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Archive for January, 2019

Deal or No Deal Makes for a Great Deal for Ford

Hinrichs offers Ford retiree and sons lunch with Chairman Ford.

by on Jan.31, 2019

Ford retiree John West, center, was joined by Ford's Joe Hinrichs, right, during Deal or No Deal last night, where West walked away with $200,000.

As other automakers like Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai and others seek top time slots for television ads during this weekend’s Super Bowl, Ford may have beaten them all to the punch after last night’s Deal or No Deal.

Last night’s game show featured 64-year-old Ford Motor Co. retiree John West, who was nominated for the show on CNBC by his five sons. The very clearly pro-Detroit family took home a nice chunk of change and unexpected surprise … or two.

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The appearance was very Ford themed. While talking about Detroit and specifically his time at Ford Motor Co., there were two other ties to the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker. (more…)

VW Plugs In With New Dune Buggy Concept

Retro design, futuristic powertrain; concept to debut in Geneva.

by on Jan.31, 2019

Volkswagen is bringing a new electric concept to the Geneva Motor Show in March – what's old is new again!

Volkswagen is going back to the future with a ‘60s-tinged concept coming to the Geneva Motor Show in a little more than a month.

The show car is modelled after the classic dune buggies that hit American roads and beaches back in the 1960s and 1970s. But the new iteration offers something very different under the hood – or, more accurately, under the floorboards, the buggy concept making use of the same, modular electric drivetrain that will power an assortment of upcoming Volkswagen products.

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“A buggy is more than a car. It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels,” suggested VW’s global design chief Klaus Bischoff. “These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create.” (more…)

Over a Dozen Michigan Automotive Operations Close As Fire Cuts NatGas Supplies During Record Cold Wave

Workers told to stay home – and to turn back their own thermostats.

by on Jan.31, 2019

A fire at Consumers Energy's facility in Armada Township, Michigan, north of Detroit, has Detroit-area automakers closing some plants. (Photo credit: Fox2Detroit)

The alert went out by smartphone to nearly 2 million natural gas customers across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula: turn back your thermostats or risk the possibility of having natural gas supplies cut off.

While some utilities have raised concerns about gas supplies in previous cold waves, the warning from Michigan-based Consumers Energy Co. was compounded by a fire at a gas compression facility near Detroit that created a potentially worst-case scenario, shortages even as demand for heat across the frozen state was reaching record level in temperatures dropping into the double-digits below zero.

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And individual consumers aren’t the only ones being impacted. Ford Motor Co. says it has reduced operations at four plants as of Thursday morning, while General Motors has temporarily halted or reduced operations at 11 of its own factories, as well as its Technical Center in the Detroit suburb of Warren. About 20,000 workers at that sprawling complex have been asked to work at home through Friday. (more…)

Ford Prepped to Increase Production at Ranger Plant

Galhotra says plant ready for extra overtime shifts.

by on Jan.31, 2019

Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America, says Michigan Assembly Plant, where the Ranger is built, will add overtime shifts to keep up with demand if needed.

Ford Motor Co. may have a runaway hit on its hands in the new midsize Ford Ranger pickup truck.

The automaker is already making plans to add overtime shifts at the company’s assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, where the Ranger is built, to account for the demand.

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Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s North American division, said Ford expects January sales of the January to top 1,200 units and has collected 300,000 Ranger “hand raisers,” industry slang for consumers who have expressed an interest in taking a serious look at a vehicle, according to Automotive News.  (more…)

With More Product Coming, Tesla CEO Musk Promises Good Earnings Even In a Global Recession

Musk outlines plans for Tesla Model Y, Semi and Pickup in hour-long earnings call.

by on Jan.31, 2019

Tesla's Elon Musk spent much of his time on a call with analysts and media painting a rosy picture for 2019.

Tesla’s weak fourth-quarter earnings failed to impress industry analysts and investors, despite an optimistic, hour-long presentation by CEO Elon Musk who promised that the battery-electric automaker is ready to deliver solid profits “even if there’s a global recession.”

Speaking to reports and analysts, Musk presented an upbeat vision that anticipates a huge surge in both production and demand for the Model 3 sedan, while noting that two other products, the Model Y SUV and battery-powered Semi will go into production in 2020. The 47-year-old entrepreneur fended off concerns that Tesla won’t be able to cover an upcoming bond payment of more than $900 million without seeking new equity.

