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Ford Plans for Growth in New Product Segments

Exec says new EV should help spur battery-electric sales.

by on Mar.16, 2018

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's product development chief, says promoting better EVs will help spur sales of battery-electrics.

Ford Motor Co.’s product development chief says one way to make electric vehicles more popular is to give them wider appeal.

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president for product development, said noted that even when gas prices were high, consumers didn’t especially gravitate towards EVs or hybrids. Thus, Ford is preparing to roll out a unique EV with the broad appeal of a crossover and more performance.

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“EVs have great instantaneous low-end torque,” Thai-Tang told after briefing by senior Ford executives, including CEO Jim Hackett. (more…)

Feds Charge Fifth Person in UAW-FCA Training Funds Scandal

Holiefield's assistant latest to be charged by investigators.

by on Mar.14, 2018

UAW President Dennis Williams continues to deny that members charged in the FCA-UAW fund scandal impacted negotiations.

The drip, drip, drip of charges in the scandal surrounding the training funds at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. administered jointly by FCA and the United Auto Workers continues as federal prosecutors disclosed they filed charges against another former UAW official.

Keith Mickens, 64, of Detroit, a former senior official in the UAW’s FCA Department, became the fifth person, including two from the UAW and two from FCA, charged in a corruption scandal that has led to four convictions.

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Mickens was charged with using credit cards linked to the joint training fund to purchase luggage, electronics, designer clothes and golf equipment in a criminal investigation, which means a guilty plea is expected. (more…)

Volkswagen CEO Mueller Gets 40% Compensation Hike

Special breaks let him exceed caps on salary and benefits.

by on Mar.13, 2018

VW CEO Matthias Mueller received a 40% raise in 2017.

Volkswagen’s comeback from the diesel scandal is almost complete. Volkswagen Group reported record earnings for 2017 and this resulted in CEO Matthias Mueller seeing his compensation package jump 40%.

The 64-year-old Mueller’s contract expires in 2020.

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The jump in pay and other benefits to nearly $12.5 million, according to the company, may seem somewhat startling since it was only two years ago the German automaker was firing executives, eliminating bonuses and implementing a new, more restrictive set of rules for compensation. (more…)

Tesla Shut Down Model 3 Line – Again – to Make Upgrades

EV maker makes improvements aimed at increasing production speed.

by on Mar.12, 2018

Tesla shut down its plant in California last month to make upgrades to its production line.

Tesla’s ongoing growing pains moving from a low-volume to mass market manufacturer continue as the EV maker had to shut down its production on the Model 3 for a week last month.

The company temporarily suspended production at its Fremont, California plant as well as at its Gigafactory in Nevada, Feb. 20-24, to adjust equipment to improve automation and increase production rates.

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The automaker has been under fire for continually missing deadlines for increasing the production run rates at its plant. The goal is ultimately to produce 500,000 vehicles annually, including 100,000 Model S and X vehicles. The current rate is significantly lower than that. (more…)

Tesla’s Musk Wants Trump to Expand Trade War

"It's like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes."

by on Mar.09, 2018

Elon Musk, was on Trump's economic advisory council until it disbanded over immigration policies.

In a rare show of pique aimed at President Donald Trump, automakers, suppliers and industry trade groups have all but unanimously voiced their disappointment over new steel and aluminum import tariffs.

The one notable exception has been Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk who, despite claiming to be generally opposed to import tariffs, appears to be backing the White House. If anything, the tweet-happy executive is spurring Trump to take even broader action, specifically targeting China over the way it handles foreign-made cars, as well as foreign automakers who want to set up manufacturing operations in that country.

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“I am against import duties in general, but the current rules make things very difficult,” Musk said in a tweet. “It’s like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes.”


Automakers, Suppliers Decry Trump Tariff Implementation

Companies warn that cost increases will get passed to consumers.

by on Mar.09, 2018

Analysts believe the new tariffs will increase the costs consumers pay for a new vehicle in the U.S.

Dealers, carmakers and suppliers were quick to criticize President Donald Trump’s order imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum with the exception of imports from Canada or Mexico.

“A tariff is a tax that will result in higher prices that consumers will ultimately bear,” John Bozzella, the president and CEO of Global Automakers, an organization that represents more than a dozen European and Asian automakers as well as key suppliers.

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Earlier in the week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tried to downplay the impact by going on television with a can of Campbell’s Soup and telling viewers its price would increase by a fraction of a penny. But considering the amount of steel and aluminum in a typical vehicle, prices for cars could go up by hundreds of dollars, analysts warn. (more…)

GM Boosting Bolt EV Production as Demand Surges

CEO Barra asking Congress to expand electric-car tax credits.

by on Mar.08, 2018

There's significant room to expand Chevy Bolt EV production at GM's Orion Assembly Plant.

General Motors plans to expand production of its first long-range battery-car, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, CEO Mary Barra said during an energy conference in Houston.

The Bolt has experienced stronger than expected demand in recent months, some analysts suggesting that is the result of the slow ramp-up of production for Tesla’s own mainstream EV, the Model 3.

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Demand has also been buoyed by $7,500 federal tax credits that bring the base price of the Bolt down below $30,000. But under the current rules, GM is expected to soon see the credits phase out, something that could cut into demand, leading Barra to say that, “We feel tax credits should be expanded so our customers continue to receive the benefits going forward.”


Japan Going All In on Fuel Cells

Country plans to have 800,000 fuel cell vehicles on roads by 2030.

by on Mar.08, 2018

Toyota's Yoshikazu Tanaka, the chief engineer of the Mirai fuel-cell vehicle, confirmed Toyota's commitment to fuel cell vehicles.

Japan is gearing up to put 800,000 vehicles powered with fuel cells on the road by 2030.

Japanese experts from business and academia outlined Japan’s fuel-cell push at the “Coping with Change: Global Warming and Decarbonization,” an international symposium organized by Venice International University and Alcantara, the Milan-based maker of luxury fabric used for automotive interiors. Japan’s fuel cell push has the support of the Japanese government.

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Yasuhiro Daisho, senior research professor at Waseda University and an emeritus researcher for Japan’s Next Generation Vehicles Research Council, offered a broad overview of the goals set out by Japanese industry and Japanese government. (more…)

Cadillac Puts Wahl Up as New Marketing Chief

New CMO building on predecessor's efforts.

by on Mar.07, 2018

Cadillac named Deborah Wahl, former marketing chief at McDonalds, to be CMO. She's held several posts within the auto industry.

Cadillac needs all the help it can get from a lot of different places, and it’s getting it.

General Motors’ luxury brand announced it is bringing on Deborah Wahl, an executive with experience inside and outside the automotive industry, to serve as Global Chief Marketing Officer at a critical time in the brand’s transformation.

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Wahl’s appointment is effective March 26 and comes on the heels of Cadillac’s effort to create a splash during the annual Academy Award telecast. The show drew a disappointingly small audience. (more…)

Speaker Ryan Warns Trump About Trade War Consequences

Republicans fear a trade war will wipe out majorities in midterm elections.

by on Mar.06, 2018

Republicans in the House, led by Paul Ryan, are attempting to dissuade President Donald Trump from implementing new tariffs.

The war of words over trade if not the trade war itself continues unabated this week with warnings from President Donald Trump’s Republican allies in Congress about the potential for adverse economic fallout from the sudden imposition of tariffs and taxes by the U.S.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) told journalists he was “extremely worried” about sowing discord with Mexico and Canada and the consequences of a trade war.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasted no times no time in attacking Trump’s tariff proposal and Mexican officials have abruptly given up on efforts to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is critical to companies tied to the North American Auto Industry. (more…)