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Vietnam’s First Real Car Co. Takes Aim at the West

Paris debut planned, U.S. launch could follow.

by on Jul.18, 2018

VinFast turned to Pininfarina to design its new models, the sedan shown in this rendering.

The first “volume” Vietnamese automaker will reveal two new models designed by Pininfarina during the Paris Motor Show this coming October, setting into motion what it hopes will be a global rollout over the next few years.

VinFast, which will be setting up a new “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in the northern part of Vietnam plans to launch the two vehicles – an SUV and a sport sedan – in September 2019, though it will initially focus solely on “affluent” buyers in its home country before targeting opportunities elsewhere in Asia and in Western markets.

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“Our show stand will…prominently feature the best of Vietnam, demonstrating the passion and tenacity that we will bring to the global automotive stage,” said James DeLuca, CEO of VinFast Trading and Production LLC. “We have the resources, scalability and commitment to become a significant new player in the global automotive industry.”

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Mexico Targeting End of November for NAFTA Deal

Next round of talks expected at the end of the month.

by on Jul.18, 2018

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he is targeting the end of November to complete NAFTA negotiations.

After a series of delays, including one for Mexico’s presidential election July 1, the new goal for completing a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is the end of November, according to Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

“If there is room before the end of this administration, we will certainly take advantage of the opportunity to conclude [negotiations],” he said. Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office Dec. 1.

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Canada, Mexico and the United States have been haggling over the update of a new NAFTA since last August. The deal was expected to be completed by the end of 2017 has endured a series of delays over demands by the Trump administration as well as the aforementioned election. (more…)

Musk Apology Underscores Increasingly Erratic Behavior

"Do you think I'm insane?"

by on Jul.18, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has come under increasing fire for comments made in recent months.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has issued an apology for calling one of the divers involved in the rescue of a soccer team caught in a Thai cave a “pedo,” shorthand for pedophile.

The overnight tweet marked one of the rare times the South African-born executive has retreated from what have become increasingly erratic and aggressive comments that, in recent months, have taken aim at journalists, Wall Street analysts, regulators, and even the victim in a fatal crash involving one of Tesla’s battery-electric vehicles.

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Musk, much like President Donald Trump, has become a regular user of Twitter, developing a broad audience and a loyal fan base for himself and for his company. But as with the president, some of Musk’s tweets have begun raising eyebrows and this week’s attack on diver Vernon Unsworth caused collateral damage to Tesla’s stock which tumbled when Unsworth threatened to sue the eccentric billionaire.

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Ford Recalls 550K Fusions, Escapes for Rollaway Problem

Company fixing problem, recommends using parking brake.

by on Jul.18, 2018

Ford recalled selected 2013 Ford Fusions to correct a problem that could allow the sedan to roll away.

Ford Motor Co.’s problems with rollaways continues as the automaker is recalling about 550,000 cars and SUVs in North America to resolve the issue. The automaker previously had a problem its full-size pickups rolling away.

In this case, some 2013–16 Ford Fusions and 2013–14 Ford Escapes have a gearshift problem that could cause the vehicles to roll away unexpectedly.

Safety News!

Ford says a bushing that attaches the shifter cable to the transmission can fall off. The condition could allow the driver to move the shift lever to “Park” and remove the ignition key, while the transmission may not be in “Park,” with no warning message or audible chime.  (more…)

Federal Reserve Board Raises Caution Flag on Tariffs

Rising trade tensions could negatively impact the U.S. economy.

by on Jul.18, 2018

Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently warned the U.S. economy could be hurt by escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and its trading partners.

The nervous reaction that has begun to paralyze decision-making in the auto industry has also drawn the notice of the Federal Reserve Board.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, cautioned during a Senate hearing that mounting trade tensions between the United States and major economic partners could pose serious risks to the U.S. and the global economy.