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“2019 is going to be an amazing year for Tesla,” Musk said, later adding that he is “optimistic about being profitable in Q1. Not by a lot, but I’m optimistic about being profitable in Q1 and for all quarters going forward.” (more…)

Tesla Misses With Q4 Earnings, Raising New Concerns

Automaker plans to ramp up Model 3 output in bid for bigger earnings.

by on Jan.30, 2019

Tesla's Elon Musk said the company faced significant headwinds in the previous quarter and will continue to do so.

Tesla delivered its second consecutive quarterly profit on Wednesday, but hit by various headwinds, including weak sales in China, the world’s largest battery-car market, the numbers fell well below the Wall Street consensus forecast, triggering a pushback from nervous investors.

The automaker said it would push to boost production of its mainstream Model 3 battery-electric vehicle in the months ahead, but whether that can kick-start momentum remains uncertain, Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier this week warning that the automaker faces a “very difficult” road ahead, something potentially complicated by a nearly $1 billion bond payment due near the end of the first quarter.

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Referring to 2018 as “the most pivotal year in Tesla’s history,” the automaker tried to put a positive spin on its Q1 results, noting that sales came in stronger than expected with strong revenues. But the initial response was far from upbeat, despite Tesla shares regaining some of the losses of recent weeks during the regular Wednesday trading session. (more…)

“Plot and Treason” Brought Down Ghosn, Jailed Execs Claims

Former Nissan chairman said claims were concocted for “purpose of getting rid of me.”

by on Jan.30, 2019

Former Renault-Nissan Chief Carlos Ghosn said his arrest and detention is due to "plot and treason."

“Plot and treason get the blame” for the arrest of Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn, the 64-year-old executive said during his first public comments since being dragged off his corporate jet on Nov. 19.

Ghosn has been held in solitary confinement ever since and looked gaunt during a court hearing earlier this month. Japanese prosecutors have successfully argued against bail for the exec, even though co-defendant Greg Kelly was released on Christmas Day.

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Until now, Ghosn has only been allowed to meet with his lawyers, embassy officials and prosecutors who were interrogating him daily and trying to get him to sign a confession written in Japanese, a language Ghosn does not speak. (more…)

Ginetta Prepping New Entry into Supercar Segment

Motorsport leader looks to return to the road.

by on Jan.30, 2019

Ginetta plans to return to the supercar realm with a new 600-plus horsepower model that will ready for road and track.

There will soon be a new sort of rumbling coming from northern England as race car maker Ginetta announced it plans to produce a street-legal, track-ready supercar, releasing two teaser photos to give some insight into what’s coming.

Laden with carbon fiber, the not-yet-named supercar will feature a racing-inspired naturally aspirated V8 alloy engine putting out more than 600 horsepower, officials claim, adding that it will be manufactured at its 75,000-square-foot facility in Leeds.

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“We’ve come a long way in 60 years but we still believe Ginetta has great untapped potential,” said Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, a former Le Mans winner, who bought the company in 2005. (more…)

VW Grabs Global Sales Crown – Barely

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance dominates light vehicle segment.

by on Jan.30, 2019

All hail the king! Volkswagen claimed the global sales crown for 2018, but just barely over Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

For the fifth year in a row, Volkswagen Group can again claim king-of-the-hill status as the world’s top-selling automaker.

But there’s an asterisk on the sales charts. For the second year running, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance narrowly nudged by its German rival to claim leadership in the light-duty vehicle market. Toyota again had to settle into third place, while General Motors slipped into a distant fourth.

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Volkswagen was able to gain the crown by factoring in its strong light truck sales which helped it reach sales of 10.83 million vehicles in 2018, a 0.9% year-over-year jump. Excluding heavy trucks sold by its MAN and Scania subsidiaries, VW sold 10.6 million vehicles. (more…)

Sweden Approves Volvo JV for Autonomous Car Testing

Zenuity ready to put software to real-world test.

by on Jan.30, 2019

Zenuity, a Volvo Cars joint venture with Veoneer, received approval from the Swedish government to begin autonomous testing on public roads.

A Volvo Cars joint venture has gotten approval to test its software in self-driving cars on Swedish highways at speeds of up to 80 kilometers or 60 miles per hour.

Zenuity, a joint venture between Volvo and Swedish tech company Veoneer, developed software for Level 4 autonomous driving that will be tested in a Volvo car by trained drivers with their hands off the steering wheel. The venture is striving to keep up with rivals in the U.S. and China in the development self-driving vehicles.

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Volvo’s self-driving effort was side-swiped last year when one of its sport utility vehicles, which was being used as a test-bed for Uber’s self-driving venture, was involved in an accident that killed an Arizona pedestrian. A post-accident investigation showed that the advanced-driver assistance features on the Volvo test vehicle had been disabled. (more…)