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Former FCA CEO Marchionne Dead of Stroke at 66

A “force of nature,” the Italian-born exec rescued two car companies.

by on Jul.25, 2018

Sergio Marchionne was a dynamic game-changer that many could only watch as he raced by.

Sergio Marchionne, a man more than once called “a force of nature,” has died from a stroke at the age of 66, an unexpected complication following what had been expected to be “routine” shoulder surgery last week.

In an era when many businesspeople crave anonymity, Marchionne’s public appearances often turned into events, rather than mere news conferences. And perhaps for good reason considering there are few executives who could lay claim to having saved two separate automakers, Fiat and Chrysler, before bringing them together to form a global powerhouse.

Word that something had gone wrong came around noon Eastern time on Saturday when FCA issued a brief statement revealing that the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” and that his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.” Subsequent news reports from Europe indicated the executive had suffered a stroke, fallen into a coma and was placed on a ventilator at a Swiss hospital. FCA issued another terse statement indicating his passing early this afternoon in Europe.

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Tesla Demands Refunds from Suppliers to Help it Claw into the Black

“Simply ludicrous,” warns one analyst.

by on Jul.23, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pushing supplies to provide refunds on parts, some of them from months ago, as he scrambles to bring the company into the black.

(This story has been updated with new information.)

Tesla has demanded that suppliers give it refunds on parts purchases, some of those dating well into the past, in order to help the carmaker deliver the promise CEO Elon Musk has promised for the second half of 2018.

It is unclear if Tesla would be able to make that target without the givebacks. Investors reacted with skepticism after the news broke over the weekend, the company’s stock tumbling sharply ahead of the bell marking the official opening of Monday morning trading.

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Tesla officials told TheDetroitBureau.com in a email that only certain suppliers were asked for a refund on past products and that this kind of interaction is not out of the ordinary. (more…)

Marchionne Out, Manley In as Fiat Chrysler CEO

Questions about health issues blamed for Marchionne’s early departure.

by on Jul.21, 2018

Larger than life: Marchionne outlined a broad 5-year-plan during a day-long June session in Milan.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Saturday that Jeep and Ram brand boss Michael Manley will replace CEO Sergio Marchionne, who due to complications from recent surgery is gravely ill and will not return to work.

Though the 66-year-old Marchionne was known to have undergone surgery this past week for what was reported to be a shoulder problem. According to FCA’s statement, the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” while his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.”

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Word of Marchionne’s departure quickly echoed through the automotive grapevine. Few industry executives have had a higher profile presence in recent decades, and even fewer could be said to have done more to shape a company in his own image as did Marchionne, who rescued the then-bankrupt Chrysler by securing a U.S. government bailout and then merging it with Italy’s Fiat S.p.A.

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Wahlberg Jumps into Auto Business, Buys Chevy Dealership

Actor and entrepreneur expands his business holdings.

by on Jul.20, 2018

Actor Mark Wahlberg is adding a Chevrolet dealership in Ohio to his growing business empire.

There is a new Chevrolet dealer in Columbus, Ohio who has the potential to produce some of the best new car ads ever: Mark Wahlberg.

The man who hyped Calvin Klein underwear as a young rapper has since become a top-grossing actor with a burgeoning business empire anchored by the famous Wahlburger restaurant franchise.

Celebrity News!

Wahlberg is partnering with Michigan-based dealer Jay Feldman, who owns eight Chevy dealerships in southeast and mid-Michigan, according to Associated Press. They say they’ve been friends for several years and became partners in Wahlburgers restaurants in Cleveland and Georgia.

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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.

Beyond the Headlines!

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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Tesla Set to Move on New Plant in Shanghai, Announcing Deal Even as it Raises Chinese Prices

Battery-carmaker is 1st from U.S. to raise prices as trade war escalates.

by on Jul.10, 2018

Tesla's new Shanghai plant is expected to be at least as large as its factory in Fremont, California - and include battery production, as well.

(This story has been updated with new information.)

Pres. Donald Trump’s trade war has claimed its first automotive victim, Tesla announcing it will raise prices on some models on sale in China by $20,000 or more to reflect the impact of new tariffs on American-made vehicles.

At the same time, CEO Elon Musk is on his way to China, numerous reports indicating Tesla is set to lock down a deal with authorities in Shanghai to set up the company’s first foreign assembly plant. Musk confirmed construction will begin in about three months and the facility will produce 500,000 vehicles annually once it is ramped up to full production.

