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Lucid Secures $1 Billion Investment from Saudis

PIF looking for a hedge as it expands the value of the fund.

by on Sep.17, 2018

Lucid executives were on the hunt for additional investors, and struck a $1 billion with the Saudis.

After being seen as the key to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s now-dead plans to take the EV maker private, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is now investing $1 billion into EV start up Lucid Motors.

The new pact gives Lucid the cash it needs to kick off production of its first-ever model, the Air, in 2020, at its plant in Arizona. Lucid officials have said the new model will cost about $60,000.

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It’s widely believed the Saudis have been searching for ways to hedge against its oil exports for some time now, explaining the earlier dalliance with Tesla and Musk. The two sides had talks about the fund backing Musk’s plan, which could have required more than $40 billion from the Saudis. (more…)

Bye-Bye Beetle

Volkswagen unveils Beetle Final Edition, with "no immediate plans" for a replacement.

by on Sep.13, 2018

The last of the VW Beetles come in two "final edition" colors and styles, including convertible models.

The end is near – for the Volkswagen Beetle, that is, the automaker all but confirming rumors that 2019 will mark the last time the once wildly popular little car will roll off an assembly line.

Also known in various places as the Bug, and even the Kafer, it has had an incredible run, with only a brief stretch out of production, the Beetle has been a fixture on the road since 1938, when it was unveiled as part of Adolph Hitler’s plan to create a “people’s car,” or “volkswagen,” that was cheap and easy to produce. With nearly 22 million build since then, it is the longest-running model ever, though Toyota’s Corolla claims to beat it as the best-selling nameplate in automotive history.

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“The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America Inc. (more…)

Ford Promises to be More Transparent About Turnaround

But analysts still wonder what it’s planning.

by on Sep.13, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett hasn't been entirely transparent about his plans to revamp the company.

When Jim Hackett was named CEO of Ford Motor Co., following a senior management shake-up last year, he promised to spend the next 100 days studying the company’s strengths and weaknesses to devise a clear turnaround strategy.

A year later, however, analysts and investors are still wondering what’s in store. The company has announced a few key elements of its plan, starting with the announcement that it will all but abandon the passenger side of the U.S. new car market to focus on the more profitable SUVs, CUVs and pickups that have come to dominate the sales charts.

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Confusion about where Ford is heading with a turnaround plan it now values at $25.5 billion has translated into a sharp slump in its stock price, shares falling by more than a quarter this year, barely nudging the $10 mark all summer. Meanwhile, Ford’s debt rating has tumbled to just a bare step above junk status. (more…)

Lexus ES Becomes World’s 1st Car to Replace Sideview Mirrors with Cameras

But you’ll have to go to Japan to buy one for now.

by on Sep.13, 2018

The new Lexus ES will become the first car to offer cameras to replace side mirrors — in Japan.

If you’re driving in Japan in the coming months and catch a new 2019 Lexus ES rolling up from behind in your rearview mirror you might notice something odd: the sideview mirrors might seem oddly small.

That’s because the ES has become world’s first mass production automobile to offer optional sideview cameras, replacing standard mirrors. It’s a concept carmakers have been toying with for years and could become commonplace in the not-too-distant future, experts say, with Audi set to offer a similar feature on its first all-electric model, the e-tron.

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“The digital mirrors will make their debut on the new ES, which will go on sale in late October,” explained a news release from Toyota’s luxury brand. (more…)

Volkswagen AG’s Legal Woes Continue to Expand

Automaker enduring two diesel-scandal lawsuits in Germany.

by on Sep.13, 2018

Former VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is accused of failing to provide info about the diesel scandal soon enough.

Volkswagen AG’s legal woes from the fallout from rigging of diesel emissions tests continue to expand as it faces a class action lawsuit courtesy of a new law in Germany designed to protect the interests of consumers.

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations, or Vzbv, said it would undertake “pioneering work” with motorists’ lobby group ADAC, or General German Automobile Club, by filing for damages on behalf of Volkswagen owners with diesel engines.

