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EVs Aren’t Ready to “Take Over the World,” Says Toyota’s Lentz

North American CEO warns “It’s going to be a battle” are models flood market but sales lag.

by on Jan.16, 2019

Toyota's Jim Lentz believes the auto industry is putting too much stock – and money – into electric vehicles.

By various estimates, there should be as many as 100 all-electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2020, with scores more plug-ins and conventional hybrids already available. And that could pose a major challenge for automakers who are investing billions into the market to build battery-based vehicles. That includes Toyota which is investing about $1 billion to open up a new plant in U.S. in a partnership with Mazda that will, among other products, produce a new line-up of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The question is whether all that money could be going down a rathole. For the moment, at least, Tesla appears to be the only automaker making any money on battery vehicles, as a number of industry leaders pointed out during a series of events in Detroit this week.

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That included Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, who warned that, “It’s going to be a battle,” as manufacturers struggle to grab customers in a market where “There’s not much growth.” (more…)

BMW Updates Flagship 7 Series

In an SUV era does it matter?

by on Jan.16, 2019

BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

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Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7. (more…)

GAC Coming in 2020; Chief Blames Delay on US-China Issues

Company working on making vehicles U.S. compliant.

by on Jan.15, 2019

GAC Motor President Yu Jun (center) says the company will be ready to enter the U.S. market in 2020.

The first Chinese automaker expected to make an incursion into the U.S. market has put on the brakes for a little while. GAC Motor is delaying its entry into the U.S. market until 2020, due in part to ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

However, it may not be as simple as the trade climate between the two economic superpowers is too volatile for a Chinese company to set up shop in the U.S. right now.

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Yu Jun, GAC Motor president, told TheDetroitBureau.com that the automaker was still working on getting its vehicles ready for the U.S. market. He believes they meet regulatory standards now, saying the company was working with U.S. regulatory agencies to ensure compliance. However, he wouldn’t confirm they met U.S. spec yet, preferring to say the will when they come to the U.S. (more…)

Continental Boss Putting Brakes on Autonomous Vehicles

Degenhart believes self-drivers are farther away than automakers say.

by on Jan.15, 2019

Continental AG Chairman Elmar Degenhart said he believes that self-driving cars are much further way than automakers suggest will happen.

While automakers may have you believe that self-driving vehicles are right around the corner, at least one auto supplier believes that it will be well into the next decade before autonomous vehicles will be capable of venturing beyond a well-defined area and take to the open road.

Instead, drivers will continue to adapt to advanced driver assistance systems, also known as ADAS, which will help make the transition to self-driving cars easier for uneasy vehicle owners.

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Elmar Degenhart, chairman of Continental AG, one of the auto industry’s leading suppliers of driver assistance systems, told reporters during the North American International Auto Show, that the adaptation of driver assistance systems such as blind spot detection has been encouraging.  (more…)

Ford, VW Announce 1st in Promised Series of Joint Ventures

Carmakers will focus first on midsize pickups, light commercial vehicles.

by on Jan.15, 2019

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and VW AG CEO Herbert Diess downplayed the immediate impact their new deal.

Confirming months of rumors, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen announced Tuesday that they will launch the first of what they suggested will be a series of joint ventures, focusing initially on midsize pickups and light commercial vehicles.

Moving forward, they anticipate adding projects that will pair their costly efforts on electrified and autonomous vehicles, while Herbert Diess, the CEO of VW, said during a joint teleconference that the new partners could work together on “other” products in the future.

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Alliances are becoming more commonplace in an industry where changing consumer tastes and emerging technologies are stretching thin the budgets of even the most well-funded manufacturers, said Diess, who added that, “In such an environment, it just makes sense to share investments, pool innovation capabilities and create scale effects that are clearly defined.” (more…)

Live From Detroit!

This year's event has some of everything.

by on Jan.14, 2019

This year’s media preview of the North American International Auto Show may be wrapping up, but it had some intriguing — and occasionally surprising — debuts, including a flying car. Check out  complete coverage of the 30th anniversary NAIAS on TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

Cadillac Reshapes Line-up with new XT6 Crossover

Utility vehicle will replace CT6 sedan as premium offering.

by on Jan.13, 2019

Cadillac's new XT6 will go up against a tough set of competitors, including the Acura MDX, the three-row Lexus RX and the new Lincoln Aviator.

Cadillac has been in the midst of a “renaissance” for nearly two decades, but it’s a turnaround that has never quite taken hold, especially in the home U.S. market where sales took another 1.1% dip last year.

The big problem has been the lackluster success of the marque’s sedan models, something that is leading to a sharp cutback over the next couple years, with the CTS and ATS models effectively being consolidated and the flagship CT6 set to vanish by the end of 2019.

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The real test for Cadillac comes on the light truck side of the ledger where it has fared a bit better. The new XT4, its smallest SUV, has been a solid hit since its autumn launch. And now, Caddy is pushing upward, with the all-new XT6 that will essentially replace the CT6 sedan as its premium offering.

(more…)

Nissan Shake-Up Claims First Victim: Former US CEO Muñoz

Is this the start of a “bloodbath” that will purge non-Japanese senior managers?

by on Jan.11, 2019

Jose Muñoz, Nissan's chief performance officer, parted ways with the automaker today.

José Muñoz, a widely respected Nissan executive and a protégé of ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn, is leaving the automaker just days after he reportedly took a leave of absence to deal with “special tasks.”

Muñoz, who had gone to Japan this week, was said to have resigned, according to Nissan, but several observers questioned whether his departure marks the beginning of a purge of senior managers linked to Ghosn. The 64-year-old executive was arrested on Nov. 19, and accused of a number of financial misdeeds, prosecutors on Friday indicting him for the second time.

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“José Muñoz has elected to resign from Nissan Motor Company, effective immediately,” Nissan said in a statement e-mailed to TheDetroitBureau.com. (more…)

GM Expects Bigger Profits, More Transformation in 2019

Company wants to make workforce changes during strong labor market.

by on Jan.11, 2019

GM CEO Mary Barra is leading the transformation of the company's manufacturing footprint.

General Motors Co. expects earnings to grow in 2019 as it restructures, picks up the pace of moving towards what Chairman Mary Barra described as an “all-electric” future, and maintains its market share in China.

“We will continue to strengthen our core business and invest in the technologies that will transform the future of mobility. Managing both well is critical to position General Motors for success for generations to come,” Barra said, adding that it was better to tackle this restructuring during a strong labor market.

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“We are committed to driving significant shareholder value over the long term as we drive the transformation,” she added. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Cutting 4,500 Jobs in Europe

Brexit, dying diesel sales and slow sales in China driving cuts.

by on Jan.11, 2019

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth said the company was facing struggles due to Brexit and other industry issues around the globe.

Jaguar Land Rover is preparing to eliminate about 4,500 jobs worldwide as it responds to the decline of demand for diesels, the slowdown in the sales of new vehicles in China and the drag on sales created by Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit.

While Jaguar Land Rover enjoyed a good year in the U.S. with sales rising 7%, the company, which is the United Kingdom’s largest automaker representing roughly 10% the company’s workforce, is implementing a plan to reduce costs by $3.2 billion.

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The effort was announced last year as part of a series of moves toboost cash flow through 2020. JLR already eliminated 1,500 jobs in 2018, the company said Thursday in a statement. (more…)