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Waiting to Take Delivery of a Tesla Model 3? You May be Caught in a “Time Shift”

Apparently, there are no “delays” in Elon Musk’s dictionary.

by on Apr.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the Fremont plant.

Last we checked, there were more than 400,000 folks waiting to take delivery of the Tesla Model 3, a potential problem considering the slow ramp-up of production. But even though some potential buyers might now have to wait until 2019 – perhaps beyond – they shouldn’t consider that a delay but simply a “time shift,” according to CEO Elon Musk.

The South African-born entrepreneur famously predicted his company’s Fremont, California assembly plant would go through “production hell” when it launched its first mainstream model last July. And, indeed, it had to largely hand-build them for the rest of the year. Tesla recently released numbers that showed first-quarter production reached 2,000 a week, but even that was 20% below the company’s target. And that’s leading some frustrated shoppers to cancel their advance reservations.

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“You’ll definitely get your car,” Musk declared during an interview on CBS on Thursday, suggesting customers shouldn’t think of what’s happening as a delay, but “a six- to nine-month time shift. That’s literally it, and three of those months have already passed.” (more…)

FCA Continuing Diesel Settlement Talks with DOJ, CARB

Discussions centering on potential penalties for automaker.

by on Apr.11, 2018

The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is part of the group of vehicles that allegedly used a cheat device to beat emissions tests.

Despite repeatedly denying any wrongdoing, Fiat Chrysler is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and California Air Resources Board to reach a settlement about accusations it used illegal used software to beat diesel emissions tests.

The discussions, which according to multiple reports, are very far along, address allegations that FCA used the software, in a manner similar to Volkswagen’s diesel testing cheat device, for 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles – mostly light trucks – sold since 2014.

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According to Reuters, Ken Feinberg, an adviser in the process, at a federal court hearing in San Francisco revealed that government lawyers and Fiat Chrysler were swapping documents as part of the settlement process, which was moving “at a rather swift pace.” (more…)

Tenneco Buys Federal-Mogul for $5.4 Billion

Company will split into two publicly traded entities next year.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Billionaire Carl Icahn sold Federal-Mogul to Tenneco Inc. for $5.4 billion.

Federal-Mogul, a century old supplier of automotive component with a storied past, is being sold to Tenneco Inc. as part of a deal valued at $5.4 billion.

In recent years, Federal-Mogul – owned by Wall Street financier Carl Icahn – has gone through multiple re-organizations but has maintained its core businesses of powertrain products aftermarket parts even as it struggled to pay its debts.

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Icahn Enterprises will get $800 million in cash and 29.5 million shares of Tenneco stock. Tenneco will assume Federal-Mogul’s debt. The Lake Forest, Illinois-based auto parts maker said Tuesday that it will split the company into two parts, both to be traded publicly. (more…)

Volkswagen CEO Mueller Likely to Be Replaced by VW Brand Boss Diess

Mueller helped company weather diesel scandal, but Diess seen as change agent.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Prior to being tapped to head VW after its diesel scandal broke, Matthias Mueller ran Porsche.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller is expected to be forced out at a management meeting Friday, with VW brand boss Herbert Diess expected to replace him, according to reports out of Germany.

The shake-up, which has apparently been in the works for months, has the blessing of some of VW’s top shareholders, as well as its chairman and powerful labor chief. It will mark the most extensive management moves since shortly after the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal broke in September 2015.

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VW issued a short statement noting it is considering “a further development of the management structure of the group which would also be associated with personnel changes in the board of management.” The statement hinted that changes under study “could include” the naming of a new CEO, adding that Mueller himself “showed his willingness to contribute,” suggesting the 64-year-old executive might voluntarily step aside rather than fight to retain his post. He is currently under a contract set to continue through 2020.

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China to “Significantly Lower” Tariffs on Vehicle Imports

Move could help defuse threat of trade war, but unclear how much will change.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Tesla CEO Musk is one of those celebrating China's plans to sharply reduce import auto tariffs.

