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Tesla Claims Employee Tried to Sabotage Plant – But Refuses to Say if Authorities Were Notified

Musk blames employee who didn’t receive promotion, hints others might be involved.

by on Jun.19, 2018

In a letter to employees, Tesla CEO Musk said the Fremont plant was the subject of sabotage.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk advised employees late Sunday that the company had been sabotaged by an employee who sent “highly sensitive” data to unnamed outside parties, but he and Tesla have so far refused to provide details, declining to even say whether police or other authorities, such as the FBI, have been asked to investigate.

Musk’s e-mail to Tesla workers, first reported by CNBC, was sent hours after a small fire at the Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California briefly shut down due to a fire in its welding area. The incident was deemed minor and work quickly resumed. Tesla has been struggling to boost the factory’s output, primarily of the new Model 3 sedan, and has gone to an around-the-clock production schedule.

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In his note to employees, Musk said an employee committed “quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,” among other things making “direct code changes” in Tesla’s manufacturing system while also sending “large amounts” of “highly sensitive” company data to an address outside the company.

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Hyundai, Kia Announce Global Reorganization Plans

Korean carmakers will get more regional autonomy in U.S., Europe.

by on Jun.18, 2018

The new organization is aimed at making the two brands more responsive to local markets.

Hyundai and sibling Korean carmaker Kia already operate as largely autonomous entities. Now, their regional operations in the U.S. and Europe will operate as largely independent operations to “spur sustainable growth and enhance innovation.”

The move to boost regional autonomy by Korea’s largest automaker is no surprise and follows in the footsteps of what has already been done by major Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan. The first step will come with the establishment of new North American regional headquarters for each of the brands on July 2. Europe will follow shortly afterwards, as will other key global regions.

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In a statement, the Hyundai Motor Group – which includes both Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. – said the move will impact “every aspect of the business, ranging from product planning, marketing, sales, and manufacturing,”

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NTSB Investigating Latest Tesla Fire

Blaze started "out of the blue."

by on Jun.18, 2018

This Tesla Model S caught on fire "out of the blue." The NTSB is investigating.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a Tesla Model S fire that occurred in West Hollywood, California, last week.

While Tesla vehicles have been in the news lately for a series of fires for the Model S and Model X vehicles, this time the fire was a bit unusual: it was spontaneous. Previous vehicles caught on fire after being involved in an accident.

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The Model S is owned by film director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack, managed to film the vehicle going up in flames, and tweeted it to Tesla. (more…)

Cadillac Culling Sedan Line-Up, New Plant Investment Emphasizing Shift to SUVs

ATS, XTS going away as passenger car sales slide.

by on Jun.18, 2018

Cadillac is planning to end production of the slow-selling ATS by 2021.

General Motors will invest $175 million in a Lansing, Michigan assembly plant to support production of two new Cadillac sedans, but in the process, Caddy is expected to dump drop the slow-selling ATS compact coupe and XTS full-size sedan.

Early in the new decade, those two models, as well as the midsize Cadillac CTS, will be replaced by just two all-new sedans, the automaker said. The cutback reflects both the overall U.S. market shift from passenger cars to utility vehicles and, more specifically, the poor sales performance of those three Caddy models.

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It is not clear when the three current sedans will be dropped, but Cadillac isn’t expected to have the two replacement models ready to roll out of GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant until late in 2021, according to a spokesman. They will likely debut as 2022 models. (more…)

Ford Jumping into the Taxi Business

NYC's Nissan mandate is going away, opening the market.

by on Jun.18, 2018

Ford's new Transit Connect Taxi is powered by a diesel engine expected to get at least 30 mpg when testing is complete.

The taxi business is about to get more competitive as Ford prepares to introduce two new taxis: the new 2019 Transit Connect Taxi with a diesel engine and the 2019 Fusion Hybrid Taxi.

“Taxi operators want vehicles that are reliable, efficient and comfortable,” said Imran Jalal, brand and communications manager for Ford fleet marketing.

