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Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan Savior, Could Bring Their Alliance Tumbling Down

Under arrest in Japan, 64-year-old exec likely to lose his many titles, too.

by on Nov.20, 2018

Carlos Ghosn remains Renault CEO — for now. Company officials appear to allowing the legal process to play out.

It took Carlos Ghosn two decades to transform three independent automakers into one of the world’s best-selling automotive alliances, but with the 64-year-old executive now sitting a Japanese jail, accused of a variety of financial misdeeds, that empire could come crashing down.

On Monday, Nissan broke its silence after completing a months-long investigation it said was “based on a whistleblower report.” Ghosn and another senior executive were arrested as they arrived in Japan from alliance partner Renault’s headquarters in France. The Brazilian-born Ghosn was accused of under-reporting his corporate income by as much as $45 million, while also misappropriating corporate funds.

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“I feel strong anger and disappointment,” Ghosn’s handpicked successor as Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told reporters at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama. “I am very sorry.” (more…)

GM Looking at White Collar Layoffs Due to Low Buyout Acceptance

Company falling well short of hoped-for 7,000 early retirements.

by on Nov.20, 2018

General Motors is offering buyouts to thousands of employees as it seeks to streamline its North American operations.

We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way — so what’s going to be?

That was the question essentially posed to thousands of General Motors Co. white collar employees by the company’s management, looking for at least 7,000 to accept an early retirement buyout. The automaker is looking to trim salaried workers as a proactive cost cutting measure.

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Those selected to participate in the plan have until noon Monday to decide; however, early reports suggest the company is going to get a little over half of its target, which means that GM likely will be laying off people in the near future to get that number. (more…)

FedEx to Add 1,000 Chinese EV Vans to Delivery Fleet

Delivery service hopes to reduce costs, as well as emissions.

by on Nov.20, 2018

FedEx plans to add 1,000 of the Chanje vans to its U.S. delivery fleet.

FedEx Corp. is plugging into battery power, the delivery service announcing today it will add 1,000 Chinese-made vans to its fleet as part of a commitment to reduce both energy consumption and vehicle emissions.

It joins a growing list of delivery services, including UPS and Deutsche Post, that are testing out the capabilities of fully electric trucks for use on both short and long-haul routes.

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“FedEx continually seeks new ways to maximize operational efficiency, minimize impacts and find innovative solutions through the company’s Reduce, Replace, Revolutionize approach to sustainability,” said Mitch Jackson, FedEx Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our investment in these vehicles is part of our commitment to that approach of serving our customers and connecting the world responsibly and resourcefully.”

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Mini Unveiling New John Cooper Works Model at L.A. Auto Show

Fun brand also showing off four new customized models.

by on Nov.20, 2018

The new Mini John Cooper Works Knights Edition will make its debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

With the recent focus on “hot hatches,” it would be fair to assume that ever-popular Mini would be among the leaders in the segment. Not only is it fair, but also it’s correct with the brand’s John Cooper Works edition vehicles.

At this year’s Los Angeles International Auto Show next week, Mini’s going to roll out a series of new vehicles looking to generate some excitement, especially within the “need for speed” crowd.

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Starting with the Mini John Cooper Works Knights Edition, which will make its North American premiere starting Nov. 28. Joining that is the Mini John Cooper Works GP – first shown as a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year – ready for launch in 2020.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Mainstay of brand's line-up only getting better with age.

by on Nov.20, 2018

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 will be offered in a variety of versions, including the new Hybrid.

The Toyota RAV4 has been around for more than two decades but its recent performance has been nothing short of spectacular as its sales have doubled in the past five years, which is most impressive for a vehicle in various iterations has been around for more than 20 years.

However, the competition is intense. Toyota’s market share it can rightfully claim it created in the segment is under siege from rivals from North America, Europe and Asia.

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But Toyota isn’t sitting still either. With the 2019 RAV4, it is substantially changing the character of compact utility vehicle with more power, a new exterior look and an impressive hybrid version that Toyota expects to account for significant sales volume that is quite likely to surpass that of the Prius.

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First Drive: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2.7L

Can a small engine really power a big truck?

by on Nov.19, 2018

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado features a new 2.7-liter turbo four with cylinder deactivation.

