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Big Money Earners Drive Big Money Vehicles: Like the Rest of Us

Those earning $200K most often drive a Ford F-150, study shows.

by on Feb.21, 2017

The Ford F-150 was the top selling vehicle for buyers making more than $200,000, as it was for all buyers.

The “1%” has been the topic of many discussion during the past several months: who they are, what they do, etc. However, if you’re making more than $200,000 a year, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to what’s in the garage.

Nearly any luxury vehicle would be in your range, and even some supercars … albeit used supercars. So what do people in that economic “class drive” more than any other vehicle? The Ford F-150, according to a new study.

Product News!

MaritzCX conducted the study covering the 2016 model year and discovered the F-150, which is already the most popular vehicle in the U.S., was also tops among those earning more than $200,000 a year. (more…)

Honda’s Top American Exec, John Mendel Stepping Down

Jeff Conrad to take his place.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Honda's John Mendel accepted the North American Truck of the Year award this year. Mendel is being replaced by Jeff Conrad.

As part of a series of management changes announced Tuesday, 62-year-old John Mendel will step down as the executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co.’s automotive divisions.

A one-time Ford executive who joined Honda in 2004, Mendel was the highest-ranking U.S. member of the Honda team and given credit for not only delivering a series of record sales for the automaker but also for helping guide it through some potentially serious problems, including the recall of millions of vehicles equipped with faulty Takata airbags.

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Mendel, well-regarded not only within the company but also by franchised dealers and the automotive media, will be replaced by Jeff Conrad, currently the general manager of the Honda division. In his new role he will, among other things, oversee the high-line Acura division. (more…)

Uber Hires Former US Attorney General Holder for Sex Harassment Investigation

Ride-sharing service facing new boycott threat.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick called for an expedited investigation of sexual harassment charges by a former engineer at the company.

Facing new calls for a boycott in the face of sexual harassment charges, Uber has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an “urgent investigation” of charges leveled against the company by former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti.

Over the weekend, Rigetti posted a blog, titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” alleging a climate at Uber that not only discouraged female engineers but showed no interest in pursuing their complaints and concerns through the corporate human resources department.

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The widely reported post came in the wake of a series of other embarrassing setbacks for Uber, including a brief boycott that resulted in thousands of the service’s users deleting their smartphone apps to protest connections between Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and President Donald Trump. New calls for a boycott, using the #DeleteUber hashtag, have emerged since Rigetti’s post began to go viral. (more…)

Governments Catalyzing Growth of Autonomous Vehicles Globally

Japan, Dubai leading the way to more autonomous vehicle use, testing.

by on Feb.21, 2017

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chairs a committee reviewing a proposal that would set 2020 as the target for commercializing automated-driving technology.

The push to develop autonomous cars is increasingly taking on a global hue as activist governments around the world take a hand in making more space for self-driving vehicles.

For example, the Japanese government now aims to have self-driving vehicles provide transport to its rapidly expanding population of senior citizens and others with limited vehicle access by 2020 and is deliberately encouraging development of the self-driving technology to address growing social challenges, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Autonomous Tech News!

Meanwhile, Dubai has cut a deal for autonomous vehicles with Tesla. The country’s transportation authority announced a deal to buy 200 Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs for the city’s huge taxi and limousine fleet, which now number numbers more than 10,000 vehicles. (more…)

GOP Flustered by Trump Administration on Trade Issues

President's ambiguity on agricultural issues causing problems.

by on Feb.21, 2017

President Donald Trump's "border tax" plan is getting a lukewarm reception from the Republican Party.

Republican concerns about Trump administration policies on trade and trade agreements continue to expand, according to The Hill, a political website that monitors Congress.

Trump’s “border tax,” which is part of what the President has described as an effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., has been meet coolly in the GOP controlled Senate even though it has been blessed by House Speaker Paul Ryan who sees it as a way to offset the revenue loss that follow a sweeping tax reform package Trump is also promising to deliver.

Trade News!