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Powell was cautious in his remarks and tried to avoid commenting directly on Trump’s policies, when pushed by members of the Senate Banking committee on how deeply the U.S. could be harmed in a trade war, according to The Hill. (more…)

Trump Tariffs Could Complicate PSA’s U.S. Market Return

“I could launch in Canada,” says PSA’s North American CEO.

by on Jul.17, 2018

While new Peugeot models, such as this 3008 crossover, would work for North America, PSA will develop unique U.S. products.

On Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Dept. will hold hearings in Washington, D.C. to decide if, as President Donald Trump has suggested, imported automobiles pose a threat to national security. If so, the White House could follow up with new tariffs of up to 25% on those vehicles.

That’s on top of the previously enacted tariffs on steel and aluminum that have already begun to drive up production costs for domestic manufacturers. And the industry’s response has been fierce in its opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal.

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But as much as the potential tariff hike has complicated matters for existing manufacturers, it is raising even more challenges for potential new entrants to the U.S. market, including PSA, the French parent of the Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall brands, which is in the midst of developing a strategy to return to North America for the first time in more than a quarter century. (more…)

VW Diesel Owners in Settlement Cruising Up to Deadline

Car owners could miss out on more than $10K.

by on Jul.17, 2018

VW owners impacted by the diesel scandal are running up against a deadline to get their cash.

The clock is ticking on Volkswagen owners who are eligible to receive compensation for their vehicles as a result of the diesel cheat scandal from 2015.

The owners of diesels with the cheat were essentially divided by engine size. The owners of 2.0-liter diesels were part of the first settlement reached between the automaker and the U.S. government.

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Those vehicles account for about 95% of those owners qualify for the program since the deal was approved by a federal judge in October 2016, USA Today reported. In all, its nearly 475,000 cars that were eligible for that deal, which expires Sept. 1. (more…)

Ford, Takata Reach $299M Airbag Settlement

Deal helps vehicle owners recoup costs.

by on Jul.17, 2018

Ford and Takata reached a $299.1 million settlement to help offset the costs of owners with faulty airbag inflators in their cars.

Ford Motor Co. and Takata agreed to a $299.1 million settlement to allow the automaker to cover economic damages tied to the supplier’s faulty inflators. The deal covers about 6 million Ford vehicles with the inflators.

Takata produced airbag inflators that became unstable over time, inflating with too much force, spewing metal and plastic into the vehicle cabin. To date, 23 deaths and nearly 300 injuries have occurred as a result of the inflators.

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The terms of the deal, which is described as an economic loss settlement, were revealed in court documents filed in a federal court in Miami, according to Reuters. (more…)

Electric Polestar 2 “Five-Door Coupe” Will Deliver 350 miles Range, 400+ HP

All-electric Polestar 3 SUV already in the works.

by on Jul.17, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with Polestar's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo’s performance electric brand is getting ready to charge into the market with two additional models over the next two years, starting with the all-electric Polestar 2 which, a senior official claims, will deliver range of up to 350 miles per charge.

And, in keeping with the mandate of the brand – which traces its roots back to the track – the Polestar 2 “five-door coupe” will deliver around 405 horsepower, according to the brand’s Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Goodman. That figure might actually underplay the potential performance of the all-electric offering, as battery-electric vehicles can deliver incredible off-the-line performance because they punch out maximum torque the moment their motors start spinning.

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The Polestar 2 is expected to share the same underlying Compact Modular Architecture, or CMA, as the new Volvo 40-Series line-up. That was an obvious choice considering Volvo itself is planning to offer electrified versions of all future models and the CMA, its newest platform, was designed specifically to allow mounting a large battery pack under the load floor.

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Mini Shows Off Battery-Electric Concept at Goodwood

Concept is the base for the new Mini EV coming fall of 2019.

by on Jul.17, 2018

Mini's Electric Concept was on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

During England’s annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, Mini presented the Mini Electric Concept, which offers an early look at both of Mini’s first fully electric model scheduled for release in 2019.

The first fully electric model from the history-rich British brand builds on the Mini brand’s DNA that has made the city its natural habitat and urban mobility a large part of its appeal.

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The new model fits the Mini template by turning electric mobility into an emotionally engaging experience brimming with driving fun, style and individuality.  (more…)