It takes a big engine to make a big truck owner happy — or so went the conventional wisdom among full-size pickup manufacturers until recently.

That strategy has been changing rapidly, in large part reflecting the arrival of some surprisingly peppy, albeit downsized, turbocharged powertrain packages, such as those from Ford’s EcoBoost family. More than half of all F-150s now go out the showroom door with a six under the hood. Now, we’re beginning to see not only competitive V-6 options, but even four-cylinder alternatives, such as the new 2.7-liter Chevrolet is unleashing with the arrival of the 2019 Silverado.

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An engine of that size, with or without a turbocharged kick, might have seemed entirely unlikely just a few years ago, but a day of driving the Silverado 2.7L through the desert badlands outside Phoenix last week proved that big things really can come in small packages. (more…)

Automakers Cutting New Car Smell, Adding to the Bottom Line

Chinese buyers hate the smell and the causes of it are unhealthy.

by on Nov.19, 2018

Car interiors often put off odors related to the volatile organic compounds used to assemble them. The VOCs are unhealthy and Ford has found a way to deal with them.

Making a new car greener entails many things, including but not exclusively, improved fuel economy, lower greenhouse gas emissions and easier recyclability.

Automakers around the globe have been searching for ways to make the interior cabin better for occupants. By changing the materials they use for steering wheels, seats and other components, they’re lowering the volatile organic compounds that fill the cabin.

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Additionally, there are other chemicals and compounds used in the assembly of vehicles that add to the harmful nature, and ultimately the smell of new vehicles. Eliminating these VOCs makes for a vehicle that’s less harmful to occupants — and adds to automaker’s bottom line too. (more…)

Toyota Plugs In For Performance

Most powerful RAV4 is a hybrid; could a performance Prius follow?

by on Nov.19, 2018

The RAV4 is now Toyota's best-seller and for 2019 the hybrid becomes its most powerful model.

No car company has done a better job marketing hybrids to the American public than Toyota. Though sales have slipped a bit over the last several years in the face of cheap gas, Toyota’s Prius remains the country’s best-selling hybrid-electric-vehicle, one of many HEVs the carmaker now offers.

That list includes a new hybrid version of the RAV4, the sport-utility vehicle getting a complete makeover for 2019. The electrified version of the compact sport-utility vehicle is, as one would expect, the most fuel-efficient version of the new RAV4. But, in an unusual move, Toyota has also made the hybrid the fastest and most powerful.

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That’s a significant shift in direction for Toyota which long seemed to believe that one couldn’t combine performance and fuel economy. But it now appears to be responding to a broader industry shift that sees electrified powertrain technology being used to enhance a vehicle’s fun-to-drive factor. (more…)

U-M Economists Predicting Solid Auto Sales for 2018

Next year's results expected to drop slightly.

by on Nov.19, 2018

U-M economists are predicting a solid sales year for 2018 with 2019 being slightly lower.

Robust demand for fleet sales will push light vehicle sales into the 17.1 million units per year range in 2018, according to the annual economic forecast by economists from the University of Michigan.

The influential U-M forecast, which is used by car makers and suppliers to help preparing forward-looking production schedules, also predicted that light vehicle sales will decline slightly in 2019, to 16.9 million units in each of 2019 and 2020 as interest rates rise and the economy cools gradually during that time frame.

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“While the U.S. economy is expected to expand 2.9% for the year after a strong 3.5% growth rate in the third quarter, the effects of federal spending and tax cut boosts will start to diminish in 2019 before fading out in 2020,” the forecast noted. (more…)

Carlos Ghosn Fired by Nissan, Reportedly Arrested for Misconduct

Investigation triggered by whistleblower, automaker confirms.

by on Nov.19, 2018

Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested Japan as part of an investigation about falsifying income and misusing company assets.

One of the most visible faces of the global auto industry has been fired and reportedly arrested, Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn accused of financial misconduct.

Once so popular after helping save the then-struggling automaker, Ghosn inspired a widely read Japanese comic book. But on Monday, Tokyo media reported, he was brought in before Japanese prosecutors who are questioning the executive about claims he both falsified income statements and misused company assets. A second senior executive is also facing allegations of corruption.

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“Based on a whistleblower report, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Nissan) has been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving the company’s Representative Director and Chairman Carlos Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly,” the automaker said in a statement. (more…)