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Electrifying Jaguar I-Pace Sets a Benchmark Even Tesla Will Have to Clear

Performance, handling, style and spaciousness come together to redefine the BEV.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Whether on a track or a back country road the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is a real game-changer.

I have seen – and driven – the future, and it is electric.

And I found it in a place you normally wouldn’t go looking, Faro, in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region. When my plane touched down there, earlier this week, I was looking forward to some pleasant driving time. It’s beautiful countryside with lots of winding, lightly traveled mountain roads that pass through pastoral villages almost lost in time. As for the vehicle I’d crossed the ocean to test out, the new Jaguar I-Pace was, if nothing else, distinctively styled, both inside and out. Whether it would deliver that sometimes intangible concept we describe as “fun-to-drive” was going to be the real question.

When the first mass market battery-electric vehicles came to market early in this decade, about the most you could say for them was that they were environmentally friendly. They were slow, stodgy and required you to keep a constant eye on the range gauge lest you find yourself stranded miles from home. Tesla kicked it up a big notch by offering range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle and, with the optional Ludicrous Mode, blindingly fast acceleration. That said, the Models S, X and 3 each have their shortfalls. For most of us, they’re still not quite serious alternatives to conventional vehicles.

Electrifying Reviews!

The I-Pace, on the other hand, changes the equation. It is easy to fall back on clichés when trying to describe Jaguar’s first all-electric model, but it truly is electrifying, and by virtually every measure, it not only sets a benchmark for future battery-electric vehicles but also shows that BEVs can pose a direct challenge to conventional gas-powered models when it comes to not only design, interior space, comfort and utility, but performance and handling, as well.

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Chicago Gives Go to Musk’s Boring Co. for Underground Link to O’Hare Airport

System would take just 12 minutes for 16-mile route, slashing travel times, hassles.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Elon Musk's The Boring Co. won the bid to build a new high-speed tunnel from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport.

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. has received tentative approval from the City of Chicago to build a link from downtown to its suburb-based O’Hare Airport using skateboard-like pods that could move both vehicles and individual passengers.

The Boring Co. beat out bids by a number of other transit companies, but negotiations still have to be completed before work can begin on the venture which would be privately, rather than publicly funded. It would be “transformative,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, and that likely goes for the new company launched by Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.

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“We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!” the Boring Co, tweeted after the city confirmed the discussion had moved to the next phase. (more…)

GM Impacted Already by Rising Costs Due to Trump Tariffs

CEO Barra says no changes planned yet.

by on Jun.12, 2018

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra talks with media prior to the start of the 2018 General Motors annual shareholders meeting.

Tariffs on aluminum and steel are already beginning to push up costs General Motors top executive acknowledged before the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Detroit.

GM is beginning to see cost increases as a result of the tariffs imposed on aluminum and steel by the Trump administration, GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Marry Barra said Tuesday ahead of the company’s meeting.

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Barra told reporters that the trade negotiations are still incomplete so it is difficult to have a complete picture of the impact of tariffs will have on the General Motors or the automobile industry in general.  (more…)

Tesla Slashing Up to 9% of Workforce

Up to 3,000 likely to lose jobs, but assembly, battery-plant workers expected to be spared.

by on Jun.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees that the company would lay off 9% of the workforce in a letter.

Tesla will lay off as many as 3,000 workers, or nearly 9% of its workforce, in a bid to reorganize and address endemic problems, according to a letter sent by CEO Elon Musk to company employees.

The first layoffs reportedly were set to take effect this week, according to website Electrek, which obtained a copy of the letter. The automaker subsequently confirmed that the layoffs will take place, but emphasized that production workers will be spared, the cuts targeting the salaried side of a workforce that grew to around 30,000 after last year’s acquisition of Solar City.

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If anything, Tesla has been trying to expand the workforce at both its Fremont, California assembly plant and Reno, Nevada Gigafactory in an effort to finally put production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan on track. Musk recently said Tesla is on track to roll out about 5,000 of the vehicles a week by the end of this month, a roughly 250% increase from the end of the first quarter – though still well below its original target. (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

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But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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Deal Done! Ford Buys Michigan Central Station

Automaker buys historic train station to anchor urban tech campus.

by on Jun.11, 2018

The 18-story Michigan Central Station was once the world's tallest railroad depot. Now it'll be the center of Ford's urban campus in Detroit.

