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Ford Offers a First Look of its Next-Generation “Global” Focus

U.S. model remains under wraps.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Ford shows off the European line-up of the next-gen Focus. We'll have to wait to see U.S. versions.

Ford is lifting the kimono to give us a first look at its next-generation “global” Focus line-up – but it says it won’t reveal the U.S.-specific model until shortly before it goes on sale later next year.

The next version of the compact model will be offered in a range of body styles and trim levels, while adding a variety of tech features, including the new Ford CoPilot360 driver assistance suite. Expect roomier and more comfortable interiors, the automaker says, while adding that the next-gen Focus will feature new gas and diesel engines, as well as a new suspension.

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“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” said Jim Farley, president of Global Markets. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus line-up we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”

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Daimler Remains Committed to Diesel Engine Use

Shareholders express concerns about continued investment.

by on Apr.05, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche attempted to assuage concerns of investors about the future of diesel engines.

Daimler AG management insists the diesel engine has bright future, but the company’s shareholders are growing more skeptical and are raising questions about whether they should remain part of the company’s product portfolio in the face of stringent, new emission standards.

Shareholders, mainly representatives of investment funds holding shares of Daimler AG, raised questions about whether, in the aftermath of the scandal around the cheating on the emissions tests used by Volkswagen, it was wise for Daimler and Mercedes-Benz to continue investing in diesel technology.

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The question, coming during a meeting in Germany from German shareholders, indicate how the fallout from the “Dieselgate” scandal continues to impact a technology that up until VW’s troubles emerged in 2015 was the pride of the German auto industry. (more…)

Daimler’s Zetsche Talks About Future With New Investor

Geely's Li Khufu is Daimler's largest investor, which may foster new deals.

by on Apr.05, 2018

Daimler AG's Dieter Zetsche discusses the company's future during its annual shareholders meeting.

Daimler AG continues to enjoy record success even as it spends heavily on new investments to prepare the company to meet future challenges in an auto industry that is changing quickly and dramatically even as it adjusts to new shareholders.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche also moved quickly at the beginning of the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Berlin to head off questions about the investment of Li Shufu, the Chinese entrepreneur who recently acquired approximately 10% of Daimler’s shares.

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“I’d like to start by saying our talks with Li Shufu have been very positive,” Zetsche said. “He wants to have a long-term investment with Daimler and he supports our successful strategy,” said Zetsche, adding that future collaboration with Li Shufu’s automotive empire, which includes Geely, the Chinese company he founded, and Volvo, is a possibility. (more…)

Trump Trade Disputes Put Automakers in Crosshairs

U.S. auto buyers could face substantially higher prices; industry profits could tumble.

by on Apr.04, 2018

President Donald Trump could be hearing rumbles from the auto industry over his trade policies.

Wall Street investors aren’t the only ones growing worried about Pres. Donald Trump’s increasingly aggressive actions on international trade. Finding themselves in the crosshairs of a potential trade war, automakers are also sounding the alarm.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” the president tweeted this week, ahead of announcing $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese-made goods. The move quickly was mirrored by tariffs announced by China.

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The tit-for-tat trade battle could lead to serious problems for a number of industries, including aerospace, agriculture and chip manufacturers – as well as the auto industry. Carmakers are also fretting over the president’s increasingly confrontational tone over NAFTA, trade with Europe and new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

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Toyota, Subaru Set to Replace Sports Car

No timetable for new versions of BRZ and 86.

by on Apr.04, 2018

Toyota and Subaru are working on a replacement for the sports car each sells, in this case, the Toyota 86.

Toyota and Subaru have started development of a replacement for the two-seat sports car that both companies produce jointly and currently sell under different names.

The Japan Times reported the two automakers have agreed to extend their collaboration to produce replacements for the current versions of the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ.

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The two companies expect to launch the new models of the compact rear-wheel-drive sports car in 2021 with improved performance, according to The Japan Times, which cited sources familiar with the project. (more…)

Tesla Dismisses Model 3 Production Shortfall and Investors Appear to Agree

Production accelerating so fast it may soon “exceed even that of Ford and the Model T.”

by on Apr.03, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk told investors the company will be closing in on higher production numbers for the Model 3.