Foreign automakers have long complained about the hefty tariffs levied on vehicles exported to China, but Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday said his government plans to “significantly lower” duties this year.

The move comes at a time when tensions between the U.S. and China have built to the point where many observers have been fearing the start of a potentially devastating trade war. Just Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump complained in a tweet about “STUPID TRADE” policies that allowed the Chinese to levy a 25% tariff on imported vehicles, compared to the 2.5% duties imposed by the U.S. on most foreign-made vehicles.

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The Chinese president’s comments leave a lot of questions to be answered before it can be clear what impact the proposed move will have on foreign automakers, but at least one U.S.-based manufacturer is pleased, Tesla CEO Elon Musk quickly tweeting, “This is a very important action by China. Avoiding a trade war will benefit all countries.”

(more…)

Ford Unveils Five New Models for Chinese Market

Company makes big product push in world's largest market.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Ford officials show off the new Focus that is part of five new midsize cars the maker plans to debut in China.

The Chinese market is too large and too important for Ford Motor Co. to ignore so the company is planning to launch five new midsize models this year in a bid to boost its fortunes in the world’s biggest market.

The new models will go on later this year Ford representatives said this week after company unveiled them at an event in Chongqing, the base of its principal partner in China, Changan Ford.

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The unveiling also comes ahead of Auto China 2018 in Beijing, which has become one of the world’s most important auto shows. (more…)

Mexico’s Auto Exports to US Rise 7.5 Percent in March

Nearly 70% of exports go to the U.S.

by on Apr.09, 2018

Mexico's top trade official Ildefonso Guajardo said recently he believed NAFTA talks could be done by May.

With the Trump Administration struggling to gain concessions in ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement talks and on the cusp of a trade war with China, the news that Mexico’s auto imports into the U.S. rose 7.5% may only serve to complicate matters.

One of the provisions Trump wanted in a revised NAFTA was fewer exports from Mexico into the U.S. President Trump was also heavily critical of automakers that built vehicles in Mexico and shipped them here, at one point threatening to tax them.

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The jump in exports comes despite a production drop of 10.9% in March compared with year-ago figures, auto industry group AMIA said.  (more…)

Feds Charge Former FCA Exec in Labor Scandal

Seven people have faced indictments in ongoing probe.

by on Apr.06, 2018

Michael Brown is the latest person to be charged in a federal probe of FCA and the UAW. (Photo credit: UAW-Chrysler)

The U.S Department of Justice is bringing charges against a third Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. official as part of the expanding corruption probe into the illegal use of funds set aside under FCA’s labor contract with the United Auto Workers for training union members.

Michael Brown, former director of employee relations at Fiat Chrysler, was charged with lying to a federal grand jury about an alleged bribery scheme involving his direct superior, Alphonse Iacobelli and others at FCA. The scheme netted Iacobelli and others participating in the scheme more than $4.5 million, according to the DOJ.

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Federal prosecutors allege Brown knew that FCA officials were bribing UAW leaders, but “deliberately” provided “misleading and incomplete testimony.” Not only did he know that this was going on, prosecutors allege, but he failed to notify authorities about the corruption, according to the DOJ. (more…)

Tesla Hit With NLRB Complaint Over Mass Firings

Feds probe controversial firing of nearly 1,000 employees.

by on Apr.05, 2018

Tesla's Fremont plant has faced a series of problems over the last year.

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a formal complaint against Tesla, finding merit to a series of charges involving the company’s treatment of employees over the past months, including claims that union supporters were swept out in a mass firing.

Charges, cited by the NLRB, range from terminating employees in retaliation for engaging in union and/or protected activities to unlawful interrogations of union supporters. Many of the pro-union employees were fired last fall when Tesla dismissed nearly 1,000 employees for what it described as substandard job performance.

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Tesla has yet to file an answer to the complaint lodged by the NLRB but denied the allegations when the union fielded the charges last autumn. It will have to come up with a response before a trial date now set for June 11.

(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…)