Ford Motor Co.’s ongoing effort to attract young workers to the company by setting up its tech-based operations in Detroit took another step forward today when it announced it completed the purchase of the Michigan Central Station for an undisclosed sum.

The automaker has already set up some tech-oriented operations in the neighboring Corktown district and the acquisition of the train station, previously owned by the Moroun family, which also owns the Ambassdor Bridge, cements the company’s plans for the area.

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Company officials declined to comment on what it plans to use the building for, saying it would reveal all of that information on June 19. (more…)

Chinese Automakers Eyeing International Roles

GAC, Geely looking to make an impact globally.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Geely Chairman Li Shufu purchased 9.7% of Daimler AG for $9.2 billion, and expects to partner with them on electrification..

Guangzhou Automotive Corp. or GAC, one of the largest automotive enterprises in China, still plans to move ahead with plans to export vehicles to the United States in 2019 or 2020, a top GAC executive told the annual Global Automobile Forum in Chongqing, China.

Meanwhile Li Shufu, the entrepreneur who developed Holding Group and recently bought 9.9% of Daimler AG, said he expects to collaborate in the future with the German automaker.

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Li Shao, GAC vice president, said GAC is fully committed to becoming an international company. The objective of becoming an international company was one of the company’s objectives when it was first organized back in the 1980s, Li said. But very from the very beginning, GAC’s management understood it had a great deal to learn if it wanted to succeed and it also had to do well in China, Li said. (more…)

Nearly 1 in 4 Tesla Model 3 Reservations Have Been Cancelled

Number could escalate as production lags, competition heats up.

by on Jun.06, 2018

After its debut of the Model 3, Tesla logged about 400,000 reservations for the mainstream sedan — at $1,000 each. Now a quarter want their money back.

While Tesla hasn’t given out precise numbers, it’s believed to have quickly logged about 400,000 advance reservations for the Model 3 battery-sedan, each putting down a deposit of at least $1,000.

But the lengthy delays in getting large numbers of the Model 3 into production have been causing serious problems for Tesla, not the least of which was the record loss the company posted during the first quarter. And the problems could grow worse, even though Tesla CEO Elon Musk told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday that production will “quite likely” reach 5,000 sedans a week by the mid-year mark.

Electrifying!

Even if it continues to increase for the rest of 2018, the Tesla plant in Fremont, California, will end the year far short of the 400,000 Model 3 sedans that were expected to be produced for the full year. And with many of those holding early reservations now likely to wait until well into 2019 before they can take delivery, nearly one in four has cancelled their order and asked for a refund. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Survives 1st Big Challenge as Chairman as Model 3 “Quite Likely” to Meet Target

Shanghai, European plants could be announced within weeks.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk beat back challenges to his role, while 3 board members were voted back in.

Elon Musk stared down a group of dissident shareholders on Tuesday, surviving the first serious challenge to his dual role as chairman and CEO of the California automaker, while three of his hand-picked board members also fended off challenges.

Musk, who has developed an almost cult-like following among investors and electric vehicle fans alike, has faced an unusual degree of scrutiny in recent months as a result of mounting losses, struggles with production of the Model 3 sedan and a series of widely reported crashes involving Tesla vehicles. But despite some opposition, the company’s annual shareholders meeting was largely focused on promises about great things to come.

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Musk promised that after months of what the CEO has dubbed “production hell,” the pace is picking up at the Fremont assembly plant and that production will “quite likely” reach his 5,000 vehicle-a-week target by the end of June. Meanwhile, he and members of his senior management team outlined other developments to come, including the launch of additional production plants that could substantially boost global demand.

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Paris Motor Show Exodus Accelerates

Key FCA brands follow BMW, Ford, Nissan and VW out the door.

by on Jun.04, 2018

This scene is not going to play out this fall at the Paris Motor Show.

It’s looking likely to be rather lonely at the Paris Motor Show this year with a rapidly growing list of major manufacturers announcing they will be no-shows next autumn at an event that has traditionally been a must for the industry.

Auto shows, in general, are coming under scrutiny as manufacturers begin weighing their costs and benefits, and start comparing them to marketing alternatives such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and even the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Auto Show News!

Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep will be holdouts at the 2018 Mondial de l’Automobile, which was set to begin on Oct. 2 with two days of press debuts, and then remain open to the public through Oct. 14. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will still show off its Maserati brand, as well as Ferrari. (more…)