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The class action was made possible after the German cabinet approved a law that allows consumer protection organizations to litigate on behalf of the consumers, avoiding the high costs of individual lawsuits.  (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Debuting New GLE Ute at Paris Motor Show

German automaker skipping Detroit show.

by on Sep.12, 2018

Mercedes-Benz plans to debut the new 2019 GLE at the Paris Motor Show next month instead of in Detroit in January.

Mercedes-Benz plans to show the new 2019 GLE at the Paris Auto Show, marking a bit of a change in its marketing strategy.

In the past, the GLE, which is built at the big Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, would probably been shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January since the vehicle will go on sale in the U.S. in 2019.

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The GLE will also be exported to China, though sales of the GLA have been crimped in the Chinese market by new tariffs. Mercedes, however, has elected to skip the 2019 NAIAS but is eager to show of the new GLE, which will reach the market with loads of new technology. (more…)

Investor Suit Against VW AG Gets Underway in Germany

Shareholders seeking $10.4 billion in damages.

by on Sep.11, 2018

The $10.4 billion investor lawsuit against Volkswagen AG is underway in Germany.

The trial to determine if Volkswagen AG executives disclosed critical information about the diesel scandal to investors in a timely manner has gotten underway.

Investors are seeking almost $10.4 billion, saying Volkswagen had not provided information they needed to decide what to do with their shares before the scandal became public.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen in September 2015 of manipulating diesel emissions, sending the shares sharply lower. The scandal also stranded billions of dollars in investment in diesel technology and shifted the entire industry’s trajectory away from diesel and toward battery electric vehicles. (more…)

Hey! BMW Introducing New AI-Enabled In-Car Assistant

New digital assistant available in March 2019

by on Sep.06, 2018

BMW has developed its own in-car, AI-enabled digital assistant. The system's functions can be accessed by simply saying, "Hey BMW!"

“Hey Google!” appears to have more competition as BMW follows the lead of Mercedes-Benz, Ford and other automakers by making an AI-enabled assistant available in its vehicles with a simple call out: “Hey BMW!”

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is a new proprietary in-car AI assistant that uses an always on-call technology platform. It is an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW” and has the ability to control vehicle settings, navigation and entertainment systems as well as explain vehicle functions and even conducting a conversation.

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The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant will debut in 2019 and mark the start of a new era in which drivers will increasingly be able to operate their car and access its functions and information through voice control, the automaker noted. (more…)

EV Sales Expected to Jump to 30% Overall by 2030, Supplier Claims

Schaeffler execs say America will lag China, Europe in EV acceptance.

by on Sep.06, 2018

Schaeffler's Mover electric vehicle is designed to also be autonomous acting as a shuttle in certain areas.

Electric vehicles could account for 30% of the cars and trucks sold worldwide by 2030, executives from one of the auto industry’s major suppliers said during a symposium the company organized in Detroit.

Marc McGrath, president of Schaeffler Automotive Americas, said the shift to electric vehicles will be slower in North America than in China or Europe where “people are running away from diesel” and several cities have moving to ban the internal combustion engine altogether.

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Schaeffler, a German-based company that supplies high-precision components and systems in engine, transmission, and chassis applications, as well as rolling and plain bearings.  (more…)

Toyota Recalling 1m Hybrids Worldwide Over Fire Risk

Prius, Prius plug-in and C-HR models targeted.

by on Sep.05, 2018

A problem with the Prius wiring harness could lead to a short-circuit and possible fire.

Toyota is issuing a worldwide recall for three of its hybrid models due to a potential fire risk.

The service action covers the Toyota Prius, the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle, as well as the newer Prius plug-in hybrid and the C-HR hybrid SUV. According to the automaker, The problem involves a wiring harness that has been linked to at least one incident in which a short-circuit caused smoke to pour out of a vehicle in Japan.

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According to Toyota, the problem occurs the wiring harness can come into contact with the cover of the hybrid power control unit. If dust accumulates on either the cover or the wiring harness, the insulation on the wires can wear down over time and eventually result in a short-circuit.

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