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Tesla Takes Another Slap as Consumer Reports Faults Latest Autopilot Update

Latest update called “far less competent than a human driver.”

by on May.22, 2019

Consumer Reports criticized the performance of Tesla's latest version of Autopilot.

It has been a tough few weeks for Tesla, the California electric carmaker watching its stock plummet in the wake of a sales slowdown, mounting losses and a report from the National Transportation Safety Board blaming the company’s Autopilot system for a fatal crash last March. Now, Consumer Reports is adding to Tesla’s grief.

CEO Elon Musk has spotlighted Autopilot as one of Tesla’s crown jewels, boasting about its increasingly hands-free capabilities, the latest being the ability to change lanes automatically. But the non-profit publication isn’t convinced, warning in a news release that “the latest version … is far less competent than a human driver.”

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“The system’s role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed it’s the other way around,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing. “It’s incredibly nearsighted. It doesn’t appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can’t anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it.” (more…)

Daimler AG Ushers in New Era with Massive Reorganization

Zetsche's departure offers perfect time for structure change.

by on May.22, 2019

Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche speaks to attendees at his last shareholder meeting as chairman.

With the auto industry facing a turbulent transformation, Daimler AG is putting in place a new corporate structure and a new leadership team, while vowing to remain committed to what its outgoing chief executive described as a sustainable future.

Dieter Zetsche, who has led Daimler AG for the past 13 years and who a German business magazine recently described as the only “world class business leader in the auto industry,” relinquishes his dual role as chief executive officer as a chairman of the board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz cars.

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Ola Kallenius will replace Zetsche and take on the dual role as CEO and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. In addition, Harold Wilhelm will replace Daimler’s long-serving chief financial officer, Bodo Ubber. In addition, Markus Schaefer will take over Kallenius’ previous role as head of research and development and a broader role for Brita Seeger, chief of sales for Mercedes-Benz Cars. (more…)

Aston Martin Set to Launch Latest James Bond Special Edition

The special version of the Aston Superleggara DBS celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of the stranger of the Bond flicks.

by on May.22, 2019

James Bond fans can get a special edition of the Aston Martin DBS OHMSS Superleggara to satisfy their super spy fancy.

There are legions of 007 fans. But only a select few will be able to afford to share the special bond, James Bond, between the superspy and his ever-changing collection of cars.

Real aficionados know that in the original Ian Fleming novels, 007 drove a 1930 Bentley. But from the beginning, and in all but a handful of the Bond films to date, his car of choice has been an Aston Martin. The British brand is marking the 50th anniversary of one of the oddest films in the series, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” by rolling out a unique version of the new Superleggara DBS.

Product News!

If you’re planning to play trivial pursuit, the question might go this way: “Who was the only actor to do a single, and almost universally panned take on 007?” The answer is George Lazenby, who had his brief opportunity to drink a martini stirred, not shaken, in this 1969 adventure. (more…)

General Motors Debuts New Digital Brain for Future Vehicles

New architecture allows for future connected car tech.

by on May.21, 2019

GM's new digital vehicle platform can process 4.5 terabytes per hour and will debut on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan.

General Motors is pushing to remain a leader in autonomous technology with new vehicles and mobility services; however, it’s latest development may be the most critical to ensure it remains at the front of the pack.

The company unveiled its new all-new digital platform architecture, designed with the needs of future, such as connected cars, autonomous electric vehicles and other technologies, in mind. Until now, GM has been loading up its previous gen architecture with new tech, despite the fact it is more than 20 years old and comes with limitations.

Product News!

The new architecture, which will underpin the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan and its Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving feature, should be available across nearly all GM product lines by 2023, the company says. (more…)

Daimler Prepares Cost-Cutting Plans for New Chief Kallenius

New takes over for Zetsche.

by on May.21, 2019

Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche is on his way out into retirement. He will be succeeded by Ola Kallenius.

Daimler AG’s new chief executive is preparing a plan that would slash the company’s administrative costs by 20%, according to a report in Germany’s top business newspaper Handelsblatt.

Ola Kallenius, who will take over for Dieter Zetsche this week, has asked for recommendations due to the uncertainty facing car makers, the paper said. Central administration costs are to be cut by about 20%, the paper said, adding billions of euros in efficiency potential would be targeted.

Business News!