However, with the price of wheat, corn and soybeans falling, trade is also quickly emerging as a major issue for Republican lawmakers, who are increasingly worried about Trump’s promises to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement and his decision to scuttle the Trans Pacific Partnership. (more…)

Lotus on the Block Again? Geely’s Sniffing Around.

Lotus could be split from Proton in large sale.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Even as it develops new products, like the 3-Eleven, Lotus appears to be ripe to be sold, perhaps to Geely.

Poor Lotus. It almost seems like no one wants to keep the legendary British sports car maker. The company has been in and out of trouble for at least the past five years and new reports suggest it may be on the block again.

Published reports suggest that current owner, DRB-Hicom, is considering selling the company to Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.

Global News!

DRB-Hicom owns Proton Holdings, the Malaysian automaker, which is part of the firm’s automotive holdings, all of which – including Lotus – are being shopped as a bloc. (more…)

Tesla Under Scrutiny After Explosive Crash

Investigators question whether fire was result of battery-car design.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Tesla's in the crosshairs again after a Model S exploded in flames after a high-speed collision. The parent of one of the victims blames the car's batteries.

Tesla has come under fire in the wake of an explosive crash in Indianapolis involving a Model S battery-electric vehicle that took the life of a young woman and her boss.

The automaker had previously taken steps to prevent the lithium-ion batteries used in its vehicles from inadvertently catching fire. However, the crash raises questions not only about whether Tesla has gone far enough, but also if Tesla’s battery technology is inherently safe. Lithium-ion chemistry came under close scrutiny last year as a result of fires and meltdowns involving Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

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“Had she been in another vehicle she would have been alive for me to yell at her for driving after drinking,” Jon Speckman, the father of Casey Speckman, said during an interview with the Indianapolis Star. (more…)

Sex Harassment Claim Raises More Problems for Uber

CEO Kalanick orders “urgent investigation.”

by on Feb.20, 2017

Another firestorm engulfs Uber and CEO Travisk Kalanick orders an "urgent investigation."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has ordered an “urgent investigation” into claims raised by a female engineer who has gone public about allegedly endemic sexual harassment within the country’s largest ride-sharing service.

In an open statement, Susan Fowler Rigetti described “an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos,” alleging she was propositioned for sex on her very first day on the job, was repeatedly blocked from advancement and found Uber’s human resources department unwilling to take action on sexual harassment claims she and other female employees filed.

Breaking News!

Her blog posting, titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” quickly went viral and, by Monday, had generated a response from Kalanick who said in a tweet that “What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in,” adding that “Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

(more…)

GM Stock Could Pop on Opel Sale

Sale of unprofitable business could net shareholder windfall.

by on Feb.20, 2017

Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, met with leaders in Germany to assuage concerns about the potential sale of Opel to PSA.

Shareholders reacted skeptically to last week’s announcement that General Motors was in discussions to sell off its money losing European operations anchored by the Opel and Vauxhall brands to the Paris-based PSA Group.

But the weekly financial magazine Barron’s gave the proposed sale of Opel a boost when it said GM’s share could increase in value by as much as 35% if the deal was finalized and GM succeeds in finishing the sale.

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If the deal goes through, it could net GM as much as $1 billion in cash, Barron’s says, citing analysts. However, the real value from the sale would come from offloading a money-losing business and refocusing on operations in China, Latin America and North America, it said. (more…)

Congestion Costing Drivers $1,200 Annually

Los Angeles tops "worst congestion" list.

by on Feb.20, 2017

A new study shows that the average American pays $1,200 in traffic congestion-related costs.

Traffic congestion costs American motorists an average of $1,200 per year, according to the Global Traffic Scorecard from INRIX, a leader in transportation analytics and connected car services.

The study also described Los Angeles as the metropolitan area in the U.S. with the worst congestion. New York and San Francisco came in second and third respectively on the INRIX index, followed by Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C. and Dallas.

Beyond the Headlines!

Boston, Chicago and Seattle round out the list of top 10 most congested metropolitan areas, according to INRIX. (more…)