Breaking News!

Despite the news about tariffs – which could depress sales in the world’s largest battery-car market in the near-term – investors appear to be buoyed by reports that Tesla will move forward on a Chinese assembly plant. Musk has also indicated that the automaker is working on plans to set up a second foreign plant somewhere in Europe.

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Wall Street Souring on Tesla

A good week gone bad.

by on Jul.09, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is promising the company will be in the black by the third quarter.

What was supposed to be a great week for Tesla turned out to be anything but, with analysts and investors largely ignoring CEO Elon Musk’s jubilant announcement of hitting the company’s production target, instead turning increasingly bearish amidst a sharp stock sell-off.

The roller-coaster ride could continue during the next few weeks as Wall Street waits to see what Tesla will report when it releases its second-quarter earnings announcement. The company delivered record losses during the first three months of this year and is expected to remain deep in the red through the end of June. The longer-term question is whether Tesla’s rising production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan will finally translate into the black ink and positive cash flow Musk has repeatedly promised.

Product News!

For now, however, it appears that a growing number of analysts aren’t particularly optimistic. Of the 31 analysts who cover Tesla shares, 10 now offer “sell” guidance, nearly one in three. A roughly equal number list TSLA shares as “hold,” with only a third now recommending investors “buy.” It is rare, according to the Bloomberg news service, for analysts to go with a “sell” rating, most signaling displeasure with “hold” guidance. (more…)

Rue Brittania? Brexit Could Chase Jaguar Land Rover from the UK

Brexit poses major financial hit, automaker warns.

by on Jul.05, 2018

Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar-Land Rover, celebrates a win for the Velar as World Car Design of the Year. It was a finalist for the overall World Car of the Year.

It once was said that “the sun never sets on the British empire.” What’s left of that realm could grow even smaller, ironically enough, once the United Kingdom exercises its independence and leaves the European Union.

Negotiations have been going on for months, following the Brexit vote, and among those watching closely to see how future trade relations shape up is Jaguar Land Rover, the British automaker warning that without a favorable deal, it could see its annual costs rise by 1.2 billion pounds, or about $1.6 billion, annually. That would force it to think seriously about moving out of the UK, according to a statement issued by JLR CEO Ralf Speth.

Global Auto News!

The automaker, he stressed, needs to have “free and frictionless trade with the EU and unrestricted access to the single market” if it is to successfully compete in the global market, Speth said.

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Musk Claims Tesla Hit Production Goal

Tesla now “a real car company.”

by on Jul.02, 2018

"We did it," proclaimed Tesla's Elon Musk in an email to employees regarding Model 3 production.

“We did it,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk proclaimed in a weekend e-mail to employees, declaring that the struggling automaker had hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 battery sedans in a single week, making it “a real car company.”

Though actually a fair bit less than what Tesla had hoped to be doing by now, nearly a year after its first mainstream electric vehicle went into production, it nonetheless marks a significant milestone and a sign that the company is finally working its way out of what Musk had described as “production hell” at its Fremont, California assembly plant.

News Now!

“We either found a way or, by will and inventiveness, created entirely new solutions that were thought impossible,” the South African-born executive said in an e-mail sent just days after he spent his 47th birthday at the Tesla plant overseeing efforts to speed up production. (more…)

Ghosn Dismisses Speculation of a Renault Takeover of Alliance

Complex ownership structure, that includes French government, makes it difficult.

by on Jun.26, 2018

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chief Carlos Ghosn recently reiterated there is "zero chance" of Renault taking over Nissan and Mitsubishi.

The question of what company in the three-legged stool that is Renault Nissan Mitsubishi might acquire the other two has been broached a few times since Mitsubishi was added. The issue is apparently important enough for Carlos Ghosn, who heads up the three companies, to address recently.

“Anybody who will ask Nissan and Mitsubishi to become wholly owned subsidiaries of Renault has zero chance of getting a result,” Ghosn told shareholders of Mitsubishi Motors at a meeting las week.

Stay in the Loop!

Ghosn is CEO of Renault as well and chairman of Nissan. He recently turned over the role of CEO there to Hiroto Saikawa. The simple reason for encouraging the automakers to work together but remain autonomous is simple: You don’t fix what isn’t broken. (more…)