Tesla on Tuesday confirmed that it again fell short of its production target for the much-delayed Model 3 sedan, though it also promised that the “production rate will climb rapidly” from the 2,000 battery-cars assembled each week in late March to 5,000 by the end of the second quarter.

Delays with the ramp-up of the Model 3, Tesla’s first mainstream offering, have been a nightmare for the California-based carmaker, plunging its first-quarter earnings deeply into the red and raising the specter of having to raise new equity to fund its ongoing operations. But after a sharp plunge in its stock over the past month, investors appear to be taking solace in the latest production figures, Tesla shares surging by more than 3% in late morning trading.

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Tesla played up the positive in a statement Tuesday, despite missing its production target. It cited “the progress made thus far” as “laying the groundwork” for a strong third quarter. “As a result, Tesla does not require an equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines.” (more…)

BMW and Mercedes-Benz Will Merge Their Mobility Services Operations

Goal is “seamless mobility from Point A to B” whether you’re driving, taking a train, even riding a bike.

by on Mar.28, 2018

A mobility enterprises, like Daimler's alliance with the Car2Go car-sharing service, are going to partner with BMW.

In what is being described as a “historic” move, traditional arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz have announced plans to merge their many and varied mobility services operations in a bid to make it easier to get “from Point A to B seamlessly,” no matter what form of transportation you use.

The two German automakers are already big players in the emerging field of mobility services, among other things partnering with taxi fleets and parking structures while operating both car- and ride-sharing services in a number of cities around the world. The new joint venture will also work with mass transit systems and even with the public bicycle services popping up in many urban areas.

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“Our goal is to provide mobility services at levels so far unheard of,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW AG board member who helped negotiate the alliance. (more…)

Volvo XC60 Lands Honors as World Car of the Year

Six World Car Awards help open 2018 NY Auto Show.

by on Mar.28, 2018

Volvo's Anders Gustafsson accepts the trophy for the World Car of the Year for the XC60.

Volvo racked up another award for its expanding line-up of SUVs as the 2018 New York International Auto Show opened up its annual media preview.

Already honored as North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, the Volvo XC60 expanded its reach by nabbing the title “World Car of the Year,” the most prestigious of six trophies handed out by a jury of 82 automotive journalists from around the world.

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The choice of the Volvo was significant on several levels, as was the fact that “all three of the finalists are SUVs,” noted World Car Chairman Peter Lyon. “That’s definitely a sign of the times.” (more…)

Porsche Adds to 911 GT3 Family With Less

New Weissach Package offering cuts weight with carbon fiber.

by on Mar.28, 2018

Porsche introduced its new lighter 911 GT3 RS with the Weissach Package with a 0-to-60 time of under 3 seconds. Photo credit: AutoBlog.com

Perhaps no automaker better takes an iconic vehicle and tweaks it everso slightly to the squealing delight of a dedicated fan base than Porsche and its 911. For 2019, Porsche is adding the Weissach Package to the 911 GT3 RS model.

Based on the 911 GT3 RS just unveiled in Geneva, the optional Weissach Package is available for the first time on a 911 GT3 RS model and complements the most powerful naturally aspirated road-going 911 ever with additional lightweight components, Porsche notes.

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Naturally, there’s a price for such subtle visual changes: $18,000 for the Weissach Package, which helps the 4.0-liter 520 horsepower flat six push the car from 0-to-60 mph in less than three seconds. (more…)

Mercedes-AMG Muscling Up the C-Class Line-UP

NYIAS brings debut of C63 versions of coupe, cabrio and sedan.

by on Mar.27, 2018

The new Mercedes C63 S Coupe comes with two V-8 engine options, one of which propels the two-door from 0-to-60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

There was a time when Mercedes’ AMG models were as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. These days, however, it’s rare to find a model line that doesn’t get the AMG treatment.

So, it’s likely going to surprise few to see the three new AMG models headlining the German automaker’s big display at this year’s New York International Auto Show. Mercedes-AMG is giving its special touch, this time around, to three C-Class models: the C63 sedan, coupe and Cabriolet.

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“The AMG C-Class is our best-selling model series and therefore a key cornerstone of our company’s success in recent years,” explains AMG CEO Tobias Moers. With the launch of the C63 versions, he adds, there are now a full dozen different C-Class variants in the Mercedes line-up. (more…)