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China Retaliates; New Tariffs Hit U.S. Auto Exports, Jobs

BMW, Mercedes, Ford, other makers could be hard hit, forced to cut American production.

by on Aug.09, 2018

The BMW X5 is the #1-selling American-made vehicle in the Chinese market.

The auto industry has found itself at Ground Zero as the U.S. and China escalate their trade war.

After the latest move by the Trump Administration to target Chinese imports, the Beijing government has announced it will strike back with 25% tariffs on $16 billion in imported U.S. goods. China previously enacted new duties on $34 billion worth of goods, bringing the total to $50 billion. And with the White House threatening to add another $200 billion to the U.S. list, the trade war could escalate rapidly.

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The latest round sees the Chinese Ministry of Commerce placing an additional 25% duty on a list of American products that includes coal, crude oil and metal scrap, as well as automobiles and motorcycles. A number of automakers could be hit hard by the new sanctions, including Ford Motor Co., Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

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Ford Preparing Hybrid Version of Mustang

New powertrain will be about performance, not fuel economy.

by on Aug.09, 2018

Ford EVP Jim Farley took time during the celebration of the 10 millionth Mustang to discuss the evolution of the Mustang, including the upcoming hybrid model.

Ford Motor Co. is eager to keep the buzz around the Mustang alive as the company makes the transition to a world where autonomous and electrified vehicles are common, one of the company’s top executives told reporters after the automaker marked the production of the 10 millionth Mustang.

Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of Global Markets, said the long-running success of the Mustang, which has become a global brand, can serve as a beacon for the company as it goes through what amounts to once-every-100-years transition.

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“Mustang is the heart and soul of the Ford Motors Co. It’s a global product and it’s one of the reasons we’re different as a company.” Farley said. “It inspires other vehicles in the line-up. The ‘Mustangness’ of the company is starting with its products,” such the electric vehicles Ford has under development now. “The company has confidence in the Mustang and it knows the customer really well. (more…)

Tesla Board Backs Consideration of Musk’s Privatization Plan

Six board members willing to look further at the plan.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk appears to have the support of the board of directors for his privatization plans.

Just a day after telling Tesla employees, and later the world via Twitter, that he wants to take the EV maker private, CEO Elon Musk appears to be getting support from his board of directors.

Six board members issued a statemen saying they were considering his proposal and that they’d met with him previously to explore the strategy, including “discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla’s long-term interests.”

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Two other the board members, Kimball Musk, Elon’s brother, and Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist, were not part of the statement. Members of the board who signed the statement were Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm, Ira Ehrenpreis, Antonio Gracias, Linda Johnson Rice and James Murdoch. (more…)

Ford Celebrates Production of 10 Millionth Mustang

Just like the first one, it came out Wimbledon White.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Ford marked the production of the 10 millionth Mustang with a huge party, including the very first Mustang built. Both are in Wimbledon White.

Ford Motor Co. celebrated the building of 10 million Mustangs in style with a parade, air show and lunch for hundreds at the assembly plant outside Detroit in Flat Rock, Michigan, where the fabled pony car is now built.

A parade of 54 Mustangs, one from each year the car has been sold during the past half century since it debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City was organized in the parking lot in front of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

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As the Mustang owners sipped coffee and munched on donuts, they talked about how much their lives intertwined with the car and its storied history that includes a starring role in more movies than any other vehicle. (more…)

Ford Treks into New Territory With New China-Built Ute

New SUV to help revive sales in China.

by on Aug.08, 2018

Ford's new entry-level sport-utility, the Territory, is the first of a wave of 50 new or redesigned products coming to China between now and 2025.

Ford Motor Co. has been perpetually behind when it comes to selling vehicles in China. Last year’s results were bad and with 2018 shaping up to be worse, the automaker is looking to move into new territory in 2019 with its new Territory SUV.

The entry-level ute is the first in a slew of new products the automaker expects will cut its double-digit monthly sales losses. In all, the company plans to introduce 50 new or redesigned vehicles in China between now and 2025.

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The SUV, which is expected to be start at just under $22K, is part of an extremely popular segment in China. It’s a segment in which Ford has been a nonfactor until now. (more…)

Tesla CEO Musk Lays Out Plan to Take EV Maker Private

SpaceX appears to be the blueprint.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to take the EV maker private — at $420 a share.

Sometimes Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk means what he tweets — in this case, taking the company private at $420 a share.

Earlier today, Musk hopped on twitter telling his millions of followers, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. Funding secured.”

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That set off two flurries. One a thread of tweets about everything from what a great idea it is to how followers love marijuana references to how the Securities and Exchange Commission frown on these sorts of pronouncements. (more…)

GM Hopes for Compromise in Looming CAFE Clash

Consistency is key for product development.

by on Aug.07, 2018

General Motors President Dan Ammann said the automaker is hoping government policy on fuel economy will help foster innovation.

Despite the uncertainty, General Motors is hoping the unfolding debate over fuel economy triggered by the administration of President Donald Trump will lead to an outcome that can foster innovation.

Ammann acknowledged as he fielded questions from reporters after an appearance at the Billington Cybersecurity Automotive Summit in Detroit that the proposal by the administration to freeze fuel-economy standards has created challenges.

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“We’re obviously in a long-cycle business,” said Ammann, who was careful not to endorse the administration’s proposal, which also challenges the state of California’s ability to set its own fuel-economy and emission rules for automakers.  (more…)

Trade Officials Say New NAFTA Could be Done by End of August

Talks are moving along with some urgency.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's top NAFTA negotiator, said the talks between Mexico and the U.S. aren't exclusionary, but necessary.

Canadian trade officials renewed their desires to get a quicker resolution to the long-negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Initially expected to take less than six months, the talks are closing in on one year in length but have been often delayed by demands from the Trump administration — mandates the trading partners have been unwilling to meet.

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However, with the latest delay in the rearview mirror, Mexico’s presidential election in early July, the three sides have been hurriedly talking to get the deal done. (more…)

Cybersecurity Efforts Critical to Automotive Industry

Car companies focused on ensuring safety of self-driving cars.

by on Aug.06, 2018

GM President Dan Ammann said recently that the company's focus on cybersecurity is critical to its long-term goals.

The operation of self-driving vehicles will require an intense focus on cybersecurity, experts said during a conference in Detroit organized by Billington Cybersecurity, which brought together representatives from the automobile and tech industry as well as the government.

Dan Ammann, General Motors president, told the conference that GM cybersecurity is one of “the key enablers” to making GM’s vision of “zero crashes, zero emission and zero congestion” a reality.

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“As we continue to develop our Autonomous Vehicle program, safety is paramount, just like it is in everything that we do,” Ammann said. “For our customers, that means providing the safest products possible, including the strongest cybersecurity.” (more…)

Former Worker Countersues Tesla Over Sabotage Claim

Martin Tripp alleges automaker tried to cover up quality problems.

by on Aug.06, 2018

Former employee Martin Tripp claims he was fired after trying to report problems at Tesla's Gigafactory.

A former employee at the Gigafactory battery plant has sued Tesla after it claimed he committed sabotage and stole intellectual property.

Martin Tripp was fired by the battery-carmaker in June and subsequently sued by Tesla for allegedly sabotaging the company’s manufacturing system and also stealing its intellectual property. In turn, Tripp has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, while also filing a lawsuit against Tesla.

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In the lawsuit, the former employee said the carmaker took action after he “raised his concerns about the seemingly exorbitant amounts of scrap” being produced at the Gigafactory, though “no action was taken.” Tripp even sent an email to Tesla CEO on May 16, 2018 expressing his concerns and backing them up with “graphical charts.”

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