Daimler declined to comment on the Handelsblatt article, which appeared as Daimler was preparing for its annual shareholders meeting in Berlin. (more…)

Mercedes’ Electric, Semi-Autonomous ESF 2019 Concept Debuts Over a Dozen Potential Safety Breakthroughs

Even autonomous vehicles will occasionally crash.

by on May.20, 2019

Mercedes-Benz is rolling out its ESF 2019 to show off the semi-autonomous concept car.

The new Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 started life out as just another midsize crossover, but the familiar GLE has undergone an array of modifications that could significantly improve the safety of passengers and pedestrians, the German automaker says.

These include changes to airbags, seatbelts and a child safety seat meant to make them more effective in a crash, as well as a steering wheel and pedals that retract when the ESF is operating in autonomous mode, and even an outside communications system meant to signal pedestrians and bicyclists what the vehicle is going to do next. There’s even a built-in robot that pops out of the back of the vehicle to warn oncoming traffic in the event of a crash.

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Some of the more than a dozen different innovations “are very close to series production,” said Ola Kallenius, the Daimler AG Executive Board member overseeing Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, though others “look well into the future.” (more…)

U.S. Ending Steel, Aluminum Tariffs on Mexico, Canada

Move design to prevent import of Chinese steel into U.S.

by on May.17, 2019

The Trump administration agreed to lift the steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada in order to keep out Chinese steel.

Seeking to secure Congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, or USMCA, U.S. negotiators secured tough new measures against Chinese steel by agreeing to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and China.

The deal avoids quotas on steel from the two countries, which Canada and Mexico had opposed, according to the Washington Post. The tariffs will end in 48 hours.

The Last Word!

“We came to an agreement that benefits both parties: the tariffs are lifted, without quotas on steel and aluminum,” according to a statement from the Mexican president’s office, adding that it reinstated a tariff-free commercial relationship for those products. (more…)

Tariff Talk Put on Hold for Six Months by Trump Administration

Formal structure to delay expected soon.

by on May.16, 2019

President Donald Trump believes raising tariffs will bring U.S. manufacturing back to prominence, but has put off a decision on new national security-related levies.

President Donald Trump’s decision to delay any action on new auto tariffs related to national security gives automakers a chance to make some choices about how they’re going to deal with new tariffs if Trump elects to implement them down the road.

Trump has six months to decide whether or not to slap levies on vehicles and parts from other countries under Section 232, a national security law that gives the president broad powers to implement tariffs on goods from other countries that may affect America’s national security.

Global News!

He used it last year on steel and aluminum imports, much to the chagrin of automakers and other manufacturers.  (more…)

First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate

Plenty of room, technology make this ute tough competition.

by on May.16, 2019

With room for five adults, the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe gives the automaker a viable competitor agains the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has lots of things going for it including a huge “likeability” factor.

After all, there is a lot to like about the vehicle. It’s handsome on the outside, spacious and comfortable on the inside, delivers and smooth and efficient ride and has ample power in segment where horsepower seems to have become a major consideration for manufacturers if not for consumers.

Reviews You Can Trust!

Hyundai, in my estimation, has actually solved one of the riddles of the contemporary car business by figuring out the placement of the center stack screen that carries information for the navigation system and entertainment system with a horizontal screen mounted just above the dashboard. (more…)

Trump Now Expected to Delay Action on EU Auto Tariffs

President facing heavy opposition – and another trade war with China.

by on May.15, 2019

President Donald Trump instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, to determine if auto imports are a threat to national security.

With only three days left before he must decide whether or not to impose new, tariffs of up to 25% on European cars and car parts, President Donald Trump is apparently set to punt, putting off a decision for as much as six months.

The president, along with several key advisors, including Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross and trade adviser Robert Lighthizer, have been leaning towards enacting new tariffs after a Commerce study found that imported autos pose a threat to national security. Others, including chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow have been seen as less in favor of taking action that could, critics contend, actually weaken the U.S. economy.

News You Can Trust!

May 18 would have marked 90 days since the Commerce Department study was completed and served as a deadline for either enacting or rejecting the need for tariffs. While some news reports suggest that the president’s closest advisors continue to debate what should be done, CNBC quotes an administration official and several foreign sources saying that any action will be postponed for up to six months, as is permitted under federal trade legislation. (more…)