold 1.5 million vehicles last year in China, trailing GM and VW which put out about 4 million vehicles each. It wants to sell 2.6 million by 2022, and secure the No. 3 spot in the country by then, according to reports. (more…)

Trump Administration Shifts US Energy Policy Away From Conservation

Country's leadership in oil production feted.

by on Aug.20, 2018

The president has ordered or supported the rollback of numerous Obama-era regulations.

The Trump administration is advocating a more relaxed approach to oil conservation, pointing to the rise of oil supplies from fracking as well as natural gas and other alternatives reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

This new direction is in direct conflict with decades of efforts and programs by the federal government to promote fuel-efficient vehicles as well as conservation of natural resources.

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It was spelled out in a new in a memo released last month in support of the administration’s proposal to relax fuel mileage standards. The government released the memo online this month, according to the Associated Press. (more…)

Aston Martin Rolls Out Limited Line of “Goldfinger” DB5s

Continuation models will offer plenty of gadgets like revolving license plates – but no word on machine guns and ejection seat.

by on Aug.20, 2018

The original James Bond, Sean Connery, with the original Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger.

“Bond. James Bond.” For those who’ve always fantasized about being able to speak that familiar line, they can now lay claim to another feature from one of Agent 007’s most iconic adventures.

Working with the special effects team from the most recent James Bond film, Aston Martin has recreated the classic DB5 that originally appeared in “Goldfinger,” and it plans to offer 25 full-size reproductions that, the British marque claims, will include an assortment of “working gadgets.” Those will include “revolving number (license) plates and more,” we’re told, though Aston isn’t ready to reveal whether that also includes the machine guns and ejector seat Bond had at the ready.

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“The connection between Aston Martin and James Bond is something of which we are very proud and it is remarkable that the DB5 remains the definitive James Bond car after so many years,” said Aston CEO Andy Palmer. “To own an Aston Martin has long been an aspiration for James Bond fans, but to own a Silver Birch DB5, complete with gadgets and built to the highest standards in the very same factory as the original James Bond cars? Well, that is surely the ultimate collectors’ fantasy.”

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CEO Musk Risks Becoming Liability for Tesla

Stock plunges again after weepy interview, SEC probe revealed.

by on Aug.20, 2018

Musk has said he's been working up to 120 hours a week - but is that really benefitting Tesla?

(This story has been updated with a comment by former GM V.Chairman Bob Lutz.)

Since the era when Lee Iacocca was the seemingly ever-present face of Chrysler, perhaps no other automotive executive has been more closely linked with his company than Tesla’s constantly tweeting CEO Elon Musk – and Iacocca didn’t have access to the social media tools that routinely help Musk make headlines.

But the events of recent weeks have started raising questions about the 47-year-old Tesla chief’s role, some observers beginning to wonder whether Musk is starting to become more asset than liability. That has become underscored in recent days as backlash continues to mount over the tweet Musk posted early this month announces his goal of taking Tesla private and suggesting that the necessary funding had been “secured.”

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That has triggered a new probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it was revealed last week, about the same time Musk sat down by an unexpectedly emotional interview with the New York Times that raised questions about both his health and his ability to remain at Tesla’s helm and, as this week begins, it has led to new warnings about Tesla finances, the automaker’s shares taking a sharp tumble as Monday trading began on Wall Street.

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NAFTA Negotiations Stalling Out Again

Auto industry concerned about lack of consistency.

by on Aug.20, 2018

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been holding talks with Mexico only these days.

Negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement are ongoing, but anxiety continues to grow inside the auto industry, which is looking for measure of stability, due to the slow pace of the talks.

While some progress has been made during bilateral talks between Mexico and the United States, key issues revolving around automotive content and an automatic, five-year “sunset” provision proposed by Trump administration remain unresolved.

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“I am less optimistic than I was,” said Julie Fream, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which represents a broad cross-section of automotive suppliers. The critical content requirements for automobiles still haven’t been addressed, she said after a recent event sponsored by the OESA. (more…)