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“Transit Connect Taxi and Fusion Hybrid Taxi offer all three with special attention to potentially help lower fuel costs. Plus, Fusion Hybrid underscores our commitment to introduce even more efficient and capable hybrids in the future.” (more…)

Audi CEO Stadler Arrested as Germany Expands Diesel Emissions Probe

As many as 20 current, former Audi employees now under investigation.

by on Jun.18, 2018

German prosecutors have arrested Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, though no charges have yet been filed.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has been “provisionally” arrested, the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG confirmed Monday morning, as the German government probe into emissions rigging by VW and the Audi subsidiary continues to expand.

Nearly a dozen executives and managers from the vast Volkswagen Group empire have been indicted since the automaker was first charged in September 2015 with rigging various diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests. Several have already been convicted in the U.S., though others have fled to Germany where they cannot be extradited. But as many as 20 others are now under suspicion as Germany moves forward with its own investigation, according to the Associated Press.

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“Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was provisionally arrested this morning,” VW’s largest luxury brand said in a statement Monday morning. It added that “the presumption of innocence remains in place for Mr. Stadler.”

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Official: First Look at All-New BMW 8-Series

BMW's flagship coupe returns after two-decade absence.

by on Jun.15, 2018

This is the first BMW 8-Series since the original was abandoned in 1999.

It may be time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the big news, trackside will turn to a new street model, BMW using the annual endurance race as backdrop to reveal the long-awaited rebirth of its flagship 8-Series model.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Bavarian automaker abandoned the original 8-Series, but we got word that it would make a comeback last year with the May 2017 debut of the Concept 8 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Italy’s Lake Como. Finally, we’re getting a look at the production version.

The Last Word!

Like the original, the new 8-Series opts for a coupe body, albeit one with a much more modern, streamlined design. The pop-up headlights, for one thing, are gone, replaced by slim LED lamps and the automaker’s new LaserLight technology. Indeed, as you’d expect of a BMW flagship, everywhere you look the new coupe is loaded up with the latest in technology, from its optional carbon fiber roof to its self-parking system.

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Back-to-Roots Ford Mustang Raises Money for Charity

The Eagle Squadron Mustang debuts at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

by on Jun.15, 2018

The Eagle Squadron Mustang GT draws inspiration from American fighter pilots who served with the Royal Air Force in World War II.

The Ford Mustang was a hit when it was introduced in 1964. The pony car, as it became known, was emblazoned with a horse on the grille and other parts of the logo. However, Lee Iaccoca’s best-known contribution to Ford wasn’t named after a wild horse at all.

The name for company’s best-selling sports car ever was derived from the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane from World War II … or at least that how some of the legend goes.

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However, at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, attendees will get see to a Mustang truly inspired by fighter planes and pilots: the one-off Eagle Squadron Mustang GT. (more…)

Byton Taking Second Byte at the Apple with New Concept

New model predicted to be available in 2021.

by on Jun.15, 2018

Byton introduced its second EV concept, the K-Byte, at CES Shanghai.

With a newly gained $500 million in its pocket, electric carmaker Byton rolled out the new K-Byte, an autonomous electric vehicle concept, at CES Shanghai.

The K-Byte is the company’s second concept. At CES 2018, it debuted its first-ever vehicle, a crossover-style EV that now gets the moniker M-Byte.

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The new K-Byte would seem to be just another of a slew of newly minted autonomous battery-electric concepts that have been unveiled in the last 12 months, but this one is a little different. Byton officials claim it will be capable of Level 4 autonomy when it hits the road in 2021. (more…)

NAFTA Talks Halted — For Now

Talks on hold until after Mexico's presidential election July 1.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Trade representatives from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. agreed to halt talks until after July 1.

The North American Free Trade Agreement isn’t dead — yet.

The laborious pace of talks which has resulted in several missed deadlines for completion will continue, according to Canada’s top negotiator, Chrystia Freeland.

Trade News!

“We decided … to continue our negotiations on NAFTA,” Freeland said after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington D.C. (more…)